Old 03-06-2010, 04:11 PM   #1
cerendir
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Default Faking a '70s production?

Jamming on my acoustic yesterday, and playing around with NuBiLe and SpinnerLE earlier today, I got really inspired to write and record a higly seventies-flavored progressive rock tune. Think mid seventies Kansas/Genesis/Jethro Tull, or some kind of unholy amalgam thereof. And by seventies-flavored I don't just mean musically, but in terms of production as well. I figured it might be fun to try and recreate a really retro sound, partly for the nostalgic value and partly for educational purposes, as I've never attempted anything like that before. Instrument selection is a no-brainer of course. But when it comes to recording and processing, I have no idea how to get the sound I'm after. Obviously I need to make digital recordings and sampled/virtual instruments sound like they're not digital recordings and sampled/virtual instruments, and I know there's a completely daunting amount of plugins out there designed to do this. Emulations of this or that vintage hardware, tape/tube saturation plugins and so on. The problem isn't really finding the right tools, it's knowing how to use them to reach my goal.

So, I would basically like some pointers on how to 'fake' a seventies sound with modern technology. Doesn't have to be 100% authentic -- I don't want to turn this into a science project -- but relatively close. Tips on specific plugins (within the free realm!) to use are very welcome, as well as more general advice on how to get in the sonic ballpark. I have a notion that strategic use of mic and room ambience IR's on sampled instruments might help alleviate some of that up-front, crystal clear modern sound, but I have yet to try this in practice.

I'm also kind of stumped as to how to get that characteristic seventies drum sound using pristine modern samples. Perhaps it's not even possible to get that dead-damped, flat sound of the era without setting up a drum kit the exact same way and sampling it? The right combo of eq, compression and gating might do the trick but OTOH I have a vague fear that it will sound silly rather than retro. Tips on drum samples that might fit the bill are of course very welcome.

Writing this I get a feeling that it might be interpreted as "wat plugs do u use to get a retro sound?" type of request, as if it was just a question of loading the right effects and boom, there you go. That's not my intention. I'm fully aware that gettting a vintage sound with modern equipment is a whole field of science in itself -- and TBH most of the debates about this emulation versus that vintage h/w goes waaaay above my head (or ears). I'm just interested in hearing people's takes on how to get a good seventies-esque sound, I'm not asking for a cut-and-dried formula.

Wow, I'm completely unable to make a long story short
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:40 PM   #2
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The drum sound from the 70s comes from drummers leaving the bottom (resonant) head off the drums, except the snare of course, to leave room for engineers to stick the mics directly inside the drums aimed at the middle of the head. I double any of the sample libraries have bothered to get this sound, it's been out of style for decades. I'm going to say what I always say about sample libraries here and say get a real drummer. =D

Ultimately I wouldn't worry about matching the sound exactly, what matters more is the musical style and that you get the feel right. Try to evoke the feel rather than trying to slavishly duplicate everything exactly.

One thing I'd do specifically though is try to stay away from too much layering, compression, and/or other tricks used to "fill up" the mix. Leave the mix fairly sparse, apply effects to busses rather than using sends or putting them on individual tracks.
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Old 03-06-2010, 05:01 PM   #3
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not hard really. dead drums in a small, dead room, close mic'd, evans hydralic heads or remo black dots. don't have real drums? sample some off an al green record. otherwise IF you must, find the dryest kit of the sample kits you have and use a transient designer to to cut the sustain down. and don't use the room mics.

keys? just the classics. good ole piano, b3, wurlitzer & rhodes (played through a fender twin), mellotron, cheezball fake strings, maybe some crappy, annoying monophonic synth. i.e "wish you were here," or steve miller band.

bass? 4 strings only. no 5's, just a p-bass, jazz bass or maybe a rick.

geetars? no pointy headstocks, no high gain, no chorus, but maybe add a craptastic big muff fuzz pedal.

vocals? sing in tune without a plugin to do it for you

fx? setup 1 plate reverb, 1 slapback delay, and 1 long delay, and ONLY use those via channel sends.

a big pile of cocaine and/or heroin helps too.
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Old 03-06-2010, 05:02 PM   #4
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I do Reggae music myself and yes, getting the old sound and knowing certain techniques is a long study. Hearing things about the snare, etc are good info. Some of us are just lo-fi, I suppose :P
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:06 PM   #5
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In addition to the tips above, I'd try throwing a good tape saturator on everything in sight. I tend to use Antress ModernAnaloguer a fair bit, and there was a good from Bootsy that escapes me at the moment. Start with a medium amount of saturation/color/compression at any point where you'd have a mic in real-life (after guitar impulses, after drum samples, on the drums' "room" track, etc), and then put some on the master for good measure.
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:28 PM   #6
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"Thin" things out a bit - don't go "modern" with you're EQ'ing, etc. (Less or no "point" on the kick, very little bottom on the guitars, very little high's on the bass, etc)

Use some copies/clones of "classic" compressor plugins, to taste. EQ's, too.

