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Quake Soundtrack (Charlie Clouser? Any info?) Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 3rd March 2014
  #1
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Quake Soundtrack (Charlie Clouser? Any info?)

Just re-discovered this soundtrack.

I played this game a ton when I was a young teen. You could put the CD in a CD player and it would play all the music like an album. I'd leave it on in my room and be all miserable and moody

I'm curious how a lot of it was processed. The guitars have that typical NIN sound (which I'm curious about also.. how is that done? Heavily distorted and chopped up?)

Lots going on on the soundtrack and I don't think the tracks even had names. Too many things to pin point out so curious if anyone has any info on the recording of it. There's a sound about 16 mins into it that I love.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #2
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Man, I barely remember that one! I was upstairs in my lab doing remixes and trying to write tracks with Danny Lohner for the ill-fated TapeWorm (NIN side project that never really got off the ground), so I wasn't too involved in the Quake thing. In that era there was a lot of Zoom 9030 / 9050 and ugly 2-rack-space Digitech guitar processors being used, often in amp-sim but no cab-sim modes, which gave a brighter and more in-your-face sound. Also a lot of Parker guitars with piezo pickups for that stressed-out tone. Of course, many pedals… especially octave-fuzz type units like the Fender Blender, Experience Pedal, and so forth. Still Akai S-1000 samplers, or perhaps we'd moved on to E-4 units by then. AudioMulch was probably in the house (this was an early favorite in the NIN camp), and I think the first versions of Reaktor were around by then maybe?

Anything that had a wave shaper was fair game - so DUY Shape (if it was around at that time) and TurboSynth (if it was still alive) would be good guesses. Wave shapers were an early favorite for that characteristic NIN guitar sound, and possibly the old favorite TurboSynth "convert sample to oscillator" function, which would take single-cycle slices out of a sample every X milliseconds and spread them into a timeline that would crossfade between the waveforms over time. Another cool feature that the TurboSynth oscillators had was a button that would randomize the order of the single-cycle waves in the timeline (and you could drag them around as well), which would create a garbled mess out of a formerly semi-legible scanning-wavetable "sample playback" oscillator. Of course each waveform in the timeline could be double-clicked and edited with the pencil as well. That TurboSynth oscillator really was great.

I still kind of miss those two modules out of TurboSynth and I haven't found anything that really sounds as harsh. Take a half-second sample of a distorted guitar power chord, convert to oscillator, then wave shape and BLAM you'd have a harsh blast of digital future-guitar that sounded great. Put up two or three oscillators like this, one dropped an octave, and you're in industrial heaven. Of course, TurboSynth was non-real-time, non-playable from MIDI, and you had to do MIDI Sample Dump to get the sound back into the Akai or whatever…. but it had THAT sound for sure. I've been waiting for some boffins to duplicate that program for the modern age as it was really the shiznit back then.

Not to say that's how those sounds were made, but those were some of the tools that saw heavy use in that era.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #3
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Great info there Charlie.

Just listening to this thing is bringing back so many memories. At the time I was living in a detached bungalow and when my parents were out, me and a friend would route the audio into my amplifier under my desk and sometimes put a Zoom 505 pedal in-between and go through the patches. When the rocket launcher was used you could feel it in the whole room. That and the soundtrack created a fairly terrifying experience back then. Tons of fun.

How do you create that guitar sound on your own scores? Sounds like a dual rectifier but it's almost bit crushed but without the hiss that comes with it. Like you say, it's not as harsh. I wonder if Izotope's Iris could be useful.
Old 3rd March 2014
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For guitars on my recent scores I'm using an MXR Hendrix Fuzz (octave up fuzz), sometimes a Fender Blender (ancient pedal I paid way too much for back in the day), or an Experience Pedal, Fuzz Factory, or Swollen Pickle. Sometimes I get the Frostwave Sonic Alienator in there, but not too often. I mostly use the much-despised Pod for all my amp sim stuff - I have the Pod Pro X3, which is not made anymore but was the big daddy in terms of connectivity - two guitar inputs, two mic inputs, stereo line in, stereo S/PDIF in and out, and Variax cat-5 connector. I definitely use the Rectifier model (called TreadPlate I think) and always have used these models on all the Pods since the first kidney-bean one. When I'm flipping through the models going, "nope… nope… nope…." then I hit the TreadPlate and go, "there we go".

