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I'd need some help with Rap and RnB vocals
Old 5th August 2005
  #1
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solidstate's Avatar
 

I'd need some help with Rap and RnB vocals

Hi everyone,
my name is Brian and today is my very frist post here.
I own a small project studio here in Tokyo and next week i gonna start a project with an hip hop/RnB band(a female vocalist and a male rapper). Since i never worked before with hip hop or RnB i was wondering how i get the fat-punchy-clear sound on rap vocals, wide stereo chorus for the vocalist and killer drum sound that i hear on the commercial cds.
My "Hard weapons" are an SSL channel strip with the optional AD conversion card connected via AES/EBU to the motu 896HD and a U87 ai microphone while my "Soft weapon" are uad-1 and powercore plug ins. I'm wondering if the SSL/U87 is a good combination for rap/RnB and wich compressor/eq plug ins work best. Of course i know that depend on the material but i'd appreciate if you guys have any have any tips or if you know general comp/eq settings that works well for hip hop/RnB.

I'm really happy that i found this forum,
Thanks,

Brian.
Old 5th August 2005
  #2
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XHipHop's Avatar
Just to be clear...are you tracking the vocals AND mixing them?

If so, this is a 2 part question that require two different skills.

Also, what style is the music? Compare to some other artists if you could...
Old 5th August 2005
  #3
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Stoneface's Avatar
 

I would think you could capture some really nice vocals with the SSL > U87. I would prefer a Neve"ish" preamp for Hip-Hop but that's just my opinion. My best advice is to simply start tracking and see what style of Hip-Hop you are dealing with and the texture of the artists voices. Once you can gather that information, simply use some of your test material (Cd's that sound like you want it to sound) and begin tweaking from there. Maybe rolling of some low frequencys on the vocal track is what it needs. Taking advantage of the channel strips compressor could prove positive as well. Or, don't be afraid to mess with mic placement. Many times if you are not getting the sound you want have the artist stand closer or further from the mic. Remember, the goal is to capture the vocals the way you want them to start with. These are just a few examples of things you can do to capture a better vocal track.

All that being said, hopefully the artists have talent. Not a whole lot you can do if they don't have talent to start with. Hope this helps.

Happy tracking!

Old 5th August 2005
  #4
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Maybe see if you can borrow a few other mics just in case for different flavors if you don't like what you hear. Do you have a 57? That comes in handy in a pinch.
There's nothing wrong with your basic signal path. You won't know until you do it whether it works or not for that particular artist. Good luck.
Old 5th August 2005
  #5
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solidstate's Avatar
 

Thanks for the quick replies,

and yes i'm gonna be the mix engineer as well. They gave alicia key cd as a reference.
It's RnB rather the hip hop, but the beats are pretty aggressive.
Old 5th August 2005
  #6
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XHipHop's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by solidstate
Thanks for the quick replies,

and yes i'm gonna be the mix engineer as well. They gave alicia key cd as a reference.
It's RnB rather the hip hop, but the beats are pretty aggressive.
Recording rap is not that different from recording vocals from any other genre, except for that fact that rap vocals can often get very percussive so compression needs to be set up differently sometimes to level things out and keep everything audible than with a "singer". Color and distortion are a nice thing, in my opinion, that's why a Neve style pre is VERY nice for rap. I haven't used that SSL strip you have, but I have no doubt that it will get the job done.

Watch P's and S'ses because they might be trouble when you come to mixing and you're trying to keep thing clear and understandable. Pop filters are generally a good idea with an artist that you aren't familiar with the skill level of.

Hmmm...the 87 is def. a nice mic for lead vox. Gets the mids out in front and cuts through dense beats, in my opinion. I wouldn't be against you getting something "airy" for backup vocals for the R&B stuff...something in the C12 family?
Old 6th August 2005
  #7
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solidstate's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=Gets the mids out in front and cuts through dense beats, in my opinion. I wouldn't be against you getting something "airy" for backup vocals for the R&B stuff...QUOTE]

So, you suggest to cut the mid on the backing vocals? Around what frequency should i make the dip?

