AUDIO PLUGINS

That High End Air

That High End Air

By Shane Johnson

TDR NOVA GE is unparalleled when it comes to enhancing that high end air commonly heard on vocal tracks in many genres of contemporary music. Remarkably, its diverse dynamic equalizer is a terrific tool for augmenting those lush airy tranquil highs.


This article will explore using NOVA’s dynamic equalizer along with parallel processing to accentuate those whispery airy highs heard in many styles of popular music. Whereas the following approach showcases NOVA Gentleman’s Edition, it can also be accomplished using NOVA Standard Edition.

Coined many things

We’ve all heard what is commonly described as that high end air, sheen, lush, airy, breathy, or whispery effect on lead and background vocals. To a lesser extent, this effect can also be heard in the voice-over and broadcast world. While there are a few different techniques to augment the air and breath in a vocal, dynamic equalization with parallel processing will be our main focus to creating that sought-after sound.

Take your breath away

Before we can enhance the air and breath, we’ll first have to isolate it. The following example used below will be augmenting the background vocals.

The quickest and easiest approach is to first print a dry submix of the background vocals in your DAW:

Background vocals dry submix

Enhance it

Now that the background vocals are submixed, this is where the parallel processing comes in.

With TDR NOVA GE inserted and open on the background vocals submix track, use the Minimum preset and select the source of the Analyzer input to Out:

Minimum preset and analyzer out

The Highpass Filter(HP) and parametric equalizer will be used to isolate the air and breath. Enable the Highpass filter(HP) by clicking on its button, then set the frequency to 5.3 kHz with a 24 db/oct slope:

Highpass filter settings

Next, activate and select the 6th EQ band by clicking on its button. This will be followed by setting its Q to 0.80 with a frequency of 6.0 kHz and gain to 12.0 db:

6th eq band settings

With the above settings done the resulting EQ curve will look like this:

EQ curve completed

Up next will be setting up the wide-band compressor. To access the W-Band detail view, deselect the 6th EQ band selection button by clicking on it:

Wide-band compressor detail view

In the W-Band detail view, click on the Threshold button to switch on the compressor. Adjust the Ratio so it’s 10.0:1 and use an Attack of 0.10 ms with a Release of 10 ms. In this example, the starting point Threshold level will be -35.0 db. An Out Gain of 17.0 db will also be used to boost the signal, thus compensating for the heavily steamrolled compression:

Compressor and gain settings

Now that the EQ and wide-band compressor are setup, the processed background vocals submix track will sound like this:

Lastly, since the focus is on the hyped up breath sound, any harsh sibilance in the parallel processed track should be completely removed via editing. This will be the “s” sounds in the example used, which are deleted with appropriate fades applied::

Background vocals sibilance

Background vocals removed sibilance

Parallel park it

With the parallel processed track(BV Air) completed, it will now be blended back into the mix along side the lead and background vocals to accentuate those serene pretty highs.

Starting with the BV Air fader all the way down, gradually raise it until that breathy sound is just slightly noticeable. The final mix level will be to taste of course:

Vocal mix with parallel processing

Vocal mix without the BV Air parallel processed track:

Vocal mix with the BV Air parallel processed track:

With some ambient music added and a few finishing touches, we now arrive at a completed mix showing off those rich airy vocals:

It’s a wrap

That concludes our spotlight on getting that ever so popular breathy vocal sound using NOVA GE.

We’ve included the preset used in the final mix above, along with two additional presets that can be used to augment that high end air with parallel processing. These presets can be used in both NOVA Gentleman’s Edition and NOVA Standard Edition:

High End Air Preset 1

Copy the following code > right-click on the plug-in interface background > Paste State(Ctrl+V)


