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Questions for those who produced dance/trance in the late 90's....
Old 28th May 2011
  #1
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StephenWiley's Avatar
 

Questions for those who produced dance/trance in the late 90's....

I know there are not many of you left, but if you're reading this and you produced dance and trance in the late 90's I'd love to get your opinions. I cut my teeth listening to the Radio 1 Essential Mixes (in particular Oakenfold) and it is what inspired me to do everything I do today. Please, be as detailed as you can and feel free to add anything you think might help clue me in.

1. what exactly were you guys using as sound sources mostly ? I'm going to guess 808's, 909's, 303's, JP8000, Proteus, etc. but I know theres more.

2. How did you go about arrangement, mixing, recording, approachment of a track, preparations, etc? Obviously there was a lot more "printing" vs. today where you can tweak every little parameter through the entire production process.

3. Why the hell does most of the quality music produced then blow things out of the water today, even though the writing and number of tracks were probably more simplistic as opposed to today?? (just better musicians then?)

4. What made the late 90's different as opposed to today's productions besides the obvious (Overcompressed, over released, poor thought out music and just too many piece of crap establishments flooding the market)

5. If you were to lock yourself in a room for a year and had to produce late 90's style dance and trance, what would you take with you? (Both hardware and software even though I know it wasn't used as extensively as today)

Thank you so much for sharing what you know!!!
Old 28th May 2011
  #2
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gregor z's Avatar
 

Quote:
1. what exactly were you guys using as sound sources mostly ? I'm going to guess 808's, 909's, 303's, JP8000, Proteus, etc. but I know theres more.
2 x fully expanded Akai S3000XL (later S6000), MKS 80, JP 8000, JV 2080 with expansions, TX 81z-FB01, 2 x Juno 106, Korg Wavestation, Proteus 1XR, Kurzweil K2000, Yamaha SY 55, + various analog mono synths.
Drums were almost always from Akai's, but I sampled my 909&808 frequently, sometimes to S950. Effects were from Ensoniq DP 4 and Roland SRV series, we borrowed Lexicon for some projects.

Quote:
2. How did you go about arrangement, mixing, recording, approachment of a track, preparations, etc? Obviously there was a lot more "printing" vs. today where you can tweak every little parameter through the entire production process.
We did a ruff demo first, so the lyrics and vocal lines could be written,usually mixed in the samplers so we had an option of fast recall, and revisions.

We sampled a lot of sounds from analogs, but they were "live" in the mix in the final stage if possible. Had to be very careful where I stored the sounds, so they didn't get erased "accidentally" in another project. Jamming with cutoff/resonance and other parameters when the mix was recorded to DAT was essential. Had up to 20 versions of the same track sometimes heh

Vocals were recorded on ADAT and then transferred digitally to Akai for editing, comping, tuning etc - everything was then sequenced again with MIDI. One Akai was dedicated for vocals - all its outputs were connected to an analog desk for mixing - verse lead on one out, chorus lead on another out, backing vocals on four outs, ad - libs on another, MC on another - so we could add different effects and processing.
Lots of work if you wanted to tune one word or phrase or postion it precisely in the timeline.

Another Akai was used for drums&loops + synth sounds. Sometimes we processed the sounds with effects on the mixing desk and sample it again


Quote:
3. Why the hell does most of the quality music produced then blow things out of the water today, even though the writing and number of tracks were probably more simplistic as opposed to today?? (just better musicians then?)
You had to be very good musician& producer just to get the chance for a release. Vinyl was a great quality control filter.
We usually finished a whole production in 2-3 days, sometimes more.
As there was no total recall , we were much more focused and had to make production decisions faster as the mix was "live" on the desk for several days.
I also think that you could mix faster and more creatively with analog mixing desk and hardware tools, as there were no visual distractions from plug-ins as we have them today. Same with synths. We were just listening , not watching to the sound.

For bigger projects I rented the best studio around with a big desk, good monitoring and all the expensive outboard effects and processors and mixed there from Akai samplers, ADATs or Akai DR 16.

