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Thread: How to properly record rap vocals

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    How to properly record rap vocals

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    Is there a particular technique that the artist must use when recording rap vocals? I've noticed when the artist that I record raps softly, he sounds more clear and it is easier to mix....

    But when he gets loud, his vocals start to sound a bit "honky" and have a telephone like quality to them.... and it's almost impossible for me to get a good mix because of the sharp peaks in his voice...

    The same holds true to the R&B artist that I record- when she sings softly I can get a clearer mix

    I use the AT4050 and sometimes the Shure KSM32... both mics are new

    I usually turn down his headphone mix to encourage him (and her) to sing softly, which then results in a mix that is easier to handle (I don't know if I'd ever be able to record and mix Lil Jon!!!)

    Does anyone else have this same problem?
    Hip hop is never dead as long as we carry it in our hearts

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    Sounds like distortion... Not mic distortion, but mic preamplifier distortion...(Basically you need to turn the preamp gain down and the turn up the mic pre output..)

    Though you probably aren't using the Samson C-Valve (which I have), the instructions on gain staging are universal..


    Take a look:
    http://www.samsontech.com/products/r...nman_V1.0s.pdf
    (Check out page 8, "Setting a good level")
    Joshua Dotson, Peritus Sound

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    Also, you should encourage the vocalist to "work the mic". This means that the vocalist back up from the mic when they get loud and move closer when they have soft things to vocalize.

    Tips:
    http://www.barryrudolph.com/utilitie...ingmiking.html
    Joshua Dotson, Peritus Sound

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    I use a 4050 regularly to record rap vocals and have never had this problem... Gain staging is a good point but if the rapper is "too loud" try using the pad on the mic. Likewise make sure the bass cut isn't turned on. Also you might want to consider using a little bit of eq and compression when you track if you don't already. Just don't over do it...

    The "telephone like" quality is most likely distortion in you gain structure somewhere.
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    It isn't so much that he is too loud, it's just that I noticed when he raps more softly, I can mix the vocals better...

    On the other hand, when he gets louder, there are too many mid-range frequencies that get into my recording and that makes it harder to mix...

    My vocals sound like they were recorded with a $40 condenser microphone, and I don't want that... Could my preamp be the problem?

    I want my vocals to sound natural... I know that both of these mics (KSM32 and 4050) are neutral mics, so that would mean that I should be able to eq the vocals myself instead of having to work around a "honky" vocal...

    By the way- I use a PreSonus TubePre, and I'm thinking that my preamp may be the problem, but I'm not sure...
    Hip hop is never dead as long as we carry it in our hearts

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    Quote Originally Posted by brothathatcares View Post
    By the way- I use a PreSonus TubePre, and I'm thinking that my preamp may be the problem, but I'm not sure...
    I'm gonna say it's about 1/3 of the problem. It's not that great of a unit if you push it too hard. Keep the "drive" the whole way down and use as little gain as possible to get a good level.

    Sounds like the bigger problem is that you need a "treated vocal booth" This can mean anyting from a prefab ($$$$$$) unit to throwing up some blankets and other absorbative materials. More that likely this will help you out more than a new pre will right now.... and can be done cheaper!

    If you want a significantly better pre (i.e. apparent better sound) you'll have to pony up at the very least $300 for a brick or something similar... and you'd still have the mid range issues from your room. Also this would probbably explain why they sound better at lower loudness from the rapper. Less level = less reflections.
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    mrT's Avatar
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    btw... if you want to hear a 4050>tubepre sound that REALLY sounds like a telephone check out the first song "vicious."

    Recorded from county on speakerphone.
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    Treating the room will solve a lot of your problems but not the immediate one.

    If your artist can't control his dynamic range it's time to learn to use a compressor. I use them on the way in all the time just for the scenario you listed or adding color before the converters.

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    I think the artists aren't the problem. Dynamics don't have much to do with a "honkey" midrange and a lack of clarity. Compression and EQ would help what he has sit better in the mix though. I was just going for the problems as stated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrT View Post
    Dynamics don't have much to do with a "honkey" midrange and a lack of clarity.
    True, but what if these descriptions are just characteristics of the artist voice?

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