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Scroll II : Effects

  • First a general advice: To make your song sound crisp, and punchy, filter all unwanted frequency out of every sound that you use; this clears all the mud out, do this before you add your effects, as it makes it easier to distiguish what you are filtering out.
    Submitted by Stonelion
  • For definitions and history of the common effects (delay,reverb,phaser,pitch shift) check this document by Scott Madigan.
  • BMG's effects manifesto: "The basic tools of dub are: Your brain and creative rearangements of reality. The goal: To make the music come alive with madness, to be constantly inventive, deep, liquid, organic. Technically, classic dub uses 3 main effects: tape echo, analog phasing and spring reverb. The order of the effects depends on your mood. No dub player lets the efx unit stay in the same position for a whole track, dub is about playing the efx unit. King Tubby was the maestro of the echoplex, Lee Perry could play the Bi-Phase and Space Echo like no other. get inside the effects and learn how to turn the knobs so the music comes alive. You can't automate this and no plug-in can truely immitate tape delay feedback and if you aren't using analog pre 80s efx, then you are just a step cousin of dub!"
    Submitted by BMG
  • Combine effects in an unusual order, eg:
    • Send your signal first through a reverb unit then to the delay. This can sound surprising as you don't have a delay inside a room like usual but rather a whole room being repeated again and again.
    • Send the output of a delay-unit to a phaser. This will result in delays that are always changing, each delay sounding different.
      A Leslie effect is also very handy to make delays more lively.
    • Send a delay signal to a distortion unit.
    • Use a feedback loop from the output of your effect chain to the input. This is harder to control as the effect can get louder and louder and even distort but it's worth the hassle as the results can be unique. And distortion can be nice too, right?
  • Put a tape sim or overdrive effect after a delay. When the first delay happens it'll overdrive really hard, next delay as it's quieter it'll overdrive less and so on and so on. If you use a digital delay it's a bit like the reverse of an old analogue unit (instead of the echoes starting off clean and degrading they start off degraded and get cleaner as they get quieter).
    submitted by Louis,
  • Reverb effect with a feedback loop (use on a rimshot or a snare, even on a chord): Send the output of the reverb back to the input (turn up the reverb knob in the fx return track , but not to much). Boost the medium frequencies and change the frequence boosted, choose your favorite one. This is a little bit hard to control at the beginning, but it sounds great.
    Submitted by Yaniko. The Mad Professor
  • Using delay on beats: Even with a complex break, you can find a short delay timing that doubles up your beat, giving you a wild, doubled up sound.
    I recently bought the Vestax DDG-1 Digital Delay unit. This is a Stereo delay unit just slightly bigger than a guitar pedal, but with several knobs allowing you to fine tune the parameter of the delay, use it as a flange or resonator. Ideal for Studio or Live setups. I've been using it to dub out my live dj sets on the road. -- you can tune the delay so that the beat doubles itself, also, you can set the delay off a full beat, adding depth and crazy bass reinforcement to the sound. It has been discontinued by Vestax, but you should be able to find one for between 1 and 200 bucks. It has changed my world.
    Submitted by Techniken Defunkus
  • Use a tape deck to distort sounds by simply recording on it with the recording level set too high. You can sample from the recorded tape or even use it as an inline distortion unit if your tape offers the possibilty to listen to the recording while recording. This will result in an unwanted delay which can be eliminated by applying a negative delay to the tracks being processed in your sequencer.
    A tape is great for adding warmth and life to synth sounds sounding too cold or boring.
  • use a cheap 4-track as a light fuzz effect. run a bass or guitar into a tascam porta 4-track, and the headphones jack out to the amp. play with the input volume control and mic/line knobs to adjust the fuzz. playing the tapedeck without a tape, messing with the volume controls on the 4 channels, and the stereo panning also have some minor effects. good, warm, subtle fuzz.
    submitted by nil shok
  • "Get a universal power adapter (the kind you can switch the voltage on) and plug it into an effects pedal and switch the voltage setting. I do this with a DOD American Metal (distortion pedal) and it starts to sound good around 4.5 volts. (The normal operating voltage is is 9 volts DC. This technique is like using a nearly dead battery only it lasts longer). Be careful doing this on account of you can destroy it with excessive voltage."
    Submitted by Sean Hart
  • Use a guitar amp and a microphone to create distortion and/or natural reverb on certain tracks. You can achieve very personal sounding reverb effects that way. This is the origin of the term "echo chamber" used for old reverberation units. By the way: Guitar amps are also very handy to fuck up drum loops.
  • "For just fattening up a track try throwing your best monitors and a good mic into your bathroom or stairhall in an appartment, there's really nothing that beats a true reverb chamber..."
