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two rap mixing questions - vocals (reverb) and sine bass (mixing)
Old 11th February 2005
  #1
Gear Nut
 

two rap mixing questions - vocals (reverb) and sine bass (mixing)

Hi everyone,

Two questions:

1) How much reverb is used on rap vocal tracks? I've been using a .3 second delay, maybe .4, on a TrueVerb plug-in. I've noticed more and more that rap vocals have a little space for the vocals to sit in, right in the middle. I'm thinking that the vocals are all recorded dry and ambience is added later. It seems there's some early reflections, and maybe a really short tail of reverb, but not a noticeable one. Might the beat have a stereo widener on it? Is reverb on rap vocals common? It doesn't sound like a short-delay that's being used in a lot of songs, just a very slight stereo reverb, hardly noticeable. Dry rap vocals in my mixes just don't sit the same way without a tiny bit of reverb on them.

2) How the heck do you tame the sine bass lines in hip hop? I couldn't for the life of me get this one mix to translate, using very low sine waves for a bass line. 30-110 Hz, maybe. I don't have a good monitoring setup now anyways, which just made it more difficult. I ended up cutting out a lot of the bass in order for it to sound good on other systems. But, a lot of commercial tracks still keep that sine bass and they translate great. Any advice on how to approach mixing these extremely low tones?

I am getting a lot of hip-hop coming through my studio, and would love to gain some more insight on how the mixing is done.

Thank you!

John
Old 11th February 2005
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

About the reverb, you probably want to keep it as dry as possible. A reverb with mainly early reflections or a subtle room program should work ok. Careful use of slapback delays can add depth and make the vocal sound bigger. Don't be afraid to pan the fx returns around too, to create a fake stereo space.

For those super-low sine type basses, often adding distortion makes them more defined and able to cut through the mix at a lower level. If you have any tools that can add upper harmonics to the signal, this might help bring the bass out on multimedia speakers, etc. Something that may be worth trying is compressing the hell out of the bass on another bus and adding a fair amount of low EQ, finally bringing that bus up behind the unprocessed bass track. With a sine bass, you probably don't want much dynamics in the signal, and each note should have about the same apparent volume.

I'm not very experienced at hip-hop mixing, but I hope this helps some.
Old 11th February 2005
  #3
I usually use the old eventide dual 910 trick... stereo delays of maybe 7ms on one side, 14 on the other, panned wide. Pitch up on the left side by 6 cents, pitch down on the right by 6 cents. Modulate the pitches to taste if so desired. You can get this with the following plugs: pitch blender, doubler (waves), eventide 949, or eventide 910. I'm sure there's others, but these are the ones I use. Bring this aux up until you can barely detect it. Then I'll put a long delay on as well... maybe eighths or dotted 16ths with echo farm or another dark delay. Reverbs work OK for the early reflection thing as well, but you better have a damn good digital reverb, as many of them don't do well under 15ms.

As far as the 808s... maybe double the track and run it through a sansamp plug, to bring out harmonics that will speak on smaller speakers, so you don't have to rely completely on the fundamental frequency. (check phase on this) Or, try another box for sinebass, or switch samples. You'd be surprised how much subtle variance there is. And always make sure the 808 is in tune with the track!!!! This is the number one thing that will ef your entire mix up fast if it's not right.
Old 11th February 2005
  #4
One the first of the 2 questions:

1) Do whatever sounds good and makes the client happy.

Be it a lot or no reverb there are no set rules.

I hate when people say there is no reverb in certain mixes just because they can't tell.

Truth be told its there but its blended into the track really well.

Part of the secret is the artful use of compression and panning on the tracks.

That's why mixing is both a technical and artistic endeavor.

Heck when mixing at rap at times i'll add a little reverb and delay on kicks,snares and hihats and to alot of guys(the assistants) this is a shock.

Again do whatever works.


2)How do you tame the sub-bass?

This is easy.