Quote:
4. What made the late 90's different as opposed to today's productions besides the obvious (Overcompressed, over released, poor thought out music and just too many piece of crap establishments flooding the market)
I think that the main difference was the availability of the tools, nowadays anyone can buy a laptop with software and cheap speakers and starts producing. Back then you needed a hardware synth for every sound in the arrangement, analog mixing desk, effects, sampler,etc...and much more devotion to learn to operate all that to make an acceptable track.
There were almost no ready made solutions, so you had to be more creative,


The mixes were more dynamic at the time, but it is also true that a Finalizer was a very important element - at least for me. I bought it as soon as it came out and was a big part of my "success" at the time.
I think that almost every dance producer/studio had one. One of the most important pieces of equipment for me back then.

Quote:
5. If you were to lock yourself in a room for a year and had to produce late 90's style dance and trance, what would you take with you? (Both hardware and software even though I know it wasn't used as extensively as today)
Atari running Cubase, Mackie 8 bus desk, 2x Akai S3000, MKS 80, JP 8000, Roland SRV series of effects - DAT recorder& TC Finalizer.

Thank you so much for sharing what you know!!!
Old 28th May 2011
  #3
Gear Guru
I thought you were gonna ask if they ever kissed a dude.


sorry .. carry on..
Old 28th May 2011
  #4
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenWiley View Post
4. What made the late 90's different as opposed to today's productions besides the obvious (Overcompressed, over released, poor thought out music and just too many piece of crap establishments flooding the market)
good taste in drugs... most 20 somethings today drank from age 16, popped meds.. and do coke. They look much older than me,... I'm 30 and out of shape.
Old 28th May 2011
  #5
restpause
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregor z View Post
2 x fully expanded Akai S3000XL (later S6000), MKS 80, JP 8000, JV 2080 with expansions, TX 81z-FB01, 2 x Juno 106, Korg Wavestation, Proteus 1XR, Kurzweil K2000, Yamaha SY 55, + various analog mono synths.
Drums were almost always from Akai's, but I sampled my 909&808 frequently, sometimes to S950. Effects were for Ensoniq DP 4 and Roland SRV series, we borrowed Lexicon for some projects.



We did a ruff demo first, so the lyrics and vocal lines could be written,usually mixed in the samplers so we had an option of fast recall, and revisions.

We sampled a lot of sounds from analogs, but they were "live" in the mix in the final stage if possible. Had to be very careful where I stored the sounds, so they didn't get erased "accidentally" in another project. Jamming with cutoff/resonance and other parameters when the mix was recorded to DAT was essential. Had up to 20 versions of the same track sometimes heh

Vocals were recorded on ADAT and then transferred digitally to Akai for editing, comping, tuning etc - everything was then sequenced again with MIDI. One Akai was dedicated for vocals - all its outputs were connected to an analog desk for mixing - verse lead on one out, chorus lead on another out, backing vocals on four outs, ad - libs on another, MC on another - so we could add different effects and processing.
Lots of work if you wanted to tune one word or phrase or postion it precisely in the timeline.

Another Akai was used for drums&loops + synth sounds. Sometimes we processed the sounds with effects on the mixing desk and sample it again




You had to be very good musician& producer just to get the chance for a release. Vinyl was a great quality control filter.
We usually finished a whole production in 2-3 days, sometimes more.
As there was no total recall , we were much more focused and had to make production decisions faster as the mix was "live" on the desk for several days.
I also think that you could mix faster and more creatively with analog mixing desk and hardware tools, as there were no visual distractions from plug-ins as we have them today. Same with synths. We were just listening , not watching to the sound.

For bigger projects I rented the best studio around will a big desk, good monitoring and all the expensive outboard effects and processors and mixed there from Akai samplers, ADATs or Akai DR 16.



I think that the main difference was the availability of the tools, nowadays anyone can buy a laptop with software and cheap speakers and starts producing. Back then you needed a hardware synth for every sound in the arrangement, analog mixing desk, effects, sampler,etc...and much more devotion to learn to operate all that to an make acceptable track.
There were almost no ready made solutions, so you hade to be more creative,


The mixes were more dynamic at the time, but it is also true that a Finalizer was a very important element - at least for me. I bought it as soon as it came out and was a big part of my "success" at the time.
I think that almost every dance producer/studio had one. One of the most important pieces of equipment for me back then.



Atari running Cubase, Mackie 8 bus desk, 2x Akai S3000, MKS 80, JP 8000, Roland SRV series of effects - DAT recorder& TC Finalizer.