I use the original red Whammy all the time, making octave-stacked or octave-down layers to put behind the main guitars. Often the Whammy tracks have to be one-note (not chords) if the chords freak out the primitive pitch circuitry. I also have a Boss PS-5 Super Shifter which does a better job of coping with chords. At all times I am applying HEAVY gating to silence the spaces between the notes - this is usually an MXR Super-Gate which comes first in the chain, and has adjustments for high threshold which helps deal with hot guitars that open the old standard Boss Noise Suppressor too easily. I set the gate so you have to play the guitar at full tilt to open it, and this often chops the front off of the notes/chords, giving a more square attack and a more industrial sound. After recording there is often a bit of Logic Bit Crusher on there, set to full bits (no bit reduction = no hiss) but lowered sample rate - the lowered sample rate is the part I want, which gives that jangly lo-res top end. Always double tracked, hard panned in stereo, and edited tight to the grid - fronts and backs.

I still keep around the first Pod rack as well as the next one, the Pod Pro X2 I think? Whichever were the first two rack mount ones. The very first rack mount one has a harsher, less natural, more digital-industrial sound on the TreadPlate and Marshall models, and I literally only have two presets stored in it. It reacts with the hot bridge pickup on one of my Les Pauls in such a way as to create "that" sound - gated, harsh, just blasting.

Les Paul > Gate > Whammy > Jimi Fuzz > Pod = instant blast guitars.

For a while there during the Helmet album "Size Matters" I had a rack-mounted Rectifier head, a JMP-1, a Tri-Axis, some Randall Iso-Cabs, and a soundproofed guitar amp room - with a Radial JD7 at the front end and a patch panel for the power amp outs so I could layer heads and switch which cabinet was connected to which head. But once I started getting into scoring I didn't really need the connoisseur approach in the same way I did when working with a tone seeker like Page Hamilton, so I reverted to simpler Pod technology.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #5
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Charlie, you've mentioned you use the Line 6 guitars and tune them down. I'm waiting for a Lefty Variax 500 to pop up on eBay as I'm interested in all the cool **** I could probably do with it.

I'm not trying to sound like John Mayor or Jimmy Page, and all the videos I've seen on Youtube of the guitar and the Bench software are all related to creating simulations of real guitars that we all know which sounds like no fun.

What sort of things are you doing in that world? Because I don't see anyone else doing anything interesting with the technology, I wonder if they're all keeping it a secret or if it's just a POS.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #6
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Great stuff Charlie.

Amber, I have one of the older Variax 500's, and I keep going back and forth with it, forgetting to use it because it's in it's case due to moving around a lot over the last few years), I too am not trying to get Eric Clapton emulations out of it, but find it extremely helpful in quickly getting Nick Drake/Soundgarden/Sonic Youth alternate tunings without a lot of fuss.. Of course you must use headphones in that mode as what you hear when you strum is far different then what it is putting out! I have an old Pod Floor XT I have it cat-5'd into, and it can be a great visceral oscillator of sorts… I have a bunch of older kidney bean pods and bass pods which don't get used as often… but where good for their thing, but again, I was never trying to get convincing Marshall stack sounds out of them… but some of their fx are quite good and easily used, and are underrated in terms of what you can do with them, as their target audience at the time was probably not fooled by their attempts at shreddage sounds and perfect ac30 emulations etc… But actually great on synths and pianos etc…

I have a few questions I have never been able to get answered…. the first being, how does the technology in the Variax's work? It tracks fast, so I know it's not some pitch to midi conversion going on, so I am very curious if anyone has any insight into the underlying pitch to sound engine going on, as it seems like it could be applicable in many other situations…

and second, having the older 500 series (from around 2006 or so i believe), is there a big step up to the newer models? I'm sure the build of necks and bodies are more solid (mine definitely has a "cheap" feel to it, like a crapstrat meant for disposal)
Old 4th March 2014
  #7
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I think the basic concept behind the Variax is that there's six instances of a "convolution plug-in" running on its onboard DSP - one instance for each string. They know what the dry sound of the piezo pickups in the saddles is, and they've devised an algorithm that converts that original sound into the desired output. Of course, they can't just use the same settings for each string; but maybe they've got a basic algorithm for "piezo-to-strat" and then apply minor adjustments to each individual string to get the sound right. In addition, they'd need a different algorithm for each of the multiple pickup switch settings. So in essence it's an audio plugin running as fast as the onboard DSP can handle - which these days is quite fast, so no wonder there's no latency. Freaking genius if you ask me.

