Howdya get that washed out drum machine sound?

Discussion in 'Synths / Samplers & VSTi' started by Bear's Gone Fission, Jan 4, 2001.

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  1. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Jan 4, 2001
    I've been wondering about the sort of sound where you know you're listening to a drum machine and it's crappy in a cool, fuzzy, fizzy lo-fi way.

    That Primitive Radio Gods hit, "standing outside yada yada", is the most comercial example I can think of, but refence points for me would be the first Satchell album and the Twilight Singers album.

    It sounds kind of like maybe overloading a porta-studio, but I doubt that's the standard method of getting the sound on commercial releases. I'm thinking cheap compressors hit too hard and/or maybe some distortion pedals set to break up on peaks. So how do ya do it, guys?

    da Bear
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    da Bear , glad to see you here.
    Not sure the songs or sound your referring too, if I new that I could tell you more.

    Samplers work good for designing sounds though.
    low and high pass filters etc. and overdriving signals and adding gates maybe.

    There are thousands of drum samples out there to draw from and manipulate.

    One easy way to fine tune your quest is what year did the song or sound your looking for come out? All we do then is think of the gear that was out then.


    It could be a synth with a fast attact and some pink noise added on the second voice.

    Tell me more if you like.

  3. supersonic C

    supersonic C Guest

    Shouldn't that be ...gone Fusion? :^) I just downloaded "Standing Outside a Phone Booth",
    and it's a loop (well used), grunged up a bit, with a little room w/ predelay on it. Texture wise, it may have been done on a 16 or 12 bit sampler to degrade it a bit, and there are gobs ofplug-insthat can bit smash or subtly distort the loop without ruining it. Sure wish they'd looped it better - stumble every 4 bars. Catchy in dark way though...
  4. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Jan 4, 2001
    Like a 12 bit sampler or something? Damn, how did I forget that trick? That's a basic one, and I'm thinking it's something else. Although I still bet this'd be one of the few times an Alesis Micro-Limiter is of any practical use. Thanks for the tip, I'll mess with it soon.

    Also good for trashing things up are cheapo consumer electronics devices that do low bit rate sampling, often from the kids toys or audio memo pads or whatnot. Lousy mic, low bit rate, and cheap speaker for playback. Haven't really used that junk for main rhythm tracks, though. Maybe feed out of a good sampler into that stuff, then back into the good sampler to loop it.

    BTW, I *love* the stumble on that song. I hate when people try to use drum machines to sound real, but I dig it when machines are funked up, programmed to do unnatural sounding or feeling patterns, or when they sound like a sputtering, wheezing old organ grinder. That sounds more natural to me than the perfected to death programming. Maybe it's the cohesiveness of a grungy sample that reminds me of a drum kit all sounding like it's in the same room, a feel I don't get from real drums that have been killed on certain recordings. Oh, and if you dug that song, try finding "Trouble Come Down" by Satchell, wonderful kick ass lo-fi drum machine sound in a moody song which would normally be a ballad. I think that might be the one that convinced me that drum machines aren't the beast.

    da Bear
  5. djphunk

    djphunk Guest


    nice topic...

    My 2c (not to different to the rest)... use heavyweight compression on the loops, drop the sample rate, add a bit of distortion or a lot, depends on what sound you're looking for.
    Most important IMHO... use loops from real drummers... not machines! If you want to resequence the loop to get a more machine type sound, then recycle it

    shouts to the ops for the cool forum...

  6. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Jan 4, 2001
    A "Waaaaaahhhhhzzzzzzzzzzzuuuuuuuuuuuuppppppppp!" back to DJPhunk. Yeah, playing these games with loops of real drums is cool, too, though not what I started the thread on. You using the Steinberg software? Pro's/Con's? I assume you spin? Another cool trick, if you have the budget, is to cut your stuff on to an acetate or the like and messing around with it on the turntable. I think Portishead cut vinyl of backing tracks to tour with, which has got to be fun.

    I'm trying to figure out a cheap way to get rhythm stuff happening with my 8 track analog studio. Not sure I'd even bother with a sync-up, though I'm open to it. I figure since I don't have the space for getting live drums (barely enough for my equipment, if you consider that little space even enough . . .) nor the budget for a lot of sample cd's of rhythm tracks, that I might be better off getting a workable drum machine and mangling the sounds to taste. If I could find an old Akai 12 bit sampler, that might be perfect for the job. I do have a nice 667 mHz pentium III PC and an old Mac Performa on hand that I could use for good software, and I'm not adverse to going that way, but I have a notion that hardware might simplify my workflow. I'd love to hear what everyone else does for their rhythm tracks to get some ideas.

    da Bear
  7. djphunk

    djphunk Guest

    A big WAAAHHHZZZUUUPPPPP!!!! back at y'all! ... please excuse the excesive use of the slang, I only got to see that 'Bud' ad here in South Africa last week and now EVERYONE is sayin' it ... if you can't beat 'em...

    You using the Steinberg software? Pro's--> easy to use, interfaces with my sampler.../Con's?--> mono only (at this time)

    I assume you spin? --> yeah, but my main interest is recording dance music, as I am originally a guitar player and drummer before taking to the decks.... I wish we could get acetates pressed in our country but sadly it is impossible... the cost to import one is also not a viable option
    OK lo-fi beats that's the topic right?!?

    The cheapest way I can think of doing this is to use your PeeCee "I do have a nice 667 mHz pentium III"
    Look for a piece of freeware software called "Hammerhead Rythmn Station" I think you will find a link to it at It is a simple drum pattern editor which lets you make and export your own loops... you can also import your own 'one-shot' samples to use in the loops. As far as Freeware goes, this is the best drum proggie I've come across on the PeeCee.

    Your only problem might be - how do I sequence the loops? What are you using as a sequencer? Have you got ProTools? ... If not ... " what are you waiting for? " smile.gif Even the FREE Version would be sufficient for doin' this.

    Your point about "hardware might simplify my workflow" is probably true... But you will find that you outgrow a cheap drum machine much faster than you will a program that you can constantly update with new sounds.

    Last thing... you refered to your setup as '8 track analog' does that mean you don't use any midi gear?

    Ok thats all 4 now.

  8. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Jan 4, 2001
    Thanks for the tips, Phunkster. I think part of it might be that I am usually on computers on day and I want to do something different when I do music. Other thing is I doubt my sweetie would let me hook our computer up to all my audio stuff. That would just be monopolizing it a bit too much. But I'll look at the freeware, though I think I run the wrong version of windows for the PT. We;ll see.

    da Bear
  9. simonsez

    simonsez Guest

    hello all,
    ahhh, the quest for a cool sounding groove.
    My current favorite piece of Software for this is WAVELAB. Although it is not a "groove" program per se, it works great.
    What I do sometimes is, find a drum beat, maybe even sample it myself, import it into Wavelab then go nuts.
    Chop it up, reverse it, offset the left and right, add EQ, add FX, insert silence or other found drum name it. Then create and save several variations of the same thing.
    WAVELAB also has a lot of other cool features, like CD burning.
    I also have ACID, and frankly don't use it much, lots of people like it because it is easy to use. REBIRTH is another one, this is more of a dance type program, I have it but also, rarely use it. A freeware or demo of a REBIRTH style program is Fruity Loops, look
    I for one am really into the VSTi's or virtual instruments, they integrate nicely with Cubase, and I believe there is a BIG future for softsynths.
    Up next for me is a Virtual Sampler ;-).

    Fun is Allowed !!!
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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