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Mixing Rap Vocals with Frequency Dependent Sidechain Compression

Hey Guys, Matthew Weiss,, I’m going to show you a little alternative to traditional EQ and compression which is using a compressor with an EQ’able¬†sidechain. And using that to reduce the apparent content of a certain frequency. I’m going to play this vocal for you and then I’ll talk about it.

[rap vocal]

Overall the vocal sounds pretty good but from time to time it’s sounding a little bit too nasally. There’s a little bit of a tone around the 1k zone that just pops out. But it pops out in a dynamic way. It’s either not too present at all or it’s just flying forward. So, a good way to address this is to grab a compressor and if it has something with a sidechain, you can EQ the sidechain to focus in on a certain frequency band.

So instead of the compressor reacting to the entire sound, it’s actually just reacting to a given frequency. This is not the same as multi-band compression. Multiband compression would only reduce that frequency. This is going to reduce the entire signal, but it’s only going to reduce this entire signal as a reaction to that specific frequency. In other words, here’s the signal in itself.

[female rap vocals]

Here’s what’s feeding the detector circuit of the compressor.


[rap vocal]

Here’s the result.


So it’s not really EQ, it’s compression, but it’s compression that’s reacting to such a specific frequency, it almost acts like EQ. I’m not so sure I actually set the band right though.

[rap vocals]

Yeah I think I might like that better. I’d have to play with it for a bit, but anyway, that is a way of using frequency-dependent compression.


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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