Any idea why my 50's distortion attempt doesn't sound as in the example?

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
KVRer
9 posts since 19 Jan, 2021

Post Sun Jan 24, 2021 12:28 pm

Hello,
I'm trying to nail a lo-fi 50's kind of distortion like this https://youtu.be/PPtMoTdtK-Y

It was recorded on portable tape recorder by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, so I guess it's just raw material, no messing in post.

Here is my attempt using RC-20 Retro Color set to "iron" type distortion https://youtu.be/bZOPPZRo-r8

Do you have an idea how to make that distortion sound more like the original?

Beside the noise it seems to me like there's sth going on with channels since the original has some definite differences in levels between channels. It feels more punchy and spacious. The original is also brighter and maybe even more distorted. If I try add more distortion it starts to lack that "softness", sound too metallic like a guitar distortion and also much more muddy.

In case, here are source wav and mp3 with FX https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dkp12lzussp0 ... 5vOHa?dl=0
Last edited by mishitoku on Sun Jan 24, 2021 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KVRAF
3361 posts since 17 Dec, 2009

Post Sun Jan 24, 2021 12:46 pm

add wow/flutter, add noise, add hum.
there's also some phase discrepancies between L/R channels, it's often on poorly setup tapes. My cassette deck also exhibits that. if i pull a dual mono recording through it, it come out a weird stereo.
no plugin does that, for some reason.

KVRist
197 posts since 14 May, 2008

Post Tue Jan 26, 2021 3:50 am

Hey man,

I think your attempt is sounding close enough, but you're also distorting some harsh frequencies along the way, while the original is smoother.

You could try running something like Soothe or DSEQ after the distortion plugin to smooth out those frequencies, or find them yourself with a dynamic eq.

I think you should cut some more highs as well.

Also, you should give FabFilter Saturn 2 a shot. It's probably the best plugin for this kind of stuff. Try using the Warm Tape algo on the highs and Clean Tube on the mids.

Oh, you could also try the EQ match function in Fabfilter PRO Q, if you own it.

KVRer

Topic Starter

9 posts since 19 Jan, 2021

Post Tue Jan 26, 2021 6:18 pm

RafaelMorgan wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 3:50 am
Hey man,

I think your attempt is sounding close enough, but you're also distorting some harsh frequencies along the way, while the original is smoother.

You could try running something like Soothe or DSEQ after the distortion plugin to smooth out those frequencies, or find them yourself with a dynamic eq.

I think you should cut some more highs as well.

Also, you should give FabFilter Saturn 2 a shot. It's probably the best plugin for this kind of stuff. Try using the Warm Tape algo on the highs and Clean Tube on the mids.

Oh, you could also try the EQ match function in Fabfilter PRO Q, if you own it.
Thanks! You gave me very specific hints. That's great! I got to check it out :)

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KVRAF
4096 posts since 8 Jul, 2009

Post Tue Jan 26, 2021 8:32 pm

I decided to try to attempt this in old to give some feedback (pun intended). First there appears to be some distortion baked into your raw vocal stem. The original doesn't have the gritty kind of harmonicdistortion you have in your stem which makes it difficult to duplicate. The original has distortion but its less harmonic distortion and more intermod distortion. But adding any distortion to your stem increases the baked in harmonic distortion giving a gritty edge that is not in the original. Try re-recording a clean stem with lots of headroom and no audible distortion. Second, the original voice has a kind of flute-y character when he hits the high notes. I tried to replicate that with EQs. I could probably get closer with more time spent but I feel it was close enough to at least provide you some feedback. The harmonic distortion in your stem interferes with my ability to hone in on that flute-y character. I am using RC 20 for the noise, vinyl1 and thats it. But I am also using a compressor to get similar dynamics as the original - you can hear the electronics compressing the signal. I also use szechuan saturator to try and get some intermod distortion as well as waves vinyl.

The issue is that the original electronics are over-loading and are probably tube based on the circa you said this was from. That where that complex phase and intermod distortion is coming from. I can't think of a plugin that would replicate that. I was trying to do it with vintage emuluations but its not close.