MUCH RESPECT for a serious answer to a serious question set. Props!
Old 28th May 2011
  #6
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gregor z, thanks for the info, the 90's always fascinates me.
Old 28th May 2011
  #7
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The big producers used big, well-equipped studios. A quality console, great outboard, hardware synths and well-balanced monitoring in a treated room isn't something many producers today have access to.
Old 28th May 2011
  #8
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Jon Silva's Avatar
 

Quote:
1. what exactly were you guys using as sound sources mostly ? I'm going to guess 808's, 909's, 303's, JP8000, Proteus, etc. but I know theres more.
2x Kurzweil K2000R with Sampling board, JD800, JP8, Chroma Polaris, Microwave, 808, 909, 2x303, 626, Ensoniq Mirage, SY85, Mackie 32-8


Quote:
2. How did you go about arrangement, mixing, recording, approachment of a track, preparations, etc? Obviously there was a lot more "printing" vs. today where you can tweak every little parameter through the entire production process.
Pretty similar to what Gregor says above. Mixes remaining on the board until finished, couple of versions on DAT tape with cutoff/resonance tweaks (oh and manual tweaking of sends "we need some reverb on this one kick so it makes boooom"), vocal takes were recorded in the samplers and triggered via MIDI, sequencer we used was Emagic Logic, starting with v2.0. Arranging tracks was pretty much the same as today (or at least I'm still doing it the same way, except there's now audio parts in the sequencer aso). Some synths supported tweaks via MIDI controller (ModWheel to CutOff) so we would record that one as well in order to have more hands for the analogue things that did not support that.


Quote:
3. Why the hell does most of the quality music produced then blow things out of the water today, even though the writing and number of tracks were probably more simplistic as opposed to today?? (just better musicians then?)
I think because it was more difficult to 1. BUY all this stuff and 2. get your music released at all, you probably put more dedication into your work. With total recall, you can just save the current project and open another one if you don't feel the tune atm. Impossible on a mixer without automation and EQs set. You were forced to finish the tune even if you could not stand hearing it anymore and this way, you probably put as much effort in making it as good as possible. OTOT, way more producers from the mid 90ies had indeed gone through classical training or at least knew how to play one instrument.


Quote:
4. What made the late 90's different as opposed to today's productions besides the obvious (Overcompressed, over released, poor thought out music and just too many piece of crap establishments flooding the market)
What you say + what Gregor says above (word, man! No readymade stuff!) + see 3.


Quote:
5. If you were to lock yourself in a room for a year and had to produce late 90's style dance and trance, what would you take with you? (Both hardware and software even though I know it wasn't used as extensively as today)
My original setup from above heh
Old 28th May 2011
  #9
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Jon Silva's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by djugel View Post
good taste in drugs... most 20 somethings today drank from age 16, popped meds.. and do coke. They look much older than me,... I'm 30 and out of shape.
And there were better drugs. A Mitsubishi from the mid 90ies was a solid experience, the E's from today have nothing to do with those from back then.
Old 28th May 2011
  #10
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remote337's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Silva View Post
And there were better drugs. A Mitsubishi from the mid 90ies was a solid experience, the E's from today have nothing to do with those from back then.


MmmmmmMmm Mitsi's heh
Old 28th May 2011
  #11
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what about the access virus and nord lead? i thought they were very popular in the late 90's.
Old 29th May 2011
  #12
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StephenWiley's Avatar
 

great stuff gregor.

question for you.....

if you had to pick one, which would you choose?

1. Today's music environment when it comes to production. Great technology, but even grandmothers are making beats (for free) now and so much garbage is released, but great new technologies

or

2. How you did it in the late 90's. Expensive, some technology shortcomings, harder to get signed and established.



Just curious. I personally would go with #2 in a heartbeat. Just IMO but music is dead and has become a joke. I'll be a hobbyist, by choice, for the rest of my life unless something major changes. (File sharing and stealing is somehow stopped, 95% of the worlds current music labels disappeared, etc. You get the idea.)
Old 29th May 2011
  #13
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When producing stuff in the 90's I hated the sluggish midi timing...had to assign sample start to velocity so you could shift loops ahead in busy parts of the song when necessary.

MPC's where tight though...

