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My Experience Tracking Rap Vocals Tonight
Old 1st February 2009
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
My Experience Tracking Rap Vocals Tonight

Just finished a session with a longtime female client who brought a guy to rap in the middle of her song. He stepped up to the same mic/pre combo, started rapping, and everything fell right into place. Same default chain for most vox, V69ME -> Grace M101 -> Summit TLA-50 -> Lavry Blue -> Cubase @ 24/44.1.

I didn't have to do anything to his voice or the track. Nothing. No hi-pass. No eq at all. I knew as soon as he hit the first phrase during the "level setting" sound check that the sound I heard was the sound that would go to disk. I did compress it some for the rough mix since I was limited to 1/2 hour for that and I didn't use any automation for the rough at all. I spent most of that time grouping things from all of the takes and punches from the female vocals.

Sometimes things just are what they are and shouldn't be "over-thought". Just record what you hear and move on. So...

Put a talented rapper with a marketable voice in front of a decent mic and chain and hit the record button.
Old 1st February 2009
  #2
Gear Addict
 
Nfinite2006's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
thanks for the advice
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Hey... thanks for the thread title edit. More to the point.
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Guru
 
Jeezo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I had a discussion with a friend last night and he was asking me about the automation , how much i put on on my project and i said none or close to none !

Basically except for artitist effects , i'm kinda oldskool (when automation wasn't on the menu, and there were crazy good mixes, right ?)

So yeah if you have a good chain in audio to record a good spitters and a tracks were the production procees was well made , automation is most of the time , not needed at all (i repeat except for artistic needs)

Good to hear about the mxl mics , i was coniserin buying the genesis , but i have not a lot of feedback on mxl mics ....
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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Traxx's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I see you have one of my favorite pieces in your chain.. the tla-50. I always talk about it because I think ppl really overlook that piece especially for the price..
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traxx ➑️
I see you have one of my favorite pieces in your chain.. the tla-50. I always talk about it because I think ppl really overlook that piece especially for the price..
Yes, it's a very nice unit for vocals and bass especially. I was considering getting the matching Summit pre but I'm not sure... I've read complaints about noise issues with that pre.

I like the general "Tube Mic - Grace Pre - Tube Leveler" combo chain for vox. It works well in different combination's with the Grace in the middle for clean gain and tubes on both sides of it for color.

The NTK and ProVLA are on the outer edges sometimes instead of the MXL/Summit.
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeezo ➑️
I had a discussion with a friend last night and he was asking me about the automation , how much i put on on my project and i said none or close to none !

Basically except for artitist effects , i'm kinda oldskool (when automation wasn't on the menu, and there were crazy good mixes, right ?)

So yeah if you have a good chain in audio to record a good spitters and a tracks were the production procees was well made , automation is most of the time , not needed at all (i repeat except for artistic needs)
If you say so....and maybe it's less needed in hiphop than rock music, where you need automation for dynamic changes between sections. But most of the time, for me automation is the difference between a good and a great mix.
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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bgrotto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeezo ➑️

Basically except for artitist effects , i'm kinda oldskool (when automation wasn't on the menu, and there were crazy good mixes, right ?)
Kinda oldschool?

Automation has been "on the menu" for a loooong time. Even for those records that were made on desks without automation, you'd generally find all hands on deck, manually doing the rides.

In fact, I doubt there are many classic mixes, if any, that were made without some form of fader riding (whether it was automated or not).

I just did a few days with a very famous, very amazing, and very old school (truly, as in, he's been doing this for about forty years) producer, and EVERYTHING was automated. Levels, sends, returns, EQs. You name it. We rode it. This has been the ethos of damn near every hot-**** producer and mixer I've ever worked with or spoken to.

That said, if not doing fader rides works for you, that's great! But I certainly wouldn't call it "old school" by ANY means.
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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bgrotto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey ➑️
If you say so....and maybe it's less needed in hiphop than rock music, where you need automation for dynamic changes between sections. But most of the time, for me automation is the difference between a good and a great mix.
+1thumbsup

The more I use it, the more I love it, the more I hear it used in other commercial mixes, and the more I kick myself for not learning to use it sooner. It's to the point for me where a mix without rides just comes across as amateur.
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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Traxx's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You guys are right... You are coming from two different backgrounds. Hip hop generally needs no automation. Not saying that it has not been done in hip hop, but its never really needed. If I mixed rock, I can most definitely see myself using it, especially with the hook of a rock song and all that is going on. That all it is, two different backgrounds of music...
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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bgrotto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traxx ➑️
You guys are right... You are coming from two different backgrounds. Hip hop generally needs no automation. Not saying that it has not been done in hip hop, but its never really needed. If I mixed rock, I can most definitely see myself using it, especially with the hook of a rock song and all that is going on. That all it is, two different backgrounds of music...
I've actually found the opposite to be true; if I want that big, present, in-your-face vocal that is so popular in commercial hip hop, it's gotta be done with fader automation. Otherwise, you're stuck compressing the crap out of it, and ultimately sucking all the life away, or adding to much grit or color. It seems even more so with R&B.

