The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
The "Old school" sound Reverb/Delay Processors (HW)
Old 2nd January 2017
  #1
Gear Nut
 

The "Old school" sound

I've been told time after time that you can easily achieve the old 80's and 90's Hair metal sound by going ITB, getting plugins and a high end interface and by doing right mixing decisions.. But is it really that simple?

What i'm really wondering is that the older reconds seems to have this distinct sound that really shows that the song is not recorded today. It's almost like the sound is a bit darker(?) and not so transparent than today. It's not about having rolled off highs by mixing, it is more of the sound of a song in general.

As we all know, the modern high end interfaces like apollo, orpheus or the symphony have a really bright and transparent sound as that is what people demand these days. Could it be that maybe you can't achieve this tone that i'm talking about with these new interfaces?

Also the fact that a lot people compare for example an old tape machine against a tape plugin etc. but they do it in the DAW which means that they have routed the recorded track from a tape to computer via modern interface which causes it to sound more "new". Would the results be different if the comparison would be done in a way that the recorded sounds would be kept in the tape machine or DAT and then compare it to a ITB record?

Just some food for the thought, throw your 0,02 in.
Old 2nd January 2017
  #2
Here for the gear
 

There is a difference, definitely.

I could be wrong here but I think what makes the 80's sound the way they do is the outboard equipment that was used (duh!) but so in the metal world some inputs were driven hard and there was sometimes clipping that happened because of that (I'm thinking Skid Row's Slave to the Grind here).

If you want to go for that sound, you can also copy your master to analogue tape and back again I would think that would remove some of the hifi qualities of modern recording.

I'm a novice so please take this into account.
Old 3rd January 2017
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Hi and thanks for the reply.

I'm a novice too so we're on a same boat.

That certainly is a good idea too. I've also seen people talking about Otari radar 1 or 2 and it having that older sound as they were released in the 90's to compete against tape.

The only problem here is for me personally is that i would need to get the superior drummer to the old recording facility. And to avoid having superior drummer sounding way too new i should go for an older AD/DA converter, even if it might have some problems with compatibility.

edit: Oopsie, if i go ADAT or any early Digital stuff, i won't be needing AD/DA converters in that case, sorry.

Last edited by Simppu; 3rd January 2017 at 05:02 AM.. Reason: Fixing a misconception.
Old 3rd January 2017
  #4
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simppu View Post
I've been told time after time that you can easily achieve the old 80's and 90's Hair metal sound by going ITB, getting plugins and a high end interface and by doing right mixing decisions.. But is it really that simple?
what's "simple" about making the right mixing decisions? Mixing is a lifetime craft.

You can chase after "90's conversion" but it will be moot if you don't know how to mix. It will be moot is you don't know how to mic up guitars.

You could try recording to tape, but I would be careful not to go overboard trying to 'low-fi' your recordings. Recording technology was quite advanced by the late 80's and early 90's. Low-fi is maybe how you would achieve a 40's or 50's kind of sound.
Old 3rd January 2017
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
what's "simple" about making the right mixing decisions? Mixing is a lifetime craft.

You can chase after "90's conversion" but it will be moot if you don't know how to mix. It will be moot is you don't know how to mic up guitars.

You could try recording to tape, but I would be careful not to go overboard trying to 'low-fi' your recordings. Recording technology was quite advanced by the late 80's and early 90's. Low-fi is maybe how you would achieve a 40's or 50's kind of sound.
I'm not talking about "low-fi" or "hi-fi" in here. I'm talking about the general sound atmosphere that seems to surround the records in the 80's and 90's. The mixing techniques sure are the most important part. But is it enough only to achieve that certain soundscape that's part of these 80's and 90's, that what really makes you say that "this is from 80's or 90's"?

