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Mixing Rap Vocals to a Pre-Mixed Instrumental

Hey guys, Matthew Weiss.

So I put out that tutorial about mixing rap vocals. And pretty quickly after that I started getting a lot of questions about, specifically, how to approach mixing vocals to an already mixed two track instrumental beat.

This is something that comes up pretty frequently and I’ve actually written an article about it. But I am going to demonstrate it using the actual stuff I get hired to do that you can have a little bit more edification. Specifically, I’m going to show you how to do is how to open the beat up so that you can put the vocal in it. All right, let’s play it.

[rap vocals]

I’m going to take the effects off real quick. Lets give it a quick listen.


Let’s listen to the beat by itself real quick.


The first thing to note is that the beat sounds good, which is really important, because if the beat is mixed badly mixing vocals to it your pretty dependent on how it sounds to begin with. But, there are a couple things you can do. First of all it’s highly compressed and one of the reasons why, if you listen to this, you’ll notice that the vocal sounds like it’s over top of the beat.


[rap vocal + beat]

It doesn’t sound bad, it just doesn’t sound like it’s connected with it. So, what I am going to do is use a transient designer and what that’s going to do is is bring the attack of the kick and the snare more forward. What that does is give to a more front to back depth that allows me to place the vocals right behind the attack of the kick and the snare, which is kind of how I would mix it if I had individual access. Here is the version with the transient designer.


So, already it’s a subtle thing but already it sounds more inside the beat. Let me exaggerate what I was doing here.


Now obviously the snare is way out in front, the kick is flapping a lot harder. Turn that down. Next thing I am doing is just the beat in general is lacking a little lower mix, not a big deal I’m just doing a little two decibel bump in the natural bass range so that’s at approximately 140 hertz.


Then the last thing I am going to do is, to make the whole sound a little bigger and envelop the vocal a little more, I am going to raise the side information which is all the re verb, it’s your side to side imagining and I’m going to do that with this wave center plug-in.

So that’s how I would open up the beat in order to place the vocals in it.


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:

Free Workshop Video: Low-End Mixing Secrets

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