Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Post Reply
ThirdPerson
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:14 am

Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by ThirdPerson » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:21 am

So I've been obsessed with Jon Hopkins' first track from his album "Immunity" basically since I heard it. If you don't know it, check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqhCDbagWh8

After spending a lot of time with this track I've reached the conclusion that I have no idea what's going on with the drums. I know he used a lot of non-drum samples for this record (field recordings, recordings of himself tapping, etc.) but that's about the extent of what I know. My question is does anyone have any idea what kind of processing is going on here? And if so, how a similar effect can be achieved through Live, or if not Live, then a plug-in? Not trying to bite his style, but I'm sincerely clueless about how these sounds were made and just curious and interested in the process.

Airyck
Posts: 726
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:54 pm
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by Airyck » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:48 am

First of all, I like John Hopkins' music (before this post :) ).

I think whats happening here is a fair amount of bit crushing, sample rate reduction, and heavy compression/sidechain compression used creatively to cause the whole thing to move together in a rhythmic fashion. Lots of use of space in each sound to give everything it's own place, panning, eq, reverb (ambience), and delay, all used subtly. Each sound rhythmically tends to hit on it's own in a sort of call and response with the drums. Thats what I pick out anyway.
http://www.soundcloud.com/airyck-sterrett
Ableton Live 10 Suite / Push 2 / Max 7 & 8 /
2016 Macbook Pro 15"
Too much hardware to list

ThirdPerson
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:14 am

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by ThirdPerson » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:24 am

Airyck wrote:First of all, I like John Hopkins' music (before this post :) ).

I think whats happening here is a fair amount of bit crushing, sample rate reduction, and heavy compression/sidechain compression used creatively to cause the whole thing to move together in a rhythmic fashion. Lots of use of space in each sound to give everything it's own place, panning, eq, reverb (ambience), and delay, all used subtly. Each sound rhythmically tends to hit on it's own in a sort of call and response with the drums. Thats what I pick out anyway.
Thanks for the reply - good stuff here! I was familiar with everything you mentioned except for sample rate reduction (other than as a way to reduce CPU load). How is that utilized as a creative tool in Live? Is there a plug in? Or if not that, a method you know of?

yur2die4
Posts: 6423
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:02 am
Location: Menasha, Wisconsin
Contact:

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by yur2die4 » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:50 am

Try the "Redux" audio effect. It does reduction. It is used more as an audio effect, I don't think it actually reduces cpu in this case. There are other vsts that do it too. Some are said to sound better than others. I have little experience in this department.

TomViolenz
Posts: 6854
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:19 pm

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by TomViolenz » Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:42 am

Decimort from D16 is the nicest sounding one I've heard and it's a staple in my set up.

morgo
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by morgo » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:31 pm

Well basically there isn’t a really simple answer to this. And this isn’t really an answer, more a set of observations on what I can hear in this track. First of all I recommend you read his XLR8R interview, he speaks a bit about his production process, including a really interesting working technique with soundforge. There isn’t going to be one plugin that gets this sound. Anyway – moving on

1. Distortion / Saturation / Bitcrushing / Downsampling. It sounds to me like he has used a combination of these different effects to create the drum sounds. Its not just the sounds that give it “that sound” though (more on this later). Basically the tools you have in Live to do this are – Saturator, Overdrive, Amp, Cabinet, Redux and Erosion. Saturator is a saturator and waveshaper, Overdrive is a distortion unit, Amp is similar to overdrive but models guitar amps and has more options, Cabinet emulated guitar speaker cabinets, Redux does bitcrushing and downsampling (which doesn’t decrease CPU usage, its not true downsampling its an effect, and will actually increase CPU usage) and Erosion is kind of like an interesting FM/AM type thingy with a couple different types of noise and a sine wave that you can add into sounds. It took him along time to produce the album, and drum sounds like this take a decent amount of work to get to. You’re never going to get it sounding exactly like him but what I would suggest is to program a simple drum loop with all the hits on separate channels and then group them so you can affect them all together as well, and start playing around with these different tools. Distortion, like any other effect takes along time and a lot of practice to really learn how to get the results that you want so my advice would be to stick to one of these effects first – read the Live manual on them (very helpful) and just play around with different things. See how much you can get from putting different effects on different drums – chain them up, bounce them, slow them down, make something really quiet then boost it to decent level with distortion etc there are lots of different ways to use distortion and saturation so you’ll want to get to know the tools you have well. Don’t be tempted to look for “that one plugin” that gives you “that sound” because trust me it doesn’t exist. One thing to bear in mind with distortion and saturation is that you’ll need to pay attention to how it dynamically affects the sound. Distortion and saturation effects by their nature squash the dynamic range of the signal so you’ll need to be aware of this and start to learn about things such as parallel distortion / saturation / compression etc and also just general compression that you can use to shape the dynamics after you have smacked them to shit with distortion. One rule of thumb I generally tend to stick to when using these sorts of effects is “little and often”. What I mean by this is adding small amounts of these things one by one each with different flavours or qualities that will add up to something great. You’re never going to know exactly what he did to get that sound so you’re better off learning how these effects work so you can use them to get results that you want. Also remember that with these sorts of effects they act very different depending on how hot the signal is when it goes into the effect so experiment with your gain staging. The key in all off this basically is to stick to one or two effects and EXPERIMENT LOADS on drums. It will take time to learn what they can do and how they effect different material but this process is fun and you’ll come up with interesting stuff as you do it.