Play REALLY well, lol.

Listen to a bunch of those ALBUMS (what's that?), and try to zone in on the types of room sounds and reverb being used. That's a toughy. Doesn't necessarily need to be "dead", though.

Tape and/or tube saturation plugins on the master bus, and individual tracks to taste, as well.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:31 PM   #7
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Default Here are some drums that will work for you....

Go to the Abbey Roads Drums website http://www.abbeyroadplugins.com/ and take a look at their new release called; "Abbey Road Drums". Recorded samples in Abbey Road....the Beatles room, with a real 60's Ludwig kit. Old vintage mics, but also with newer mics... I just bought a copy...hasn't arrived yet, but I can't wait. Check out their demo video...pretty cool. Oh, it only works with their N.I. Kontakt 4 player which you can download for free... Good luck.
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:52 AM   #8
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Nice to see that my quest has inspired you (as you already mentioned in my topic). Now for suggestions; think about the limitations that they had then and try to limit yourself in the same way. Some very good suggestions in that direction are already mentioned here.

For drums you might search the web for some studio recordings of prog drummers. I have some studio-takes of Bonham smashing away and I'm sure there is more to find. Get the Bonham tracks here: http://www.saladrecords.com/bonhamfiles.htm

I also suggest you grab the Elektrostudio VSTi-pack, link is in my topic. Gives you instantly all the keyboard sounds of that time
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nfpotter View Post
"Thin" things out a bit - don't go "modern" with you're EQ'ing, etc. (Less or no "point" on the kick, very little bottom on the guitars, very little high's on the bass, etc)

Use some copies/clones of "classic" compressor plugins, to taste. EQ's, too.

Play REALLY well, lol.

Listen to a bunch of those ALBUMS (what's that?), and try to zone in on the types of room sounds and reverb being used. That's a toughy. Doesn't necessarily need to be "dead", though.

Tape and/or tube saturation plugins on the master bus, and individual tracks to taste, as well.
I agree! Also songs back then were more dynamic..... and perhaps a touch of pink noise in the backgound for that analog recording equipment feeling?

...oh yes, and don't forget to cut a vinyl!
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:56 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by technogremlin View Post
For drums you might search the web for some studio recordings of prog drummers. I have some studio-takes of Bonham smashing away and I'm sure there is more to find. Get the Bonham tracks here: http://www.saladrecords.com/bonhamfiles.htm
)
Also the Bonzo drums on Jamstix Rayzoon are quite good, I'm not sure if it suits the style you aforementioned (Always wanted to use that word!!!)
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Old 03-07-2010, 04:40 AM   #11
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..... and perhaps a touch of pink noise in the backgound for that analog recording equipment feeling?

...oh yes, and don't forget to cut a vinyl!
http://www.kvraudio.com/get/571.html
http://www.kvraudio.com/get/2148.html

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Old 03-07-2010, 06:39 AM   #12
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For drums, the Vintage EZX for EZ Drummer might be another option.
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Old 03-07-2010, 06:58 AM   #13
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Somehow I don't think Cerendir is looking to buy stuff

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Tips on specific plugins (within the free realm!) to use are very welcome
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Old 03-07-2010, 12:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
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I agree! Also songs back then were more dynamic..... and perhaps a touch of pink noise in the backgound for that analog recording equipment feeling?
Actually, that would be brown noise, so named after the brownian motion that causes this phenomenon.
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Old 03-07-2010, 12:43 PM   #15
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Actually, that would be brown noise, so named after the brownian motion that causes this phenomenon.
Well obviously

....I had a band called Analogy once; problem was, the other guys who didn't speak english always pronounced it anal-ogy.... :-/
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Old 03-07-2010, 01:51 PM   #16
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I use this handle playing video games... So many people cave called me "Anal Orgy!" over the years that I don't even notice anymore.
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Old 03-07-2010, 03:50 PM   #17
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Here is a free accoustic drum vsti which has a 70's ludwig kit, the samples are unprocessed so it might suit for what you are doing.

http://www.bluenoise.no/mydrumset.html

I used it quite a bit for a while and it sounds very good, especially for free

Cheers
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Old 03-08-2010, 06:11 AM   #18
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Wow, that's a ton of helpful suggestions! Thanks everyone. I need some time to digest everything and try out a few ideas, let's see if I can post some example clips later this week.

