Production RECORDING VOCALS -- Drop ur techniques and tips!


*** ill o.g. ***
all of us will at some stage be involved with recording rappers and vocalists...

experienced dudes at this, please drop your techniques and tips for recording rappers/vocalists succesfully and hopefully if the knowledge dropped is on point and helpful then this will become sort of a definite guide/thread...


Equality 7-2521

to avoid sibilance and plosives, place the mic to the side of the vocalists mouth. they may find it weird though and a dummy mic may have to be placed in front of them. use this technique only with a mic that has a polar pattern which wont affect the recording when the vocalist is off axis.


*** ill o.g. ***
hmmm, I was hoping more cats would drop knowledge - that's cool though, I know how busy everybody is. Here's a couple of tips from me;

1. make sure the MCs have thoroughly rehearsed prior to coming over to record. They should have their rhymes written and rehearsed and ready to record. It's soooo much quicker if the MC has their rhymes locked down before they get to the studio.

2. assuming the MC has rehearsed and is ready to record - try and record their full verse/song in 2 or 3 takes (preferably two), then choose the best one. I've been in studios and seen MCs take 20, 30 and even 50 takes for a verse and in most cases the quality of the recording gets WORSE not BETTER with each take as the MC gets more frustrated, tired, anxious, bored etc. Instead, get them ready to record, record 2 or 3 takes, listen to them and use the best one as the main vocal track

3. double ubs/backing vocals - recording a double up track (or tracks) that emphasises certain lines/rhymes and covers up for small errors/inconsistencies is usually a good idea. When doing it though, try and get the double ups EXACTLY on time/in line with the main vocal track so that it achieves it's purpose but isn't too obvious. You can also add add libs as well but in general, keep them to a minimum (check out Jim Jones/Dip Set for some good use AND some overuse of add libs).

4. use a "popper stopper". Yes, you can make a popper stopper out of a coat hanger and pantyhose but in my opinion just spend the $20 and buy one from your local music store.

5. learn your recording software and use it to enhance the recording process. Here's an example of how top audio engineer use Pro Tools to help the recording process;

"For working hip hop-style, Pro Tools is, Douglass admits, “a godsend. When they're writing on the spot, it really helps that when I punch in, it's nondestructive. I can move things around later or put EQ on a tiny part to make it match up. Or take pops: It's easy to go to the exact part of a word, put in a filter or EQ out below 100 [Hz], then fade in on the word instead of having a sharp attack.”

my tips are still only scratching the surface on this topic so any experienced cats who have any input - please do so :)

*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 21
I don't have much knowledge on the art of recording vocals but I have a lot of experience with it.

I was trying to do it myself from home recording vocals with a Radioshack Dynamic Omindirection mic but taking the process to the studio was 100 time better.

We did everthing you put on your list but there were a few other things to add.

1. To me that was the most important thing. The first time I dropped vocals, we made stuff up on location so I wasn't comfortable with what I was spitt'n so it phuct everything up. Timing. Character. If you don't have your lines memorized, it is almost a waste of time.

2. We tried 4 different verses and picked the best of the four. I thought this was the best thing to do since it was natural. But, my engineer Rob knew how to punch in recording so you can easily fix problem sections of the verse and fix it. On the link I attached on the bottom you can hear the difference. The first verse was correcting using the punch in technique so it sounds way more cleaner than the second verse. You don't hear any vocal fatigue where I have to catch my breath and stuff. But the second verse sounded better to me because you could hear my natural voice pattern.

3. Absolutely agree. He took it a step further and panned back and forth from left to right every two lines.

4. Popper makes a huge difference. Some thing else he did, you know hoe you see clips of people recording vocals and they hold their head up and sing right into the mic? He told me not to do that. The mic was just above my forehead and he had me look at the easel in from of me. I saw a clip where Nas was doing that. Looking down at his page of rhymes instead of directing his voice right at the mic. Rob says the mic is designed to pick up the audio in the room based on distance, not direction. distance from the mic was a bigger factor than whether of not I was looking at the mic or not. On the linked sample, you can here a difference in my vocals because I was about a foot farther from the mic on the second verse. We were recording at 3 in the morning and after I got used to being in the booth, I got really relaxed and backed a whole foot away from the mic.

