Picture the scene; it’s a wet weekend and due to a local cycling event I’m stuck at home in the home recording studio with nothing much to do for most of the Sunday. So, I decided to learn some songs on the guitar and one of those songs is Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin. What better way to get a good grasp on the whole song than to record it in my DAW of choice (Reaper).
After finding a very good midi file that contained a decent rendition of the drums, I downloaded it, setup my standard project template and tones / VST’s and proceeded to record the majority of the track over an hour or so. With the bass, drums and guitars all done, it was time to do some basic EQ & Compression to get a feel for the overall sound and to be honest, it wasn’t too bad. But after a few more listens, it struck me that it sounded very ‘modern’. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as an experiment I wanted to see how I could make it sound more ‘retro’.
As I don’t own a vintage drum kit or vintage amps / cabs, this may well be somewhat problematic. But shis is 2016 right? So with modern technology in mind, I fired up EZ Drummer 2 and installed my copy of the Seventies Rock EZX that the lovely people over at Toontrack gave me to review recently (watch the review here) and swapped things over from my normal Metal Machine EZX and replaced it with the Camco Towelled kit and BOOM! We have a completely different drum tone for the track.
Now, what about the guitars?
Time to drop the trusty Le456 from LePou and the Mercuriall Cab 3 and replace them with an instance of Positive Grid’s BIAS FX. A quick look on the ToneCloud and my search yielded a very nice sounding Whole Lotta Love patch to mimic the Jimmy Page tone and with a little tweaking it was sitting nicely in the mix.
Finally it was time to adjust the EQ and compression I’d originally applied to compensate for the different tone and all’s good.
So what does that have to do with being spoilt for choice as a recording musician?
Imagine if you’d wanted to do this 10 years ago. You’d have needed a shed load of gear, some real knowledge of how the tone you were looking to replicate was made up and a lot of time and effort to get everything set up, mic’d up and the tone dialled in before you even got chance to press the record button (OK, you could have re-amped, but that still doesn’t change the need for gear).
Now we can simply choose the tone we want and with all the amazing gear and software that allows us to tone match, it’s literally at our fingertips. If we want a crazy combination of amps, pedals and effects, we can simply download them, audition them and if we’re particularly lazy, download someone else’s hard work and reap the benefits from online resources like ToneCloud.
There really has never been a better time to be into home recording or just being a musician in general. With the amazing advancements that companies like Positive Grid & Fractal Audio are making into amp modeling, tone matching and FX matching, you have access to billions of sound combinations drirectly inside your computer or mobile device. Speaking of mobile devices; how crazy and cool is it that you can have full amp and FX modelling on your phone via an inexpensive interface and a set of ear buds or headphones. Damn, you can even record, mix and master through the damn thing too… tell me again what’s stopping you playing, recording or mixing great sounding music?
Each time I come across a new piece of software that gives me access to great sounds or the ability to record / mix / master quicker, faster and with better results I get just a little bit excited and wish I’d had access to some of this amazing tech years ago!
What are your thoughts?
Pop your opinions and feedback in the comments below, we’d love to hear them.