In rock on the other hand, especially heavier rock, you can get away with pinning a vocal's compression right into distortion, and it'll be kinda cool and edgy. At that point, you're not left with any dynamics to automate, so there's way less fader riding to do.

Like I said before, though, YMMV. There's no one right way to do any thing, after all.
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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Docmattic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
how would a combination of light comression (3-4 db at most) with some automation sound?

by any chance, do you know how to do automation in audition 3.0 grotto? haha, i think i know it pretty well and have never seen anything of it. I noticed you drew it on your daw in on your tutorial.
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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bgrotto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Docmattic ➑️
how would a combination of light comression (3-4 db at most) with some automation sound?

by any chance, do you know how to do automation in audition 3.0 grotto? haha, i think i know it pretty well and have never seen anything of it. I noticed you drew it on your daw in on your tutorial.
Automation is nearly always done in conjunction with compression. The fun part is figuring out whether to compress before or after the fader moves, or maybe even both...
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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Docmattic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
yeh, i have to work out how to in my program first. ive recently bought a compressor so i'll be compressing lightly on the way in. My theory is if you have it right on the way in, it will be a lot easier in the later stages and only having to use a little of both.
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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phillysoulman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traxx ➑️
You guys are right... You are coming from two different backgrounds. Hip hop generally needs no automation. Not saying that it has not been done in hip hop, but its never really needed. If I mixed rock, I can most definitely see myself using it, especially with the hook of a rock song and all that is going on. That all it is, two different backgrounds of music...
Would you care to explain why you think that automation is not needed in hip hop?
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgrotto ➑️
Automation is nearly always done in conjunction with compression. The fun part is figuring out whether to compress before or after the fader moves, or maybe even both...
there are a lot of good reasons for putting a compressor post-fader and riding the input... the most basic is keeping the compressor in the sweet spot... pushing up certain words so they can be heard clearly... pushing the compressor harder in the chorus... etc.

automation isnt always confined to sci-fi fx which pan around your head... you can also automate the minutest details on a vocal, like pulling down the esses, for example.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by phillysoulman ➑️
Would you care to explain why you think that automation is not needed in hip hop?
Yeah, I'd like to hear that too.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
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Traxx's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I was saying it is not as common as in other genres of music like r&b or rock. I've never felt the need to do automation with any of the hip hop tracks i've worked on. I'm not a big shot engineer but personally never felt the need to. I've haven't seen anyone else I know use it either on hip hop. Generally the track is not so crowded the way a rock track can be. So I think you guys mistake me saying it is not as common for it is not used in hip hop. When you have tracks where there are a ton of tracks, yes you will need it. Most hip hop tracks do not have a huge track count with a lot of dynamic changes. So maybe I was speaking from my personal experiences and from the experiences of ppl that I know and assumed its not widely used. Maybe I was wrong... Was I? I do automate snare rolls and things of nature but thats about it...
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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Traxx's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Actually I do automate certain sweeps and effects.... I still feel those things are minuit compared to the automation usage in other genres.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #20
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traxx ➑️
Actually I do automate certain sweeps and effects.... I still feel those things are minuit compared to the automation usage in other genres.
True. I agree. It's all a matter of context.

You ( I... speaking only for myself here when I did those sessions ...) wouldn't be typically asked to automate entire sections of a rap song differently like you might be asked to do on an R&B ballad. Or automate multiple layers of harmony vocal blends differently in different sections. The level of artists I worked with didn't have very high expectations in that regard. Just a good static mix with the hot beat. The strings in the last hook sounded exactly like the strings in the first hook.

OTOH ... Philly and some others here deal with a much higher level of artist and producer than I do which certainly changes the context of some of those things so... it's different arenas. At the higher levels they'll often spend hours attending to every little detail in the mix, where I might have cranked out a reasonable sounding rap demo mix for the guys down the block in an hour or less with very little or no automation. ****, they were happy 10 minutes after tracking with the rough mix. To them it sounds like any other song on the radio.

I agree with your observation in that context. It didn't need it because nobody asked for it.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
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ChaosCreation's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
hey lawrence i have a similar set up , but with no compressor.
would you think the RNLA would be decent for rap?
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
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s.d.finley's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traxx ➑️
You guys are right... You are coming from two different backgrounds. Hip hop generally needs no automation. Not saying that it has not been done in hip hop, but its never really needed. If I mixed rock, I can most definitely see myself using it, especially with the hook of a rock song and all that is going on. That all it is, two different backgrounds of music...
Mute automation is your friend to spice up a track!

Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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Storyville's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Level automation, and eq automation are almost givens in my tracks. Especially level automation. I don't think I've ever not used level automation. I do mostly Hip Hop. I use it very little when it's vocals over a 2-track beat.... but then again, I'm not getting the mix I really want with that set up 99% of the time anyway. Although it did happen just a couple of days ago - fastest mix ever.
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