FX's were mostly dp4 and boss stuff. I remember buying an early behringer composer compressor. These things were actually quite good and build in Germany :-)

Most people I knew used Mackie mixers which were considered to be good quality at the time. Did not have much of a choice for that money.

Monitors were alesis monitor 1 and later genelec 1030 / 1031...

With what I know now I would probably have had a completely different setup and way of doing things.
I think I would have mixed most stuff inside the akai sampler using it's internal mixer only using the stereo outputs....and more resampling...
Old 29th May 2011
  #14
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Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenWiley View Post
1. Today's music environment when it comes to production. Great technology, but even grandmothers are making beats (for free) now and so much garbage is released, but great new technologies
The problem is not that people are making garbage, the problem is that it gets attention.

Quote:
2. How you did it in the late 90's. Expensive, some technology shortcomings, harder to get signed and established.
And you'd still have lots of garbage. I've got a trance collection CD from the late 90s and a demo disk containing this month's picks from EMI's Combined Forces label (early 2000).

There's a lot on there that does not have much in the way of magic going on.

I'd still pick scenario 1 despite the garbage: if it turns out that someone's making great stuff that they otherwise would not have made because they didn't have access to the means it's worth it already. Reward talent and ambition, don't reward someone because they happen to belong to the 10% of the world's population that has enough money to scrape together basic equipment.

We did a demo in '99. Gearlist:

PC w/ Cubasis, cheap 4-port MIDI interface on the printer port
Roland MC-303
Yamaha AN1x
Akai S2000
Juno-106
Behringer Virtualizer
Roland XP30
Roland M-VS 1 (Vintage Synth module)
Yamaha W5 (workstation)
Spirit Folio Rac Pac mixer
Alesis NanoCompressor

We were so new to things we didn't even realize that we could just forego the crappy drums of the MC-303 and sample everything (and better stuff) in the S2K. Or sample anything at all to get proper multitimbrality out of it, or print the effects on the 909 claps (reverb meant that the global send reverb of all the XP30s other effects was taken, and the W5 didn't have decent claps). Getting everything hooked up so the MIDI could route properly was a bit of a challenge - the 106 had to be at the end of the line because it'd just accept everything without discrimination, and I'd have to shuffle the effects of the XP30 - in Patch mode, it had 3 inserts, but in multitimbral Performance mode those turned to Sends (global). The W5 was better - 3 sends and 3 inserts, and an on-board mixer so having 2 outputs wasn't that bad. I think we only used the chorus and delays of the Behringer, the reverb was really awful.

The 106 did the bass lines (chorus had to be off, otherwise you'd lose all definition). Monitors were a set of hi-fi speakers, the result was recorded on my Minidisc player.

Yet it got accepted by Combined Forces and 20 other demo CDs were shoved off the desk. That was 11 years ago this month.

If I listen back to it I hear a lot of good ideas, energy and drive that should be redone with better equipment, and turning everything up on the Nanocomp was probably not a good idea heh. Also, ****loads of presets from the XP30 with only minimal adjustment - the only synths that got serious tweaking were the AN1x and 106. Also, better monitors, seriously.

The percentage of EMI's advance gave me the Rac Pac, and the plans to make a career out of it were shelved for me. Not for my production partner - who happily continued - but not with trance, but hardstyle.

Trance, said the A&R guy, was doomed - they'd probably stop accepting new material like that 3 months later or so, because there was so much of it already.
Old 29th May 2011
  #16
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I used to make whole tracks on a roland r8 with the dance card ect.(no mc303 for me)casio sk100,roland jx3p,korg d8,ensoniq asrx,zoom and roland fx,akai mpc2000 with fx card,early roland sampler rack? ,tascam porta 08.Sampling records was a big part of the sound in my opinion.I never used software till later.Its true some fantastic records of all kinds were released in the mid 90 s.
Old 29th May 2011
  #17
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Ghost Note's Avatar
 

I was actually wondering the same questions. Good minds think alike
Old 29th May 2011
  #18
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dualflip's Avatar
 

I used to do GOA trance on the late 90s, 97-03, i remember i used a Jp8000, TR808, rebirth, reason when it got out, also an old software called "Buzz 2" which was quite a pain to program.