This is what I came up with:

https://soundcloud.com/musicofplexus/mm ... xMYh8xLT4z

KVRist
267 posts since 15 Apr, 2020

Post Wed Jan 27, 2021 2:01 am

mishitoku wrote:
Sun Jan 24, 2021 12:28 pm
Hello,
I'm trying to nail a lo-fi 50's kind of distortion like this https://youtu.be/PPtMoTdtK-Y

It was recorded on portable tape recorder by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, so I guess it's just raw material, no messing in post.

Here is my attempt using RC-20 Retro Color set to "iron" type distortion https://youtu.be/bZOPPZRo-r8

Do you have an idea how to make that distortion sound more like the original?

Beside the noise it seems to me like there's sth going on with channels since the original has some definite differences in levels between channels. It feels more punchy and spacious. The original is also brighter and maybe even more distorted. If I try add more distortion it starts to lack that "softness", sound too metallic like a guitar distortion and also much more muddy.

In case, here are source wav and mp3 with FX https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dkp12lzussp0 ... 5vOHa?dl=0
The 50s original has limited bandwith not extending to the upper highs and lows, so try matching the frequency spectrum of the recordings first. You could also use IRs of oldschool mics or cassette tape etc to achieve this, or even use frequency match function (TDR Nova GE, free Reafir etc). Then add Voxengo Tube Amp for authentic tube circuit interaction. Your example also has less noise than original. If you really want to go stereo, try Sleepy Times crosstalk emulation.

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KVRAF
5265 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Post Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:24 am

The distortion sounds like it was directly recorded to/from vinyl. Maybe there is no tube or tape involved originally... It might be much older than the fifties... Could as well be film sound...

KVRist
277 posts since 9 Sep, 2017

Post Wed Jan 27, 2021 12:35 pm

it starts with the microphone, and also it stems from the 50'ies PA amplification style (tube power amps, and the kind of speakers they used), so all recordings had to follow that sound.
you might experiment with a tube guitar amp, give it a soft overdrive. use a cab impulse that is more PA and less rock guitar.
try also phil's cascade, there is a softening filter, and also the bias knob allows you to degrade the sound in a certain way.

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KVRAF
4096 posts since 8 Jul, 2009

Post Wed Jan 27, 2021 1:09 pm

HansP wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 12:35 pm
it starts with the microphone, and also it stems from the 50'ies PA amplification style (tube power amps, and the kind of speakers they used), so all recordings had to follow that sound.
you might experiment with a tube guitar amp, give it a soft overdrive. use a cab impulse that is more PA and less rock guitar.
try also phil's cascade, there is a softening filter, and also the bias knob allows you to degrade the sound in a certain way.
In my attempts I was going to use the Fuse amp models but then I realized I don't own them, but I did demo them extensively. You could try 2C and/or the 562A. Good luck!

KVRer

Topic Starter

9 posts since 19 Jan, 2021

Post Wed Jan 27, 2021 5:20 pm

Thanks, guys. I'm learning a lot of new stuff from you.
Tj Shredder wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:24 am
The distortion sounds like it was directly recorded to/from vinyl. Maybe there is no tube or tape involved originally... It might be much older than the fifties... Could as well be film sound...
It was recorded on paper-backed tape in 1947, but you're right it sounds like these aluminum discs. Lomax used to use them couple years earlier.

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KVRAF
4096 posts since 8 Jul, 2009

Post Wed Jan 27, 2021 9:01 pm

mishitoku wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 5:20 pm
Thanks, guys. I'm learning a lot of new stuff from you.
Tj Shredder wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:24 am
The distortion sounds like it was directly recorded to/from vinyl. Maybe there is no tube or tape involved originally... It might be much older than the fifties... Could as well be film sound...
It was recorded on paper-backed tape in 1947, but you're right it sounds like these aluminum discs. Lomax used to use them couple years earlier.
Somehow you want to get that shifting phase distortion that is occuring. its more about phase and intermod than harmonic. i dont know how to do that with plugins however... plugins focus on harmonic. the only plugin i know that does phase distortion is waves vinyl but I havent really played with it much.

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