Tag Archives: hip hop

Compression 101

Compression in my honest opinion is one of the more difficult features in mixing to completely understand and master.  But when it is mastered, it can be a secret weapon to achieving that professional recording studio sound.  Too many people now a days on forums and YouTube comments are asking “what are the settings that I must use on my compressor to make my voice sound good?”  So many things are wrong with that question. Lets Start off with the preparation.

First of all, be sure that before you even think about mixing anything or throwing any plugin on any audio track, make sure that the track is the best sounding take that you can possibly have.  Here are a few tips to assure that you have a track ready for a mix:

  1. The wave form is even.  Be sure that there are no major spikes or cut outs in the wave form and check to see if the dB level is even, and there is no clipping AT ALL.
  2. Was the vocalist/amp/guitar too close or too far from the mic? Proximity effect plays a big role here.  This is when a mic is placed too close to the sound source, resulting in overwhelming bass frequencies that you do not want unless that is the sound you are looking for.  On the other hand, being too far from the mic can give you a distant sound in the recording, which can be useful when creating space in the mix.  But if you are recording an IN YOUR FACE rap vocal then you want to be closer to the microphone.  Just be aware of the almighty proximity effect.
  3. Clean up the audio.  Once you have a nice looking, and nice sounding audio track, go in there and clean up and trim any quiet parts.  Nobody wants to hear a background cough, or your nasty mouth noises in the mic during the epic guitar solo or instrument break.

If you do not have a track that is 90% done without the mix, the go back and repeat steps one to three.  Experiment with different mic techniques, angles and distances.  You’ll get it!

Okay now that you have a nice sounding track ready for mixing, it is time to actually mix it! Finally! The time we have all been waiting for!  Just one more thing. ALWAYS remember the golden rule of mixing:


I can not stress that enough.  Listen to what the track needs and you will receive a better result than any settings your find on any forum.  For beginners, start off with a preset, and tweak it until it sounds perfect. EXPERIMENT EXPERIMENT and EXPERIMENT some more!

So what is compression anyway? Think of it like this:

You and your family are moving down south and you have a big rental truck.  You have to put all of your stuff in to that rental truck.  You can fill that baby all the way up, shoving things into the little crevices until there is no longer enough room for anything else.  But once that truck starts moving, all over your stuff is going to get scratched up, broken and ruined.  Think of your audio track (make sure it is clean and well recorded! You don’t put garbage in a moving truck? Do you?) as the things you are loading into the truck, and the truck as the compressor.  If you overdue the compressor (put too much into the truck), then you will crunch and ruin your audio (the things you are moving).  So this is key.  Unless you are going for a squashed, over compressed sound, do not over due the compressor.  Now time to go more in depth:

A compressor’s role is to reduce the dynamic (volume) range of the audio file or instrument onto which one is inserted, effectively lessening the volume gap between a part’s quietest and loudest moments. It’s easiest to think about this when a compressor is applied to a long, dynamic part such as a lead vocal, though of course an individual drum sound has a dynamic range too—these start with a loud initial hit and fade to silence, so drums have a wide dynamic range, it’s just that this range plays out over a short period of time.  Generally there are 5 basic parameters on every compressor:


Sets the decibel (dB) threshold to the level at which the compressor begins to work. If you set it to 10 dB for instance, any signal coming in above that will be have its ass shaped by the compressor according to the parameters below.


This sets the amount of compression, in dB, applied to a signal once it violates your pre-set threshold.  A ratio of 4:1 will output 1 dB for every 4 dB of input signal that exceeds your targeted threshold


The time, measured in milliseconds (ms), it takes for the compressor to reach its maximum level on the sound.  A fast attack can be useful for damping percussive peaks so the overall track level can be increased. Can also add punch to a track.


Controls how long (ms) it takes to release a signal from the compressor once it dips below your specified threshold.


Sets the overall output level of the effect (dB). This can be useful to whack up the output level again after its been reduced from applying compression to a signal – this is otherwise commonly known as make-up gain.

There is a basic outline for these settings that will help you begin to experiment with them.


So now it is important to experiment with all of these.  Remember, nobody can become a professional mixer or engineer in one night by using presets or settings from a forum.  It all depends on what sound you want to achieve and what your track is calling for.  My next article will go more in depth on creating space in a mix so your instruments do not sound cluttered.  Be sure yo read my article on Understanding EQ and I will see you soon! Keep making music!