    Submitted by august
  • ever seen one of those little amps fashioned out of cigarette boxes? plug your gear in, and stick it in an empty box or drawer along with a handheld mic. close the box or drawer, hit record and jam away. this produces strange reverb artifacts.
    submitted by Steve
  • pull the speaker out of the amp and place a single sheet of plastic wrap over the rim, as if sealing a dinner bowl. place bolts, screws, anything you want on top of the plastic, and mic what comes out. its a neat way to get a shitty rattling blown speaker sound.
    submitted by Steve
  • take a really thin strip of aluminum foil (about the thickness of a fret) and loosely thread it between your guitar strings near the bridge. just go over one string and under the next, etc. you can get a raspy grinding sound if youre that type. also try playing with a metal pick or coin. i have a flattened penny that i placed on a railroad track that i'll use as a pick. it gives off a subtle metallic vibe.
    submitted by Steve
  • "Go to a the nearest thrift store/secondhand shop and buy a cheap crappy old organ. (preferably the oldest one you can find) Next take it home and rip the sucker apart. Hopefully there will be a pile of wires, circuit boards and tubes, and at the bottom, a pair of speakers, a tube amp and spring reverb. I use a hammond L-100, but others will work just as well. Plug a bass, guitar, synth, or anything else you can think of into it and mic the result."
    Submitted by DJ Brandoa
  • you can get killer moving organ sounds if you hook a cheap Danelectro "hash browns" flanger pedal to a hammond organ. It sounds even cooler if you run it all through a Leslie cabinet.
    Submitted by DJ Brandoa
  • Try cheapo radio shack walkie talkies as effects.
    Submitted by august
  • Distortion can also be created by adjusting the channel gain of the mixing desk too high. It will sound horrible on a digital console but can be very charming on analog consoles. Used for bass drums by Gabber/Electro/HipHop producers. King Tubby
  • The Hose Reverb: Take a hose (like the ones used for gardening) and drill some holes in it. Then put it in a noise proof box. Stick a small speaker to one end and microphones into the holes (said to produce very unique reverb effects, especially if the signals from different microphones are used).
  • When recording vocals, put a large cowbell (or long steel pipe) and mic up to your mouth while singing or chanting to get a cool natural-sounding reverb effect.
    submitted by Apostle Solomon Jabby "The Dub Revelator"
  • If you are the lucky owner of a spring reverb: Kick it and it will utter wonderful thunderous noises. (Done by the late great King Tubby)
  • If you don't own a spring reverb: Go to your local flea market or pawn shop and you might find one. Many older guitar amps incorporate spring reverbs: Just kick them hard to find out. (The sales person probably won't like it though..). You may find other cool stuff too like for example old tape echos, old synths, .. (Since you're already sitting in front of a computer screen you might try ebay too.)
  • King Tubby style reverb on a rim shot can be heard in "Trigger Happy" by Eating Betty (listen to it at Mel Gray aka Eating Betty explained his setup for that effect to me as follows:
    "The reverb setup was, during mixdown, send to Morley wah pedal, connected to Guitar amp (with spring reverb activated) and return to deck mixer (no mic involved). (...) You will never get close to a Tubby sound with anything other than spring coil reverb. It's that slight (or heavy if you have the real thing dedicated spring coil reverb unit - which sadly I don't) 'pop' that makes it so unique. Listen to old 60's surf music - same thing. It is the one absolutely essential effect. (...)"
  • Addition to Mel Grays description of his Tubby-like reverb sound on Trigger Happy: can be trigger happy if you have a Mac G4 and Altiverb.... i run with ProTools and an mBox... i have gotten this sound you mention from a preset that i got off their site to use with the plug-in another user uploaded the Impulse Response so that all could share... also some odd toy reverbs which i find quite mad and fun...the software you can create your own impulse response... aka bathroom....or car....but the website had alot of presets to choose free of charge! my favorite is this one call a 'SpaceTubereverb'...from some toy*picture on site....don't ask me how they got the IR...but it sounds quite wicked when audio is applied through it...rubbery and springy... but with a kind of organic feel. very fun also the wonderful telephones of our worlds glorious past.... and not to mention a few concert halls....and really rare spring reverb units and digital reverb units... the IR is processed with the g4 processor....thanks apple!....check it out.... for im doing dub with a laptop and an mBox....with this wonderful reverb plug-in
    submitted by Sing, Carpe Diem Pictures/Pulp Truth Studios
  • In Dubcreators Dub techniques FAQ the following description of how to get King Tubby style snare & hihat sound can be found:
    "You need a spring reverb and a parametric EQ on either your desk or as standalone unit. Place the EQ after the spring reverb. Boost the midrange of the EQ to the max. Make the Freq knob broadband between 5Khz and 200Hz if possible. Open the aux to your spring reverb on the snare and the hihat channel on your desk and start tweaking Freq knob on the parametric EQ. And voila … Tubby style hats and snare. Works also very well on the skanks."