5. I left that all to him. I don't use Pro Tools, I use Logic so he handles all the mastering for now.

Something else we found. You know how important moniters are? They had some Events. The mix sounded dope in the studio. We even walked into the other rooms while it was playing to see if we noticed anything different. Well, what happened was, Rob really likes to emphasize vocals. And the Events have nice bass response. sounded like it was hitting in the studio but as soon as we played it in my truck, you could tell the leveles on the vocals were way too loud. You know the phenomenon. If your moniters don't replicate bass levels well, you over compensate and increase the bass too much. If your moniters replicate bass too well, you cut the bass down because you think its too loud. Then when other people hear it on their systems, the bass is was too low. Works the same way with treble or higher frequencies. You can here the difference in the volume of the chorus and the verse.


Beats That Knock
*** ill o.g. ***
I've done some engineering/recording and ur absolutly right after the 20th take it gets WORSE not better...a good comfortable environment is key. Also if your recording out of a single room w/o a booth try to move the mic as far away as possible from your recording equipment so it wont pick up too much noise from your equipment. Another tip to an artist, when your on the mic and it feels like your goin to run out of breath..Stop...and let the engineer punch you back in, it saves alot of time that way.

Kevin A

Differentiated Rebel
*** ill o.g. ***
Your effect's will be the most important thing when you do your vocals. EQ, Noise Gate, Compressor, and a Limiter or De-esser if you choose. Find the right order for them in your hardware or Daw mixer. And Don't forget, you have to learn a little bit about the voice octive and EQing it. I doesn't really matter the mic when you know what to do with these. I got a 25 dollar audio technica mic and it sounds great. I use the mixer in Flstudio to do my vocals, and asio4all has version 2.2 out, and it is by far the Truth compared to previous versions. I just decided not to get a new audio interface for my labtop because of this. I adjust my vocal settings to where I actually don't mind hearing my own voice. I'm going back to touch it up with my EQ settings. Doing some readings that wings gave me right now.


Producer Extraordinaire
*** ill o.g. ***
here's a few tips....for rappers, put them in a damn straightjacket and tie em down cuz fuck, most dudes have no clue on how to not move around in the booth....stop wildin out unless u want a really shit recording lol

but on the real, use a very light compressor on the vocals....gets rid of most quick jumps in volume..thats a good basic tip, but try messing with different settings, and try several passes so u can get the perfect setting...and remember, every artists is different so you gotta make an effort to know your artists!!!

also, a really cool technique for recording singers, especially ones with a really strong, powerful voice, try micing them up twice......suspend a nice condensor in front of their mouth, then aim a dynamic (basic sm-58 or 57 will do fine) directly at their throat, and keep it CLOSE!! (almost touching their throat) You get a really nice sound out of it if you got everything done right....try moving the mics around (different angles etc) if u get some phasing issues, but most likely you should be fine...also make sure you got your pop filter in front of the condensor...and if you have any sibilance (ess sounds), just throw a de-esser on there to clean that up nice

most of all, just try to be creative and try different things....sometimes you'll be quite suprized with your results!!


Hey all...
Just wanted to drop a few hints for mic placement that you guys might find helpful.

The windscreen (pop filter) should be placed a good 6-8 inches from the mic to have the best effect. Most vocalists are gonna go right upto that thing, so if you place it too close to the mic, it won't do any good. Another good tip to get rid of sibilance (your Esses) is to tilt the mic slightly off axis. If you are hanging the mic, hang it so that instead of the mic pointing straight down, it is pointing SLIGHTLY towards the vocalist.

To get rid of the P sounds, caused by the gush of wind when you make a P, move the mic slightly above the vocalist's mouth. Basically, since you're probably using a good condenser mic for vocals, it's very sensitive and will really pick up those P's if it's right in front of the vocalist. placing the mic slightly above the mouth will let the wind from the P blow right under the mic, but the mic will still pick up the sound...

hope that helps...


*** ill o.g. ***
Ima MC and me any my crew be recording in my studio.Im recording tracks on Sonar 4 and i wanna knoe if anybody knoes any good techniques for Sonar 4..maybe one of yall knoe effects i can use or sum shyt like that to make the vocals sound more professional ya knoe.. holla at me if u do....


