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Top 6 EQ Plugins To Get Professional Rap Vocals

Using good EQ plugins to mix rap vocals can drastically change the final quality of a mix. In this article, I’m going to give you my top 6 EQ plugins to get professional rap vocals.

Top 6 EQ Plugins For Vocals

All the plugins that will be given to you in this article are plugins used by professional mix engineers every day. If you use them in the right way, and I will guide you to do so, your future vocal mixes will totally change in a positive way!

The top 6 EQ plugins to get professional rap vocals are:

  1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3
  2. Slate Digital FG-S
  3. UAD Pultec EQP-1A
  4. Maäg Audio EQ 4
  5. Waves V-EQ 4
  6. Slate Digital Infinity EQ

1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3

FabFilter Pro-Q 3

The reputation of this plugin is not to be denied. For a few years now, FabFilter’s most famous plugin has been the number one when it comes to vocal mixing. Moreover, this plugin has the biggest advantage of having more than qualitative updates, which always take into account the users’ opinion.

The strength of this plugin, which has become a classic in mixing and mastering, is the amount of possibilities it offers to its users. There are literally no limits.

Pro-Q 3 is the best EQ plug-in when it comes to working with details and with an uncommon sound result. Moreover, in the latest update, FabFilter has implemented real-time analysis tools that allow you to quickly spot even the smallest flaws in the voice you are working on.

Last but not least, Pro-Q 3 also allows you to work on the dynamics of each band. So you can use this plugin as an EQ and as a multi-band compressor. These dynamics controls should be used in a subtle way for best results.

✅ PROS ✅

✅ Super-high audio quality

✅ 24 bands available

✅ Entirely designable bands

✅ Dynamics options included

✅ Overall, unlimited freedom

❌ CONS ❌

With all these parameters and options in your hands, you can easily fall into an overly technical process by putting aside the artistic and creative aspect. Don’t forget that we’re making art!

2. Slate Digital FG-S

Slate Digital FG-S

Here is a completely different type of EQ. Far from the numerous options available in the previous plugin, FG-S will offer you a typical 80’s vintage touch.

FG-S is a slot emulation of the legendary SSL console equalizers. It is one of the many modules available in Slate Digital’s beautiful Virtual Mix Rack.

Among the many SSL slot emulations like those from Waves, UAD or IK Multimedia, I personally find the one from Slate Digital to be the best. It offers indeed all the color of the sound that we are looking for when using SSL: A warm sound, but also brilliant and rich in harmonics.

FG-S is one of the best plugins when it comes to adding richness in the high frequencies, character in the mid-range and warmth in the 100 Hz range. Everything rap vocals need to sound professional and solid.

This is obviously not the plugin you will use to work on very specific frequencies, but it is very effective after cleaning up all the necessary frequencies and compressing the voice.

The sound result of this plugin is incomparable.

✅ PROS ✅

✅ Sound result very close to the legendary SSL equalizer

✅ Harmonic richness that allows the vocals to be treated in a warm and bright way

✅ Unmatched simplicity and ease of use

✅ Can be combined with other Virtual Mix Rack modules

❌ CONS ❌

Limited in the number of functions it offers (even if this is not its purpose)

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3. UAD Pultec EQP-1A

UAD Pultec EQP-1A

For the previous emulation, I gave it to Slate without hesitation. This time, I think that UAD has the upper hand in the design of its emulation of the legendary Pultec EQ.

In EQP-1A, the magic happens when you boost and cut the same frequency at the same time. Although UAD advises against this, playing with the boost and cut on the same frequency can create robust and rich results.

The other really cool thing about this Pultec emulation, and it respects the original hardware device very well, is that even when pushed very hard, the eq will still sound very musical. You will rarely hear any unpleasant distortion, on the contrary!

I advise you to use it in the same way as with the previous plugin, to give more warmth and air. But the sound result will be completely different. The Pultec is ideal to keep a certain softness in the voices. If you want to give more character and aggressiveness to your voices, I don’t advise to use this plugin.

It typically works very well on very soft female voices, but it can obviously work on any other type of vocals.

✅ PROS ✅

✅ Keeps a musical tone even when pushed hard

✅ Ability to boost and cut the same frequencies to create sounds that belong only to the Pultec

✅ Sound result very close to the Pultec hardware unit

✅ Can provide you an analog sound just by passing through the plugin

❌ CONS ❌

With the EQP-1A, it is very complicated to give character to your vocals. It might sound too soft for some

4. Plugin Alliance Maäg Audio EQ 4

We haven’t had this pugin for very long at IDeez Studio. I bought it because I had heard a lot of good things about this plugin in reviews, even from the most legendary mixing engineers. And…

Honestly, this plugin should be it in the plugin bank of anyone who is into vocal mixing, even as an amateur.

This plugin built by Plugin Alliance is an emulation (again, seriously ?) of the legendary Maäg Audio EQ 4. Like the pultec, the EQ 4 has this rather impressive ability to keep a musical color with a lot of transparency, even when the knobs are pushed in a relatively extreme way.

But above all, the great strength of this emulation of the Maäg Audio EQ 4 is the sound result of the air band. For vocal mixing, this band is ideal to give air without distortion and without affecting the neighboring frequencies. Going for the 40 kHz band by pushing it by 2-3 dB often gives a more than satisfying result.