    Dubcreator's homepage
  • When buying a spring reverb be aware of the following:
    • A spring reverb contains metal springs (similar to the ones you may find in your sofa) which are set in motion by a transducer at one end (imagine this as if it was connected to a speakers membrane) and a pick-up at the other end to transform the spring vibration back to an electrical signal (same principle as on a turntable).
    • A single spring gives a very metallic and wobbly sound. This is great for dub purposes. Unfortunately the engineers who developped spring reverbs wanted the units to sound as smooth and clean as possible. Therefore they combined several springs of different lengths and/or diameters.
    • Try to get a unit which has the springs connected in parallel (see picture) In such a machine you can damp some of the springs using a piece of cotton or a cord and thus get a more springy sound. In some reverbs the springs are connected in a Z-like shape which means you cannot damp a single spring without muting the whole unit. (see picture)
    • Not all reverb units that have stereo ins and stereo outs are really stereo reverb units. Some of them just mix your stereo input signal with a mono reverb signal. True stereo units with separate springs for left and right channels are usually clearly termed "stereo" or "dual" on the outside. Also they mostly have separate controls (input,dry,reverb) for the left and right channel
    • According to an interview with King Jammy (see liner notes of "Dub Gone 2 Crazy", Blood & Fire) the reverb unit used in King Tubby's studio was a customized Fisher reverb. Searching the web I found out that there existed such a company in the sixties which sold a tube driven reverb called Fisher K-10 "Spacexpander". It seems these were quite popular at the time in radio studios but also for car radios (".. spring reverb from the ‘60s often found in the trunk of ‘57 Chevys hooked up to the car radio. It made a great sound when you drove over railroad tracks.")
      I also heard from other dub producers that they use a Spacexpander with good results and so I got one myself. In fact I can say that I never got that close to tubby's reverb sound before. The unit generates a lot of noise (mainly hiss), I guess due to the 30 years old tubes. John Pazdan made a similar experience. Here's what he told me by e-mail about replacing the old tubes on his Spacexpander: "Ahh...changing the tubes made a big difference in my case..almost usable vs non usable almost..noise went away, and I got some fidelity!"
      by The Interruptor
  • If you want to build your own spring reverb check The Spring Thing
  • If yo wanna get them infamous Lee Perry style hihat use a phaser (Mutron Bi-phase!) and send the signal to yr spring reverb. Play around with the knobs to get the fx you like, and send the return signal from the reverb back to the phaser. Liquid and crunchy hihats that'll open everything up:-)
    submitted by dubsyndrome
  • For King Tubby style hi hats, run them through a flanger.
    Submitted by I.W.
  • Create your own tape echo by combining a digital delay unit with a two headed tape deck or an old reel tape. Check the detailed instructions here.
  • You have to find a tape echo with vacuum tubes as like the wem copycat 1 edition. Stick it in your mixing desk an aux send and a return to a track then open the aux send on the same track where you have put your return. Try to play with the feedback and you will get the nicest bleeps i ever heard!!!!
    Submitted by dubit
  • Try the classic Echoplex feedbacks through a Mutator filter bank. It's stereo so you can have splendid settings for each side. Hi-hats sound great like this as the filtering crosses over from left to right or whatever. Also, it can be used to make really nice analogue beeps and squiggle noises.
    submitted by Pete The Deverills
  • drastic stereo effect for mono signals: First put the signal to the extreme left or right of the stereo field. Then run the signal through a 20 ms delay and pan the delayed signal to the opposite side of the stereo field. Use a auxilary out or a stereo sub group to send the signal to the delay unit. Then cross the left and the right return signal. If shorter delay times are used problems with mono compatibility will occur (lower signal level due to phase difference). Too long delays will result in the left and the right channel being heard as to separate signals. This effect is often used for guitars,organs and other midrange signals. It is less suitable for drums or percussion as tightness will be lost.
    Submitted by Dan D.N.A. (Skrupel, Bio Bonsai) Augustus Pablo
  • giving more live to a voice : If you have two more or less identical voice tracks mix one of them without any reverb. Send the other track to the reverb effect only (Don't use the original signal just the effect). Submitted by Dan D.N.A.
  • "I have a really poor old drum machine. The samples are rather boring and instruments that should have long decays, like cymbals, suddenly cut off after a couple of seconds due to the small memory chips used. So, I started running the (mono) machine through a digital delay unit in order to thicken the sound and create artificial stereo effects. What's really amazing is when you alter delay times and depth in real time. The sounds suddenly become elastic, jump up and down in pitch and duration, etc.
    Also, run boring drum sounds through devices such as ring modulators or pitch shifters. This can be very effective on snares especially."
    Submitted by Marc O. Chambers
  • "try running an 808 through a ring modulator such as the Electroharmonix frequency analyser and then distort it using a guitar pedal such as Boss."
