What thread connects Finneas, Timbaland, Benny Blanco, and Dr. Dre?
Out of thousands of music producers, these four have risen to the top because they are innovators who push sonic boundaries and bend genres in creative and inexplicable ways. They are unafraid to experiment, take risks, and most importantly, break the rules. In the spirit of rule-breaking, we’ve compiled a list of unconventional ways to use the plugins in your arsenal that will separate your sound from the rest.
WARNING: the following is a deep dive and will get technical!
Polyverse Music Manipulator on 8o8s
Designed mainly for use on vocals, Manipulator can also shine when its parameters are automated on an 808. Try different combinations! A fun one is to automate the Alternator, Octave, and Harmonics knobs to achieve a “drowsy 808” effect. Check it out below:
Wavesfactory Spectre on Vocals
Spectre by Wavesfactory uses 10 high-quality saturation algorithms to introduce harmonic content to a desired part of the EQ spectrum. Most producers put Spectre on a mix bus to breathe life into the track, but it also does great work on vocals. Try boosting some of the mids and the high shelf and hear your vocal cut through the mix with new warmth and air.
iZotope Trash 2 on 808s
Trash 2 is iZotope’s flagship saturation and distortion plugin, capable of everything from subtle touches to sonic destruction. However, one of its most interesting uses is on 808s, using the Convolve feature to introduce your booming low end into a new space, such as an amplifier or a fishbowl. The mix knob is particularly handy for giving your 808s just the right amount of that unique flavor.
Convolve 808 (Noir):
Convolve 808 (Kick Box):
Universal Audio Studio D Chorus on Synth Bass
The Studio D Chorus emulates a hardware unit that introduces spatialization and subtle modulation into every track that runs through it. Try putting the Studio D on a return track, followed by a high-pass EQ cutting the sides below 130 Hz. Send some of your bass signal to the track and listen as it becomes wider, richer, and fuller. For best results, engage settings two and four on the Studio D Chorus.
Studio D Bass:
Celemony Melodyne Studio on Melody Loops
This is a trick used by legendary producer Ian Kirkpatrick, best known for his work with Dua Lipa, such as “Don’t Start Now”. Kirkpatrick will import a loop into his DAW, then insert Melodyne Studio on it and tweak it until he arrives at something unrecognizable from the original loop. Playing with the Spectrum, Formant, and Amplitude controls can yield inspirational, unique results. Take a listen below.