The Roland VG-99 (which I also have) is a similar concept - it uses a guitar equipped with a hex pickup in Roland 13-pin format, which is similar to what a Variax has - a separate pickup for each string. The difference with the VG-99 is that the guitar modeling takes place in the brain of the unit as opposed to on a DSP board inside the guitar, as with the Variax. The VG-99 lets you do some cool stuff like layer two guitar models on top of each other and adjust a variety of parameters (body size, body type, etc.) as well as choose and edit alternate tunings right from the front panel of the brain, as opposed to using Workbench software. In addition, it's got some poly-fx, like compressors, octave, and distortions, which operate in six-channel mode - one instance for each string. This lets you compress each string individually, for instance, and poly-distortion sounds different on some chord voicings than normal distortion does. Very cool. Also, the VG-99 has two complete channels of fx (simulations of dozens of Boss pedals, tape delays, etc.) as well as two channels of amp modelers. Combined with D-Beam, zillions of assignable MIDI and foot control inputs, MIDI output of notes detected on the guitar, and a very cool "freeze delay" function - the VG-99 is a beast. Dronescapes for days. It also simulates the older Roland guitar synths of yore, so if you need those analog or D-50 type sounds you're good to go. It has passable bass simulations too, so you can "play bass from your guitar". Works with any guitar that has a Roland hex pickup with 13-pin output. Both my Moog guitar and Moog lap steel have these pickups factory installed, and I have a Parker Adrian Belew that has one as well - just a freaking monster setup. I am just totally covered for weird guitar science for years to come.

I use this stuff for creating pitched-down sounds that I play on the Moog lap steel, sometimes using the Moog's individual-sustainer-per-string engine, sometimes with a plain old eBow. One VG-99 channel on the Sitar model, one channel on the Steel String or Resonator model, both pitched down and octave or two and through some delays and stuff - man, you can crawl around in there for weeks. It's awesome.

On the score for a movie that few people ever saw called "Deepwater" I used the Variax acoustic and Workbench to do these big rattly drones that were done by pitching the Variax Steel String acoustic model down an octave in Workbench, played with an eBow and tapped with pencils. On the score for a FX TV series I'm just starting, called "Wayward Pines" (it will air in July or so) I'm using the Moog lap steel through the VG-99 for a similar set of sounds - pitched-down rattly dronescapes with an acoustic footprint. Very organic sounding - not "synth-like" at all.
Old 4th March 2014
  #8
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I'm looking forward to checking out tuning down the acoustic stuff.

I tune down acoustic guitar samples in Kontakt a bunch and it almost sounds like I've tuned a cello down so the strings have gone floppy and I'm just tugging at the strings and letting go.
Old 4th March 2014
  #9
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excellent explanation Charlie, thanks, makes sense, I have spent time researching it, and never got as clear a response!

The VG-99 looks like a beast, have never messed with one of those, quite impressive for 8 year old technology… I'm surprised it has not been implemented in other applications, as that with dsp advancements and lowering costs, it could lend itself to a lot, and at an affordable price. Like you, I have never been interested in using it for its designed application (making it sound like a spot on SG, 12 string, acoustic, what have you), but like the venerable zoom 9030's etc, it's worth to me seems to be at the extremities.. quick perusal of the VG-99 looks like they have held their value as well….

Will go check out "Deepwater", and good luck on the new series!
Old 4th March 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber View Post
I'm waiting for a Lefty Variax 500 to pop up on eBay as I'm interested in all the cool **** I could probably do with it.
Hey Amber! Ran across this on my ebay queries, not sure if it is relevant to you being in the uk and all!

Quake Soundtrack (Charlie Clouser? Any info?)Line 6 Variax 500 Left Hand | eBay
Old 4th March 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber View Post

What sort of things are you doing in that world? Because I don't see anyone else doing anything interesting with the technology, I wonder if they're all keeping it a secret or if it's just a POS.
I realize you're left-handed and so this may not help you so much since the modern Variaxes are all rightys…(sorry)
I have a JTV89 and admittedly I haven't gone nuts in the Workbench software, but there is room for doing some strange things, especially with the tuning. For example, on the James Tyler Variax with magnetic pickups, within workbench you can make presets that mix the magnetic output with the modeled output. So your guitar could be tuned standard, but then the modeling part you can tune somewhere else, AND THEN you go into 12 string mode and model yet another tuning…and play that, for some kind of weird 18 string happenings. LOL. Moving pickups around phase in/out and changing body styles sometimes creates interesting results, as well.


