Why Your Rap Vocal Recordings Sound Like Crap!

Today I’m going to share with you one of the most common mistakes I see rappers make when recording their vocals which makes them sound like crap!

The good news is this is a super easy fix that you can use right now and it won’t cost you anything!


So here’s the problem.

Rappers scour the internet vehemently for the perfect instrumental on sites such as Airbit and Beatstars.com until they find that perfect Gem.

Not this kind of “gym” or that kind of “jim”, I’m talking about this kind of “gem”.

After downloading their instrumental they swiftly import it into their DAW of choice which they acquired either legitimately or through questionable means.

Now they’re finally ready to record their rap vocals. Or at least that’s what they think!

After engaging the record button they quickly realize they can’t hear themselves due to being overpowered by the sheer volume of the instrumental!

So in their feeble attempt to overthrow their musical nemesis they reach for their audio interfaces gain knob for their microphone and crank it like soulja boy until they’ve overpowered that musical malfeasant.

At last! They can now hear themselves over the instrumental!

They’re overcome with glee as they bask in their victory but unbeknownst to them they have just ruined their rap vocal recordings and here’s why.


There’s such a thing as recording your vocals too loud which can be a really bad thing, and when you do so the quality of your vocal recording will be significantly compromised and will

You see the instrumentals you get off the internet are usually mastered which basically means they’re really loud!

So before you record over these instrumentals, you should first turn them down somewhere between -10 to -15 db.


You may be asking like LiL Jon “Turn down for what?”

If you don’t turn down the instrumental you’re going to have to turn up the gain of your microphone to hear yourself over the instrumental which is likely going to cause you to record way too loud to the point your vocal recording starts distorting…

Aim for your vocal recording getting no louder than -20 db or below at its loudest point via your main/master meter. To set this level correctly, simply mute the instrumental, arm your vocal track to record, and rap the loudest you think you will likely be in your song and check what the meter reads on your master fader.

If you need to make the volume of your vocal louder or softer make this adjustment via the microphone gain knob on your audio interface and not by the volume fader in the mixer in your DAW.


This is because the volume fader in your DAW has nothing to do with how loud or soft your vocals are being recorded. It’s only adjusting the volume of the playback of your recording after the fact. So If you’re recording way too loud and are distorting your vocals, lowering the volume of the tracks fader will not fix it. The damage was done going into the computer from your audio interface so it needs to be corrected at your audio interface.

Once your vocals are peaking no louder than -20 db, unmute the instrumental. If you feel your vocals are still getting overpowered by the instrumental, turn down the instrumental more. If you feel like your headphone volume is now too low, turn the headphones volume up via your audio interface.

If you do this successfully, your vocal recording quality will go from sounding like crap to sounding crisp, clear and awesome!


Have you ever recorded over rap instrumentals without turning down their volume and you had this same issue? Let me know in the comments section below!

  • This is fire. I always wondered why lowering the instrumental sound didn’t work. Now I know. You always have stellar advice. Thank you for these helpful tips.

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