An open loveletter to d16
Todays digital production environment is perfect.
It is perfect in the same way that clean hospital rooms with perfectly filtered air, uniform cold neon lighting and bacteria-free beds are. It is perfect in a pretty uncomfortable way. Like most techno producers, I don’t enjoy clean spaces. I’ve been missing noise, dirt and filth ever since i moved from my Mackie console to Cubase and then to Ableton.
I‘ve tried out a lot of obscure techniques trying to achieve this; like re-recording my digital percussion tracks with cheap microphones thru‘ my old Yamaha speakers. Another time, I recorded my music with a vintage tape deck in the mixdown process. I’ve even recorded the noise of my Mackie with all 24 faders on +6dB to layer it on top of some busses in Ableton. That was fun and it sounded good most of the time, but i was never totally convinced with the idea of working in a digital environment when I had to do stuff like that to get the sound I wanted.
I don’t think of myself as the DJ Ikarus type of musician, who samples sounds with an iPhone and produces tunes with his Macbook Air in the most cosy room of my trusted nursing-home. In 2012 I would prefer to have better implemented solutions to sounddesign then the above mentioned.
Well.. I’ve found some.
Today I want to thank them for the most inspiring native effects in a good while. Thank you d16 for the affordable and easy to use Silverline Collection Plugins. The silverline are a collection of 6 plugins which are categorized into 3 groups:
Devastor – Multiband Distortion Unit
Decimort – High Quality Bit Crusher
Redoptor – Vintage Tube Distortion
Toraverb – Space Modulatied Reverb
Fazortan – Controllable Space Phaser
Syntorus – Double Path Analog Chorus
The distortion plugins can do a lot more for you then what the short description says. All of them have dry/wet controls at preamp stage and output volume. I don’t like to think of those tools as simple emulations of analog hardware. Let’s face it.. We have decided to work digital, so focus on the abilities of our digital tools. A VST effect should not limit itself by trying to emulate something that never can be emulated to perfection. A VST effect can offer much more freedom – so use it with an open minded approach.
I tend to use the Devastor as the glue for my mid frequency groups. It can make your percussions and drums really stick together and often it makes compression redundant – which is a good thing when you need to tame peaks in audio without losing all the audible dynamics. Devastor is also my go-to plugin everytime I think a sound needs to be enriched or sculpted. While no EQ in the world can help you boost frequencies where nothing happens in the source sound – Devastor can. In my last studio session, I wast trying to get a recorded bassline to sit right with the kick. Daily business – but the bassline was made by a combination of sine waves and compressed reverb. It sounded nice and it worked well rhythmically with the kick, but unfortunately it had no solid 30hz going. it only rocked when turned up really loud, and that made it eat the kick. Sidechain was not the appropriate solution for once and transposing basslines down in ableton is not what I suggest doing when we talk about analog sounding techno.
Devastator with the 3 distortion bands and a nicely shapeable preamp distortion can really make the difference. Somehow it is possible to create 30hz basses which sounds like your former 50hz material character-wise. It sounds physical and real and has this texture and warmth I always miss in basses done in virtual bass-synths.
Devastor can also bring live to your synth sounds or pads and atmospheres. It has the same effect good tapes had in the past – without the sound of the tape. It’s hard to describe, but devastor adds those physical qualities and the sheer brilliance of high-priced consoles to sounds. The only limitation is that Devastor can not do all these things without having an impact on how your track sounds. it makes sense to add Devastor early in the mixdown process cause it really changes things a lot.
Toraverb is the only Reverb Plugin i used in my last 2 or 3 tracks. One can say it is not the most transparent room plugin and others will criticise that it’s pretty boring not to work with all the given reverb possibilities, but I don’t mind. Toraverb works. I love the bass-cut to avoid the frightened low frequency reverb sound with send effects. On the other hand i have the possibility to switch this lowcut off when i want to create basses with my insert reverb and really push Toraverb into resonance like outputs. but concentrate on the main idea of this effect: room. Toraverb offers a lot of parameters to sculpt your room however you want. With 2 eq’s (one for the early reflection and one for the reverb stage), it offers the possibility to make your reverb sound unique. Real rooms are not the limit – you can alter predelay time and mix early and reverb signals to taste. You can adjust the attenuation of the early reflections and the reverb. Finally, you can choose the type of early reflection from smooth to sharp and modulate your reverb sound. There’s a lot of possiblities but nothing really new. I love this fact to be honest as there is no spectacular new parameters needed with reverb. What we need is a well textured reverb which makes you think of glossy tapes in a ampex while hitting the keys of your detuned synth. Toraverb never sounds bad and the given presets helps you to work really quick. From subtle room info the ethereal atmospheres – Toraverb is unfailable.
ad.lib & silvision – Collide (Affin 117)
all reverbs by Toraverb
well i could write a lot more about the 4 others in this outstanding plugin collection, but the best about d16 plugins is that sound. I can’t replace the sound. So get the demos and check them out, but you’d better make sure that they fit your budget before grabbing the demos.
so i guess it’s more interesting to provide you with some insight to the workflow. most of contemporary deep techno tracks consists those really low rumbling subby basses. there are a lot of ways to get these sounds. one classic way which always works well is to use kicks as soundsource. low end reverb and distortion and delay on kicks can provide you outstanding basses. i love to sculpt the lowend with Devastor. It’s amazing how many different characters of distortion and filth you can achieve. let’s start with a simple kick loop for once.
by routing the kick sound to different channels i can control what i add and what i do with the original sound. i love the routing possibilities in Live 8. i grab the clean kick with 1 audio channel to make proper low end of it and rout the kick with some additional effects to a second audio track where i make some more mid/high frequency fx stuff. the low end in this example is created with Toraverb and Devastor only. here is what we get out of this small boxes with some tweaking:
Another example i want to add is a synth hook i am working on at the moment. I use the very basic Ableton synths cause i don’t like to have to many VST on my laptop. Abletons synths are not the most analogue sounding synth one can imagine. But what we get with some d16 magic has left me speechless.
I want to end my open letter to my new love with an obvious but really important bit of advice. While all of the plugins have their moments in my production routine they work best when combined. Toraverb and Decimort (the bit crusher) can give you an amazing lo-fi texture. Syntorus and Devastor can bring life to your softsynths. What i really love, is running Toraverb through a turned up Devastor. Reverb squashed and compressed and distorted but still sounding so good i really doubt this is only 0‘s and 1’s. Yes, i am truly in love.
here is where you find d16.. and they actually got a summer sale with 30% on all the effects!