Should You Boost Bass on Voice Over?

I’ve just seen this video on YouTube (in Urdu / Hindi language but I followed along visually. I was super curious to see the presenter boosting up frequencies below 116 Hz by +11.1 dB on a voice over.

I’ve always opted for a high pass filter myself but curious if there’s a use case for what is shown in this video.

Watch from 16:24 to see for yourself:

I posted a comment on the video here as follows:

Thanks for posting this. English subtitles would be super helpful especially as the title and description are in English. Some of the techniques you show are super interesting. I’m curious as to why at 16:24 you use Parametric Equalizer on the voice to boost up bass frequencies (below 116 Hz) by 11.1 dB considering the human voice doesn’t generally drop below this number? Perhaps a voice will drop to 85 Hz minimum but that is a huge bass boost on the low end and I’m wondering what this is for?

The “Loudness Maximizer” preset is generally used for boosting frequencies on music when you want to play it at high volumes so I’m interested to hear why you selected this preset for a vocal. Also, what’s the meaning of a dip of -11.1 dB at 568 Hz?

Any other thoughts?

As you say unless you have a particularly deep voice, most male voices contain nothing beneath 80hz and females are generally higher than that where they come in. I’m not sure why you’d boost frequencies that would generally contain only unwanted rumble and nothing of actual value to the output?

I guess as an experiment you could rip the video (for research purposes only, not copyright obviously) and put a low pass filter on where he’s set his boost at, cutting the audio above that frequency to hear what he’s actually enhanced with his vocal bass boost?

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Hi, Mike.

Bass Boost is an interesting topic. The way I see it, it depends on what you are using it for. If you are creating a VO or jingle that has a booming vibe to it, then Bass Boost is your friend. It will give you that added emphasis on what you’re conveying. If you have a podcast, or want a subtle sound, then it’s not for your needs.

Hope you find this informative.

This makes so much sense.

Podcasting you want to sound as natural as possible.

Hi @Mike,

To me, the 11.1 db boost is part of one possible corrective EQ technique. The original dialog isn’t great audio quality, (I find it ‘brittle’ to the ear) but that’s probably because our friend hosting the video wants to share this way of dealing with this type of audio problem. The problem being that the audio is not in ‘balance’ across the frequency spectrum and lacks some low frequency content. To help counteract its overall ‘brightness’ in this case, carefully add some ‘low/low mid’ back into the audio track. The correction will help rebalance the audio spectrum to sound fuller/richer.

So what happens is this… the Low Shelf is boosted by what can appear to be an excessive amount. However what we are really interested in is the curve of the filter above the frequency that has been selected (116 Hz) at the moment.
Normally for this type of problem I would start with a frequency way below where the lowest part of the voice/instrument/whatever could be found, then give the Low Shelf a large gain boost. Sweeping the frequency upwards slowly until I hear the upper-edge of the filter curve start to lift the lowest parts of the audio spectrum. (This will normally be the fundamental and the first set of harmonics/overtones/partials). Now the curve or slope of the Low Shelf furthest away from the selected frequency will still be 0 db in gain. As you work your way back towards the highest point of the filter, the gain value will change and boost the harmonics at different amounts allowing us to ‘shape’ the sound more.
Once I’m happy with my frequency range that is being boosted, I would then adjust the gain amount and modify the curve shape to fine tune the response of the audio further. Those last two parameters are sort of ‘juggled’ back and forth to find the best results so you need to play with the values here and assess the results. (By the way, not all ‘Low Shelf Filters’ allow you to change/modify their response shape, so you might need to use a third party EQ that does if your DAW’s EQ isn’t equipped with this feature).

With what happens below the selected frequency here really depends on whats found in that audio region after the first part of this technique has been applied. I most likely would then use a HPF (High Pass Filter) as you would, to roll off any unwanted low/sub content and possibly a tiny portion of the fundamental as well to keep it more under control. It all depends on the frequency range of the audio file in the recording as to how successful this can be. Having a HPF which has an adjustable cutoff slope (6, 12, 18 db, etc) and ‘Q’ or resonance control is a bonus here as well.

Onto the -11.1 db at 568 Hz…

I’m thinking and hearing that this is to help reduce the ‘boxiness’ from the audio recording after the initial sweeting of the lows and highs. Unfortunately I find the audio still has some unwanted resonance issues and boxiness when our friend has apparently finished dealing with the EQ… That throws up the question of what is he monitoring on, but that’s for another thread.

The big lesson here is always let your ears decide how much of a boost or cut should be used and not your eyes… Values are misleading!


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