Make a new "vintage" sounding recording

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by sinner, Mar 18, 2006.

  1. sinner

    sinner Member

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    I sometimes hear new recordings made for TV commercials and programs that have that old, vintage sound. Last night, for instance, during the new Doctor Who sci-fi show, there was a blues recording during a commercial that was awesome. It was a slide guitar, maybe an acoutic or reso, but the recording quality, although new and state-of-the-art, sounded very old and vintage. It was maybe all midrange, little bottom and no crisp clear highs, if that helps.

    So how do you get a new recording to sound like something actually recorded in the 40s? I've even heard some songs where they put in scratches to sound like an old 78.

    I'm using Cubase with some extra available sounds and processing software (GRM Tools vol. 1 & 2), will any of these filters and eq features get that old sound?
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    I am called on to do "vintage sounding" recordings several times a year for television and radio commercials.

    It's really simple. Realize that old recordings started with very different miking techniques than are commonly in use today, and there were no overdubs. Very few mics were used on a typical recording, and those that were in common use in the US were dynamic and ribbon mics, and with the very old ones, there was less low end, and less high end.

    The 40s was the time before wide use of tape recording; although a few tape machines were available, most records were made by direct transcription to a soft metal disc. This disc was the master.

    Mixers had three or four channels, each was made by the engineers at the facility, all sounded different, and mono was the only choice.

    So how do you do get that sound? Several ways. You can mic the instruments using vintage-style gear, and roll off the low and high end. If there are several players, they all play at once in the room, perhaps with gobos (in the 40s, these weren't even widely used). A mic was used on the rhythm section (piano and bass), a mic was used on drums (sometimes they just got the bleed as part of the rhythm section, a mic on horns, and a mic on vocals. Sometimes fewer mics, sometimes more, depending on the studio.

    Gains were usually ridden by hand, compressors were not in wide use, an echo chamber was literally a little room with tile walls, and ceramic cylinders, and a speaker and a mic. Like putting a speaker in your bathroom with a feed from the channel buss, miking it, and mixing it back in.

    Everything on the board was tube. Hot signals simply distorted in a pleasing way, like an old tube amp.

    If you think about it, you can create simulations of it, or just do it the old way.

    Finally, the scratches. In the early days, I used to sample a record on a turntable at the end of the record, just ticking and popping away, and I simply mixed my samples of the record scratches into the mix on their own channel.

    This results in a background noise that sounds old, but is really not like any real old recording, because a REAL old scratched record also distorted and scratched the music, but the technique can fool the ear.

    Today, there are sample effects available in sound effects libraries that you can record on a track and blend in.

    Don't use "telephone effect" presets on the whole mix...it's more realistic if you work track by track. Remember that old mics and transcription machines had high ends that started shelving off at around 5000-7000 HZ, and mics were in that range, too.

    I have even tried a fake single mic technique to simulate a natural room sound: miking a speaker playing back the mix with something like an old dynamic mic. You can blend this to taste.

    Does this help?
     
  3. straticus

    straticus Member

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  4. straticus

    straticus Member

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    .......and don't let the fact that it's free fool you. These guys make killer stuff. It may or may not be what you're looking for but it's worth adding to your list of plug-ins.

    Enjoy!
     
  5. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    doesn't Cubase SX come with a "Grungelator" plug-in? Hiss, scratches, sound through a cardboard cylinder......etc, can all be added in.
     
  6. sinner

    sinner Member

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    Thanks for all the great advise and tips--LSchefman, thanks too for taking the time for a very detailed post!

    I'm using the older Cubase VST/32 5.1 not the SX version. In fact, I just dusted off the computer and fired it up again after not using it for quite a spell. To my suprise, everything seemed to work, but I need to re-learn some of the operations again (oh man!). I had much of the MIDI applications down but was still very new at audio when I put it all to sleep. I just ordered a SM57 and will try out some of your ideas with my electrics and acoustic resos...
     
  7. EVT

    EVT Member

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    I recently heard about an artist called "James Hunter". I was very impressed with the way his recordings sounded vintage even though it's a new album.
    Very cool.
    If I would have heard it and wasn't told I would have never thought it was a new recording from today.
    http://www.jameshuntermusic.com/
    There's a video on his site that's cool, and there are samples of his songs in the music section.
    http://www.jameshuntermusic.com/

    evt
     

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