By Francis Preve
IT’S HARD TO IMPRESS MOST PROFESSIONALS. BY THE TIME YOU GET TO A
certain level in this industry, it’s partly because you’ve mastered sound design and
engineering, so this month we asked our roundtable to describe an engineering or
sound design trick that impressed them.
1. Matt Lange on Amon Tobin
Amon Tobin’s new album ISAM is a spectacular
example of innovative and contemporary sound
design. Using a Kyma system controlled by a
Haken Continuum, Amon takes recordings of simple
objects around his house and creates entirely
new sonic worlds via the granular and spectral
re-synthesis algorithms of the Kyma system. He
posted a YouTube video detailing part of this process,
and it’s truly inspirational.
2. Morgan Page on EDX
I’m really impressed with how EDX’s engineer
gets his songs crazy wide and loud. I think it’s
a mix of delay, compression, and EQ, good
room reverbs, and knowing how to judge the
meters—sometimes clipping isn’t really clipping.
Monaural compatibility to me is really
important and it’s something I always strive
to achieve, but ultimately it’s always a compromise.
If you go too wide you can lose the impact
with some sounds.
3. Boom Jinx on compressors
If you want a high-quality, refined, and classy
mix instead of just a “functional mix” that
temporarily wows you, less truly is more.
This is especially true when it comes to signal
compressors. As the years go by, I find myself
pushing compressors less and less to achieve
the results I want.
4. Josh Harris on Dr. Luke and
I think that some of the vocal production
tricks that you hear from Dr. Luke’s camp on
the Katy Perry and Britney Spears tracks are
awesome. A lot of the time, the stutter and
pitch-bent vocals that you hear in breakdown
sections or at the end of phrases add such a
nice touch. They take time to create but are
extremely effective. In dance music, we use a
lot of synth comp sounds, e.g., stabs. Sometimes
one sound isn’t thick enough, so I’ll
just duplicate my MIDI data on another track
and use a different sound, but something
similar so that they blend well. I may also
replay the part using slightly different chord
voicings, so that it’s not an exact duplicate of
the previous part.