I remember i mostly used VSTs on the old Cubase VST32, i liked the VB-1 for my bass lines, Electribe EA-1 and the Access Virus when it got out...
Old 29th May 2011
  #19
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Didn't do trance, mostly techno and some prog-house.

Kurzweil K2000
Novation Drumstation (I still can't believe we were able to make that piece of sh*t sound good)
E-MU ESI-4000 (picked up an E-MU E6400 Ultra in '99)
Access Virus A
SH-101
Jupiter-106
Nord Lead (sold the Virus in a heartbeat as soon as I heard the Nord)

Mackie 32.8
DAT machine (Tascam DA-40, I believe).
A bunch of cheap DBX compressors.
Behringer Ultrafex 3200
Lexicon MPX1
Yamaha REV500
TC Electronic Finalizer

-A LOT of time reading manuals from front to back and a lot of time learning each piece of gear.


Until picking up a MOTU 2408 (in '99), mixed everything on the craptastic Mackie board (mine was one of the many plagued with the dreaded "ribbon cable issue", causing channels to crackle and drop-out) . As there was no "automation" available to us, had to have at least 2 people "automating" tracks, using masking tape on console and synths. Took pictures of synths and the console for recall. Everything was tracked directly to DAT from the Mackie's main outs. When I got the MOTU (20 bit converters, using RCA connectors), I used a cheap Hosa snake to run the 8 busses to the computer, using Digital Performer as a glorified "tape machine" instead of just a sequencer.

Ah, the good ol' days!

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenWiley View Post
What made the late 90's different as opposed to today's productions besides the obvious (Overcompressed, over released, poor thought out music and just too many piece of crap establishments flooding the market)
You had to actually know gear, synthesis, signal flow, basic engineering principals (some background in the study of music/an instrument didn't hurt either) instead of simply downloading a cracked software and sample libraries, looking for instant results.


-T
Old 29th May 2011
  #20
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crufty's Avatar
quick question while folks are thinking about it--

was that time period, sequencing, composing, setting up everything, pressing go, and recording the take?

or was it recording to samplers and then triggering the samples?

for a variety of reasons, i am either 100% otb or 100% itb. 100% otb is very difficult to go from verse to chorus! program changes / patch changes, oh man. how did folks do that? were those programmed in the sequence as well? or did folks change patches real quickly, or simply run multi-out and mute chan X / unmute chan Y ? or multi-timbural and try and pick an eq that was neutral across the synth?

how did folks remember when to change from patch a to patch b?

listening back i hear change ups all the time...cool responses! great questions!
Old 29th May 2011
  #21
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Yoozer's Avatar
I don't know if my answer is representative, but here goes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crufty View Post
was that time period, sequencing, composing, setting up everything, pressing go, and recording the take?
For us, pretty much. Technically speaking I could've used my own computer with the AWE64 as an audio interface but that would mean moving the entire bunch of crap over to my buddy's studio and I couldn't do without my computer at all. We did not have multitrack tape. Later a friend of mine got a harddisk recorder and I marveled at the idea of the convenience of that - it was either the Minidisc or burning the CD directly while recording.

Quote:
or was it recording to samplers and then triggering the samples?
The S2K didn't have enough memory and couldn't be used as a digital recorder while it was playing back. Only vocals ended up in there (and saving via floppy was an utter pain, so we tried to keep samples and kits small - one or two floppies per project.

Quote:
program changes / patch changes, oh man. how did folks do that? were those programmed in the sequence as well? or did folks change patches real quickly, or simply run multi-out and mute chan X / unmute chan Y ? or multi-timbural and try and pick an eq that was neutral across the synth?
All our gear only had stereo outputs. We just set the EQ "correctly" for most of the instruments (relatively neutral as you can imagine) if it was used multitimbrally and left it there, or did it on the instrument itself, where possible.

Quote:
how did folks remember when to change from patch a to patch b?
Keeping notes about which presets went where. One of our tracks featured the W5 where the modwheel was routed to cutoff, and I had to remember to wiggle it every time the track was played again so it was zero'd properly. While Cubasis recorded modwheel info properly, I guess it just didn't occur to me - or it was more fun to do it manually.

Patches? Just dumped them in the right order in the user memory, or saved the project as a Scene to the floppy on the W5. Total recall? Nah - just record the song and be done with it so you can re-use the mixer with completely different settings again for the next track. You finished recording, and saving the Cubasis project - that was enough. Remix? Re-mix.

