You will often hear producers say that a great recording will make the mix process much easier to handle. This is Gospel. The less corrective work a producer has to do the more time is left for creative processes.
Corrective process are not too exciting as all you are doing is spending a great deal of time correcting errors. Prepping is part of the corrective process but also involves understanding what needs to be done to allow for the creative processes to take place effortlessly.
Prepping can entail removing dead space within the vocals so as to be able to move audio parts around effectively, it could entail truncating audio parts for ease of syncing to effects, it could entail creating smooth crossfades in and out for a seamless vocal line and so on...the list is endless.
With rap vocals prepping I always start with corrective equalisation. This removes all the redundant and problematic frequencies and allows us to have a nice clean slate to work from. Vocals always need to be corrected prior to any creative processing as errors can get amplified with certain dynamic and gain dependent processes. So, it makes sense to tidy up before we start using colouring processes.
In this video I follow a certain order of processes which include:
Corrective equalisation to remove unwanted frequencies.
Harmonic Distortion to bring out the consonants and add some drive and edge to the rap vocals.
A graphic equaliser to replenish the frequencies compromised in the corrective process.
A dynamic equaliser to add motion and movement to the vocals.
De essing to smooth out the harsh frequencies.
This chain of dynamics is not laid in stone. You can use whatever you want wherever you want so long as you keep to the thinking of corrective first colouring second.
Topics covered in this video are:
Using Cleaning Tools
Equalisation - Reductive and Complimentary
Using Distortion and Enhancer
Using De-Esser for taming frequencies
Post Processing EQ
Understanding the Signal Structure
Tips and Tricks