The problem with the tape is that a lot of modern records are recorded with tape and even they are missing that "sound".
Old 3rd January 2017
  #6
Gear Head
 
mclismoscow's Avatar
Well, from my perspective it's all about circuit imperfections and unique pieces of gear. I think it was time, when every studio had it's own studio, every piece of gear was made with little difference, so it gave that unique vibe. Plus, editing was harder, auto-tune was near impossible and there were less random people in studios making music. Oh, and don't forget, it was time of inventing and reinventing music genres. Now it's time of clones So the software is the best way to achieve that clone effect in music. Want to emulate that 80's 90's vibe? Use tapes, strips and saturation. Check out swedish composers like Johan Johansson.
Old 3rd January 2017
  #7
Gear Head
Analogue gear with lots of coke dust falling into the fader slots and getting under potentiometers definitely colored the sound.
Old 3rd January 2017
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Well the auto-tune now is quite an obvious thing right there. Also a lot of same style of music came out back then so i don't think that it's particularly because of "new genres".

Anyways, i listened some old hair metal stuff yesterday in a train when i was returning home from my mom's place and came into conclusion that the sound was probably achieved mostly by good mixing decisions and proper miking etc.


This is from 1991


This is from 1992

Both of these songs sound like that you can achieve that sound easily nowdays with a good interface, decent plugins and proper miking and mics. I think i should just listen these old records more carefully next time before making some inca voodoo esqued assumptions.

The drums especially in that Reach for the sky are easily acquired with a superior drummer for example. I can actually hear the same kick trigger and that snare sound in most recent records too, maybe little more hair and gated reverb, that's all.

I think the dark sound that surrounds these songs is probably from the tape and other analog hardware that rolls the highs down by themselves but also the mixes were intentionally a bit darker, i guess? But tape plugins and plugins from the best analog hardware out there exist too so that shouldn't be a problem.
Old 3rd January 2017
  #9
have you tried reaching out to Michael Wagener on GS? He did a lot of big 80's and 90's rock/metal records.

Part of the difference is the dynamic range. Things were less squashed/limited in those days. So when listening now they feel darker because things that are quieter have less top and bottom end to our ears (even though they really don't).

The used reverb more back then too. The amps and effects they had back then had particular sounds to them.

It honestly has nothing to do with the interface or the mics or the preamps. It was more about artistic opinion and choices they made at that time.

You can easily get 80's sounding stuff today... you just have to try and train your ears to hear what they were hearing and what they were listening for back then.
Old 3rd January 2017
  #10
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simppu View Post
... what really makes you say that "this is from 80's or 90's"?

The problem with the tape is that a lot of modern records are recorded with tape and even they are missing that "sound".
Like everything else, it's a vibe. A vibe that probably owes more to the guitar playing, the singing and songwriting than to the recording medium. If your song, your guitarists and your singer nail the vibe, you could totally whiff on the gear and still be 'there'. The problem is that people in 2017 have heard a bunch of stuff since the 90's. They can't totally erase those things from their minds, so even a conscious attempt to put yourself in the mindset of someone from that time is likely to be "contaminated" so to speak, with newer ideas.

I am certain that the largest part of the "sound" side is what instruments were used, how they were set up and what microphones and placements were employed. Even if you wanted to match every piece of gear, It's not like every metal band from 1985 to 1995 did the exact same thing on every record made in the genre.


As a side note, personally I think it's hilarious that the 90's are now considered "old school"
Old 3rd January 2017
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Owen L T's Avatar
Some of it, for sure, will be trends - though some of it will be the tools. As a for instance: reverb. A big component of the epic, bombastic drum sound was (over) use of reverb. A smaller element of that was, for instance, the frequency response limitations of, say, an EMT 250 or a Lexicon. Though excellent plug-in versions of those now exist - which, regardless of how exact they are, certainly mirror the limited frequency response of their hardware counterparts - the way in which mixers use those tools today tends to be less 80's-tastic than it was 30 years ago. There are also trends in which vocal frequencies are emphasised, though the pool of people with direct experience of this may be somewhat limited. Dave Pensado, in particular, mentioned that boosting 1k on lead vocals has become (this may be a couple years ago) very in, where previously it wasn't.

