I posted my little tribute to Vangelis on the blog the other day and someone asked if I could share the Arminator 2 patches I used for the synths. I thought I could do slightly better than that so here’s some info on how I put the track together and the fx and vsts I used.
Recording and Mixing
The goal was to record and mix the whole track very quickly between other things so the track was recorded in about an hour and then mixed in a couple of hours the same night. Normally I’d spend much longer on both but to quote Kenny Beats “Don’t Over Think Shit“.
Everything was recorded and mixed in Ableton Live 11. The drums, pads and bass were programmed using my Arturia MiniLab Mk II and midi for the leads was recorded using a Fishman Tripleplay Connect midi pick up fitted to my Epiphone SG. I then used my Ableton Push to trigger the bass, drum and pad clips live while I recorded the lead synths over the top, pretty much in 1 take.
If you just want to know what my Arminator 2 patches were, here you go (8k zip file)
Although most of Vangelis’ tracks have rhythmic elements they don’t really have drums but in the interest of artistic license and creativity I thought I would add some to my track. I used Ableton’s 808 Core soundpack for the actual drum samples which is my default for most projects and seemed to fit the vibe of the track.
Processing on the drums was done on in 2 stages. Here’s the EQ and compressor settings I used. Again, nothing crazy.
To add a bit more grit and slap back to the drums I used Waves Kramer Master Tape on the main drum bus. Here’s the settings I used.
I’ve never really used Armintor 2 for bass before but after doing this little track, I think I will again. It has a great synthy grit to it. I used one of the arpeggiated presets that came with the plugin as the basis but I didn’t like the pattern the plugin’s built in arpeggiator created and the built in echo didn’t work for me either so I got rid them and used an external arpeggiator Max 4 Live midi plugin called Probability Arp from a Cm chord.
And here are the midi fx settings
As you can see I used Ableton’s utility plugin to reduce the width and reduce the stereo spread of the synth and then fed the lot in to my bass bass which is just a bit more EQ and a bit of side chain compression to duck the bass when the kick hits
In a way the Pads were the most straightforward bit. They were created using more Arminator 2 goodness with a bit of EQ. I think I tweaked the attack a bit so that they didn’t fade in quite as slowly but apart from that I played in a Cm chord on my midi controller then duplicated it and moved the bass note to a B for a bit of variation.
As you can see I used Ableton’s built in EQ in L/R mode with slightly different profiles on the left and right to add a bit of stereo separation and width. The channel EQ just had a slight bump in the mids to give them a small boost.
The lead line was Arminator 2 in mono synth mode with midi coming from my guitar via the midi pickup.
Again a bit of EQ add but nothing to shout about really. I sometimes add a bit of saturation to lead lines to help them cut through a mix but as this wasn’t really a dense mix I didn’t need to here.
Noise / FX
In a nod to the pulsing crashing wave noise in Chariots of Fire I add my own pulsing white noise bed under the track. I have no idea how Vangelis did it when he recorded Chariots of Fire but I used Ableton’s Analog Synth with the noise on and the oscillators off to generate the noise. I then used auto EQ and auto pan to create the pulsing effect (which I believe was created by someone manually moving the volume fader up and down in the original). I then added some stock Ableton reverb at the end for a bit more space and bumped up the width a bit in the utilty.
Master channel and sends
I used the Native Instruments Raum effect which is one of personal fave reverb VSTs.
As you can see the mix was set to 100% and I adjusted the sends on the bus channel until I got the vibe I wanted.
On the master channel I added another tape based effect called Tape Cassette 2 from Caelum Audio which adds nice bit of grit and warble to the whole mix in a tape-y way and ups the retro-ness.
Normally I would stop there, check the levels on the master and try to make sure the track peaks at less than 3db then bounce the whole lot down to master separately but in the spirit of seeing what I could do quickly, I just added a copy of Waves’ Infected Mushroom Pusher to the end of the master channel and used the Gentle Giant preset to do a quick and dirty master.
That’s it. I hope you found it useful. I have never claimed to be an expert in any of this stuff but I hope it inspires some of you do see what you can do. If there are any questions or comments, leave a comment below or feel free to message me on twitter or instagram.