Mix it straight and tight up the middle and when you get to the extreme bottomn you'll have space.

I tend to add a little suboctave shifter on the main hard hiiting kicks(around 44hz). to give space to the bass.

This usualy frees up the 100-120hz region where most basses live.

From 75hz on down you got lots to work with.

Without a monitor where you can hear the bottomn its pretty tough though.
Old 11th February 2005
  #5
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SnakeCained's Avatar
 

Eventide on the voice and a Multi band comp for the Sine bass issue!

Dre mixes very very dry which is why it sticks out. That and mastering hotter than anything I've come across.
Old 11th February 2005
  #6
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Charlie-O's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
I tend to add a little suboctave shifter on the main hard hiiting kicks(around 44hz). to give space to the bass.

Thrill,


Would you mind ellaborating on this one, his sounds interesting.
Old 2nd July 2005
  #7
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Sirocco's Avatar
 

b

try using waves rbass to add upper harmonics

or some slight distortion followed by a lowpass
Old 2nd July 2005
  #8
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Gregg Sartiano's Avatar
 

Check out a capella mixes on CD (and vinyl) singles.

Agreed with thrill -- well-mixed FX will often hide themselves in a mix. Echoes timed to the tempo of the track will especially seem to sink into the track (although this is something I tend to use more on singers).

A lot of it depends on the rapper's speed & style.
Old 2nd July 2005
  #9
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
I hate when people say there is no reverb in certain mixes just because they can't tell.

Truth be told its there but its blended into the track really well.

you're dead on, and this can't be overstated imo.

one of the biggest shifts in my mixing aesthetic came when i got an analog "mono minus" box or whatever the heck they're called... it inverts the phase and adds the tracks together so all mono info is canceled and only the outside stuff remains.

suddenly i heard verbs, filter sweeps, whisper tracks, fills, parts, sounds and a million other tricks that are often so buried as to be *impossible* to hear when the full mix is up, but they're there nonetheless and would be missed if they weren't.

the amount of musical info that can be subliminally tucked in to a mix is astounding, and it's one of the (many) things that elevates some recordings to that level where precious few live.

as for bringing out the harmonics on a sine bass, all i can say is, if it has a harmonic, it ain't a sine. to the original poster, without an exceptional monitoring environment you don't have much of a chance with subbass. headphones are your best bet, and a 2buss comp that is sidechained to a hipass is your best friend. hint: there's less bass in those mixes than you think, it's all in where it sits... think more 120 and less 60.


gregoire
del ubik
Old 2nd July 2005
  #10
so would you make the bass sit at 100-120 area and kicks beneath it? or the other way around? what would be a good peak frequency for kicks?
Old 2nd July 2005
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharma one
so would you make the bass sit at 100-120 area and kicks beneath it? or the other way around? what would be a good peak frequency for kicks?

It really depends on the sounds you are working with.

There isn't one formula.

Peaking a kick at around 100hz or 125hz is easy but if you are not careful will eat all your headroom.

Same goes for the bass.

If you make it peak on its dominant notes it will push up to high into the vocal range.

Personally these days most of the time i low pass the basses and make slight peaks on certain notes.

I also mult/split the bass tracks.

Same goes for the kicks.
Old 2nd July 2005
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b i k
one of the biggest shifts in my mixing aesthetic came when i got an analog "mono minus" box or whatever the heck they're called... it inverts the phase and adds the tracks together so all mono info is canceled and only the outside stuff remains.

suddenly i heard verbs, filter sweeps, whisper tracks, fills, parts, sounds and a million other tricks that are often so buried as to be *impossible* to hear when the full mix is up, but they're there nonetheless and would be missed if they weren't.

the amount of musical info that can be subliminally tucked in to a mix is astounding, and it's one of the (many) things that elevates some recordings to that level where precious few live.
do you know if theres a plug in equilvalent for this?
Old 2nd July 2005
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Umlaaat
do you know if theres a plug in equilvalent for this?
You could do this yourself on a DAW.
Old 2nd July 2005
  #14
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strauss's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Umlaaat
do you know if theres a plug in equilvalent for this?
If your on windows you can use Vexongo's MSED. It's free!
Old 2nd July 2005
  #15
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paultools's Avatar
 

"Magic Air" from the Eventide H3000 was my favorite for vocals.