The thing with mixes is, the overall sound is really governed by a large number of fairly subtle EQ, compression and other processing (including reverbs) as well as one or two unsubtle ones. So my guess is that what you're hearing is an evolutionary shift of smaller trends which, when you look at certain recordings from 30 years ago, now sound distinctly different - not because 'mixing' as a whole jumped from A to Z, but because of small, ever changing approaches to any number of different elements in a mix. (Obviously there are some biggies, too, like: gated reverb on 80s drum machines. But that's the low-hanging fruit, and I don't think that's the answer in this instance.) Same, it has to be said, of mastering trends - as in both instances you're hearing the sum of mixing and mastering, and neither stand very still for very long.
Old 5th January 2017
  #12
There were so many cheats in the 80's and 90's it's ridiculous.
We were using samplers to tune vocals. H3000s with MIDI controllers for tuning. Tc2290s with kick and snare samples being triggered of the sync head of an a800 ran through a delay and printed to a new track for enhancement.
The mic's, for the most part were pretty great... you know 'em all u87, 251, 414, 451, 57, RE20, d12, 421... not so much use of ribbons other than the occasional 4038. Console pres were generally used before outboard pres. and there was early digital recording as well. It was a badge of honor in the 80's to have a release that was labeled as "DDD". Ambience was big rooms, 480L's, quantec room simulators.

All that said, I'd loved to have had an HDX system back in the 80's. I still think there is validity to tracking in a large room vs. a bedroom/basement. These rooms were made to handle sound nicely and that could easily be why the 80's had the colossal ambience they had... well that, an RMX16 and some gates
Old 5th January 2017
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
As a side note, personally I think it's hilarious that the 90's are now considered "old school"
Now that just scares the crap outta me!
Old 6th January 2017
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Time flies eh? But the 90's are old school to me in a good way, especially the early 90's.

And yes for example the snare sound switched from sounding fat and chunky in the 80's to sounding like a cardbox or a shotgun when the 90's arrived. Also the guitars became more detailed and sharper sounding which i really dig.


About the rooms, UAD apollo interface that i'm about to get comes with a classic analog bundle that includes some room emulators which sounded pretty decent, also reverbs usually simulate large halls or maybe even big cathedrals and they're usually really good sounding.

I've read lots of Wagener's posts here and they're really informative and helpful. This was more of a speculation thread just for chit chatting.
Old 6th January 2017
  #15
Gear Nut
 

Listening to hair metal (and other genres) from the 80's four things stand out:

- more audible, but "thin" reverb
- less FX, less elements (especially vocals)
- less low-end
- vocals tended to sound more hi-fi, than they sound today

It's like that sound quality reached its peak in the 80's and decreased again slowly. Everything is distorted, "vintaged" up, bitcrushed, tape hissed nowadays.

Everybody is like "I need to get that 60's Abbey Road sound!".

Why? I really think that if Ringo's drums could have the sound of the present days recordings, he wouldn't miss Abbey Road at all!
Old 7th January 2017
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by S1GNL View Post
Listening to hair metal (and other genres) from the 80's four things stand out:

- more audible, but "thin" reverb
- less FX, less elements (especially vocals)
- less low-end
- vocals tended to sound more hi-fi, than they sound today

It's like that sound quality reached its peak in the 80's and decreased again slowly. Everything is distorted, "vintaged" up, bitcrushed, tape hissed nowadays.

Everybody is like "I need to get that 60's Abbey Road sound!".

Why? I really think that if Ringo's drums could have the sound of the present days recordings, he wouldn't miss Abbey Road at all!
Well britpop and indie have definitely influenced the today's records, hence the boring hooks and dull melodies imo.
Old 7th January 2017
  #17
Lives for gear
Here's a ITB altra low buget, 80's metal covers. samples, sonar 8.5, rme ufx

https://www.reverbnation.com/secondheat4
Old 7th January 2017
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dude24man View Post
Here's a ITB altra low buget, 80's metal covers. samples, sonar 8.5, rme ufx

https://www.reverbnation.com/secondheat4
Same problem than with the newer hair metal bands, doesn't sound authentic at all.

Also wouldn't call a rme interface + sonar low budget anymore.
Old 9th January 2017
  #19
Lives for gear
 
norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
h

It honestly has nothing to do with the interface or the mics or the preamps. It was more about artistic opinion and choices they made at that time.

