Urgent help needed for rap vocal recording

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by D-Mix, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. D-Mix

    D-Mix Guest

    Hey everyone,

    I'm new to this site so i hope i've posted this in the right section, if not please forgive me.

    Basically my problem is this;

    I've recently bought a Shure SM58 mic for my home studio with the intention of recording rap vocals.

    I understand that there are much better mic's out there, but the SM58 was pretty much the only decent mic i could get within my budget.

    I've got the mic going into a Creative Soundblaster 24-Bit external soundcard and i'm using Sound Forge 6.0 to do the recording.

    My problem is that when i record anything, it comes out very raw, and having very little experience in recording i'm not sure what i can do.

    I've been recording the vocals in Stereo, i've just read somewhere that i should be doing it in Mono, is this true? Will it help with the sound quality?

    Basically the vocals i'm recording are not sitting well in the mix with the music, they just sound like the vocals are sitting on top of the music instead of blending in.

    I'm really in need of help, i was told this was the place to come, i've heard some great things about this forum and am glad to be here.

    If anyone could give me any advice at all, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks.
  2. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001

    yes your vocals will sound raw
    because they are
    the 58 is fine for now and could still remain the mic of choice for ever

    the vocals sits on top of the mix because it is dynamic and the mix is probably a tighter sound

    keep the vocal in mono but centred
    a second vocal take can be good but for now just keep it to one vocal

    Compression will help
    learning how to apply the compressor is a big part of the secret
    to begin with
    keep things gentle until you learn what the controls are and how they effect a vocal ... in comparison to a drum kit

    very general for vocal compression
    slow in
    slow out
    less than 4 to 1 on the ratio

    if in doubt
    use two compressors gently
    set them the same ( for now )
    the LA2 is a famous compressor and used often on vocals
    it is very simple and has few controls
    a software version that mimicks this could be a good start

    do a search here for vocal compression and compressors

    another simple trick
    hi pass filter
    this will weaken the huffs and puffs

    yes you could EQ the vocal with a multi band filter/EQ but that is another skill you must learn

    keep it simple while you learn
    SM58 ... Hipass filter ... compression
    perhaps with a second compressor after that

    electronics and software are all great
    Microphone Technique is where the magic starts
    not being fippant here
    there are some singers that can sound just right ... with only an SM58
    they have learned how to position the mic, distance, angle ... projection of the voice ... it just takes time to learn

    good luck
    keep asking questions
  3. D-Mix

    D-Mix Guest

    Wow, thanks so much for the quick and detailed reply.

    You've really gave me some great tips there, thanks so much!

    I'll try out all those things and see how it goes.

    Thanks again Kev, i really appreciate it!
  4. D-Mix

    D-Mix Guest

    Hey all,

    I've had a go at compression in the Sound Forge Graphics Dynamics, i set the ratio to 4.1:1 and played around with the other controls but dont seem to be getting much further.

    For instance, there are two slide bars titled "Attack" and "Release", me being a novice i have no idea what these do, even after playing around with them i cant seem to make much of a difference to the overall sound of the vocal track.

    I have recorded the vocal in mono and kept it centered, also i'm not really sure about the slow in/slow out, i've looked all over the program and cant find anything that resembles that.

    Setting the Graphic Dynamics setting to 4.1:1 seems to have helped the overall sound slightly but i've become stuck now.

    The hi pass filter is something else i cant seem to find on Sound Forge, i have played around with the EQ but not knowing what to set it to, it hasnt really helped.

    Forgive me for my lack of knoledge, i'm really new to recording and really would like to learn so much more about these things.

    Any help what so ever would be greatly appreciated :)
  5. fourone3

    fourone3 Active Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    The slow in and slow out refer to the attack and release. They control how quickly the signal is 'picked up' and 'let go'.

    The high pass filter is in fact your EQ - you're on the right track. Check your presets and more than likely you'll find one.

    The settings suggested and the presets are for a good basis. Keep in mind that the settings might not give you the sound you're looking for, so just adjust them until you hear what you want.
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    The "high-pass filter" Kev referred to in his excellent reply is a roll-of the lower frequency range. Dial the low end to be 'cut' by 12 dB below, say 100 Hz. to start with. Then move that frequency point up/down, maybe as high as 240 Hz. Listen to the effect this has on your voice. Find the spot where it keeps things from being too "husky" or "muddy".
    Then you can use the high frequency section of your EQ to add some presence and clarity. Try a gentle (+3 to +6 dB) boost around 5KHz. Too much will make it harsher and sibilant, but a little will add a bit of "zip".
    Does that Sound Forge compressor have a " sidechain filter" (also called a "detector filter",etc.)? If so, try rolling off the low end on it like you did on the mic track. And if you're running your music track(s) through the compressor, this is even more important to do. Heavy bass pounding a compressor on a stereo music mix makes some bad-sounding "pumping".
    Rolling off some of that bass in the "detector sidechain" will help the mix punchy without that. Sorry to go on, just some things to try.
  7. D-Mix

    D-Mix Guest

    You guys are awesome!

    Thanks so much for the detailed replies, i can't tell you how much i appreciate it :)

    I'm going to re-record some stuff today and try out everthing you guys have suggested :)

    Thanks again, i really appreciate the help :)
  8. xutvsx

    xutvsx Guest

    I had a similar problem where it felt the vocals were either sitting above the music, or buried deep in it. What I found to work really well is to duck the music by putting a compressor on the instruments and triggering it with the vocal track. What will happen is every time the vocal track kicks in, the music will decrease in volume very slightly, as to not be noticeable, but enough to allow the vocal to come through clearly. Then, when the vocals stop, the music comes up in volume so there isnt a very audible difference in volume between when the vocals hit and are silent. I find that the vocals and the music mesh much better after using this technique. Just make sure the attack and release are pretty fast on the compressor, because otherwise you will get an annoyingly noticeable volume change.

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