Recording Rap Vocals – Understanding Stacks

What Are Stacks?

When you are learning how to rap it’s only a matter of time before you set foot in a studio to start recording. If you are new to recording then chances are you may not be familiar with what stacks are. Stacks are also called “dubs” which is short for “double” which basically means you record your entire main vocals again on a separate track.

Why Use Them?

The reason this is such a common practice in recording studios is because recording stacks can give your vocals a bigger sound. Tho this is a very helpful technique for recording vocals it’s important to remember that recording stacks may not be necessary for every song. If how_to_record_vocal_stacksyou are recording a crunk track then stacks may be a great help to you but if your recording a very mellow track you may feel that the vocals sound better without the stack.

Stacking Techniques

It’s key to remember that there is no right or wrong way to record stacks and at the end of the day you just want to do what is best for the track. However here are a couple of techniques that you may want to experiment with the next time you are in the studio.

Static Stacks: This type of stack is the most common and means that you simply rerecord what you previously did on your main vocal and try and get it to sound as close as possible to the original. The purpose of this stack is to just to add a little more body and fullness to your main vocal to give it a bigger sound. Depending on how this stack is mixed by the engineer will determine how subtle or how obvious this stack is to the listener.

Diverse Stacks: This type of stack is basically doing the opposite as the static stack. Instead of trying to record this stack exactly like your main vocal you want to try and figure out ways to switch up the tone, pitch or emotion while retaining the same time and cadence as thebackup_singers main vocal. This type of stack will add another layer of color to your vocals causing it to stand out more while remaining in time.

Backup Singers

Stacks are typically background vocals which in essence are like backup singers for the lead artist. Their job is to support the main vocal so if you decide to add stacks to your main vocals make sure that it’s complimenting them and not taking away or being distracting.

How Did I Do?

If you have any questions, comments or feedback please drop your 2 cents in the comments section below and I will make sure to get back to you promptly.

  • Love the stack info. I have done that myself at times.. I tried a different effect with stacking. I had my voice dubbed twice one with a regular slight reverb and the other I put a slight delay on it… Then at the last word I put sort of a fade away echo… Had a neat effect… Doing great Cole, Sounds like your plate was really full this week… I like doing rewrites of popular artist and changing the words a bit to give the Lord the glory… I love blues too, big time… I did a song titles, Let me tell you bout my Lady… And blues piece titled The Floozie Blues… LOL! These were fun to do… I like to do a flip on the blues, most of it is based past experiences that that gone wrong in our lives, I flip it with sort of a happy type of blues, Sorry for the mixed metaphor..LOL! My bride Katy says I am starting to look like Jesus, My hairs is really long. Have not grown it that long in a long long long time…I was so much younger than I am older than that now… Well loved this one on stacking… You have a blessed Christmas and a fantabulous and blessed New year…. Jesus is the reason for the season. Hallelujah!!!

    • Hey Jimmy it’s awesome to hear back from you bro! I am delighted that you enjoyed the new video on stacking. I love the technique you described on how you do your stacks. It just goes to show how many variations one can come up with just in stacks alone. We are only limited by our creativity. The music you are experimenting with sounds very interesting as well. If you ever have some music you would like to share feel free to e-mail me a link and i’ll check it out.

      lol at the part about your hair being as long as Jesus. If you keep it up your hair is going to look like Samson and then you can pick back at your bride and call her Delilah. On second that you might not want to call her that. I can’t held responsible for you getting put in the dog house. lol

      But hey, thanks so much for all the love and support and I am delighted that you have been finding my content helpful. I am wishing you and your family a very blessed and happy Christmas and New years as well!!

  • Thanks for doing this in your busy schedule, Cole. I really appreciate it. Just out of curiosity, what do you think about literally copying and pasting the main vocal for a static stack? I used to love echoing my diverse stacks when I was first recording way back. I also had the impression that diverse stacks didn’t have to be the whole vocals again, but certain words stressed, like the rhymes at the end of lines.

    P.S. Lookin’ good on the video production!

    • Hey Mike! Thanks so much for commenting. You are actually like 4 steps ahead of my schedule for upcoming video tutorials. You must have been reading my planner? lol but when you recording all of your vocals over again it’s called a double or a stack. When you only recording sections of your main vocal those are called spot stacks. I will be covering both of those in the coming weeks. I just wanted to focus on 1 type of stack at a time so I could better expound on each segment and also attempt to be as less confusing as possible.

      But yes you are exactly right about copying and pasting a main vocal. This method is actually my favorite way of doing doubles. This technique is actually called an instant double and in the mixing world it is often used to apply parallel compression and equalization to any tracks that the engineer is trying to get a bigger sound out of which also includes vocals especially with rap vocals.

      I hope that helps explain things a little better for you. If you ever have any other questions or just want to say what’s up always feel free to do so. If I don’t talk to you before Christmas I hope you and your family have an awesome Christmas and New Years. Until next time take care and stay awesome!

      • Hah.. I’m getting ahead of myself. 😉 I was just curious if you thought instant doubles sounded too robotic, but I guess good mixing can really do magic.

        Thanks for the well-wishes. Have a very merry Christmas and happy New Year. May God bless you abundantly this next year as you keep giving Him glory in all you do!

        • Yeah give me a few weeks and I will have caught up to you with my videos 🙂 but yeah instant doubles when mixed properly adds so much more presence to the vocal. If I want more width I will copy it twice and nudge one of them very slightly out of time and nudge the other one slightly more than the first one and then pan one hard left and the other hard right. But typically for an instant double I just compress it heavily and tuck it behind the main vocal. You wouldn’t even know it was there unless I took it out and then you would be like wow! lol Thanks a million for your blessings! Wishing you the same and may God continue to lead, guide and provide you with all that you need! Much love!

  • What up brotha. Very good video (skills)
    You know I think tupac was the
    Stack king back-n-da day. But I never
    Knew it was called stacking.
    I’m learning a lot from you homie.
    Keep up th good work.
    Much love C 🙂 & god bless.

    • What up EHUD? Thanks so much for the encouragement! It’s always good you guys are enjoying my work. Yeah I’ve been working hard to step up my videos a notch. I’m really excited about the progress I have been able to make thus far and am looking forward on working on a new one tomorrow. Yeah Tupac was well known for his stacks and ad libs. I hear somewhere that he actually wrote out his adlibs often but haven’t been able to find a video that confirms it. If you ever come across it let me know.

      Glad you are learning a lot from my videos! I will keep them coming every week! Tomorrow I am going to be talking about spot stacks. Thanks for all the support bro! It’s always needed and always appreciated! Much love and God bless you too!!

  • Man this a very thorough breakdown of proper vocal tracking. As an engineer I would appreciate if every artist knew and/or respect this aspect. Good stuff bro.

    • Thanks so much Buzz! That means a lot! I’m really glad that you enjoyed this article and I appreciate you taking the time to share your positive feedback! Much respect! 🙂 – Cole Mize

  • This was great; the demonstrations really show how the different stacking techniques can significantly change the mood of the rap! Going to definitely apply this – thanks for this post!

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