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Here is a free accoustic drum vsti which has a 70's ludwig kit, the samples are unprocessed so it might suit for what you are doing.
Yeah, I've had those two drum kits for a while but I haven't really attempted using them much as the mapping is kinda weird and you can't change it. But I'll definitely give the 70s kit a try for this project.
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Old 03-13-2010, 05:45 AM   #19
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The bluenoise 70's drum kit isn't working out that great. It sounds "right" so to speak and has a ton of mixing possibilities. But there's only two toms, and the open hi-hat can't be closed with the pedal. I think I might have to frankenstein a kit from free samples.
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Old 03-13-2010, 10:18 AM   #20
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I think I might have to frankenstein a kit from free samples.
You might wanna grab some samples from the Roland TR 707, a mid 80s machine, but you would want the dull kick and dry thud snare. Toms suck, too, so you can maybe use those

http://machines.hyperreal.org/manufa...R-707/samples/

Keep em dry or if you have to verb them, think PLATE.
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Old 03-13-2010, 04:43 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cerendir View Post
The bluenoise 70's drum kit isn't working out that great. It sounds "right" so to speak and has a ton of mixing possibilities. But there's only two toms, and the open hi-hat can't be closed with the pedal. I think I might have to frankenstein a kit from free samples.
Do you have any other drum vsti ? if so you could use the hats / extra tom from that one and bluenoise for the rest, just a thought.

Also the FREE, BIG MONO samples from analogue drums sound fairly retro and work fine in shortcirciut, although i'm not a fan of the snare sound, still it might work well for your project.

Cheers
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:24 AM   #22
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Something I came across while listening through the original Black Sabbath albums...

Don't be afraid to pan the bass. If the song has only one rhythm guitar, pan that to one side and the bass on the opposite side. Several tracks on Paranoid, for example, use this (Iron Man, Hand of Doom).

And I'm pretty certain that it was not only on Sabbath albums where this was done.
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:54 AM   #23
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first ramones record.
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Old 03-15-2010, 05:58 AM   #24
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There are couple of bigger free kits that should work. Analogue Drums has nice free mono ludwig kit that could work, at least for the more rocking parts.

http://www.analoguedrums.com/details-bm.php

Then there was one kit that was part of Erans Sampling Project, now seemingly defunct thing. They had lots of good free samplesets but especially their Damp Kit is really something. It has funny panning and all. Well snare and kick have close miked samples on the other side and room/oh sounds on the other. It is nice as is, but when you use Reaper's clever routing and start to control those two channels (or even use only other of them as mono) it becomes very versatile. It has sound that I haven't heard anywhere else. As a sampleset, I mean. You can get those dry sounds of early King Crimson etc. quite well with it. And it works nicely with round DI bass and rhodes and organ emus. DI bass (preferably P bass) without highs or scooped mids will take you to the 70s. I prefer my bottom round and not klangy and banging like they do so often nowadays..

I don't know if that Erans Damp Kit is available from the net anymore, but it is worth a little searching.

There is also lots of loops that could work for you (and these can be splitted too, not all breakbeat has to sound like "dance" music ) Real Music Media has loops and very good snare in 70s style and with many separate samples for overheads etc. And Real Music Media's samples are also free nowadays.

http://realmusicmedia.net/samples.html

Oh and for recording, buy some very old and cheap mics! They are instant vintage. I have EV 631a (practically same mic as EV635a) omni dynamic and it is very versatile mic for some oldschool sounds (be it vocals, amp or acoustic instruments). Also my Telefunken TD26 (I think it's made by sennheiser) is interesting, if little noisy. But my favourite oldie mic is TD11B from late 50s. It is just gorgeous for some vintage vocals and also for tambourine. It doesn't have any bottom end but it has great mids and actually quite nice top end. Occasionally it is just perfect.

These mics are all cheap and not professional (well, except EV, but even that is from the cheaper end). Some of them came with consumer reel to reel recorders and you can find stuff like this cheaply/free. They can be nice as FX and color, and indeed for retro sound. Their connectors has to be changed to more modern ones but if you can't do that yourself, there are adapters available, and anyone who can do their own cables can do them for you easily.

