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Music

Remixing Nick Warren and Guy Mantzur—Sad Robot

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

Sad Robot is a house and techno influenced progressive track from Bedrock Records. It was released in March of 2015. The track has got great groove and a sick feeling, with lots of dense delay and reverb. 

The buildup is slow and there are some vocal snippets as well. John Digweed played the track several times not only in his radio show but at BPM festival, too.

Project basic settings

  • 120 BPM
  • A-minor or A-blues
  • 4/4
Project settings
The BPM is set to the original 120 tempo

Workflow

I opened a new track and put the original track into it in the arrangement view. After that I figured out the rhythm of the drum tracks. I continued with decoding the bass, the pad, noises and finally I added my custom guitar like string melody and a vocal snippet.

For the samples I used Simpler and for the synths I used Analog and Operator. Some of the audio files are loaded as clips on the timeline.

Kick

The kick is a usual 4/4 downbeat pattern found just like in any other trance or house song. I removed some of the low end and added high end with shelving filters at both places: -3 dB at 85 Hz and +3 dB at 3.2 kHz. 

With this setting, the kick cuts through better and becomes less boomy.

Kick EQ
I used shelving filters to shape the kick a little bit. With this becomes less boomy.

Snare

The snare is playing at the second and fourth downbeat just like in house or trance styles.

Hat

Eighth notes are used for this one.

Hihat1
The first hihat used with 1/8 notes

Hat2

This one is playing at the last eight note position.

Hihat2
This is the ending hihat

Perc

This is a sound with a lot of top end and sounds like metal bells or some sine wave pitched up a couple of octaves.

Chimes

This sample gives a lot of top end in the track. A bit unusual in dance music, but I think it works in the context of the track.

Top1

I panned this one hard left and used an EQ Eight to remove the low and high frequency content. 200 Hz and 10.6 kHz.

Top2

Similar to the previous one, but hard panned right.

Drums group

I used an EQ Eight at 18 kHz to remove some of the high end with a low pass filter.

BassC1

This is the main bassline which got a bit of a bassguitar feel. It comes from Operator.

Synth: I used the default algorithm and modulated two sine waves with each other. The modulator is at -27 dB and the carrier is at 0 dB.

Bass patch
Operator is used for bass

BassC2

Also this comes from Operator, but it is an octave higher.

Synth: similar to BassC1, but the modulator is at -17 dB.

BassC2 patch
BassC2 is an octave higher and a bit different in the Operator patch setting

Bass group

I used a sidechain Compressor fed to the kick to duck the bass in every downbeat.

PadC2

This is the main pad playing a dark melody.

Synth: I used the Glass3 pad preset, which got a saw wave and a square wave. I adjusted the noise generator to give more dirt at -20 dB. I also set the vibrato, unison and glide to be a bit more esoteric.

Effects: I added a Reverb with 7s decay time, with a size of 100. Reflect and diffuse are at 2.5 dB. Dry wet is 55 percent.

Pad patch
I used the Glass3 preset but with some twists, like the Noise and Vibrato settings

PadC3

This sound is similar to the previous one, but is at an octave higher and made with Operator.

Synth: I chose algorithm 8 and set the carriers to triangle waves and the modulators to sine waves. The values are: B -> A, -30 dB to 0 dB and D -> C, -7.6 dB to -15 dB.

Effects: I used a Reverb at 7.8 s decay and 55% dry wet. A heavy sidechain compressor is used to give it a rhythmic pulse fed to the kick. I applied an EQ Eight to cut the bottom at 200 Hz.

PadC3 patch
The second pad comes from Operator using triangle and sine waves

StringC4

This is an octave higher than PadC3. It is a plucky, guitar type sound with a bit of plastic feel. I used the Noisy String preset and applied a bit of Ping Pong Delay set to 29% feedback and 34% dry wet. 

A light Reverb is ued with 1.2 s decay and 41% dry wet with a bigger predelay 40 ms.

String patch
The string comes from Ableton Tension plugin

Mids group

I removed the bottom of the Mids group with an EQ Eight.

Aha

This is a vocal snippet. I felt it would be good to feature this one as the original got similar sounds to this, but in a more aggressive way.

Effects: I used an agressive Overdrive distortion (drive 100%, tone 91%, dry wet 22%) fed into a Ping Pong Delay set to 84% feedback and 63% dry wet. I attenuated the volume with a Utility module with -8 dB.

Aha FX chain
The effects used are heavy Overdrive and dense Ping Pong Delay

Fx group

The Aha track is inside of this group. I cut the low and high end with an EQ Eight. 200 Hz low cut and 3500 Hz high cut.

Mixing

I mixed as I went along creating the individual instrument tracks. During the mixing I aimed for a clear and big sound similar to the original track I used. I used a lot of subtractive EQ to remove unnecessary frequencies. In this reduction phase I used low pass and high pass filters as well.

Mastering

The mastering process was simple. I used an EQ Eight to cut out the extreme lows and highs: 40 Hz low cut, 19 kHz high cut. 

After that I applied a Limiter to catch the peaks and give some volume: -1 dB output ceiling, +1.8 dB input gain. 

I aimed for DR8 dynamic range. For checking the DR value I used foobar2000 with the DR meter under Windows 8.1.

Master effects
The main players are EQ Eight and Limiter on the master channel

Finished composition

You can listen to the finished mini remix here.

Conclusion

That was my session of remixing Nick Warren and Guy Mantzur—Sad Robot. I recreated some of the instrument tracks from scratch, created melody, harmony, bass, and a small remix composition.

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