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

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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