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Tips for Mixing Rap Vocals with Multiband Compression

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How to Mix Rap Vocals with Multiband Compression
How to Mix Rap Vocals with Multiband Compression - youtube Video
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Matthew Weiss, www.weiss-sound.com, www.theproaudiofiles.com.¬†Today we’re checking out multi-band compression on vocals. Okay, so¬†why use multi-band compression on a vocal? Well you would want to use¬†that when a specific tone, or set of tones, is coming out of the overall¬†tonality of the sound in an unpleasing way. It’s not that there’s too much¬†of a tone throughout; it’s that there’s too much of a tone on occasion.

Now the most common use of multiband compression on the vocal is the de-esser? The d-esser is a multi-band compressor. It acts very fast and it’s¬†generally set to attenuate high frequencies. I’m going to play a vocal for¬†you. This is completely untreated, and then I’m going to show you how I’m¬†using de-essing and multiband compression and why. The artist is Jean¬†Grey.

[vocal]

So the first thing is that there is some pretty sharp tingy esses popping¬†up in that. I caught one at about 7K and I caught another one at about 9.3.¬†And even the very, very top, top end of things that are over 10.4 is where¬†I set it, so about 10K. All of that stuff is jumping around too much.¬†Here’s with the de-essers on.

[female rap vocal]

Now it sounds like it’s underwater, you’re probably thinking. Well you’d¬†probably be correct. However, once the top end is controlled, then I can¬†actually boost the top end quite a bit.

[rap vocal]

And the esses never really get overwhelming. That is the power of de-essing. Now in this particular case, I’m using three de-essers. That is not¬†standard. That is only because that’s what sounded right for this¬†particular vocal. You have to always react to what you’re hearing. Usually¬†one de-esser, not even using a de-esser but actually just manually turning¬†the esses down, or maybe even no de-essing at all is sometimes fine. It¬†really depends on what you have in front of you.

All right, I’m also using multiband compression in another instance here. As I was¬†listening, I felt that the mid-body, about 400 hertz and also something in¬†the upper mid-range, which turned out to be 3.3, was just too bouncy.

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[vocal]

The first one that’s mainly apparent is the boxiness at 427 Hz.

[vocal]

And here’s without the 3.3 one. Now with the 3.3 one, with both of those¬†frequencies actually, I’m boosting them as well. I’m attenuating and¬†boosting so that when it’s too much it’s being pulled back but when it’s¬†not enough it’s being pushed forward. That’s kind of the coolness of multiband compression. It’s sort of an advanced technique.

It can get you in a lot of trouble because you have to focus on things like¬†attack time, release time, and the frequency and tonality. But it can be a¬†very useful tool when you want to retain as much of the frequency as¬†possible but reign it in when it’s becoming too strong.

[vocal]

A little rudimentary EQ, a little rudimentary compression, a little more touch of EQ and we get this.

[vocal]

So there is how I would use multiband compression¬†on a vocal. It’s very¬†case specific. A lot of times, I would say, maybe seven out of ten¬†mixes, I mix without any kind of multiband compression at all outside¬†of de-essing a vocal. So it’s something that is available to you if you¬†choose to use it.

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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: Weiss-Sound.com

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