Mixing 808s on Analog Gear
While I was mixing the Analog 808 Sample Pack, I realized that the process was unique enough that it might be interesting to watch for those interested in picking up the kit.
In this video, I show you just one of ways that I used the gear to create "color" for the sounds inside of Analog 808.
But it gives you an idea of what was involved with the process.
And in the case of this example, I was going for an aggressive sound that could be used in parallel.
Even though this video is showing you how I mixed the 808 sample, it doesn't mean it's all for nothing.
In creating this video, I'm not only demonstrating how I created the sounds, but I'm hoping to inspire you to go out and use similar tactics in your productions and your mixes.
How the Chain is Set Up
The signal is coming out of Pro Tools, going into the Vintage Neve 1073 (Line Mode), followed by the Tube-Tech CL1B, the Distressor, the BAX EQ and finally it's been sent through the API convertors back into Pro Tools.
Please note that I am not using the Analog section on the API's which is very critical because I liked how it sounded better without it.
1. Vintage 1970’s Neve 1073
The Neve isn't doing much, to be honest.
It's the start of the chain so it's just there to add some texture to the sound.
Unfortunately I didn't do an A/B comparison in the video, but you're just going to have to take my word for it when I say it's doesn't something nice to the sound.
It's very subtle, though.
2. Tube-Tech CL1B
For the most part, I am using the CL1B to tighten up the sample and make it a bit more "meaty" for lack of a better word.
If you listen to the before and after you can almost immediately hear the sound tighten up when I start to drop the threshold.
3. Empirical Labs Distressor (British Mode)
The Distressor is such a great all around compressor - you can so many different sounds with that unit.
In the case of this example, I'm using the Distressor for a couple of reasons.
- The first is help bring up the sustain of the bass because I want the note to feel longer. I don't want it to just die off right away.
- The second thing I'm getting from the unit is distortion. I'm talking the beautiful kind of distortion. In the video, you'll hear that when I turn the unit on it sounds VERY distorted but when I back off of the input and slow down the attack, it's as if it's grinding up the bass at maybe 20%. That 20% isn't enough to do damage but it's just enough to give the sample an aggressive mid range presence - exactly what I want!
4. Dangerous BAX EQ
What can I say about this thing? It's treated me very well since I purchased it.
I do owe a lot of credit to my current "sound" to this one EQ alone.
It's crazy, but the little work that it does certainly helps me achieve noticeable improvements in my mixes.
So the reason I wanted to use it for the 808 samples is because it doesn't add any phasing or color to the sound. This is most important when working with low end sounds.
Most 808s already have quite a bit low end, but sometimes it just needs a little bump here or there.
The BAX helped me achieve that while maintaining the punch and clarity of the original sample.
5. Empirical Labs Distressor (British Mode)
In this example, I'm just using the API for it's convertors; nothing special here.
But since the convertors are such high quality, it allows me to capture a more accurate representation of what's happening in the analog world. So when you download the samples on your computer, you get a much better and "truer" sound.
The 808 "Click"
One thing that makes the 808 so unique is the famous "click" at the start of the sample.
Most people who have used 808 bass sounds (that are part of a commercial sample pack) - may not be aware of the click because they have (most likely) been edited out.
The click can be a really good thing when you are using the samples in their natural state. However, I've found that when you start processing the samples aggressively, the click becomes more apparent than the actual bass, which results in a terrible sound.
For the sake of the Analog 808 samples, I edited the click out on almost every sample in the kit.
I achieve this in two ways.
1. Clip Gain Automation
The first way that I achieved this was through clip gain automation.
Actually, I consider this to be step one as opposed to something I would do on it's own. It compliments the next step.
I found the point of the sample that had the most apparent click, which you don't even have to listen to the sound to find, you can see it very easily by looking at the waveform.
Once I pulled down the click with the clip gain, I listen to the result to see if I liked what I was hearing.
I wasn't going for perfection at this point; I was just going for "better" than before.
In this case, I felt it was a success.
2. Fade Ins
After I was happy with the Clip Gain, I brought out the fade. You really can not underestimate how powerful a good fade can be and in this case, it worked really well.
The fade allows me to help soften the click (transient) with out any negative repercussions.
Equalization can add phasing to a sound and since I was happy with the analog compression, I didn't want to color the sound with a digital compressor.
To put it simply, I want to keep the sound exactly the same but I just didn't want to hear the click, or as little of it as I could.
So the fade worked out well.
The Parallel Processing Begins
After I've done all that processing and I removed the click, I can start blending the original sample with the newly created sound.
By doing all the mixing in the analog environment, I can quickly and easily do the blending inside of Pro Tools without any downsides.
The digital environment is very clean and forgiving and that's what I want when I blend the 808s in parallel - I want to preserve the original sounds so I can get balance between the original and overly processed sound.