I would definitely like to get a POD with a digital input for use some day...
Old 4th March 2014
  #12
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Yeah the lefty thing is a bummer. Still the lefty 500s are pretty cheap.

Does anyone know if when tuning down if there are intonation problems or is that are kind of fixed with the DSP in some way?
Old 4th March 2014
  #13
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lestermagneto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber View Post
Yeah the lefty thing is a bummer. Still the lefty 500s are pretty cheap.

Does anyone know if when tuning down if there are intonation problems or is that are kind of fixed with the DSP in some way?
I haven't noticed many intonation problems, but I haven't gone as full bore as Mr. Clouser (i will give it a run later today) with full octaves etc… But the last I used it, doing like daddag tunings etc, it was fine, and I think as Charlie explained above, since it works on convolution technology, actual tuning might not have the same effect as intonation problems. I think if you even say, drop your low e to a d for drop d tuning it might even stay in e on the output due to the software programming, but I could be cloudy on this, will check in a bit and let you know!
Old 5th March 2014
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There don't seem to be any additional intonation issues when using Variax or VG-99 low tunings - it's just doing a digital pitch shift on the actual audio coming from each string, so it's not like you've got loose strings all flapping around and being too easy to bend. The DSP doesn't "fix" any tuning issues - but then again it doesn't need to as no extra out-of-tune-ness is being created or added. It's not doing auto-tune or doing any pitch correction, though that might be a cool feature to add someday in software updates.
Old 14th June 2015
  #15
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Just to bump this as I've been playing through Quake here and there. Tons of fun and pretty terrifying in places.

I managed to snag a Zoom 9030 pretty cheap for sale locally.

Youtube clips make it sound so cheesy and terrible, but hoping I can get some unique sounds out of it.
Old 25th February 2018
  #16
Gear Head
 

Hello Charlie !
I'm looking for synths that could have been used for the Quake SFX

Especially the BIOSUIT sound ! sounds like something like wavetable resonance / morph or transwave sound from a Ensoniq TS series ... or ... I dunno, do you have any clue.

I also love the Quad Damage sound. Sounds like some low strings or cello sound multiplied dozens of times.

And THAT HEALTH sound ! I love it

Quake OST is so excellent, as if it was the back side of the downward spiral
Old 25th February 2018
  #17
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Biosuit sounds like a Waldorf wavetable sweep to me. Probably MicroWave 1, 2, or 2xt - we had all of those - not sure if the 2xt was out by then but we all got one when they came out. Might even have been a PPG 2.2 or 2.3 which Trent had at one point. Quad Damage could be almost anything - a Waldorf with some distortion and reverb.... but lots of synths could do that sound with a little processing.

I don't remember ever seeing much Ensoniq gear, besides a few Mirage samplers lying around unloved. Don't remember ever seeing a TS, EPS, Fizmo, or ESQ but my memory is not exact. There were a lot of synths kicking around the place back then!
Old 4th March 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlieclouser View Post
Man, I barely remember that one! I was upstairs in my lab doing remixes and trying to write tracks with Danny Lohner for the ill-fated TapeWorm (NIN side project that never really got off the ground), so I wasn't too involved in the Quake thing. In that era there was a lot of Zoom 9030 / 9050 and ugly 2-rack-space Digitech guitar processors being used, often in amp-sim but no cab-sim modes, which gave a brighter and more in-your-face sound. Also a lot of Parker guitars with piezo pickups for that stressed-out tone. Of course, many pedals… especially octave-fuzz type units like the Fender Blender, Experience Pedal, and so forth. Still Akai S-1000 samplers, or perhaps we'd moved on to E-4 units by then. AudioMulch was probably in the house (this was an early favorite in the NIN camp), and I think the first versions of Reaktor were around by then maybe?

