Recreating old classic techno machine sounds is now simple and free.
I sometimes don't like to admit it, but I am nostalgic. I like 80s music, old type computer games (Street Fighter, Defender..come on!) and classic techno making machines.
I think they forged through and made todays music what it is. Machines like the TB303, TR909, JD800 and the famous Moog- what an effect they have made on dance and techno music! The rise in popularity of techno, i.e, with the makers and in the audience, was down to the cool sounds and the general compatability (sound wise) between the machines were the key.
In some cases limited numbers were made and the increase in popularity only meant two things. 1) An increase in the same old songs, rehashed versions that sounded similar in everyway, and 2) The price went into overdrive. Machines like the TB303 were selling for silly money. This trend is still being seen today. You can buy one of these machines for between $600-$1000.
The old favourite answers are "because you can see the lights moving", "Its just great twisting those dials"- and so on. This is where to me nostalgia stops, especially when you want to make techno. Sure they were great sounding machines, sure if you didn't have their sounds in your music you were classed as old fashoined...but for $1000!
This isn't ravings from a person who never had one at all. I have a Roland MC202. I love the little box of tricks. The little rubber keyboard is novel and the sliders are cool. However, once all the fiddling is out of the way. Once you have gone oooOOhhh...there isn't really anything left. Thats the problem for me.
Once the coolness has worn off, you have to go through extra work to hook it up into your set-up. Do you sample the loops off the machine? Do you buy a synch box? Do you MIDIfy it (costing extra cash)? I don't mean to be all doom and gloom, and if you do have one, keep it- they are cool to work with. But if you don't...well, look at the other options.
There are two great alternatives out there in Internet land that can help us out.
1) Sample sites. Nowadays they house great sample loops, and single hit sounds from the various machines. Housed in sample packs, you will notice that the sounds sound similar to each other because the sampler has twisted the dial a little and then sampled the sound. Now you have loads of sounds altered slightly. These are pretty cool. The only problem is that you get the samplers idea of a good sample. Also you don't get all the dials being twisted together- too restricted. However as a free source of nostalgic sounds they can't be beat.
So we have identified one sound source (for free), however we have also noticed some problems- a lack of freedom, and because we are a creative bunch, we have to find another way.
2) VSTs. Wow, what a revolution to the music world. A fantastic resource that should help musicians who are looking to make music with little, or no cash. VSTs are either effects (like distortion) or they are some sort of music sounding device (like synths (called softsynths), drum machines etc). Some are stand alone programs, or some need a host program. The most well known softsynth has got to be Rebirth, the TB303 and TR909 emulator. It is really cool, emulating the machines really well, however, the best thing about this softsynth is that it is free. Now there are plenty of VSTs out there that are free, offering great synth sounds or great effects.
The possibility of sound creation using VSTs has now become infinite. The actual sound of the sounds has become endless, so now there should be unique sounding musics out there. Are there any disadvantages? Well not really. Some sound the same, and some of the pay for ones are expensive, they are cool, but too expensive.
So what you can do, is add VSTs together, add an effect plug-in over a synth VST. The cool thing is. Nostalgic sounds can be processed through these plug-ins to bring them more up-to-date, and to add a flavour of your desire.
So, going back to our original question do we need a $1000 techno machine. Well as every diplomat states, yes and no. If I had a TR909 I would keep it, sample it, and then add VST effects to give the sounds more spice, because they are good, no doubt, but music moves on and you have to follow. If I didn't have a TR909 I wouldn't be upset, I would search out the samples from the various sample sites, add again the VST effects and get the sound that I want...for free.
If you have a low budget (or no budget), there are now no obsicles to stop you recreating those sounds that make your music sound like it was made with a $1000+ set-up.
Click check out the best VSTs to create classic techno
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