Oh, and one thing. With electric guitars, you can even try DI guitars sometimes for more clean comping. This is practically what they did in motown. Just use EQ to shape the sound (and cut away excessive highs if any) and and then use Blockfish compressor with little saturation, I like it a lot. Oh and get every free plugin from here (or use some money, it won't be wasted):
http://www.genuinesoundware.com/

Especially the WatKat tape delay is bound to take you back in time...

Oh and finally, try to make similar arrangements as they did then. Vintage starts with the source.

EDIT: I just remembered one beautiful free drumkit that works also well as a retro kit. It is freebie from orangetreesamples. Not so dry and damp but very nice. I like the toms and hats especially.

http://www.orangetreesamples.com/dow...zzFunk Kit.rar

Last edited by gavriloP; 03-15-2010 at 06:04 AM. Reason: added info
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Old 03-15-2010, 07:09 AM   #25
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I'd add: Keep away from all mastering plugins & loudness war.

I listened to a cool band about a year ago, they definitely had nailed a 60's sound & mix... and ruined it all by using a modern loudness mastering.

A good addition (even though I am not a huge fan of it myself) is to use quite heavy panning for your instrument.
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Old 03-19-2010, 07:49 AM   #26
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Just wanted to say that I haven't forgotten about this little project. It's just that things got in the way (computer upgrade plus a few new toys to experiment with) and I haven't gotten very far in the writing process. I have however been listening to a lot of seventies albums the latest weeks, really immersing myself in the music and trying to pinpoint characteristics of the productions. It's funny how many new things you can spot when listening analytically, even if you think you know an album inside out.

Stay tuned.
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Old 03-19-2010, 07:56 AM   #27
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Quote:
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Also the Bonzo drums on Jamstix Rayzoon are quite good, I'm not sure if it suits the style you aforementioned (Always wanted to use that word!!!)
Use it correctly, then.

"...if it suits the aforementioned style..."

*climbs down off his pedant pedestal*

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Old 03-22-2010, 09:29 AM   #28
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I have however been listening to a lot of seventies albums the latest weeks, really immersing myself in the music and trying to pinpoint characteristics of the productions. It's funny how many new things you can spot when listening analytically, even if you think you know an album inside out.

Stay tuned.
Too true. I must have listened to Selling England by the Pound a thousand times (minimum) and I am still learning new stuff.

But, really catching the "feel" of that music with plugins is going to be a a very challenging task to say the least. Capture all the nuances of say, Mike Rutherford's playing on anything with strings or Tony Banks at anything with "keys" or Phil Colins at anything that can be hit is simply impossible with samples. Just take the song "Watcher of the Sky"...how on earth could you sample everything in there? You would need terabytes of samples and a lifetime to sample it...especially with Mike Rutherford...he's a virtuoso (despite what people think...what was he thinking with Mike and the Mechanics???? or maybe he just forgot to think ...) like many musicians from the 70's prog rock era... Phil Colins made his money (lost to his ex-wife lol) with many songs with ridiculous lyrics and simplistic beats but first and foremost he's among the best percussionists of the century...try to drum Musical Box...only an accomplished drummer can do that, and to do it like Phil...well...good luck lol
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:46 AM   #29
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But, really catching the "feel" of that music with plugins is going to be a a very challenging task to say the least. Capture all the nuances of say, Mike Rutherford's playing on anything with strings or Tony Banks at anything with "keys" or Phil Colins at anything that can be hit is simply impossible with samples. Just take the song "Watcher of the Sky"...how on earth could you sample everything in there? You would need terabytes of samples and a lifetime to sample it...
Hmmmm.... hard to do: maybe, probably... impossible: don't think so, because 'they' did it as well. I do agree that those guys did wonderful things but they are not superhuman. I'm sure there are several people here on the forum that play circles around the Genesis crew and there are possibly a few very seasoned producers around as well.

But hey, I could be completely wrong here so now I'm going to grab 'selling England...' from my CD-collection and listen to it
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:31 PM   #30
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Native Instruments released Abbey Road 70's Drums today. The audio demos indicate this would be ideal for what you're trying to do.

http://www.native-instruments.com/#/...oad-70s-drums/
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:47 PM   #31
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There was a period where you would spend two days tuning drums to perfection, then completely dampen the crap out of them with wallets, maxi pads and duct tape.
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Old 03-23-2010, 03:26 AM   #32
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Capture all the nuances of say, Mike Rutherford's playing on anything with strings or Tony Banks at anything with "keys" or Phil Colins at anything that can be hit is simply impossible with samples. Just take the song "Watcher of the Sky"...how on earth could you sample everything in there? You would need terabytes of samples and a lifetime to sample it
I think you're misunderstanding me. The song will have real electric and acoustic guitars, real bass, real keys (albeit VSTi's) and real vocals. When I say "samples" I mean multisampled instruments, it's not like I'm going to sample snippets of old progressive tunes and stich together a song from them. Also, I'm not out to capture the sound of any specific band, I just want the tune to hava a distinct seventies sound, so whether I can play bass like Rutherford or keys like Banks is kind of a moot point.
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Old 03-23-2010, 03:59 AM   #33
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my humble point of view..

