Kim Lajoie's blog

Compressing rap vocals (and other thick and aggressive vocals)

by Kim Lajoie on March 3, 2012

Speaking of compression, Matthew Weiss:

Rap is generally an in-your-face, visceral style of music. The kick is physical, the snare is physical, subtlety isn’t really the overall goal. And the vocals are paramount. I’ve mixed a number of rap records where the vocals are lower in the mix, but never have I thought it was a good idea. Generally I want the vocals to be equally as strong as the drums or stronger, and I want them as “forward” as possible. Compression is usually a part of that equation.

There are some really good ideas in that post. And it applies beyond rap music – it’s a useful way of approaching any vocals that need to be thick and aggressive. It’d be just as useful for rock or metal.

I mixed a rap/metal/industrial album last year, and I think I compressed the vocals almost exclusively with Rough Rider, with pretty extreme settings.


2 thoughts on “Compressing rap vocals (and other thick and aggressive vocals)

  1. Pablo/Beaner says:

    i graphic heart the rough rider. both it and the sausage fattener have been go to compressors for all sorts of things lately. ive always used an 1176 emulation for vocals, but im going to try the rough rider now that its been suggested!

  2. Kim Lajoie says:

    It’s certainly not subtle (although it can be tamed with lower ratios). I don’t use it for most vocals, but occasionally it’s exactly what I need.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *