Welcome to the brand new Mixing Rap Vocals With Waves Plugins guide. We’ll talk about how to mix rap vocals with using EQ, Compression in Series, Delays and Reverbs.
The audio stems were not recorded by me, but downloaded from the list of sites here.
This is purely a mixing session and while the tracks were not perfectly recorded, this is not a problem for me to create a tutorial to share with you my train of thoughts.
Mixing Rap Vocals – Watch in 1080p!
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If you’re one of the guys that prefer to read an article over a watching a video, I have also created an article version for you right below!
Rap Mixing Vocal Chain
I highly recommend you to watch the video, because nothing beats a video with audio in my humble opinion, but let me share with you the plugin settings and my train of thoughts behind the settings of the particular mix above.
Note: As always, when I share my chains I advise you to bypass the plugins to actually hear if you’re improving the sound or not. Sometimes, out of the 5-6 plugins I recommend, 3 or 4 might be enough for your mix. This entirely depends on how the vocals are sounding without any FX on it. I will share everything I use though, so you can experiment with everything and let your ears decide what to keep or not.
The Console Simulator
This is simply an analog console emulator to give our cold recording software a warmer sound.
You really don’t need to worry about this if you don’t own it. The difference is so subtle that it’s really hard to recognize. You can live without it.
If you’d like to learn more about the plugin in the image above, please click: Waves NLS Review – The Sound (Part 1).
Rap Vocal EQ
This is my favorite EQ plugin, but you can use any kind of plugin it doesn’t matter.
The reason I use this one, is cause I am used to its interface and I can do my things faster and easier. If you’re used to using an another EQ plugin, you really don’t have to change it.
Compressing Rap Vocals
These are usually my 2 favorite compressors that I use 80% of the time on vocals. This is also called compression in series. It helps a lot while mixing rap vocals.
Mixing rap vocals can be a bit challening is someone sent you mix his vocals without him adding some compression during tracking. As a solution, we use multiple compressors.
If you’d like to know how to use compression in series with any kind of compressors, even stock ones, then you may read this guide.
De-Esser on Rap Vocals
A de-esser is nothing more than a compressor specially designed to compress – reduce the annoying S sounds.
You can use any de-esser you wish, there’s also a waves version (the one I used in the video).
Since the de-esser compresses and fixes the sound, you can find your stock one under your Compression, Restoration or even the Dynamics folder of your daw.
Rap Vocal Effects
Since modern rap is becoming “drier” each day, I really love using a delay that is tapped to the tempo of the song. This way the delay can sync with the tempo and be less audible.
Using high-pass and low-pass filters helps too to make the delay “glue” with the vocals. I usually prefer a 1/16th note delay, sounds like a slap delay, I love it!
I almost do the same for reverbs. I prefer to use short plates or rooms though, cause it really helps to take out the dryness of the microphone, still maintaining the vocals dry enough to compete with the commercial rap vocals.
In order to help you understand better how I use the chain above, please watch this youtube video. Nothing beats video and audio. I have also included subs for ya!
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