by: Michael Smith
Hip hop vocals, like in any
other genre, are the soul of the song. A lot
of young artists have the misconception that softwares can do anything these
While this is true to an
extent, there in nothing better than a well defined and perfectly recorded vocal
It becomes a ‘diamond in the
rough’ that can be polished and cut beautifully at the mixing
Here are some of the things you can
do to ensure that you have a perfect vocal take.
The ambience of the
recording setup is a key factor in giving the vocalist the space to deliver
his best take.
Chose a studio where you are comfortable working
with the recording engineer.
The engineer must understand your needs and your
Not only does he need to push an artist to give
his best but he also needs to know how. A bad take or fumble can generate
poor confidence levels.
A good engineer can make all the difference in
helping an artist overcome confidence issues.
If you are recording at a studio, ensure that you
inform the engineer about your specific requirements.
This could include
pop filters, a specific mic or anything else that you
require. If you are recording at a home or in a booth, ensure that it is
acoustically dead and doesn’t boom or echo.
Noise from external sources must be nil otherwise
they will interfere.
Placement is key.
Adjust the height that suits your stance and don’t stretch or stand
Once again, comfort
is the key.
The distance of and
from the mic plays an important role in the outcome of your vocal recording.
Ensure that you maintain equal distance from the mic at all
A lot of hip
hop singers and rappers move back and forth in a swagger once they are into a
This has a direct
effect on the vocals unless you are altering your throw. Don’t touch the
mic-stand or move it, not only will it pick up the sound but you will also
change the output.
Ensure that you get rid of booth noise. Modern
microphones are sharp and sensitive.
They can pick up the sound of your watch sliding
down your wrist as you swing your hand. Avoid jewellery or any kind and spit
out chewing gum.
Anyone who is not required in the booth should be
shown out; this is applicable to many artists who want to be videotaped.
Needless to say, cell phones should be switched off.
Though it is
recommended to record the vocal take dry and add EQ later, it always helps to
add some reverb to the headphone line.
This will create
warmth and help the vocalist ‘feel’ the song.
Some artists like the mix blasted into the
earphones and some like it low.
When blasting the headphones, make sure the sound doesn’t leak into the mic.
That is when you know it is too loud.
Dry vocals are the
wet clay that can be moulded into a masterpiece. Recording with dry vocals
lets you re-create and add whatever EQ you like.
Some hip hop artists
prefer not to punch in and out vocals because it makes a slight difference to
the overall sound.
This is a personal
choice. Unless you are a perfectionist, the difference isn’t glaringly
obvious for most people to tell, at least not the layman to whom who want to
sell your music.
With softwares like
Cubase and others, you can remove pops and breathes
that crept into the take.
The EQ is flexible and precise filter of words or
phrases can be done while editing and mixing.
Keeping these simple
things in mind can great affect the outcome of your
Your song is your
brainchild. As an artist, you want to take every action and precaution to
ensure that you deliver it to its maximum potential.
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