A lot of rap vocals on chart topping hip hop beats are not recorded in huge expensive studios. In fact, a professional quality hip hop rap can be recorded from your own home.
If you have a decent hip hop vocal recording, adding well apllied EQ and effects settings are all you need to make dope hip hop vocals that will shine on a groovy hip hop beat.
In this blogpost I provide some funtamental tips that will make the recording of your vocals better. If you follow these guidelines, adding the right amount of EQ and effects to your recorded vocals will hugely improve the quality of your track.
1 Prepare your voice
- On the day of recording drink lots of water (non carbonated!) to keep the vocal chords lubricated.
- Before recording hip hop vocals, warm up your voice. A warming up of a voice is an evidence for a classical opera singer. And yes I know, hip hop singers are convinced voice training isn’t cool. I would suggest you just do it, and don’t tell anyone about it.
- Sing some ascending and descending scales and loosen up the muscles of your jaw, tongue, lips and throat.
- Why is all that so important ? A good warm up emphasises the details in your voice. Good EQ’ing will bring up the details in the voice, and you’ll be wondered how much difference a good sounding voice can make.
2 Make yourself comfortable
- Music is passion, and good vocals are 90% about the performance and 10% about the recording quality.
- Of course, the recording quality of your hip hop vocals is important, but I’ve seen dozens of good performers that feel very uncomfortbale, intimidated or stressed in a expensive recording studio.
- You’ll do the best performance in you own environment.
- Make yourself comfortable and let your feelings flow without any restrictions.
- Stress or a lack of self confidence is unconsciously audible in your voice.
- Bring the best out of yourself.
3 Find your spot
Your home has a perfect recording spot. Find it! You want to make the recording of your voice to sound as natural as possible.
- In general, don’t record in very small rooms. Experience, enforced by the laws of physics and acoustics, tell us that very small rooms thin out your vocals in the middle range of the frequency spectrum. This effect is called comb filtering and it is extemely difficult to undo during the mixing stage.
- I have no clue why some rappers come up with the supposted brilliant idea of recording their hip hop vocals in a closet. Because the clothes absorb the reflections? My advice: don’t do it, and tell no one you’ve ever tried. I may spoil your image.
- A medium sized room with proper acoustic treatment is the way to go for. Clap your hands and listen if you hear echos coming back from the walls. If so, you’ll need blankets, sleeping bags or foam bedding to aborb the reflections. This will help the recording of the original voice without reflections. During the mixing stage, delays and reverb can be added to create a sense of space and environment.
4 Silence on the set
Obvious, but often forgotten: avoid background noise.
- Some noises are in the background and you may think they are not that important because no one will hear them in the mix.
- Subltle noises are enforced by EQ’ing, mixing and mastering and clutter up the final mix .
- Bling Bling may be cool to you, but a rattling gold necklace will spoil the recording of your hip hop vocals, just like snapping fingers, computer ventilators, starting or stopping elevators if you live in an apartment, road traffic or police sirens.
5 Treat the mic right
The mic is your best friend and deserves to be treated that way.
- Using a mic stand avoids unwanted noises from your hand or cable movements.
- Make sure you record your whole performance at a similar distance.
- Lots of hip hop artists tends to come closer and closer to the mic during a session. For a consistent recording of hip hop vocals: keep your distance.
- And always use a pop filter on the mic to avoid hisses, plosives and pops.
When you follow these five guidelines you will be amazed what can be done afterwards with eq and effects. A clean recorded top performance is the perfect start for a quality finished beat. I’ll discuss the next steps to take in some future posts.
In the meanwhile,
Stay Tuned !