<TDRNovaGE bandSelected_1="Off" bandActive_1="Off" bandGain_1="0.0" bandQ_1="0.71" bandFreq_1="50" bandType_1="Low S" bandSCQ_1="0.71" bandSCFreq_1="50" bandSCType_1="Linked" bandDynActive_1="Off" bandDynThreshold_1="0.0" bandDynRatio_1="2.0" bandDynSplit_1="Off" bandDynAttack_1="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_1="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_1="23" bandSelected_2="Off" bandActive_2="Off" bandGain_2="0.0" bandQ_2="1.00" bandFreq_2="150" bandType_2="Bell" bandSCQ_2="1.00" bandSCFreq_2="150" bandSCType_2="Linked" bandDynActive_2="Off" bandDynThreshold_2="0.0" bandDynRatio_2="2.0" bandDynSplit_2="Off" bandDynAttack_2="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_2="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_2="23" bandSelected_3="Off" bandActive_3="Off" bandGain_3="0.0" bandQ_3="1.00" bandFreq_3="500" bandType_3="Bell" bandSCQ_3="1.00" bandSCFreq_3="500" bandSCType_3="Linked" bandDynActive_3="Off" bandDynThreshold_3="0.0" bandDynRatio_3="2.0" bandDynSplit_3="Off" bandDynAttack_3="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_3="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_3="23" bandSelected_4="Off" bandActive_4="On" bandGain_4="12.0" bandQ_4="0.80" bandFreq_4="6000" bandType_4="High S" bandSCQ_4="0.80" bandSCFreq_4="6000" bandSCType_4="Linked" bandDynActive_4="Off" bandDynThreshold_4="0.0" bandDynRatio_4="2.0" bandDynSplit_4="Off" bandDynAttack_4="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_4="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_4="23" bandSelected_5="Off" bandActive_5="Off" bandGain_5="0.0" bandQ_5="1.00" bandFreq_5="3500" bandType_5="Bell" bandSCQ_5="1.00" bandSCFreq_5="3500" bandSCType_5="Linked" bandDynActive_5="Off" bandDynThreshold_5="0.0" bandDynRatio_5="1.2" bandDynSplit_5="Off" bandDynAttack_5="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_5="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_5="23" bandSelected_6="Off" bandActive_6="Off" bandGain_6="0.0" bandQ_6="0.71" bandFreq_6="10000" bandType_6="High S" bandSCQ_6="0.71" bandSCFreq_6="10000" bandSCType_6="Linked" bandDynActive_6="Off" bandDynThreshold_6="0.0" bandDynRatio_6="2.0" bandDynSplit_6="Off" bandDynAttack_6="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_6="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_6="23" hpSelected_master="Off" hpActive_master="On" hpFreq_master="5300" hpType_master="24dB/oct" lpSelected_master="Off" lpActive_master="Off" lpFreq_master="40000" lpType_master="6dB/oct" bandGain_wide="0.0" bandDynActive_wide="On" bandDynThreshold_wide="-35.0" bandDynRatio_wide="10.0" bandDynAttack_wide="0.10" bandDynReleaseType_wide="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_wide="10" bypass_master="Off" delta_master="Off" dryMix_master="0.0" gain_master="17.0" eqAutoGainParam="On" qualityParam="Precise" channelsParam="Stereo" analyzerModeParam="Analyzer: Out" sidechainModeParam="INT SC"/>

High End Air Preset 2

Copy the following code > right-click on the plug-in interface background > Paste State(Ctrl+V)


<TDRNovaGE bandSelected_1="Off" bandActive_1="Off" bandGain_1="0.0" bandQ_1="0.71" bandFreq_1="50" bandType_1="Low S" bandSCQ_1="0.71" bandSCFreq_1="50" bandSCType_1="Linked" bandDynActive_1="Off" bandDynThreshold_1="0.0" bandDynRatio_1="2.0" bandDynSplit_1="Off" bandDynAttack_1="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_1="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_1="23" bandSelected_2="Off" bandActive_2="Off" bandGain_2="0.0" bandQ_2="1.00" bandFreq_2="150" bandType_2="Bell" bandSCQ_2="1.00" bandSCFreq_2="150" bandSCType_2="Linked" bandDynActive_2="Off" bandDynThreshold_2="0.0" bandDynRatio_2="2.0" bandDynSplit_2="Off" bandDynAttack_2="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_2="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_2="23" bandSelected_3="Off" bandActive_3="On" bandGain_3="2.5" bandQ_3="1.00" bandFreq_3="5000" bandType_3="Bell" bandSCQ_3="1.00" bandSCFreq_3="5000" bandSCType_3="Linked" bandDynActive_3="Off" bandDynThreshold_3="0.0" bandDynRatio_3="2.0" bandDynSplit_3="Off" bandDynAttack_3="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_3="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_3="23" bandSelected_4="Off" bandActive_4="On" bandGain_4="12.0" bandQ_4="0.71" bandFreq_4="18000" bandType_4="High S" bandSCQ_4="0.71" bandSCFreq_4="18000" bandSCType_4="Linked" bandDynActive_4="Off" bandDynThreshold_4="0.0" bandDynRatio_4="2.0" bandDynSplit_4="Off" bandDynAttack_4="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_4="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_4="23" bandSelected_5="Off" bandActive_5="Off" bandGain_5="0.0" bandQ_5="1.00" bandFreq_5="3500" bandType_5="Bell" bandSCQ_5="1.00" bandSCFreq_5="3500" bandSCType_5="Linked" bandDynActive_5="Off" bandDynThreshold_5="0.0" bandDynRatio_5="1.2" bandDynSplit_5="Off" bandDynAttack_5="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_5="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_5="23" bandSelected_6="Off" bandActive_6="Off" bandGain_6="0.0" bandQ_6="0.71" bandFreq_6="10000" bandType_6="High S" bandSCQ_6="0.71" bandSCFreq_6="10000" bandSCType_6="Linked" bandDynActive_6="Off" bandDynThreshold_6="0.0" bandDynRatio_6="2.0" bandDynSplit_6="Off" bandDynAttack_6="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_6="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_6="23" hpSelected_master="Off" hpActive_master="On" hpFreq_master="350" hpType_master="24dB/oct" lpSelected_master="Off" lpActive_master="Off" lpFreq_master="40000" lpType_master="6dB/oct" bandGain_wide="0.0" bandDynActive_wide="On" bandDynThreshold_wide="-35.0" bandDynRatio_wide="10.0" bandDynAttack_wide="0.10" bandDynReleaseType_wide="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_wide="10" bypass_master="Off" delta_master="Off" dryMix_master="0.0" gain_master="17.0" eqAutoGainParam="On" qualityParam="Precise" channelsParam="Stereo" analyzerModeParam="Analyzer: Out" sidechainModeParam="INT SC"/>

