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How to EQ Rap and Hip-Hop Vocals

Hey, what’s up guys? Welcome to another video here.

I’ve got a Rap/Hip Hop thing, and I’m going to show you how to EQ the main vocal.

Let’s just get into it. So here’s the track. This is what it sounds like.


Really basic stuff. Let’s just talk about EQing this main vocal here.

I’m going to mute some stuff. This is what it sounds like raw, just straight through the microphone.


So there was no real EQ used when it was tracked. It sounds pretty flat. It’s got some low end stuff we don’t need, and then we kind of want to open the top end up and just give it a lot more air, a lot more presence, and make it a little more compact so it cuts a little bit in the mix and it sits well in the mix, right?

So what I did is I just used this SSL EQ from Waves. A little five band thing here, and let me just walk through the settings here. I’ve got a high pass filter up at about 150Hz, and then I’ve got a low filter cutting minus 2dB at 185, and then the low-mid filter I’m dumping out a little 500, where things can get a little boxy. Another minus 2dB there. Then finally, we’re boosting some air at 10kHz.

So this is the settings, but sort of my thought process when I listen to a vocal and decide what needs to get cut or boosted or what, basically I kind of prescribe to the whole subtractive EQ thing, which you’ve probably heard of here on the interwebs.

Basically, that means you’re going to subtract, you’re going to remove the frequencies that you don’t like, and then you’ll boost, where some people will just go in and start boosting things and carve it out that way. There’s no real right or wrong, it’s just sort of how your brain works and how you feel like you need to get the job done.

So anyways, the first thing I always do is a high pass filter. I’m going to zero this stuff out and we’ll go through step by step and you can kind of hear the process of what happens.

So this is raw.

[vocals, raw]

Now we’ll engage the high pass filter.

[vocals with high pass]

That right there does a huge chunk of the work, just high pass filtering. Just like my other video. High pass everything. You can get so much of — get so many of your issues taken care of just with that.


Then — what is it, cut out a little bit — there’s a little bit of mud. 180-200 can kind of build up a little bit in the low end.

[vocals, EQ enabled and bypassed]

So that’s where we’re at so far.

Then 500 can get a little boxy, so I’ll usually shave a little bit of that out if I feel like it needs it.

[vocals, adjusting EQ]

Just that frequency right there. So minus 2dB there…

[vocals with EQ]

So right there, we’ve got all the low information cleared out. We really want to open up the top end some more, so 10kHz is a great place to start, and I’m going to go 3dB.

[vocals with EQ]

And there you go. Pretty easy stuff. Here’s what it sounds like in the mix, and then I’ll bypass the EQ and turn it on and off, and you can see how it — you know, jumps in and out. Here we go.


Just a couple of extra thoughts. Usually what I’ll do — in this one, just for generic purposes, I used just one EQ. Usually if I’m mixing for a client or something, I’ll use like, two different EQs. On the first EQ, I’ll use an Oxford — something really precision. Something I can go in and notch out specific stuff, and I’ll use that to do all my subtractive EQ.

So all my high pass filtering, all my cutting out on the low filter and the mid filter stuff. Then after it, I’ll come back in with a Pultec or a Maag EQ and boost 10kHz. Start there, see what happens, and then adjust. So I’ll open it up and make things brighter, accentuate things with an EQ after that. That’s just how I work.

Sometimes I’ll do it all in one. This SSL is a great EQ for that. You can get pretty precise with it, and the SSL stuff just — to me, it just sounds like Hip Hop. It sounds like Rap. So much of it is done on SSL consoles these days.

So anyways, that’s EQing Rap and Hip Hop stuff. If you like the video, like it, subscribe. We just finished up the mixing giveaway. Lots of great entries, and I’ll be announcing the winner later this week. Probably on Thursday. So come back for that if you entered. We’ve got a cool plug-in from Steven Slate Drums to give away, SSD4. So yeah.

Like us on Facebook, get at us on all of the social media stuff, and we will see you in the next video. Later.




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