Topic: How to get that sound

I've always wondered how some of those great sounding tracks have been recorded. Examples: gil de la paz - I wanna live, almost all legowelt tracks, Unit Moebius, ... These tracks are always very firm on the low end (especially the legowelt kicks) but don't sound too clean and separated from the midrange. I wondered how recordings like that are made, directly from the synths onto the master tape or first through a multitrack tape or to a computer? How do you work yourselves?
I work with a computer in which I record all my sounds and then mix it down in Ableton but I don't like the ableton mixer at all, it's level is too low and it sounds like crap whenever it peaks.

Just record it already!

Re: How to get that sound

You've almost answered your own question there.  You're tracks will quite possibly benefit from breaking them out your computer and mixing on a real board.  Even if you just record back into your DAW as a stereo track, a bit of analogue mixing and EQ will help.  legowelt will likely answer on the track history but if theres a distinct sound you're going for, its work looking at what kit was actually used and then either finding that or emulating it as a far as you can with what you've got.  Some of those records might've been done with cheap or lo-fi equipment.  90s bedroom producers generally mixed to 2ch DAT with some choosing tape (reel 2 reel or even cassette).  Stuff that came from studios more likely went through a multitrack tape stage then to a 2ch master (DAT or tape).  The mastering on these records may have had an influence too.
What are your source sounds and how are you recording them into ableton?  If you can drive your pre-amp a little it might make a difference to what you want.
Most folk on here are into hardware and I'm not too knowledgable about plug-ins and such but I'm sure even playing a bit with eq's and compression on your individual tracks as well as the master bus with some kind of tape sim/warmer  you could get sounds in the ballpark your looking for

Re: How to get that sound

I use Ableton. Digital mixers (software at least) do not saturate "nicely". When I compose, whenever I introduce a new instrument I bring the fader to -inf and then bring the volume back up to whatever is needed. Since things are going to get louder thru the different stages of production and you do not have the luxury of going into the red in the digital realm it is best to begin with only the volume that is needed to let compressors, eq's etc affect volume or loudness better. Also keep the Master at 0db, if you reduce the master volume to compensate you will degrade the sound at the summing stage, better to tweak the individual channels. (http://www.wiretotheear.com/2008/01/25/ … er-at-0db/)

Even without studio monitors, there is a noticeable difference between the sound from just playing the completed track in ableton and the sound of the rendered .wav file. I don't know if this is an issue specifically to Ableton or common to other DAWs too. It doesn't worry me though as to my ears it sounds like a slight difference but not in a qualitative way.

Here is a series of videos that I have seen recently re: processing in Ableton:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL … ature=plcp
This one is interesting ... about upward compression:
I use Ableton. Digital mixers (software at least) do not saturate "nicely". When I compose, whenever I introduce a new instrument I bring the fader to -inf and then bring the volume back up to whatever is needed. Since things are going to get louder thru the different stages of production and you do not have the luxury of going into the red in the digital realm it is best to begin with only the volume that is needed to let compressors, eq's etc affect volume or loudness better. Also keep the Master at 0db, if you reduce the master volume to compensate you will degrade the sound at the summing stage, better to tweak the individual channels. (http://www.wiretotheear.com/2008/01/25/ … er-at-0db/)

Even without studio monitors, there is a noticeable difference between the sound from just playing the completed track in ableton and the sound of the rendered .wav file. I don't know if this is an issue specifically to Ableton or common to other DAWs too. It doesn't worry me though as to my ears it sounds like a slight difference but not in a qualitative way.

Here is a series of videos that I have seen recently re: processing in Ableton:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL … ature=plcp

This one is cool: upward compression:

Last edited by Marco Tulio Thrash (2012-01-27 15:18:56)

Re: How to get that sound

I currently record the synth sounds from my hardware synths through my mixer to ableton. Then in ableton I do tweaking by adding some effects, editing some of the recorded sounds and adding compression here and there. The final master mix I then treat with Izotope Ozone.

The reason why so far I didn't lay down the track directly from all synthesizers into 2ch tape is that I don't have any outboard compressors and generally too little outboard effects. That's why I'm posting this topic because before investing in those I want to make sure that I'm not trying to do something exotic nobody does anymore.

@ Marco Tulio: Thanks for the tip on the volume levels, I have been tempted to reduce the master gain in several projects and did notice the quality deteriorate. I'll revise those and see if I can fix it by reintroducing their volumes.

Just record it already!

Re: How to get that sound

I use an Aphex 109 valve equaliser when recording synths and drum machines.  Apart from the obvious EQ it can add a nice bit of subtle distortion and I got mine for £140  a few years ago although I don't know what they go for now.

Re: How to get that sound

@Koova: Thanks! that looks like a nice device, found good reviews on it.

About effects I'd like to get to know "what is out there". For synths I find vintagesynth a very resourceful site but for effects I know no such site. Any ideas?

Just record it already!

Re: How to get that sound

You might wanna take a look at http://www.empiricallabs.com/fatdes.html

.. I got the UBK version: http://www.kushaudio.com/kush/ubk_fatso/warmth.html

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