From high-waisted jeans to platform shoes, many trends from the past eventually become new again, and music production is no exception. The rise of digital technology has made music production easier and cheaper, but digital methods often lack the warmth and soul of analog music production. Unhappy with the crisp, flat sound of digital, many musicians and producers are moving back to the old ways. Here are three retro music production trends that are back in the mainstream.
Vinyl and Tape
Digital music tracks are easy to record, cut and manipulate, so why are many record producers going back to the old days of vinyl and tape? The smooth, true sound of analog isn’t just for music consumers. Recording on vinyl allows producers to hear the music in its most authentic form without the quality loss that comes with digital conversion.
Any Motown record producer will tell you that an analog synthesizer is a must-have piece of equipment for a recording studio. While digital synthesizers are affordable and can be updated with new sounds instantly, nothing can replace the classic sound of an analog synth. Analog provides a richer, more true-to-life sound than digital tracks that can sound hollow or lose quality due to compression.
Like synthesizers, percussion is best added to your tracks in analog form. An old-fashioned drum machine is the perfect way to keep the beat without sounding tinny or artificial. Although a drum machine is a little more expensive than adding drums digitally, the difference in the final sound of your music is worth it. Look for deals on used drum machines from music stores or auctions.
Filter Resonance Controls
Do you want a dynamic bass to back up your music? Analog filter resonance controls are a must. This older technology is still used by music producers to add piercing, squelchy feedback to the bass and make it pop. Add that woozy, atmospheric vibe of decades past by layering in filtered noise with low-pass filters set low and modulated with an envelope to shape the sound.
Although analog production is making a comeback, digital isn’t going away any time soon. If you want to explore retro production methods, you don’t have to give up digital entirely. Get the best of both worlds by combining methods, such as recording on analog equipment and editing your tracks digitally. You can also use modern digital technology to recreate the older sound of analog with specialized software.