.
I think that phrase should be a sticky. It's almost a modern disease to attribute the sound of a particular production to a particular piece of gear rather than the decisions made by the musicians/engineers/producers, and the public fashion for a particular sound at that time.

Most engineers/producers have had the same goal for at least 70 years- make a record that the public likes the sound of. Only the public's view of what sounds good has changed.
Old 9th January 2017
  #20
80s hair metal is definitely a sound. You want spongey guitars, usually JCMs driven way too loud because it was the 80s, why not?

A lot of that stuff would have been mixed on SSL boards, which were the first to have compressors on every channel. Don't get too heavy-handed with it, but these were records that were heavily compressed for their day. You could think of it as the 80s version of EDM in that regard. That big GnR record was one of the loudest things ever.

Superior drummer isn't going to do it for you. I'm sorry I have to be the bearer of bad news. Nothing is going to sound like a real drummer in a real room playing real well. You'll get close, but you'll come to this conclusion sooner than later. My recommendation is to make friends with a drummer who can do remote sessions. It'll be a better use of your time.

That stuff would have been recorded to 2" tape, which is exorbitantly expensive, even back then. They were aiming for seriously high fidelity, so don't be shy about using digital. You're achieving what they were trying to do with really great tape.

The biggest things that come to mind for metal of that era and the drum sound in particular is the gated reverb snare that started with Phil Collins but permeated all the way into pop music like Paul Simon's Graceland and Def Leppard. You need a room mic, preferably far away, a seriously heavy-duty limiter and a side-chain-capable gate to do it. This can be done with plugins, except the room mic.

Also, keep in mind that Hair Metal was basically the bubblegum pop of rock n roll. It was heavily poo-pooed by the classic rock purists. They're heavily produced, and really polished. In many ways, something like Winger was the pinnacle of what production techniques of the day could create. These were some of the most expensive records ever made, though much of that budget went up everyone's noses.

Read interviews, learn how they made the records. GS is an invaluable resource.

But remember, if you're using fake drums or amp sims, you're not going to get the result you want. Digital is fine. Plugins are fine. But, start with real instruments and record them well. Superior drummer and a POD might work to do a demo to be replaced, but don't kid yourself that it'll ever sound like the real deal.

Another tip is to turn down the distortion just a bit. Those guitars are fuzzy, but not fuzzed out if that makes sense.

Also, you're going to need access to a very large, and very quiet room. Things like vocals would have been done in a booth, but those amps would most likely have been set up in a giant room for overdubs, something like a 57 close and then a condenser way, way back to capture the natural reverb of the room.
Old 9th January 2017
  #21
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by donsolo View Post
In many ways, something like Winger was the pinnacle of what production techniques of the day could create. These were some of the most expensive records ever made
To me this bit is really important because in this day and age we think we can recreate everything in the box.

But back in those days, a plethora of expensive outboard gear was used (even second-hand this stuff is still pricey) and a lot of money went into tape and getting things perfect.

I would (and I do) concentrate more of the style of music than the productions of the time. Otherwise it would just sound like Steel Panther (great songs with a modern production).
Old 10th January 2017
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by donsolo View Post
Superior drummer isn't going to do it for you. I'm sorry I have to be the bearer of bad news. Nothing is going to sound like a real drummer in a real room playing real well. You'll get close, but you'll come to this conclusion sooner than later. My recommendation is to make friends with a drummer who can do remote sessions. It'll be a better use of your time.

But remember, if you're using fake drums or amp sims, you're not going to get the result you want. Digital is fine. Plugins are fine. But, start with real instruments and record them well. Superior drummer and a POD might work to do a demo to be replaced, but don't kid yourself that it'll ever sound like the real deal.
A lot of Hair Metal drums were sampled back in the day and layered with drum samples to get a better sound. Superior drummer gets closer to the real thing than any of those modules that were used back in the days. Also superior drummer allows you to do almost super natural things with it including layering bunch of different snares over each other and creating a new snare sound which i think is cool. Not that i might even need it as the default avatar kit in superior drummer has amazing sound.