just play a real drum, or play a vsti drum in real time (opposite to the make&loop it' way) and wisely quantize it;
you would apply some time variation as well...;
play the bass and guitar from the beginning to the end of the song (no repeated loops);
play the keyboards the same way above without any midi quantization, "record: output" mode on reaper, better passing the key through an amp sim,
and dont forget to heavily high pass and low pass every single instrument (lets say: 100hz-12khz as a general rule);
track and print your instruments with the efx you like BEFORE recording (flanger, chorus, delay on gts, leslie on organ);
use a nanotron or a cheap solina's emulation instead of any real string pad;
keep room for a remarkable solo in your song (guit or keyb as you like it)
lotsa reverb on vocal!!!
slap a ferox (JB plugin) on the master buss

you should hit the point, unless your tune is a 4 on the floor with a sequenced bass line, which could be quite interesting tho...

edit: as you said "educational purposes", I think it could be useful to take your reaper daw as a tape recorder: just hit rec and start play til the end. your track will achieve that sort of vintage flavour by simply overcoming the "looped" character of modern tunes.
I think going "vintage" isn't just a matter of timbre ....

Last edited by matey; 03-23-2010 at 04:15 AM.
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Old 03-23-2010, 04:25 AM   #34
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I'd say that you can slap that Ferox to many individual tracks too! I haven't been using it for awhile and it is much better than remembered. Actually when you combine it with Bootsie's Ferric you get some cool and funky results! Even the free Nebula tape programs (Producer's pack & R2R freebies from CDsoundmaster) on top of that really get you to the world of sweet saturation. That might get closer to the sixties actually...

And about bass, you might want to use flatwounds.
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Old 03-23-2010, 04:50 AM   #35
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get some musicians that are 50 and older to play. :-)
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Old 03-23-2010, 05:03 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by sstillwell View Post
Use it correctly, then.

"...if it suits the aforementioned style..."

*climbs down off his pedant pedestal*

Scott
....damn, I hate feeling like a foreigner in my own mother tongue :P
I stand corrected, thanks
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:18 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by matey View Post
just play a real drum, or play a vsti drum in real time (opposite to the make&loop it' way) and wisely quantize it;
Oh, I definitely intend to do that. In fact I always do, I never loop or copy/paste drum parts. I also just bought myself a Nanopad so I'm going to try and play the drums live as much as I can.

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overcoming the "looped" character of modern tunes.
I think going "vintage" isn't just a matter of timbre ....
I dont think there's any immediate risk of my songs sounding "modern" really, I've never been into the formulaic music of recent decades nor will I ever be. It's easy to forget that the people who read my posts don't know me and my background, but let me just say that I'm huge fan of progressive rock and metal and it's the style of music I've been playing the most during my 22 years as a musician. So don't get me wrong, I'm not coming from some completely different style and trying to "fake" a prog track or something. That would just be silly.

But anyway, I've decided to use the Open Source Drum Kit, though with the snare that gavriloP linked to. As mentioned I'll be using NuBiLe and SpinnerLE for organs. I'll use MinomogueVA for synth leads and Tapeotronic for some Mellontron parts. Ferox has come up several times and I intend to use that one when it's time for mixing. Now as for other effects, what about reverbs? I have Poor Plate and PSP Springverb on my list, any other possible candidates? As for delays, I'm thinking either Classic Delay or E-Phonic Tape Delay. Compressors... I have no idea. Some of the Antress compressors perhaps?
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:31 AM   #38
JHughes
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Major Tom sounds pretty thick and vintage.
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:39 AM   #39
Wolffman
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Antress compressors would be good i think, use the La-2a, fairchild & 1176 emulations and you couldn't go wrong

Which open source kit are you using ?

Cheers

Edit: Tal dub is a delay worth trying.
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:51 AM   #40
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and another thing I've missed, for a "perfect vintage sound" don't forget to keep the loudness war away from your studio, giving your master buss plenty of headroom for the good dynamics sake....

ps: curious to listen to your stuff now....
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