Clever use of parallel compression and eq will solve the 808 issue.
This brings up the age-old issue of Main Monitor EQ... do you EQ a smiley "club" for hype on the big speakers or is your curve more for accuracy?
Many people make the mistake of trying to get the beats to bang the way they will in the club or in the trunk, not allowing for the curves and subs that will be present in playback systems for this type of music. Sometimes your clients will not understand this.
Build your entire mix around the 808, being careful about the use of a bass line that shares the same frequency range near the bottom. If the relationship between the two is not right, you will get some wild speaker excursions due to the waves beating against one another.
Old 3rd July 2005
  #16
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Ribbonmicguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Umlaaat
do you know if theres a plug in equilvalent for this?
Dunno about plugin, but Cranesong Avocet has this feature and it has helped me to check whether my center image is 'strong' or not.
Old 4th July 2005
  #17
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how would you go about doing this in something like, um .. Logic?
Old 4th July 2005
  #18
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In logic you can just insert a 'Gain' plugin on a stereo track, invert the phase of one side and set it to mono - that should make the centre-panned stuff disappear (as its phase-cancelled) and leave you with the sides...
Old 4th July 2005
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Try Waves Maxx Bass to add harmonics to a sin Wave or other Bass material. It works great on Multimedia and other smaller speakers.
Old 4th July 2005
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by explorer
In logic you can just insert a 'Gain' plugin on a stereo track, invert the phase of one side and set it to mono - that should make the centre-panned stuff disappear (as its phase-cancelled) and leave you with the sides...

What?
Old 4th July 2005
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
What?
I was just answering the question about how to setup a "mono minus" box as ubik described it, using Logic. People were discussing ways of finding out about the stereo effects used in tracks etc. and this is one way to do it...

Maybe Umalaat wasn't asking about this but thats what I though the wanted to know?
Old 5th July 2005
  #22
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DeeDrive's Avatar
 

Don't forget to put the standard stereo delay on the vox to make it sound like 2 of the same rapper are coming to kill you and knock up yo mama.
Old 5th July 2005
  #23
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
I don't have a good monitoring setup now anyways, which just made it more difficult.
I find that if the monitoring (speakers) are not up to scratch for the low end, using a familiar pair of good quality headphones can help, so long as you establish what the "right" kind of bass sounds like in the cans by refering to a relevant example.

First get the average volume of the two tracks in the ballpark, then just concentrate on the low-end only and do an A/B switch between your material and the example track, and remember that mastering or mix buss compression can add harmonics to the bass, so the playing field is never level...

Also, try low passing the main mix with a filter just to hear what is actually going on in the bottom end. I'm always suprise by how little there is in some mixes, compare to what my brain is adding when the mix is full..


Hope that helps, I'm on the same learning curve myself
Old 6th July 2005
  #24
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defjamm's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by explorer
In logic you can just insert a 'Gain' plugin on a stereo track, invert the phase of one side and set it to mono - that should make the centre-panned stuff disappear (as its phase-cancelled) and leave you with the sides...
works great, thx!
Old 7th July 2005
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by explorer
In logic you can just insert a 'Gain' plugin on a stereo track, invert the phase of one side and set it to mono - that should make the centre-panned stuff disappear (as its phase-cancelled) and leave you with the sides...

i tried doing this, but doesn't seem to work. I've got Phase > Inv. L and Options > Mono.
Old 7th July 2005
  #26
Lives for gear
 