On the lead RnB voice i'm using a 1176LN with a 4:1 ratio, a fast attack and a medium-slow release. My only concern is about the input( wich control the trashold as well) and output(make up gain, i guess) settings.. i've just got this plug in and i'm not very familiar with it. About eq i use the pultec pro with a very nice preset called " Body and hair, female vocal". Basically are two gentle broadband boosts around 17khz and 5khz. For the backing vocals, since the uad1 processor power isn't unlimited, i use just the standard logic compressor and channel eq.What else? I use the U87 low cut filter and the SSL compressor(ratio 3:1) while i record.
Old 6th August 2005
  #8
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XHipHop's Avatar
There's no way I could tell you what eq cuts or ratios or anything like that to use. You'll have to experiment with that on your own.

What reverbs are you using, by the way? Space Designer? I like the "small wood room" from the Lexicon 96 presets (or whatever they call it...). It's good for a "tight" sound on lead vocals.
Old 6th August 2005
  #9
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XHipHop's Avatar
Oh, and if you don't have any other native compressors other than the stock Logic on, check out digitalfishphones.com and download the fish fillets. The blockfish compressor can do some cool things.
Old 6th August 2005
  #10
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solidstate's Avatar
 

I also have the T-racks as a native compressor. On the powercore i have the powercore CL and 24/7 c, wich i believe is the clone of the 1176LN. I've just got the Uad1 plate 140 but i'm still trying to figure out wich preset work better for RnB vocals.
Old 6th August 2005
  #11
Gear Addict
 

i think the quartet is the most valuable piece of front end possible for hip hop

the mic pre is amazing, the eq is a simple baxandell which is perfect for vocals especially adding a little hi end , the compressor is quick but still spunky and the desser is a god send
Old 7th August 2005
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XHipHop
Pop filters are generally a good idea with an artist that you aren't familiar with the skill level of.
From a pure engineering / preventative maintenance standpoint pop filters are a must for most rap vocals. The little bits of spit from the up close performers can eventually cause damage to your expensive condenser mics. Some of it does get through the grille. That 'aint Absopure coming out of the human mouth...

Always put a pop (spit?) filter up when tracking a rap vocal. heh Better safe than sorry.

Lawrence
Old 7th August 2005
  #13
There are a couple things to keep in mind in terms of actually tracking.

Hip hop guys almost always want to double (sometimes triple) track vocals so Vocalign is your best friend here!

Organize your session beforehand. My standard hip hop tracks are usually:

2 main tracks for each verse and 2 (2 because most rappers will record a phrase and then go back and record the next phrase slightly overlapping or too close to make punching in very fun)

1 or two 'double tracks' for backup

1 or 2 ad lib tracks

1 whisper track

I will then do the same thing for the chorus and send each group of tracks to a seperate bus (verses and chorus)

Hip hop doesnt usually have much reverb (if at all) but I will use a bit on the chorus at times. I also like to pan my backing tracks pretty hard on the chorus as well as add a stereo image enhancer to really add some impact when the hook rolls around. A little delay on the hooks, slight mid scoops on the backing and you are really close.

Hip hop is really really easy compard to tracking most other things and if you take the time to set up your session well ahead of time you can crank through tracks like crazy as most dont change all that much.

Good luck.
Old 15th August 2005
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by solidstate
I also have the T-racks as a native compressor. On the powercore i have the powercore CL and 24/7 c, wich i believe is the clone of the 1176LN. I've just got the Uad1 plate 140 but i'm still trying to figure out wich preset work better for RnB vocals.

If you have the UAD 1 you should also try the LA2A on rap vox's I use it on my own, very transparent, but also quite warm, (so beefs them up nicely) Try some heavy settings. Reduction around 60-80 gets vox's sounding fat and warm.
Old 15th August 2005
  #15
Gear Head
 

You should find some usefull informations about rap vocals in the following thread :
Rap Vocals
Old 15th August 2005
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by blayz2002
If you have the UAD 1 you should also try the LA2A on rap vox's I use it on my own, very transparent, but also quite warm, (so beefs them up nicely) Try some heavy settings. Reduction around 60-80 gets vox's sounding fat and warm.
Further to the above I've just tried chaining a LA2A followed by a 1176 and this gives you a nice upfront feel......this is bearing in mind as I now have no front end compressor ...I record straight into my DAW and then use vst stuff from there.
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