No matter what genre you are making, everyone likes to have some vintage warmth in their tracks. Even if it’s extremely subtle, this technique can add depth to your mix downs and make your tracks come alive. Here are some tips we’ve learnt over the years on how to make your productions sound vintage.
1. SAMPLE SAMPLE SAMPLE
Don’t be ashamed to sample other peoples music. Do it tasteful and edit the sounds you rip and make them your own. Sometimes we like to take a drum hit from 90’s tech house records and layer it with our own productions – sort of similar to the parallel compression technique.
Obviously you don’t want to rip off full tracks, but take little bits here and there and layer them with your own ‘digital’ sounding sounds.
2. LOW PASS
Everyone knows about using high pass filters to clean up your mixes preventing them from becoming ‘muddy’ but it’s slightly less popular to low pass filter your sounds, and I’m not just talking about low end channels like bass and kicks etc… adding LPF’s on your hats or bright synths can help create this vintage texture sound. Use reference tracks and A/B them paying attention to the brightness of your tracks and older sounding tracks.
3. LOWER YOUR BITS
It’s super easy these days to recreate some of the grit of the early effects processes that were used back in the day. Using bit crushing/reduction plugins can really help add some old school sounding bite to your synths or drums. Our favourites would be the Decimort 2 from d16 group which emulates the warmth characteristics of circuits from classic samplers like the MPC. We also love Bite from Native Instruments which is incredibly easy to use. Don’t forget though, you don’t need to spend lots of money on new plugins, your DAW probably have a bit crusher plugin built in!
4. OUT OF THE BOX
This one may seem obvious but if you’re looking to really capture that retro sound then try and have a go at recording some real hardware synths into your DAW and if you’re able to run them through some external distortion/FX pedals then even better!
Try running your group busses (synth, drum, bass grouped stems) through a tape emulation plugin. This can add subtle harmonics to your mixes so if you’re in search for some character and charm for your productions then check out Softube’s Tape VST or WAVES Kramer Master Tape.