It works in logic 7. In earlier versions you'll need two 'Gainer' plugins - one set to invert the phase of one side and the second set to make it mono. I could never figure out why you needed the 2 plugins for this but at least they've fixed it in Logic 7....
Old 7th July 2005
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by karatemanjohnny
Hi everyone,

Two questions:

1) How much reverb is used on rap vocal tracks? I've been using a .3 second delay, maybe .4, on a TrueVerb plug-in. I've noticed more and more that rap vocals have a little space for the vocals to sit in, right in the middle. I'm thinking that the vocals are all recorded dry and ambience is added later. It seems there's some early reflections, and maybe a really short tail of reverb, but not a noticeable one. Might the beat have a stereo widener on it? Is reverb on rap vocals common? It doesn't sound like a short-delay that's being used in a lot of songs, just a very slight stereo reverb, hardly noticeable. Dry rap vocals in my mixes just don't sit the same way without a tiny bit of reverb on them.

2) How the heck do you tame the sine bass lines in hip hop? I couldn't for the life of me get this one mix to translate, using very low sine waves for a bass line. 30-110 Hz, maybe. I don't have a good monitoring setup now anyways, which just made it more difficult. I ended up cutting out a lot of the bass in order for it to sound good on other systems. But, a lot of commercial tracks still keep that sine bass and they translate great. Any advice on how to approach mixing these extremely low tones?

I am getting a lot of hip-hop coming through my studio, and would love to gain some more insight on how the mixing is done.

Thank you!

John

First of all excuse my english, very poor
On rap vocals reverb is not very important (but great mixers prefer plate emt140 or emt244 on with very short decay time). On an mixing book I read some tecnique taken from various rap and r&b guru. You can have a good stereo image with a slap 1/8 + 1/64 delay on the left side and 1/8 - 1/64 on the other channel. The guru was david pensado if i remember well (or john gass?). This can improve also the timing of vocal track and give you a little swing.
you can have a nice image too in another way. Compress a lot your vocal tracks, reverb only the compressed signal then put the mono result in one channel (left for example) and a delayed version on the other. For example with a 10 msec delay (yea time very short to obtain with a plugin, but ultrafunk delay can). This is a nice image to keep in background. Then add your dry vocal track on.


When i'm less busy i can suggest something for your second question!
Old 7th July 2005
  #28
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

i'll just chime in to say that doing some of these things in a daw --- specifically, the center-cancellation trick and the very-short-panned-delays trick --- will not produce the same results as doing it in the analog domain.

with short delays, the daw will sum them and produce a very metallic, comb-filtered sound, at least to my ears. and as for mono, or mix minus mono, again, the computer just doesn't yield the same results. daw mono is not as punchy as analog mono, and daw mix-minus-mono doesn't reveal the same level of hidden details.

i have no good explanation for any of this, it just seems like one of the areas where digital still comes up short.


gregoire
del ubik
Old 8th July 2005
  #29
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This can also be done by hitting the surround button on my old Pioneer hifi

I used to get a kick out of doing this with some old Sade albums.
Old 8th July 2005
  #30
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b i k
i'll just chime in to say that doing some of these things in a daw --- specifically, the center-cancellation trick and the very-short-panned-delays trick --- will not produce the same results as doing it in the analog domain.

with short delays, the daw will sum them and produce a very metallic, comb-filtered sound, at least to my ears. and as for mono, or mix minus mono, again, the computer just doesn't yield the same results. daw mono is not as punchy as analog mono, and daw mix-minus-mono doesn't reveal the same level of hidden details.

i have no good explanation for any of this, it just seems like one of the areas where digital still comes up short.


gregoire
del ubik
Agreed!
I prefer 'real' tape delay and 'real' plate reverb in my mix. Sometimes I can get good results with convolution when I mix with a daw. The reason: in analog domain sound is vivid and a little instable. There isn't a perfect phase cancellation if you phase two mono channel to 180 degrees. Short delay works.
In daw all is a bit perfect and sometimes you get a metallic flanger effect, not very musical.
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