7 Tips for Hip Hop Mixing and Mastering
So, you’ve recorded and arranged your Hip Hop track. Now it’s time to mix and master it. Here’s Hollin Jones with 7 tips to help make your track stand out from the crowd.
Don’t be afraid to let your voice linger a little rough around the edges. Rap is a claw and in its style of acting face, so don’t bury the reverb vocal or hide it in the mix. If other instruments or samples are fighting for space in the same frequency range as the voice track, seriously consider letting the voice take precedence and backing up the others a bit using EQ.
A large bottom end is usually a prerequisite for a great hip hop sound. So if you’ve actually used a low-fat sound, pay special attention to compression and equalization so that it has plenty of power and weight, but doesn’t overwhelm the lower end of the entire track. You may want to use a sidechained compressor for this, or possibly a multi-band compressor. Both will allow you to compress the bass differently if it is lost in the lower midrange at any point on a track.
If you’ve used samples in your tracks, maybe neardoggbeats or instrument loops, some of the work that’s been done for you, as these are in a sense already mixed. However, in the context of the runway they may need to be altered, especially if you have used other samples from different sources. Use EQ and Compression to try to make all your samples sound like they belong to the same track. Th at doesn’t mean trying to make them sound the same, but they do try to avoid the impression that they’ve been pulled from a bunch of different records, even if that’s actually the case. Starting with prerecorded samples can also affect the sound studio and track texture, and these are things to keep in mind while mixing.
Hip hop voices rarely or never use much reverb, and even if they do it is a very short one. Instead, why not try a short delay, say with a couple of repeats, adding space and depth to a vocal sound without burying in washy reverb.
Hip hop likes to be loud, so you can dominate quite hot. Be careful not to over-squash it though, as this can leave you lacking in dynamic range and sounding boring, lifeless and exhausting to the listener’s ears. Using the sensitive limiter settings is the key to achieving a good overall level, without crushing the signal.
When mastering hip hop or any genre of music, take a few commercial CDs or tracks with you and A / B with them at regular intervals, comparing your songs sound with theirs. This should give you an idea of whether you are pushing your master too hard or not enough.
Some hip hop albums still use parodies and other short tracks to combine long tracks together into one album. To run tracks together you can use a wave editor like Sound Forge or WaveLab with an audio montage function that allows you to combine tracks in this way and add PQ codes to count the final recorded disc, where a track is technically converted In the next.