Danny J Lewis is otherwise known as Enzyme Black, with releases on labels such as Defected, Masters At Work and his own imprint Enzyme Black Recordings. He is the head of course development at Point Blank’s online music production school. In this three part series, Danny takes a trip back to the 90’s to offer up his tips on how to recreate a traditional House sound.So you want to make authentic sounding ‘classic’ House music on your computer? The kind of quality house that used to fly out of labels such as Cutting Records, Strictly Rhythm, 4th Floor, Suburban, Henry Street and many more in the 90s. Unfortunately the bleak reality is that most of you are probably using the wrong plugins leaving you unable to do this properly.
If you listen to the majority of that old school House Music you’ll notice a vibe in the sounds used, a flavour that was all of its own. It’s a sonic signature that is seriously lacking in many of the productions I hear today. Call me old fashioned (which i’m sure many of you will jump at the chance to do) but when it comes to the ‘traditional’ sound of House Music there’s really no need for some of those trendy, cutting edge plugins around today.
So who exactly is to blame? Let’s take a look at some on the suspect list who despite making great tools are perhaps stopping you from making that flavour you seek.
High on the list are Native Instruments with Massive, Absynth, and Reaktor. These are wonderful tools for making many types of music but for that classic sound I’m talking about you should avoid them like the plague – save them for when you want to be clever or eccentric!
Logic (particularly the EXS24 Libraries)
Logic is a fantastic sequencer and offers a whole lot of stuff out of the box for making music but does it have that authentic old school sound? The short answer is a resounding NO if you are using the supplied Software Instruments and their default libraries. The EXS24 sampler library is diverse and full of bread and butter sounds that will suit many but the flavour we crave is lacking. The EVP88 sounds like a nice Rhodes emulation to me but you know what? most of the old school producers didn’t have an ‘authentic’ rhodes sound, more of a generic ‘Electric Piano’
Possibly the most popular torrents on the planet (of course i don’t condone this kind of behaviour) and thus rather overused these days. Most of my students have these and you can spot them a mile off. Sure these guys are great sound designers and what they do is great if you want a reasonably current electronic sound but it’s no good at all for the classic sound you and I seek.
That’s just a taster, in fact there are many out there and no doubt you are using them but i’m keen to move forward and start writing up part two where i’ll tell you what we used to use ‘back in the day’ to make our tracks. It’s in Part Three that i’ll point you in the direction of software/virtual instrument equivalents.
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Editor’s Note: This is an old article and things have moved on considerably since the original publication date 🙂