Paradigm P
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 74
FuriouZ said:
Ima MC and me any my crew be recording in my studio.Im recording tracks on Sonar 4 and i wanna knoe if anybody knoes any good techniques for Sonar 4..maybe one of yall knoe effects i can use or sum shyt like that to make the vocals sound more professional ya knoe.. holla at me if u do....
Start fuckin with Gate. It'll cut the mic off at certain levels, so you only hear the words and not the silence in between and shit. Really good for the adlib tracks.


a gate basically is something that is used for a mix... not for recording.

here's what it does...
you pass a signal ( vocal, snare, kick..whatever) into the gate.
you setup a threshold... and a few other things that aren't as important to understanding the basics of it.
basically.. when the signal level is above that threshold, the gate opens.. and let's your signal through... if it's below that level, the gate stays closed.
so, if you are doing say a guitar amp or something that has some buzz or excess noise that you want to get rid of when that guitar isn't playing... you use a gate when you mix, to get rid of that buzz. easy to do this in software if you don't have an actual hardware gate.

not a good idea to use a gate when recording.. cause let's say you're recording vocals.. and you setup the threshold... then the vocalist decides to do a certain part quieter than usual... the gate doesn't open.. and you don't get that part to tape.

hope that helps..

x-squizet said:
ok so thats what gate does i was wondering about that i was her stuff about gate but never knew what it does


Stupa Hero
*** ill o.g. ***
My $.02 from my recording experience would be:

1. Experiment, experiment, experiment - a voice is almost like your fingerprint - everyone's is different - there are some "standard" settings and techniques (most of you guys outlined many above) that can be used for almost everyone.

2. Compression - once again, there is no "one" setting for this - I personally use about 2:1 sometimes 4:1 compression with a decent attack setting. If you can cop alot of a capella LPs of anything that Dr. Dre puts out (Eminem, 50 Cent) and listen and study the "in your face" sound of those vocals - try to match that sound (or get the sound you want)

3. Train and teach your artist - artists (unless they have been recording for years!!!!) generally aren't coached well enough in the ART of recording. They can be the best lyricist or singer you know, but that doesn't mean they know how far to stand from (or near) your particular mic and you (if you're a producer and not a beat-maker) - you're the one shaping the sound of the record - so demand the performance that you want.

4. Umm - mainly just listen to high-quality commercial stuff (IMO - Dr. Dre has some of the highest quality mixes in Rap) and study the nuances and balances of the tracks and vocals.

5. If you have the skill and the money - invest in a high-quality (note that I didn't say expensive) mic, get a quality pre-amp, and quality compressor - these (especially the mic and pre-amp) will help the sound just because!



*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 21
(For people like me who are too broke and lazy to build a fuckin BOOTH!)

Auralex Xpanders!- These shits work! Not to the point to were it's like a booth but they work well! I had them set-up totally the opposite from how they tell you too and it sounded really nice... I just found a way to kind of enclose the sides and back of the mic so that the front of it (the mic, also use a pop filter or windscreen I use both).. Also Use a Mic-stand, kind of build like a helmet loking shape around the mic (the top bottom and sides should be covered... But i also use a Dbx compressor and a presonus pre-amp....

Nice area- This is also important, make sure the area does not have too many distractions (t.v., playstation, unplug phones, so it won't interfere with the recording session..) Don't have alot of people there that are just there! They always fuck something up... Just stay focused basically...

Scheduling - This is the key to success! Without a schedule you really fuck yourself up! You have to make sure to keep the sessions running on a time limit... Too much time on a track is usually just making it worse...

Rehearsal- as wack as it sounds it helps, make sure the m.c. know's what he's doin and you as a producer know what he is doing or trying to do with the track...


*** ill o.g. ***
Help me EQ vocals for rappers and female singers on the Mackie 1402 VLZ. Just picked this board up and want to make sure I got the EQ set right for both vocalists... Help........


Old and dirty...
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 303
Reverb is a great tool for vocals as well as EQing.....

usually a 2% reverb fills up empty spots pretty well....or a slight echo would be good also...

When I record.....I compress all vocals the same way...this way the levels are straight.....

On protools I put an auxilary track with all the plugins...and let all the vocals run off that one auxilary track

waves ultramaximizer L1 Is a good plugin....use the final mastering 16-bit preset..and it compresses the voice nicely.....


*** ill o.g. ***
1st- Lay off the chronic and cigarettes= all that smoke will murder the vocal cords
2nd- warm up your vocal cords before the session
3rd- make sure you dont have any parellel walls near the performer
4th- use pop filter when nessesary
5th- use a lil compressor and limiting

this is just my 2 cents, check out some sites on the web.