One important thing is - at least for us - that we didn't plan ahead. Recording to MD or CD was done? Great, next track, don't bother about completely recalling the previous one. Why would you? And if we wanted an extended version, we planned that ahead and simply saved two projects in Cubasis, so we could leave the settings the same.

Rank amateurs, I know heh

Quote:
Originally Posted by teknosmoker View Post
You had to actually know gear, synthesis, signal flow, basic engineering principals (some background in the study of music/an instrument didn't hurt either) instead of simply downloading a cracked software and sample libraries, looking for instant results.
Thing is, if you get outclassed with a stack of gear and a load of knowledge by a random bedroom producer there's only one person to blame, and it's not the bedroom producer. Acquiring the same plugins simply puts you at the same level, not beyond. If it's the gear that gives people the edge then you can simply win by out-investing the other and goes completely against the "it's the cook, not the kitchen" that's touted here every single time. The adversary can not be weak and strong at the same time.

There was nobody to ask. I've held long, long discussions about music, gear, ideas etc. but the biggest difference compared to a forum is that when you don't get an answer you just beat your head against the wall until the wall cracks (or your head does). In the meantime, you've picked up lots of useful knowledge from each failed attempt.

That's what I'm not so glad about with forums; you see lots of topics started by people who don't want to make mistakes. In a lot of ways all we used was not the primary choice to make trance, but we got by and found workarounds and solutions, and just lived with the limitations and results. At a point you have to commit and be done with it.

While of course you don't want to throw money away at the wrong purchase, not every question has only a single answer - and sometimes you get a better answer by approaching it differently. But if you turn your back on even that possibility, you put a laser-like focus on one thing - and that is so bright that it drowns out the rest.

I cringe every time I see people who say they don't want a Virus because it's already so over-used in certain genres. It's got KNOBS, damnit, and they're not just there for decorative purposes.
Old 29th May 2011
  #22
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maisonvague's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer View Post
The problem is not that people are making garbage, the problem is that it gets attention.
Yoozer, the brilliance of your one-liners is one of the things that keeps me coming back to GS!

This statement is SO dead on and can be applied to many things besides music -- especially celebrities and politicians! heh
Old 29th May 2011
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

I was pretty much computer based at the time. A lot of the guys I worked with were working with similar setups.
Hardware synths though, no software except for D-Lusion Rubberduck and VAZ every now and then.

PC w/Microsoft 440BX motherboard and Celeron 300 CPU overclocked to 450MHZ!
Echo Mia/Gina soundcards
Cubase VST32 v3.6
Timeworks Plugin Pack
Waves Native Power Pack & MaxxBass
Sample CD's
Mackie CR1604VLZ
Novation Nova
Access Virus
Korg Mono/Poly
Novation Drumstation
Digitech TSR24
Zoom 1201's
Old 29th May 2011
  #24
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Strobian's Avatar
List of gear mainly used:
TR-909, Tr-626, 707, novation drum station
Alesis MMT-8
Juno-60, DX-100, Juno 2, POLY 800mk2,nord later
Stereo Speakers / pioneer amp
Sony DAT
Mackie 1604
Alesis and Lexicon Effects

In the 90's we felt like we were doing something new and fresh. Detroit techno and chicago house was something new & innovative. The music today is still quite good in my opinion. There were a ton of crap records made in the 90, so I don't buy the modern hatred around here. The difference is today people have put for instance detroit techno in a genre, it has become a sound, where that wasn't the spirit of its beginning. The music is really saturated. In my area there were about 5 warehouse parties going on every weekend for years. We didn't worry about being producers then, we made records that had feeling. We didn't talk about mastering, compressors, and converters, we made music we were passionate about. Everyone got their records mastered, if they were good enough to get signed. Loops that went on for 6 mins, with small changes. The DJ was the breakdown, the records were tools, because DJ's would play then. Everything was different, no forums, you went out and got in the mix of things, mix tapes were the communication of what was going on in the music... You felt like you could actually do this for a living because records sold and their was some sort of future in it. Recorded straight to DAT...one pass. You finished tracks because you were afraid of losing them .
Old 29th May 2011
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenWiley View Post
what exactly were you guys using as sound sources mostly ? I'm going to guess 808's, 909's, 303's, JP8000, Proteus, etc. but I know theres more.
It's all a bit hazy now and I don't remember which was used in the late 90s and which was early 2Ks, but:

Decent hardware was either really hard to get or really expensive here but I mainly used an SH-101, Akai S3000xl, Virus B, Jupiter 6, Novation BassStation (which I hated) an Alpha Juno 2 I picked up in a thrift store for next to nothing, and a Frostwave Resonator. The resonator was used all over the place to add dirt and change the character of various synths and samples and all drums were sampled and either one shots from 909s and 808s or breaks cut up in ReCycle.

