A while back I was interested in finding more realistic dub twang-dealy sounds in VST form, which was discussed in this thread. As I currently understand the authentic spring-twang sound is impossible to re-create in VST as it relies on having a real spring and something to twang that spring - imagine trying to emulate those physics with programming!
So I set out to try and fake the sound somehow using combinations of vsts. Predictably I couldn’t exactely get it. But in experimenting I developed some processes that really improve the ‘wet’ characteristic of delays and reverbs, especially with stiff repetitive input sounds. Here’s a summary:
Firstly, I really recommend EchoLIVE as a delay plugin, it’s probably the best free plug for getting lush authentic analogue style dub delay. In conjunction with that I nearly always use Moneo for pre/post width and/or channel swapping.
What follows isn’t dependant on those two plugs, in fact just using Renoise’s native effects you can do wonderful things. To do this you have to use a send channel - in the ‘send’ chain we are just going to effect the ‘wet’ characteristic of the sound. So if you’re using the native delay, click ‘mute source’, and in the mpverb mix the dry fader to 0%.
Now try some of these send chains:
- Phaser —> Delay
- Flanger —> Delay
- Phaser —> mpverb
- Flanger —> mpverb
…and so on. The idea is to modulate the incoming signal in a way that makes the ‘wet ambience’ echo out naturally, but uniquely each time there is an input sound. So even a stiff snare drum sample, for example, that is used all the time at the same pitch can have a echo or verb behind it that doesn’t sound stiff and machine like. This can make very ‘cheap sounding’ reverb plug-ins sound quite usable!
Naturally, each composer will prefer a certain sound governed by what they set the parameters for each plug. However I have a few recommendations. My stock standard useage usually ends up look like this (depending on the type of input sounds and the song’s mix):
- SEND 1-50% —> Phaser (500hz-3khz crossover, medium LFO, 50% effect, 0-25% feedback, 0-3% width) —> LP Filter (Moog No Rez, 1-9khz) —> Delay (all wet, length+feedback suitable to mix and intrument expression) —> HP Filter (Moog anywhere between 3-12khz) —> optional Phaser (lite) —> Width —> SEND 1-10% to Verb Channel.
- SEND 1-50% —> Phaser (500hz-3khz crossover, medium LFO, 50% effect, 0-50% feedback, 0-3% width) —> LP Filter (Moog No Rez, 1-9khz) —> mpVerb (all wet, length+feedback+pre+cpu-quality suitable to mix and intrument expression, cutoff 2-5khz) —> HP Filter (Moog anywhere between 3-12khz) —> optional Phaser (lite) —> Width —> SEND 1-10% to Delay Channel.
Notice that I’m using a pre-LP-filter and a post-HP-filter either side of the ‘wet ambience’ effect - this helps to narrow the echo into a sonic-region that sounds more authentic, architectual or distant. There’s nothing worse than an overly bright reverb sounding cheap; or, a delay or verb mashing up a mix with muddy kick drum and bass sound. Ambience, especially when it’s long and deep, tends to speak best between 500hz to 12khz, but many genres, especially dub, get narrower than that again. Your tastes will reveal themselves with experimentation.
There are other optional and creative things you can obviously put in front of the delay/verb to get astoundingly cool spatial sounds. Easy good ones are: Leslie, Pitch modulation, Stretch, Buffer mashups, Reverser, Long delay loops, slow chorus, Formant filters, or anything that has workable modulation in it. You’re basically limmited by your imagination and the plug-ins you have at hand!
I’m keen to see if anyone else is using this technique or anything similar to it, so post back here if you’ve tried it out. Otherwise, enjoy putting some ‘magic delay and verb’ into your songs.