Processing Rap Vocals - Prep and Optimisation

Techniques to show you how to prepare male rap vocals for effects and mix bus processing.

Dynamic Processors


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You will often hear producers say that a great recording will make the mix process much easier to handle. This is Gospel. The less corrective work a producer has to do the more time is left for creative processes.

Corrective processes

Corrective process are not too exciting as all you are doing is spending a great deal of time correcting errors. Prepping is part of the corrective process but also involves understanding what needs to be done to allow for the creative processes to take place effortlessly.

Prepping can entail removing dead space within the vocals so as to be able to move audio parts around effectively, it could entail truncating audio parts for ease of syncing to effects, it could entail creating smooth crossfades in and out for a seamless vocal line and so on…the list is endless.

With rap vocals prepping I always start with corrective equalisation. This removes all the redundant and problematic frequencies and allows us to have a nice clean slate to work from. Vocals always need to be corrected prior to any creative processing as errors can get amplified with certain dynamic and gain dependent processes. So, it makes sense to tidy up before we start using colouring processes.

In the video I follow a certain order of processes and explain each and every one in detail. They include:

Corrective equalisation to remove unwanted frequencies.
Harmonic Distortion to bring out the consonants and add some drive and edge to the rap vocals.
A graphic equaliser to replenish the frequencies compromised in the corrective process.
A dynamic equaliser to add motion and movement to the vocals.
De essing to smooth out the harsh frequencies.

Plugins used in this video:

Steinberg Frequency Equaliser

Soundtoys Decapitator

Steinberg GEQ-10 Graphic Equaliser

Steinberg De esser

Waves F6 Dynamic Equaliser

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Using Cleaning Tools
  • Equalisation – Reductive and Complimentary
  • Using Distortion and Enhancer
  • Using De-Esser for taming frequencies
  • Post Processing EQ
  • Understanding the Signal Structure
  • Tips and Tricks