High End Air Preset 3

Copy the following code > right-click on the plug-in interface background > Paste State(Ctrl+V)


<TDRNovaGE bandSelected_1="Off" bandActive_1="Off" bandGain_1="0.0" bandQ_1="0.71" bandFreq_1="50" bandType_1="Low S" bandSCQ_1="0.71" bandSCFreq_1="50" bandSCType_1="Linked" bandDynActive_1="Off" bandDynThreshold_1="0.0" bandDynRatio_1="2.0" bandDynSplit_1="Off" bandDynAttack_1="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_1="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_1="23" bandSelected_2="Off" bandActive_2="Off" bandGain_2="0.0" bandQ_2="1.00" bandFreq_2="150" bandType_2="Bell" bandSCQ_2="1.00" bandSCFreq_2="150" bandSCType_2="Linked" bandDynActive_2="Off" bandDynThreshold_2="0.0" bandDynRatio_2="2.0" bandDynSplit_2="Off" bandDynAttack_2="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_2="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_2="23" bandSelected_3="Off" bandActive_3="Off" bandGain_3="0.0" bandQ_3="1.00" bandFreq_3="500" bandType_3="Bell" bandSCQ_3="1.00" bandSCFreq_3="500" bandSCType_3="Linked" bandDynActive_3="Off" bandDynThreshold_3="0.0" bandDynRatio_3="2.0" bandDynSplit_3="Off" bandDynAttack_3="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_3="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_3="23" bandSelected_4="Off" bandActive_4="On" bandGain_4="12.0" bandQ_4="0.71" bandFreq_4="13500" bandType_4="High S" bandSCQ_4="0.71" bandSCFreq_4="13500" bandSCType_4="Linked" bandDynActive_4="Off" bandDynThreshold_4="0.0" bandDynRatio_4="2.0" bandDynSplit_4="Off" bandDynAttack_4="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_4="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_4="23" bandSelected_5="Off" bandActive_5="Off" bandGain_5="0.0" bandQ_5="1.00" bandFreq_5="3500" bandType_5="Bell" bandSCQ_5="1.00" bandSCFreq_5="3500" bandSCType_5="Linked" bandDynActive_5="Off" bandDynThreshold_5="0.0" bandDynRatio_5="1.2" bandDynSplit_5="Off" bandDynAttack_5="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_5="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_5="23" bandSelected_6="Off" bandActive_6="Off" bandGain_6="0.0" bandQ_6="0.71" bandFreq_6="10000" bandType_6="High S" bandSCQ_6="0.71" bandSCFreq_6="10000" bandSCType_6="Linked" bandDynActive_6="Off" bandDynThreshold_6="0.0" bandDynRatio_6="2.0" bandDynSplit_6="Off" bandDynAttack_6="0.18" bandDynReleaseType_6="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_6="23" hpSelected_master="Off" hpActive_master="On" hpFreq_master="1000" hpType_master="24dB/oct" lpSelected_master="Off" lpActive_master="Off" lpFreq_master="40000" lpType_master="6dB/oct" bandGain_wide="0.0" bandDynActive_wide="On" bandDynThreshold_wide="-35.0" bandDynRatio_wide="10.0" bandDynAttack_wide="0.10" bandDynReleaseType_wide="Dynamic" bandDynRelease_wide="10" bypass_master="Off" delta_master="Off" dryMix_master="0.0" gain_master="17.0" eqAutoGainParam="On" qualityParam="Precise" channelsParam="Stereo" analyzerModeParam="Analyzer: Out" sidechainModeParam="INT SC"/>