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How to Mix Lead Vocal Reverb for Rap/R&B

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Hip-Hop Mix Tips: Lead Vocal Reverb for Rap/R&B
Hip-Hop Mix Tips: Lead Vocal Reverb for Rap/R&B - youtube Video
Hey guys, Matthew Weiss here.

I’m going to try to give you a quick one today, see how much we can do in maybe, a couple of minutes. We’re going to be talking about, lead vocal reverbs. Now, here I have a nice little vocal.


Nice sounding vocal, pretty close to where it would be in the finished record, here it is in context.

[vocals + instrumental]

Sounds good but it’s totally dry, so we are going to pick a reverb. Now, anytime you’re picking a reverb especially an algorithm, you have a lot of options. And that can be the toughest thing. You’ve cut plates, you’ve got halls, you’ve got rooms, you’ve got chambers, you’ve got non-linear reverbs.

So how do you choose? Well I like to grab a reverb plug-in that I like and in this case I’m using the Manny Marroquin Signature series and I’ll just go through. I’ll turn the reverb way up and I’ll go through the different possibilities for what I could be choosing and hear how they sound with the lead vocal in context. So, here for example is a plate.


Here’s a chamber.



So, there’s a difference between the two. The plate is more upper-mid-range focus. It’s a little denser, it’s a little, I want to say, choppier. The chamber is a little bit smoother. It’s more open in the upper-mid-range and a little more low-mid focus and so you choose which is better based on the context.

I think for Russell’s voice, I prefer the chamber here, so we’re going to roll with that. Also, I’ve set the timing, I’ve adjusted the pre-delay, still keeping in mind how it sounds against the main vocal. Even added like a little tiny phaser effect in here that I’m just tucking in subtly which I think is kind of cool.


Notice how the “s” really spikes through. I’m going to de-ess on the way to the reverb.

[rap vocal]

Yeah, that’s a lot better. I’m also going to add a little bit of, well actually quite a bit, of quarter note delay here going into the reverb feed.

And now there’s a lot of tones that I really want to take out here. There’s a mid-range tone, I don’t need all that high-end I’m going to suck out some of the frequency build up.


Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch:

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