Anything that had a wave shaper was fair game - so DUY Shape (if it was around at that time) and TurboSynth (if it was still alive) would be good guesses. Wave shapers were an early favorite for that characteristic NIN guitar sound, and possibly the old favorite TurboSynth "convert sample to oscillator" function, which would take single-cycle slices out of a sample every X milliseconds and spread them into a timeline that would crossfade between the waveforms over time. Another cool feature that the TurboSynth oscillators had was a button that would randomize the order of the single-cycle waves in the timeline (and you could drag them around as well), which would create a garbled mess out of a formerly semi-legible scanning-wavetable "sample playback" oscillator. Of course each waveform in the timeline could be double-clicked and edited with the pencil as well. That TurboSynth oscillator really was great.

I still kind of miss those two modules out of TurboSynth and I haven't found anything that really sounds as harsh. Take a half-second sample of a distorted guitar power chord, convert to oscillator, then wave shape and BLAM you'd have a harsh blast of digital future-guitar that sounded great. Put up two or three oscillators like this, one dropped an octave, and you're in industrial heaven. Of course, TurboSynth was non-real-time, non-playable from MIDI, and you had to do MIDI Sample Dump to get the sound back into the Akai or whatever…. but it had THAT sound for sure. I've been waiting for some boffins to duplicate that program for the modern age as it was really the shiznit back then.

Not to say that's how those sounds were made, but those were some of the tools that saw heavy use in that era.
I loved that program, I still have a bunch of samples I made on it before my Mac II (with an Audiomedia II card so you could use the diffusor module) died and the new Mac wouldn't run the program.

You said you haven't found some of those modules in software, but what's the closest program you have for that type of modular processing now?
Old 4th March 2018
  #19
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Well, I don't really do too much truly modular-style software processing these days - making plugin chains is usually enough for me. Some of the processors that have some of that wave-shaping type of distortion are stuff from CableGuys, SineVibes, SugarBytes, and of course iZotope's Trash2. In terms of the "convert sample to oscillator" I don't have too much that's all that close to that, but I do like some of the granular-style processors that can sort of get into that territory - SaltyGrain, Granite, Omnisphere, and even some Kontakt instruments that let you load up your own samples and sort of scan through them.
Old 5th March 2018
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlieclouser View Post
Well, I don't really do too much truly modular-style software processing these days -.
Hey Charlie,
Always wanted to ask you if you programed the synth in the intro to More Human Than Human? I think i read you did some work on AstroCreep and that has always been one of my favorite sounds of all time. If you did work on that, do you remember how you created that arp synth bass in the intro? (The synth hit sounds on the down beats...)

Huge and long time fan of all your work, you've been a huge inspiration on my career and sound. Thanks man!
Old 5th March 2018
  #21
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Yeah, I did all the synth and sample programming on the Astro-Creep album. Armed with SampleCell cards and four tracks of audio recording via Opcode's StudioVision, and a few analog synths: Arp Solus, MS-20, original BassStation, and MKS-80 mostly.

The two synth things at the start of More Human Than Human are:

- the constant little baseline is a Novation BassStation - the original plastic one.

- those chugging things that happen on the downbeats are, I think, a sample of Sean Yseult's bass that I snipped out of the track and processed a little bit, but they were more heavily processed in the mix for sure to get that weird distorted phasey sound. It's all a bit foggy now, but I think that's what it was!
Old 5th March 2018
  #22
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Well, if I had to re-create those bass bits on the downbeat I would say it's a bitcrusher on Sean's bass...the Mirowave XT has a filter like that with an audio input. Bitcrush filter....awesome....

I hear some major time-stretch on some of that Quake soundtrack.

Back then you would use something like Turbosynth in conjunction with Passport's Alchemy (which could also heavily manipulate a sample, but not like Turbosynth) and dump it back to your sampler. Alchemy was mostly the transfer program between the computer and your sampler.

Passport Alchemy 3.0 Vintage Macintosh Audio Editing and | Reverb
Old 19th March 2018
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlieclouser View Post
Yeah, I did all the synth and sample programming on the Astro-Creep album.
Thanks so much Charlie! Always wanted to ask you that
Old 20th March 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clearside View Post
Thanks so much Charlie! Always wanted to ask you that
This thread is a great read:

Nine Inch Nails synths
Old 9th April 2018
  #25
Gear Head
 

Thanks so much Charlie , Microwave ! ok !
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