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New Drum Kit

So I don’t know about you guys, but I am sick of downloading a crap load of drum kits and having only about 10 or 15 nice sounding snares out of the GIANT AMAZING SNARE KIT that has 500+ samples.  SO, I think what I am going to do over the next few days is compile all of MY drum sounds.  My go to snares, kicks, hats, ect. and release them to you guys for free as a nice little Christmas Present.  I can assure you that the kit will have a huge selection for multiple genres such as hip-hop, pop, dubstep and even some glitchy samples.  I’ll throw in a bunch of loops as well that I have made myself.  Also, I will be making some tutorial videos soon on mixing techniques, recording, beat making and whatever else comes across my mind.  If anyone has any ideas for my first tutorial, just leave it in the comments!  Alright well happy holidays everyone! Stay tuned for the new kit!

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Artwork Revealed For 50 Cent’s Single “My Life” Featuring Eminem

50 Cent drops the artwork for the lead single off his forthcoming album which features Eminem and singer Adam Levine.

Two legends in the game, 50 Cent and Eminem, had fans slightly disappointed when a track on Fif’s Murder By Numbers mixtape which “featured” Marshall only had him briefly speaking in the intro.  After hinting to fans that the first single from his upcoming album would be a collabo with Slim Shady, 50 releases the artwork for the single “My Life”.

Earlier it was leaked that Eminem and 50 Cent were filming a video in Detroit, and it looks like it was for this, the lead single off Street King Immortal, which also features vocals from Maroon 5 singer, Adam Levine.

Definitely looking to push this track to the masses, after it becomes available on iTunes on November 27th, the song will then appear on the reality show The Voice.

After being pushed back, SKI is scheduled for a release in early 2013.  Check out the single artwork below

Artwork Revealed For 50 Cent's Single

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J Cole Songs – Miss America | HotNewHipHop

J Cole drops the first single off his upcoming “Born Sinner” album. The track is called “Miss America”


Can’t wait for this to drop.

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J. Cole Songs – Miss America (Trailer)

J Cole reveals the trailer for his first single, “Miss America”, coming off his sophomore album ‘Born Sinner’. The single will hit iTunes this Tuesday, November 13th.

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J. Cole’s New Album Release Date!

J. Cole releases a statement expanding on how his announcement of “Born Sinner” was special for those watching the Ustream.

After announcing his new album title and tentative release date during a Ustream session, J. Cole has now released statement concerning the announcement of his sophomore album to Life + Times.

J. Cole says of Born Sinner,

“The beauty of the announcement is that the real MOMENT happened only once. Only the 15 or so thousand who sat in that Ustream know what that really felt like. Here’s to new albums and new approaches. See you soon.”

Born Sinner is expected to drop on January 28th.

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The Change in the Hip-Hop World

In the article “Rakim: We Need a Few More Kanyes,” David Samuels, a reporter for the Atlantic Magazine, interviews Rakim Allah, one of the most influential rappers in hip hop about his view on the change in hip hop from its earlier years when he rapped, to its current position in society.  With the influence of society, media and money, Rakim believes that hip hop has taken a drastic turn and is an all new art form all together.  Rakim Allah was a rap artist in its early years around 1985.  He talked about how back then, people told stories in their songs, but “now it’s more like, “Look what I got” or “”You ain’t got what I got” or “You got to get what I got.” It’s making the listener a little envious of what’s going on, and it’s almost demeaning.”  Rakim says how people listen to music to get away, and to relate to the music, but people cannot relate to the music if they do not have any of the things they are talking about.  Hip hop is no longer a way to vent about an issue, or a good day, but rather to boast and brag about your personal success.  David Samuels also suggest how “Jay-Z’s a guy who makes $80 million a year off his huge talent, and he raps about his private jet.”  In other words, Rakim Allah is against the direction that hip hop is headed.  It should not be about bragging and shoving their success in their listeners faces, but rather be the artists way of escaping, and allowing the listener to escape with them.  Rakim wishes that this conceited  new “art” form would come to an end and hip hops original roots would be revived so he along with the many other listeners could enjoy the music the way it was enjoyed in previous years and be able to say that hip hop is not dead.

In my own opinion, I do not think hip hop is dead, but I do believe it has altered.  There are still many “real” hip hop artists such as Nas, J Cole, and Kanye West who continue to rap about real life struggles, a good day, or a real life situation.  Of course, as Rakim stated, hip hop has changed.  Everything changes, but I would not go on saying that hip hop is dead.  Not everyone is rapping about their gold chains, watches, private jets and riches, and I think those people who do rap about that stuff will not make it far.  If you go on  a site that gives away free downloads, such as datpiff.com, you will see that those who rap about those things, are not making it in the charts, or be as successful as some of the more classical hip hop artists.  Hip hop is not dead.

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