Engineering a vintage sound

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by intchr, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. intchr

    intchr Guest

    Hey gang, I've recently switched from working on electronic stuff to working on more organic material. For most of these tracks I'm looking to dial up a sound that's similar to early Motown, Phil Specter's "Wall Of Sound" and what-not. Of course, using only software and solid-state gear for now I'm having a real hard time dialing in the sounds I'm looking for but then again, my knowledge of proper EQ and my bag of tricks is slim.

    So any tips and words of wisdom anyone would have would be greatly appreciated. FWIW I think that a band that's doing the vintage sound quite well these days is Doves, and a good example of how their mixes are coming out can be found here:

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    doesn't really sound "vintage" to me. The "style" sounds a little retro, but it "sounds" modern to me. The key to getting a retro vibe is in the style, arrangement, instrumentation. If you sit behind an old rhodes and play it in a style that they did in the 60's, it's going to sound retro no matter what you record or eq it with. To get something to "sound" old, you have to understand what they were using and why it made it sound that way. Tape, transformers, tubes, ribbon mics, etc... all impart a "sound". They weren't doing anything special to get that sound, they were just using what they had at the time. If you don't have the gear, you can mimic the sound by understanding what they used and what it did to the sound. It won't be perfect, but you'll get the effect across. Listen to lots of stuff really closely and try to hear what is distinct about the sound that you are trying to emulate. The key will be at the source, next will be the capture, then the process (if any).
  3. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    I'm getting way too many different vibes from this tune, honestly. It might be too early, but I don't really know. There's this this orchestra, then this bluesy solo, which rocked, then, it just chilled out.

    Just remember, Phil Spector ended up crazy from having to deal with so many musicians....
    (not true)
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I know what you want. And what you want is reminiscence of equipment used in the 1970s. Most of which, you can't afford. But a Mackie/Beringer with a bag full of SM57/58's will get you mighty close, especially if you obtain numerous hardware compressors. But you have to first have the engineering skill to produce that kind of sound. Old fogies like myself know how to. We've been there. Done that. Continue to.

    Vintage engineer with vintage equipment
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. intchr

    intchr Guest

    Thanks for the input gang. I'd initially contemplated if I'd asked for some of the regulars' top-secret, red-tape voodoo. Which of course would be nice, but that'd be tantamount to someone coming up to me, expressing their love for a track I'd wrote and then asking me for a step-by-step analysis of how I made it. Of which I'd have to decline to answer, lol :)

    I think I'll be doing some research on the gear of the time and then polishing up my knowledge of EQ, for starters. I'm guessing that Doves didn't have a warehouse full of vintage gear to run with, they just knew where to nudge the EQ (and probably where to apply reverb heh).

    Thanks again!
  6. JoeBurge_ESP

    JoeBurge_ESP Guest

    A true vintage sound in these new old tubes. Mint condition never used. People are going nuts over these.

    Emitron KT66 NOS pair RARE 1950's British Tubes MINT - eBay (item 220609676755 end time May-31-10 15:21:32 PDT)

    My My Music in Mind
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    To me one big key to a "vintage" sound is the drums. You can use all the vintage gear you want, but if you use twelve mics on the drum kit it's a modern sound. Minimal micing on the drums - lots of good room sound.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Vintage sound really comes down to technique & placement, microphone selection and minimalism with a certain amount of sameness in your equipment selection. It's not just tubes. In fact I find it's more the microphones you use than the equipment. And old-fashioned style placement. Can you say ribbon? Never mind about the carbon buttons. Crystals are nothing to write home about. Always go for a transformer coupled microphone preamp input. The bigger the better.

    I am vintage
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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