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Getting "that" sound

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  • Getting "that" sound

    I apologize in advance if I'm not as clear as I would like... I am very new to this world of technological sounds >.<

    So, I just bought Starfield's new album and the first track, Natural Disaster, kept me wondering about how to achieve certain sounds. Here's a link.


    How would one achieve that almost staticky sound that comes in at 0:07?

    Also, how would one achieve that almost muffled sorta tone coming from the mic if they were to play this song live? It sounds like it runs through the whole song but it is most prominent when he says "flame" at around 0:36.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated... I really want to learn more

  • #2
    There are a few different routes to take and it would be hard to tell how exactly without talking to the producer, engineer, or artist. If it is live and not some sort of synth instrument patch, then to get the sound to be as "large" as it does would be to double it (record it one or more times). This is probably NOT the case.

    I'm just listening from my laptop but it sounds like some sort of synth guitar patch that may or maynot be played from a keyboard. I know I have a patch on mine that you can play and hold say, C below middle C, and then a quarter note later play middle C and the pitch will slide from one up to the other. When you release middle C, the pitch dives back down to the prior pitch.

    OR it could just be some sort of pedal or sound setting from like a Line 6 HD500. These types of gear can make your guitar sound like a whale if you want (or an alien, robot, ray gun, etc.).

    Now most likely, these things are not recreated live, meaning that there may not be someone actually playing this (but it is possible, just cumbersom on tour and so an easier route is taken). This easier route is to have that sort of thing be a prerecorded trigger (think of playing to a click track, only the click track is much more sophisticated and planned out start to finish or sections of the song being played are triggered at certian times). I'm pretty sure Skillet's live show has tons of triggered stuff. Another good example is if you were to see Van Halen in concert, when they play Jump, the keyboard is not live but is a triggered click track. Here you can see one of the issues that can arise with such, as the track and the guitar are not in tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_ZZI0ZX82M I guess that's the first time I've posted VH in a worship forum. Anyway, think of playing along with your CDs, only MUCH cooler.

    The same thing happened when Ashley Simpson tried to play a tune on SNL, if you remember. But usually it comes across pretty good. It isn't really like Millee Vanillee lip syncing. It is just that there are parts of the production that are not so simple to pull off live.

    And as for the thing in the vocal line, he is simply being run through a filter (an EQ that can manipulate the sonic quality that you hear). You can probably find an app for your iPhone that will make your voice sound like an alien or one of the chipmunks. It is the same type of thing.

    Hope this helps!


    • #3
      Most likely, the "staticky" sound you are hearing around 0:07 is done using an effect for guitar similar to a wah pedal, but digital. It is a foot controlled pitch shifter. It has the ability to "sweep" between octaves, creating the sweeping sound you hear. Here's a link to what might have been used to create this particular sound(not me playing, but you will get the idea):


      • #4
        You've all been a tremendous help! I'm really starting to learn more about what you can achieve with all this technology we have.

        And just a question, for further clarification...

        How would you exactly run a mic through the EQ filter you mentioned? Is that just something you change on the soundboard somewhere on the mass array of knobs?


        • #5
          These filters are just processors like the others described above. Your normal sound board most likely will not have this as a feature, but you can toy around with the EQ's to come close. Just notch out (cut or boost) different frequencies in the mid-range. It won't be exactly the same but may help some.


          • #6
            Star field are really good about helping you out.. If youre on twitter, drop one of them a message, they'll probably tell you what they did

            Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


            • #7
              My take on that sound is that it's a combination of a number of things all working together.

              Firstly as I'm a guitarist I'll outline how I'd pull that sound out of my gear because it's what I'm familiar with.

              1) The first step is converting the sine wave from the guitar to a square wave (usually the domain of synths). Because I have an Axefx I'd use a synth block to do that. But you could do a similar thing with an Electro Harmonix Micro Synth. Importantly whatever synth you use has to have an octave function, where the signal has two oscillators which outputs a square wave version of your input frequency AND an octave down version as well (maybe using a slightly different waveform if available).

              It's quite possible that some form or gating is involved with the synth to get it to cut in and out very sharply. And it's often part of the guitar->synth conversion that a good compressor before the synth does wonders for the pitch tracking.

              2) Sweep the pitch up an octave. This is the domain of the whammy pedal, both in the Axefx (pitch block in whammy mode) and on pedal boards. The pitch of the note is bent through a full octave up based on a foot pedal position. The whammy will be before the synth effect in the effects chain.

              3) Then add distortion to fatten up the sound. And possibly some scooped EQ as well.

              However that might give a passable resemblance for live work, in the studio it's likely they did that with a real synth. I suspect that because with guitars and pitch / synth manipulation you get artifacts like little warbles here and there and I don't hear that here. In fact now that I listen to it again, the notes are an octave apart the first 2 bars then it changes to an octave AND a forth or fifth? So easy to do on a keyboard synth with a slow glide setting. The bottom note moves, but the top note stays the same.
              Last edited by memecode; 08-27-2013, 02:59 AM.