Six ‘wrong’ de­sign tips

A col­lec­tion of sound de­sign ideas that are tech­ni­cally in­cor­rect but may just de­liver in­spir­ing re­sults

Future Music - - FEATURE -

Pre­set junkie

Com­pletely stuck for in­spi­ra­tion? Hunt down your most creative suite of ef­fects pro­ces­sors, load them up over a dis­tinc­tive sound in your track, then flick through pre­sets as you record the re­sults to au­dio. Sure, this might not be the most in­di­vid­ual ap­proach at first glance, but the sim­ple act of ‘pre­set jump­ing’ can, in fact, gen­er­ate unique stut­ters, scans and gen­eral weird­ness you might never come up with oth­er­wise.

Crush on you

Bitcrush­ing, sam­ple-rate re­duc­tion and dig­i­tal dis­tor­tion ef­fects are of­ten just too much when ap­plied over com­plex sig­nals in a mix – those scratchy, munchy arte­facts sound messy, and can ruin the pol­ished sound you’ve been re­fin­ing. How­ever, these ef­fects work well when fac­tored in from the start of the sound de­sign process. Have a go at syn­the­sis­ing a ba­sic sound from a clean sine wave, then dial in dig­i­tal dis­tor­tion – the clean wave­form will ‘iso­late’ the dig­i­tal dis­tor­tion, mak­ing it sound like an­other os­cil­la­tor.

Pile ’em up

As mas­ter­ing en­gi­neers know, ev­ery sin­gle stage of pro­cess­ing you ap­ply will the­o­ret­i­cally al­ter your source sig­nal, which is prob­a­bly why it’s usu­ally ad­vised to keep pro­cess­ing to a min­i­mum. But who doesn’t like pil­ing up pro­ces­sor af­ter pro­ces­sor? When cre­at­ing new sounds, part of the fun is ex­plor­ing what long chains of ef­fects might do to a rel­a­tively sim­ple sound. Who says you can’t stack up 20 or 30 ef­fects in the search for some­thing new? Not us!

Get shred­ded

Gui­tarists have been forc­ing sig­nals through ex­treme dis­tor­tion for decades, and it’s just as rel­e­vant an ap­proach for elec­tronic mu­si­cians. Smash beats or synths through dis­tor­tion for roar­ing tim­bres; re­sam­ple the re­sults; then load the au­dio into a sam­pler and play around with pa­ram­e­ters (eg, play­back speed, pitch and loop­ing) to de­sign com­pletely fresh sounds with a gnarly, grainy edge.

Clip ad­vi­sor

Turn to the first page of ‘The Mu­sic Pro­duc­tion Rule­book, Vol.1’, and it’ll prob­a­bly tell you to avoid clip­ping in the dig­i­tal realm. But though this is a com­monly cited piece of ad­vice, and it’s cer­tainly not ad­vised to clip chan­nels when clean­li­ness is para­mount, you may ac­tu­ally want to use this ef­fect to your ad­van­tage for sound de­sign. Try push­ing a plugin’s out­put level into the next for some ex­tra bite, or ramp up your chan­nels to the max in the search for wild clip­ping arte­facts.

The joy of con­text

Who says a vo­cal pro­ces­sor is only good for vo­cals? For ex­am­ple, iZo­tope’s ex­cel­lent Nec­tar 3 chan­nel strip is de­signed for vo­cal treat­ments, but its pitch, stereo and tim­bre-shap­ing mod­ules make it a win­ner for pro­cess­ing al­most any­thing. And the same goes for gui­tar ef­fects: plumb a hard­ware synth through a huge chain of gui­tar ped­als, get tweak­ing… and sub­se­quently say good­bye to your week­end!

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