dark_virus wrote:I think what people are trying to say about samplers is that part of the feel of these tracks comes from old school samplers, which gives a lo-fi character to the sounds, making them fat and somewhat distorted.
It was pretty common for producers to sample, say, a bass sound from a hardware synth and load it on a sampler, so they could manipulate, pitch shift, time stretch and distort it. And, of course, try some weird and creative sequences and arps. This was due to hardware limitations we don't have nowadays.
To be honest, in these records, I don't think oldskool sampler crunchiness plays much of a role, it's more about workflow and the artistic decisions people make when dealing with a rig that's mostly MIDI feeding a couple of multitimbral samplers and one or two hardware synths. Even the endless warping and resampling that DnB producers did on Reese-style basses isn't much in evidence on, say, Lemon8's releases. The sound design is pretty basic and is mostly a bit of filtering here and there - the overall arrangement is more about juxtaposing sounds and rhythms in a kind of basic counterpoint: phrase X, gives way to phrase Y, which steps aside for Z. Drop a few out, drop a few in with different filter settings, rinse and repeat.
For shits and giggles, I made a note of one of what is probably one of the easier tracks to reverse-enginer: House (2nd Mix) from Lemon8's 2000 compilation which happens to be on Apple Music. You've got as the core a JFK sampled phrase (from his "I bin ein Berliner" speech) and a chopped-up breakbeat with some other percussion that's probably off a rompler or sample CD and which gets bandpass filtered. For synth sounds, all you've got is a Chicago organ bass (or heavily filtered square wave bass), a few saw-wave filter sweeps, a funky sync lead with a fair amount of pitchbend on the first note or two that gets bandpass filtered in various ways and, towards the end, a clavinet sample that's either a sampled phrase or played in from a rompler. That's pretty much it.
There's not much sound design to go wrong in that lot and I imagine all those sounds or at least sounds that are very similar are lurking in the Reason presets. May the use of a fair amount of bandpass filtering on the core sounds gives the whole thing an overall sound, but on a CD-quality mix it's not especially lofi. The production is pretty pared back compared to a lot of modern stuff though.