The band located at 160 Hz is also great to give more warmth to the voice at the end of the vocal mix chain.

✅ PROS ✅

✅ Colors your vocals by keeping a certain transparency

✅ Ideal to push the air zone of vocals without making them more aggressive for the ears

✅ Its price (29$) is extremely honest for the audio quality the plugin offers

❌ CONS ❌

Frequencies already established (except for the air zone), which can quickly limit your creativity.

Need a professional sound engineer specializing in pop and hip-hop mixing ? Great! Take a look at our services and let’s blow up your career together!
Let’s start now!

5. Waves V-EQ 4

The choice of this plugin may seem rather subjective, as it is not really made for vocal mixing.

Indeed, this Waves plugin, based on the 1081 console module, gives very quickly a certain distortion to the processed audio source, even for the smallest gain values (especially with the ANALOG button turned on).

But if you are already building a sound identity in your vocal mixes, I strongly advise you to try this plugin which will give a robustness and a natural slight compression to all your vocal tracks.

When it comes to aggressiveness in the high frequencies, this plugin is really on top of the game. It will be ideal to give brilliance and presence to the vocals.

✅ PROS ✅

✅ Very strong sound identity

✅ An ideal plugin to color vocals and give them more character

✅ Really nice vintage touch, especially in the high frequencies

❌ CONS ❌

Can distort your vocals very quickly

6. Slate Digital Infinity EQ

You can see infinity EQ as the little brother of our dear Pro-Q 3.

Indeed, Slate Digital’s plugin has everything to allow you to process your voice with precision, detail and all with a quality audio result.

Infinity EQ can also be appreciated for its ease of use, its workflow, its interface and the way it has been designed to allow you to make as few clicks as possible.

If you don’t feel like a professional vocal mixer yet, you can also get help from the available presets. Some of them were made by the most legendary sound engineers like Mike Dean or Oak Felder.

✅ PROS ✅

✅ Ideal to clean your vocals with extreme simplicity

✅ Very good workflow and interface

✅ Super-high audio quality

❌ CONS ❌

❗ You might sometimes feel stuck by the “few” options Infinity EQ offers for a plugin like this one

❗ It’s a little bit too expensive or what it offers to its users

Conclusion

In this article you can probably feel how crucial the choice of a plugin can be in the mixing intentions you have. For the same values, each of them will have a completely different sound result. In fact, there are no good and bad plugins, but simply plugins that are more adapted than others for certain frequencies, certain intentions, certain colors,…

To make the right choices, you need to have a structured mind. That’s why I’ve made a table for you which includes all the important criteria of an EQ.

  • Red = Not good
  • Orange = May be good in some situations
  • Green = Really good
Pro-Q 3FG-SEQP-1AEQ 4V-EQ 4Infinity
Price🔶🔶🔶🔶
Focus on details🔶🚫🚫🔶
Character🚫🔶🔶🚫
Transparency🚫🚫
Air enhancement🔶🔶🔶🚫
Warmth enhancement🔶🔶🔶🔶

If you have any questions about this topic or about mixing in general, please contact me, I’m always very happy to help!


My favorite tools for mixing pop and hip-hop music:

Plugins

In the field of auto-tune, I’m convinced that nothing’s better and more efficient than Antares Auto-Tune Pro. As for the EQ’s, FabFilter Pro-Q3 and Slate Digital Infinity EQ are, in my opinion, the best tools. For compression, I have 2 favorites plugins: Waves RComp and UAD EL8 Distressor.

As for reverb, I’m a big fan of the Soundtoys Little Plate, but generally, I go for the Valhalla VintageVerb for its versatility. I also love the Arturia Rev PLATE-140 and the UAD Pure Plate for its organic side.

Headphones

The closed headphones I love and will always love using for mixing pop and hip-hop music are the Beyerdynamic DT-770. As for the best open-back headphones, I use the Sennheiser HD600 headphones, and I’m really happy of them!

Monitors

Having a pair of Yamaha HS7 in its studio or home studio is always cool for more excitement while listening to your mixes. The Adam Audio T7V monitors are also super accurate. In my studio, I also have a pair of Genelec 8030 for their reliability.

Hardware gear

For anyone who wants to start using hardware in their mixes, I always recommend these 2 units from Klark Teknik: the EQP-KT and the 76-KT. Don’t forget to use good converters, such as the Apollo interfaces. This is essential for a good rendering.

IDeez

IDeez (real name Gauthier Claude) is the owner and head engineer of IDeez Studio. He has been working as a mixing engineer in pop and hip-hop music for several years and collaborates with many artists and independent labels around the world. His goal is to provide quality online mixing services and to teach, through his blog posts, the principles and techniques of mixing in pop and hip-hop music.

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IDeez

About IDeez

IDeez is the head sound engineer of IDeez Studio. He studied BA and MA in sound engineering at IAD (Belgium) and has been a specialist in vocal mixing for several years, especially in pop and hip-hop music. His goal is to help artists, rappers and singers in their mixing process through online mixing services, tutorials, blog articles and e-books. Contact him for any information!

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