I'm using Mesa Mark III and i will record it with mics of course. A nice room is always a nice room, but UAD apollo includes a room simulator in their plugin bundle and a reverb plugin and revers simulate big room sounds too?

I think i could nail the sound with a kemper or axe fx too with a decent mixing and talent, the thing is just that i have an amazing tube amp with me so i don't need to take that route.
Old 10th January 2017
  #23
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by colonel View Post
I would (and I do) concentrate more of the style of music than the productions of the time. Otherwise it would just sound like Steel Panther (great songs with a modern production).
I understand if someone wants to do it this way. I think i'll rather concentrate on both of the style and production and then add my own vibe into it too.
Old 10th January 2017
  #24
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by KungFuLio View Post
These rooms were made to handle sound nicely and that could easily be why the 80's had the colossal ambience they had... well that, an RMX16 and some gates
Yup^^
I remember some of the big budget days.
remember Pasha?Crüe'.Wasp,Qiuet Riot etc etc
omg the drug budget alone!nuts.
some big rooms,gates,lots of mics.taping quarters to the kick for attack.
on occasion triggers [the forat].a gazzilion amps.coke ears and LOUD playbacks.
Old 10th January 2017
  #25
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
taping quarters to the kick for attack
You mean by this that they're literally layering the kick sounds to get it sound more aggressive?
Old 10th January 2017
  #26
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simppu View Post
You mean by this that they're literally layering the kick sounds to get it sound more aggressive?
taping quarter or a large metal washer to the spot were the beater made contact. added click/attack.
Old 10th January 2017
  #27
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simppu View Post
A lot of Hair Metal drums were sampled back in the day and layered with drum samples to get a better sound. Superior drummer gets closer to the real thing than any of those modules that were used back in the days. Also superior drummer allows you to do almost super natural things with it including layering bunch of different snares over each other and creating a new snare sound which i think is cool. Not that i might even need it as the default avatar kit in superior drummer has amazing sound.

I'm using Mesa Mark III and i will record it with mics of course. A nice room is always a nice room, but UAD apollo includes a room simulator in their plugin bundle and a reverb plugin and revers simulate big room sounds too?

I think i could nail the sound with a kemper or axe fx too with a decent mixing and talent, the thing is just that i have an amazing tube amp with me so i don't need to take that route.
Ive occasionally used[endlessly futzing] Superior for adding samples but seriously nothing beats a good player hitting great drums/moving air in a nice room..ever.
lots of those 80's rock records were done in good tracking rooms with good mics.
really tough to get that power and air in a small dry sounding garage and then adding a room sim.
Old 10th January 2017
  #28
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
taping quarters to the kick for attack.
.
you would think with all that money in the budget for drugs, they could afford a 50 cent piece
Old 10th January 2017
  #29
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
taping quarter or a large metal washer to the spot were the beater made contact. added click/attack.
That's an interesting trick, seems like a lot of different stuff were tried to get the best possible sound. Gonna do that myself with my stuff.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
Ive occasionally used[endlessly futzing] Superior for adding samples but seriously nothing beats a good player hitting great drums/moving air in a nice room..ever.
lots of those 80's rock records were done in good tracking rooms with good mics.
really tough to get that power and air in a small dry sounding garage and then adding a room sim.
Depends probably on the drummer and the guy who records the drummer. I'd dare to argue that i will get a better sound with a superior than rehearsing some random dude, even with nice gear and room, not to only add the price and convenience in the point.

But seriously, drum sims at least to me are so far technologically that i probably won't even bother recording drums with a real drummer unless they really wanna try it with me.
Old 10th January 2017
  #30
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simppu View Post
I understand if someone wants to do it this way. I think i'll rather concentrate on both of the style and production and then add my own vibe into it too.
Sorry if I sounded negative, I didn't mean to imply that something can not be done.

I'm loving this thread and I hope we can gather lots of information on how it was done back then. My dream is to do what you're doing right now, and ideally I hope to capture the production and the style as well.
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump