A nasally voice has a lot of character. Sometimes it’s TOO much. Some singers have more of this quality than others, so if you need to fix a nasally voice, consider these solutions with plugins you already have.
EQ for Nasally Voice
Boost at 150-300Hz
Sometimes a nasally voice is a product of a lack of low end body.
Try boosting at 150-300Hz to bring out more of the fundamental frequency of your vocal before you do anything else.
Sometimes the warmth of this boost will be enough to tame a more mild nasal case.
Cut at 1-2kHz
The nasal quality in vocals primarily resides in the the 1-2k area. Whether the vocal’s nasal quality is natural, comes from the room, or both/is exacerbated by the room, a cut here will mellow out the nasal quality of a vocal.
You might try a dynamic EQ cut to be more reactive, smoothing this region out more when there’s a build up. I get good results in doing so when I’ve got a nasally vocal to work with.
As I discussed in my overview of bringing out vocal clarity with EQ, the 1.5-2kHz region is a two way street.
If you cut too much here, this will make the vocal sound hollow. This is why I like the dynamic EQ so I don’t take too much away, it more manages the nasal quality when it pokes up too much.
Speaking of which, if your vocal is hollow sounding, try a boost in this region. But just like the reverse, adding too much hear will make a “normal” vocal begin to sound nasally, so toe the line.
Cut at 4kHz
4k is important for clarity, but too much frequency build up here causes a harshness on vocals. While this isn’t the fundamental region of that nasal sound, some of its overtones reside around here (4k).
As such, a cut here can help smooth things out and make that nasal tone less noticeable.
Once again, I recommend a dynamic EQ because we don’t want to remove too much with a static cut, dulling the vocal.
We can also use multiband dynamics to correct a nasally voice, but I typically reach for a dynamic EQ first.
As I mentioned in my comparison of dynamic EQ vs multiband compression, I prefer multiband compression when I’m making broader strokes on a bus. Sometimes I’ll use multiband compression on a track, but it’s for effecting a much larger band.
We need to get a bit more surgical for the nasal quality in a vocal, hence dynamic EQ working well.
Saturation for a Nasally Voice
If you haven’t gotten the results you want exclusively from EQ/dynamic EQ, try adding some saturation to the vocal.
Saturation adds harmonic information octaves above the fundamental frequencies, creating overtones which can be used for a number of effects.
You can use it as more of an exciter to add frequency information to the higher frequencies and get a brighter (more exciting?) sound.
Conversely you can use it to fill in lower frequencies and impart some warmth to a track which needs it. This is the basis of tape saturation and mixing and mastering engineers have done this for years on the master bus, drum bus, individual tracks – anything that needs it.
I mentioned adding body with your EQ earlier to bring out more of what’s already there, saturation is similar it just takes a slightly different approach.
Here I’ve dropped FabFilter’s Saturn on my vocal track.
All I’ve done is add a little drive to a band below 1000Hz to thicken it up a bit and it’s treated the nasal component of my voice by adding information where it was lacking.
This also adds a little pleasant warmth to the vocal, which is a nice trick for adding to a vocal which is too thin or bright.
Lastly, make sure in the future that the vocals are recorded directly at the microphone as delivering the vocal off axis from the microphone can exacerbate a nasally vocal or make a regular voice sound more so. Also be mindful of your room as frequencies can build up in some rooms, and the reflections can be rich in that 1-2k region, making a voice sound more nasally.
Nasally Voice Fixes
- A nasally voice can be treated by adding warmth or attenuating the problem areas.
- Add body with an EQ boost at 150-300Hz before making any cuts as this alone can correct more subtle nasal vocals.
- Cut between 1-2k as this is a core range for nasally vocals. Overtones also exist around 4k.
- Use a dynamic EQ to more conservatively attenuate and keep the clarity of your vocal intact.
- Also try adding some warmth via tape-like saturation to create a more balanced vocal if the nasal issue is a lack of body.