Quote:
How did you go about arrangement, mixing, recording, approachment of a track, preparations, etc? Obviously there was a lot more "printing" vs. today where you can tweak every little parameter through the entire production process.
Everything was permanently connected and fed through the desk for writing, mixing and processing, and MIDI was either played live or sequenced in Cubase/Logic on a PC. All knob tweaking was done by hand because MIDI controllers were few and far between in those days and using a mouse on a 17" CRT was a painful experience.

Quote:
Why the hell does most of the quality music produced then blow things out of the water today, even though the writing and number of tracks were probably more simplistic as opposed to today?? (just better musicians then?)
Quote:
What made the late 90's different as opposed to today's productions besides the obvious (Overcompressed, over released, poor thought out music and just too many piece of crap establishments flooding the market)
There's a range of emotions you'll go through when recording the same filter sweep over and over again that won't be there when you only have to record it once before moving a couple of points on screen to get the perfect boolean curve. The kind of automation we have now allows us to infinitely tweak and correct things at a minute level, sucking all the life and spontaneity out of the sound as we tweak and tweak until it looks as good as we think it should rather than sounding the best it can. There were plenty of nights I thought "F**k it, I'm sick of this sh*t!!!" and given up trying to get something right, only to go back the next day and find it already sounded great.

Quote:
If you were to lock yourself in a room for a year and had to produce late 90's style dance and trance, what would you take with you? (Both hardware and software even though I know it wasn't used as extensively as today)
I'd basically take the rig I have now. After going down a creativity-killing ITB path in the early 2Ks I took some time out to build up a studio based on the workflow I had in the 90s, only with more gear and a lot more efficiency.
Old 30th May 2011
  #26
Lives for gear
 
sftd's Avatar
 

Man, after reading all this (which has offered some wonderful insight!) I am very glad that I spent most of the 90's playing with Legos! I may have gone crazy if I were you guys!

It's also made me realize that I am much weirder than I initially thought. From what I'm gathering it seems the majority of folks are most creatively stimulated or perhaps only emotionally involved when they have to get something right on the first pass. To be honest I never began to think that anyone, much less a large number of people, considered things like automation curves to be fun/emotion robbing processes! It's definitely a new perspective for me.

I do see eye-to-eye on the bit about folks being afraid to make mistakes these days, but that's something that never really entered my mind when it came to my work. I tend to think everything I've "learned" at some point has been a mistake, so I always thought mistakes were my best friend in the world of musical technology! I think for some things of that nature, like how to properly wire up a hardware FX unit into a mixer's sends/returns, the internet is a great resource that obviously wasn't nearly as prevalent then. But in other aspects such as "how do I make the Skrillex sound" or "I need to find a video tutorial of how to make a house beat" I can see where it might not be the best thing for people when it comes to inspired original music. I could even be wrong there though, as perhaps the guy who wants to make the Skrillex sound has no intention of using it, or does and when he learns how uses his own creativity to apply the principles to something completely different, but I have a fear it may be less of that than the "other".

All that said I think it is awesome you guys are sharing these experiences with us, particularly the younger generations like myself who have grown up with a computer involved very thoroughly in most of their day to day lives since they could walk/talk. I think it's that very thing that makes my mindset so strange in terms of limitations not equalling more emotion and creativity, although I'm sure there are plenty of people my age that think of it exactly as some of those above do, hell I know there are because I've seen them talk about it here!

That's the awesome thing about this forum for me, I actually don't use this place for any type of technical discovery or personal question answering of my own, but I love having other folks who share a common ground to interact and discuss with, which in the absence of a forum like this I would not get to experience due to the lack of such people where I reside locally.
Old 30th May 2011
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sftd View Post
Man, after reading all this (which has offered some wonderful insight!) I am very glad that I spent most of the 90's playing with Legos! I may have gone crazy if I were you guys!

