The way we used to do it (or what to use to make authentic sounding House Music – Part 3)

Bringing that 90s flavour into 2009

So onto part three where i’m going to make some recommendations to you all for emulating the old school way of working that some of us still hold in such high regard. It’s funny you know, i’ve actually received messages from people who i think might have found this series of articles a bit challenging, some people really don’t want to hear how they are supposed to do something. They want to do things their own way and that is fine. I never set out to lay down the law and I don’t know everything but what I do know is what I saw and did in various recording studios from 1993 to 2000. This is MY perspective on it all but it is also a perspective that is shared by plenty. Take it how you want it people and if you want to get involved with some points of view please put them up here for all to view.

Contemporary Classics

1. Roland TR909 = Drumazon

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of this a while back and I was blown away – it’s the closest i’ve witnessed in software form to the original 909. The legendary sound of the classic House drum machine is there for usage in your favourite VST/AU compatible sequencer.

2. Korg M1/Wavestation = Korg Legacy Digital bundle

The ubiquitous M1 and the esoteric Wavestation are accurately recreated in plugin form – including all of the old expansion cards that would have cost a packet back in the day! As well as the classic Atmosphere Pad and the Piano and Organ on the M1 check out the drumkits for that Todd Terry style finger snap and a whole lot more. Please Korg make a software Triton! You’ll make a lot of people happy.

3. Yamaha TG500 = Cubase 4’s Halion One

Sure to be a controversial choice, especially for you Logic and Ableton users. The Halion One has a soundset taken from Yamaha’s Motif Workstation which is a descendent of the TG500. This is the king of the bread and butter sounds in my opinion and whenever i’m working in Logic or Ableton I am seriously lost without it. A fantastic collection of electric pianos, strings, pads and more is contained within this Cubase freebie. Highly recommended – if only Yamaha would do a cross platform version (something I doubt will happen considering they bought Steinberg)

4. Roland SH101 = TC01

I have a Powercore on my PC and this little bad boy is part of the bundle. It’s damn close to the original and it’s a little monster capable of some warm and lush sounds as well as searing, biting leads. It’s the closest you’ll get without hunting high and low on ebay for the real deal.

5. Roland Jupiter = Arturia Jupiter

You all need a Roland synth in your armoury and this is a beauty, lovingly captured by Arturia in plugin form. A bit complex for some, much more so than the simple old SH101 but it will give you tons of scope for sound creation if you feel like dabbling. A classic that’s well worth shelling out for.

6. Lexicon PCM70 = Pantheon

This classic Reverb used to cost a couple of grand and the Pantheon is not identical but it offers you that vintage DSP based reverb flavour. For those of you with Impulse based reverbs take a look here – and here –

7. Reel to Reel Tape = PSP Vintage Warmer 2

For that vintage tape vibe run your whole track through this and grab some of that old school warmth. It’s just the thing for today’s sterile digital productions.

8. Vintage Outboard Rack = UAD/Liquid Mix

All the classic compressors and EQs available with no stress on your host computer. These are ESSENTIAL in my mind if you want to capture the classic sound.

So that’s it, that’s MY list. Once again, there are more solutions out there and if you’ve got a favourite of your own then let me know up here in the comments section.

Remember though! It’s not just about the software….

When it comes to the composition of these old school tunes just remember to keep it simple and if you can’t play keys/instruments get someone in to do so. Make things MUSICAL and with SOUL and FEELING. This is just the tip of the iceberg and i’m sure in the future i’ll add something else regarding the compositional side but for now i’m holding on to the way I do it and not letting that one out 😉