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And that's a Wrap! Working with Rap Vocals

Today’s Blog is part 1 of a 2 part series about working on rap vocals. You need to be thoughtful in how you approach the record and mix stages for a rap session, or you could land up with a bit of a nightmare to mix out.

All in all I’m going to share 4 tips for working with Rap vocals, and today is all about the 1. Microphone & 2. Compression. Next blog, I’ll chat about 3. Lead vocals & 4. Backing vocals (ad libs)

Working on a high energy rap session is fun, but to record and mix out the vocals can be a little tricky. So, here are some tips to get you started on how to sweeten and control aggressive rap vocals right from the record to the mix stages.

1. The microphone

While condenser microphones are usually the go to for a vocal session, for rap vocals try a dynamic microphone. Condenser microphones definitely capture the small nuances and details of a performance, and are really sensitive; but when dealing with aggressive rap vocals, a dynamic microphone is a good choice as it mellows the harshness in the vocals typically found in rap, rock punk and metal genres, and handles the consistent dynamic pounding (the sensitive condenser microphones don’t like) without distorting.

Using a dynamic microphone on the main vocals will result in a nice smooth and more controlled result. This will give you more options in the mix stage to add in that extra saturation or effect if necessary!

Another really cool technique when recording is to use both a condenser and dynamic microphone for the vocal session.

Watch the video!!

2. The Compressor

Compressors are used to manage the dynamic range of a signal. There are many different types, and not all compressors provide the same results.

I suggest that you look at the online Quick Dial Compression Series which is all about compressors at for more detailed explanation on how these devices work and how you can use them in your sessions to get great results!

Back to it!

A quick tip: You’re looking for a compressor that will allow you a really fast attack time to quickly deal with transients and avoid that ‘pumping’ effect. A compressor that will tame dynamics without being evident compression is taking pace. We call that being transparent.

Be careful not to squash the life out of your vocals. If you find the vocals lack presence, then rather increase the attack time to allow some of that transient material to go through; and this will bring back a bit of edginess.

Use the compressor to control your dynamics first and then dial in the extra sonic character you’re looking for!

Be sure to watch the video for some tips on Microphones and compression for rap Vocals, and in the next Blog & video, I’ll go through the lead and ad lib vocals for rap.


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