    Submitted by the Nematod
  • One good trick for beats is to run one line from your drum machine through a BOSS "Metal Zone" foot pedal. Turn the distortion knob anywhere from 3/4 to full, adjust the level knob 3/4 to full and, while your beat is playing, tweak the MID FREQ ring in time with the rhythm. Will produce a vicious, static edge that serves as a perfect counterpoint to your bassline. This method is tailor-made for faster tracks (of the Jungle-ish variety), yet also produces a gorgeous effect on slower dubs, too. Think of it as God's own stun gun--sure to please.
    Submitted by M. Colello, Interference Patterns
  • Extreme Chorus Use a stereo pad on 2 channels on the mixer and keep the faders low. set chorus rate to minimum and depth and feed back to maximum. Now set the chorus send from the pad to full. Decrease the feedback a little and change the value of the chorus delay to modify the pitch. For laser sounds, increase the rate and if you reduce the depth this morphs into some siren type sounds. Finally, apply a stereo panning delay, but this can make you seasick!
    Submitted by Ronan aka "Nematod"
  • try adding chorus to an entire finished track, for a quite trippy (and smooth sounding) finish. use a pedal or fx unit or anything that'll give you a bit of chorus (like a sample editing program or whatever)
    Submitted by Bob zong (the cut and paste collective. u.k.)
  • "when mixing off 24-track, try slowing the machine down a bit for effect. it'll add you some nice low tape colouration and may especially be good on vocals when suitable. the bass comes out real big and people say, wow, nice bass."
    Submitted by jb
  • "If you are the lucky owner of a reel to reel tape machine or a varispeed tape deck, then there are millions of things you can do, heres one of my favorites: Using a sampler , pitch up/down a drum loop or any other sound. record the result onto tape and speed down/up the tape until you have the original speed. Compress the first sampler loop and layer it with the tape loop. This works especially well on drum loops."
    Submitted by The Nematod
  • "I found a great rhythm by punching in a boring dico beat on the drum machine then maxed all the effects at once - changed the beat entirely and the bass line dropped to the level of an undercurrent."
    "let the accidents work for you: On one song I re-did the drum track on a separate track and as it turned out it was recalibrated a hair off the original track which popped in by accident toward the end for a very nifty double-drum effect.
    Submitted by john "jboy" winner Lee Scratch Perry
  • Most consoles have a test tone generator built into them for calibrating tapes. Patch the tone generator into an analog or (even better) tape delay and get those sonar style echo hits like King Tubby and Lee Perry.
    Submitted by I.W.
  • If you are forced to resort to using digital delays, roll off all of the high end, a fair amount of the super low end, and crank up the mid-range. This will approximate the grungy sound of an analog unit.
    Submitted by I.W.
  • Run a snare hit through a digital delay pedal and while the sound is echoing turn the "fine tune" knob to change the pitch of the sound. This can create some very cool, organic effects.
    submitted by Kevin C. Smith
  • "I like to play things backwards with an echo and then play it forward so you hear a reverse echo."
    Submitted by DJ Obiwan
  • If you use echo and you want to get those nice chords (King Tubby and Lee Perry) use around 380ms delay. Mess around with the successive echo equalization and you'll get nice effects.
    Submitted by Ohini.
  • simulating channel-crosstalk on modern equipment: "No multitrack analog tape recorder? Simulate tape track/mixing desk bleed by sending a few tracks (guitar, organ, strings, vocals) to an unused group buss and also to a main group. Keep the level WAY down on this group. Now when you drop the main groups out of the mix (not the individual channels), they can still be heard ever so faintly in the background. This is really cool if you are dubbing a vocal song, and only put the vocal in the mix a couple of times through the whole thing. If you can insert effects on your auxes, try reverb, distortion, eq, etc. on the ghost track to make it extra filthy. If you don't have a bunch of auxes and are mixing with the channel faders, try putting some masking tape on the very bottom of the fader, so that it doesn't cut out quite all the way. You can also work this trick by sending the ghost channels out of the desk through their pre-fade sends and bringing them back into a free channel."
    Submitted by DJ Grant Beaugard.
  • The "Vortex" is a discontinued digital effects processor from Lexikon which some people highly appreciate. It can generate echo (loops), phase, flange, chorus, tremelo, pan and vibrato in different combinatons. The most outstanding feature is that you can morph seamlessly between 2 complete set of parameters using a foot pedal. This way extraordinary effects sounds can be generated. The programming of the module seems to pretty complicated though.. More Info can be found at Andy Butler's Vortex page
    hint for this entry received from RASDA
  • If you are a user of Native Instrument's Software Synthesizer Reaktor check this: "on the website of Native Instruments i found an "ensemble" (so the instruments are called) that's called DUBFIX. this is a really great one. put a beat in there and screw some of the hundred of parameters and you will get great loopz with bassline and rhythmically synthsounds out."
    Submitted by RASDA

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