It's also made me realize that I am much weirder than I initially thought. From what I'm gathering it seems the majority of folks are most creatively stimulated or perhaps only emotionally involved when they have to get something right on the first pass. To be honest I never began to think that anyone, much less a large number of people, considered things like automation curves to be fun/emotion robbing processes! It's definitely a new perspective for me.
For me it's the difference between doing it by ear and doing it by eye. While I do use automation for some things it feels more like moving points on a line graph than an actual performance, which is what I'm trying to capture. If I was trying to make precise sounding music with sample accurate timing I'd probably do things differently, but I need to feel the groove and that pressure to make it sound cool when I hit that record button. By doing it that way I end up with all sorts of happy accidents and improvs that I probably wouldn't have discovered if I had just recorded it once and fixed it in post.
Old 1st June 2011
  #28
Lives for gear
 
gregor z's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenWiley View Post
great stuff gregor.

question for you.....

if you had to pick one, which would you choose?

1. Today's music environment when it comes to production. Great technology, but even grandmothers are making beats (for free) now and so much garbage is released, but great new technologies

or

2. How you did it in the late 90's. Expensive, some technology shortcomings, harder to get signed and established.
A combination of both worlds works great for me now.

Good music & production still gets recognized and is successful in my opinion.
Whatever tools you use - they won't make a difference.
You need passion and devotion towards music and practice "production skills" for years , before you should start sending tracks to the labels/releasing stuff.

The biggest problem with electronic music nowadays is a lack of self criticism- and ignorance of other people opinions.

Would you send a recording of your piano/guitar playing after rehearsing the instrument only for one year to a concert venue - and ask them to organize a public event? Will you invite your fiends to a concert? I guess not.

It is almost equally difficult to get signed on good label today, as it was back then. You need a good track , which is "technically" perfect and has some serious "mojo", to get on a respected label.

People send all sorts of crap to the labels, when they get rejected , they can't accept that their music sucks - so they open their own label and release the tracks there. That is the reason why we have some much stuff floating around and we get an impression that music got worse.

The tracks that would never pass the "vinyl filter" are being released in enormous amounts nowadays, and are widely available in on-line stores.
But the question is how often they are played by other DJ-s in clubs and how much they actually sell.

My 2 c,

Gregor
Old 1st June 2011
  #29
Lives for gear
 
NAWAX's Avatar
I was not into trance/eurodance at that time but I've been really involved for years in the europeen free/squat party/teknival scene. No one ever talks about it here, but it was pretty big in France/U.K./Italy/Ukraine in the late 90's/early 2000's. I've never put out a record but I've played hardtekno/acidcore with many big sound systems. We were all using the same machines. Most of them were cheap enough to be replace easily if stolen/broken/kidnap by cops... Everyone were using Mc-505 & 3O3, ES-1 and ER-1, MPC 2000, RM1X-RS7000, Quasimidi Revolution, Tb-303 and cheap digital synths like the DX200. Those were not top quality gear but they were flexible as the goal was to perform with a just a couple independant sequencers. I've played maybe 100 times with just a ER-1 and 2 ES-1 fully loaded with ****ty lo-fi samples. We were good not because the quality of the sound by itself but for our ability to play with the audiance in real time... Using front line Acid heads as our metronomes! Most of us were creating patterns straight from scratch and we were improvising a lot, switching back to a pre-programed pattern or another sequencer when we were lost... That was freestyle hardcore raving... The heritage of Spiral Tribe and punk culture. Acids, sound-systems, empty fields and freedom to spread our music. Now, I'm 33, I've got kids, I don't do drugs anymore, I have a ****load of expensive analog gear... But my music has lost its soul somewhere down the road. It's been replace by GAS...
My name is Emmanuel and I'm a gearslut.

My 2 cents.
Old 1st June 2011
  #30
Lives for gear
 
alexp's Avatar
Back then we were using...

Roland W30
3 Korg Prophecys
Waldorf Microwave
Waldorf Pulse
Waldorf Micro Q
Korg MS10
Juno 106
Tr 909
TR 606
Akai S612


And I think thats it!


alexP
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