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Author Topic: Adding distortion to samples  (Read 4750 times)

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Jake R

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Adding distortion to samples
« on: January 16, 2010, 13:55:38 »

Hi, new guy here, sorry if this is completely in the wrong section but I'm new to the terminology and this is about samples, for as far as I know...

I downloaded Milkytracker, messed with it a bit, looked through some tutorials and then started something on my own. For starters, I went and tried copying the bassline from Muse's Hysteria, just to see if I could manage to take what I could hear and reproduce it. I downloaded some .xi format samples (430+ MB) including some guitar sounds, amongst which was a pretty good bassguitar one. However, as those who are familiar with Hysteria, there's a pretty hard distortion on that bass, which this sample does not have.

Now, I could keep looking for samples of bassguitars with distortion already added, but I thought it would be an interesting idea to try and add the distortion in Milkytracker's sample editor.

I wiki'd distortion to learn more about it, and found the image in the section 'Physics of clipping'. As marked in orange, distortion apparently is nothing but cutting off the tips of a smooth wave so that it is flat at the top and bottom. New to me, perhaps to some others reading this as well, so I thought I'd mention this.

So what I did was take the original sample, boosted it's volume along the entire range until it hit the maximum values at top and bottom, and then some more so that the top and bottom were 'flattened' since they couldn't grow higher (about 600% total I think, I did it in steps and the sample started out at pretty low volume). Then I reduced the volume to 20% of that to end up with something very similar to the starting volume, but clipped.

I took the notes from the bassline which I already managed to reproduce, copy this into a new channel and selected the new, 'distorted' bass as instrument for this channel. I then proceeded by first muting one, and then the other, to compare. I found that I prefer having both unmuted at the same time: the undistorted sound boosting the distorted sound but not really removing the familiar distortion effect.


My question here is as follows: is there an even easier way to do all this? Perhaps some sort of effect I missed? And would it be a big problem to combine to two channels into one, that is to say combine the two instruments into one so I get the same sound? The notes in both channels are the exact same anyway so I don't need to have them separately.

Again, I am completely new to everything related to the subject other than knowing how to sing and play some simple musical instruments. The physics behind all of this like linked above is totally new to me, for instance. I never used a tracker before either (I only downloaded Milky earlier this week) and my tries at getting something useful out of FL were... mediocre at best. I'm sure it's an awesome program and all, but if I just want to put some notes together, I don't want to have to look through 30 different screens with settings 0_o So yes, please, don't throw terms at me and expect me to know them all. I know how to use google and I found the manual, but if it's possible to explain something in 10 words, that might save me 10 minutes of looking.

Thanks in advance for any info you might have for me ^_^
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Saga Musix

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Re: Adding distortion to samples
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2010, 14:30:57 »

Well, there's no "native" way (in milky at least) to add distortion, except for over-amplifying samples as you mentioned it. However, using Virtual Studio Technology (VST) in a VST-capable host (like for example OpenMPT, Renoise, you name them), you can download many free VST effects that offer all kinds of different distortion. You can apply those to your samples then and render the samples to disk, so that you can use them in Milky or any other tracker. Not exactly easier, but it will probably sound better.
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Jake R

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Re: Adding distortion to samples
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2010, 14:56:08 »

Thanks for the info =)

I'll stick with just Milky for now, that's plenty to take in at once without the things you mentioned. I saw VSTs being mentioned several times during my google searches, so I think I'll have to look into that later on after I am more familiar with Milky.

By the way, I'm not trying to get Chris' (the Muse bassist) sound down into detail, that's something a bit too tricky. Just do a quick google search on that and you'll find he uses some pretty obscure setup, including a hard to find Japanese distortion pedal, a very expensive but easier to find one and then a cleaner sound mixed together. Plus 'some other pedals he occasionally hits'. So yeah, I won't try and kid myself into thinking I can copy his sound or anything. Just general well sounding distortion and getting 'the feeling' right will do.
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Saga Musix

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Re: Adding distortion to samples
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2010, 15:23:15 »

Well yeah, you certainly can't achieve true guitar distortion by just over-amplifying samples, since that's not what e.g. tube amplifiers do. You normally get a much "softer" amplifcation with most distortion VSTs, as many of them are modelled after actual existing hardware.
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Re: Adding distortion to samples
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2010, 21:23:14 »

My question here is as follows: is there an even easier way to do all this? Perhaps some sort of effect I missed? And would it be a big problem to combine to two channels into one, that is to say combine the two instruments into one so I get the same sound? The notes in both channels are the exact same anyway so I don't need to have them separately.

If you like the sound you're getting with this method, you can easily combine the two samples by selecting sample 1 (Rng all), copying it, selecting sample 2 (again Rng all) and right-clicking it and selecting Mix-Paste.
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