2. The groove. Another huge part of drum parts are the groove, not only how they interact with each other within the groove but how they interact with the rest of the song. In this case they sound very human, and not so much programmed. If you have seen his live show he basically performs all the tunes on chaoss pads so I would imagine he has played these parts in or at least spent a lot of time “humanizing” the groove. This means lots of subtle timing and velocity changes to accent the different parts of the groove and one thing he has done very well here is use specific sounds in specific places of the groove that fit these different accents, again something that comes with experimentation and also a solid understanding of how rhythm and groove works. A good practice is to put the audio in one track – loop say 16 bars and try to get all the drum hits in exactly the right place on your drum rack or whatever your using. Its quite simple as you can see where the hits are in the audio file. Then you can start to see how he has pushed and pulled various sounds against the groove to get it sounding so life like and human. Then the groove with regards to the track is also important – listen to how it interacts as a whole to the music, the push and pull effect of all the little hits and ghost notes are offset with the slighty pushed main snare to give this rigid and yet at the same time loose feel. Again – EXPERIMENT with your grooves and placings to see how you can coax different feelings out of a simple pattern.

3. In terms of all the other effects and stuff I would say that basically once you’ve got your drum hits sounding decent and a groove that does what you want it to.. its pretty standing mixing from an eq, reverb perspective. The mix is quite raw which again adds to the overall vibe of the track. I don’t actually hear any side chaining persay going on in these drums, more just careful and musical use of velocities and sound selection.

Anyway I hope that gives you some ideas of how you can explore and experiment to start to achieve some of these sounds. He’s a brilliant producer that’s been making music with some of the best for a really long time.. it takes a lot of experience, time and a really good ear to make something this good!

Airyck
Posts: 726
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:54 pm
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by Airyck » Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:20 pm

TomViolenz wrote:Decimort from D16 is the nicest sounding one I've heard and it's a staple in my set up.
+1

Got the silver line collection in a group buy a few years back, they are all very good sounding plugins IMO.
http://www.soundcloud.com/airyck-sterrett
Ableton Live 10 Suite / Push 2 / Max 7 & 8 /
2016 Macbook Pro 15"
Too much hardware to list

TomViolenz
Posts: 6854
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:19 pm

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by TomViolenz » Wed Apr 22, 2015 4:44 pm

Airyck wrote:
TomViolenz wrote:Decimort from D16 is the nicest sounding one I've heard and it's a staple in my set up.
+1

Got the silver line collection in a group buy a few years back, they are all very good sounding plugins IMO.
Agreed! I also love the Redoptor tube distortion sooo much, and they are so light on the CPU and no crackles or pops ever even when turning them on/off under full load with audio running through them. 8)

forestcaver
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:35 pm

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by forestcaver » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:48 pm

Thanks! I really like his work as well - interesting....

ThirdPerson
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:14 am

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by ThirdPerson » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:27 am

morgo wrote:Well basically there isn’t a really simple answer to this. And this isn’t really an answer, more a set of observations on what I can hear in this track. First of all I recommend you read his XLR8R interview, he speaks a bit about his production process, including a really interesting working technique with soundforge. There isn’t going to be one plugin that gets this sound. Anyway – moving on

1. Distortion / Saturation / Bitcrushing / Downsampling. It sounds to me like he has used a combination of these different effects to create the drum sounds. Its not just the sounds that give it “that sound” though (more on this later). Basically the tools you have in Live to do this are – Saturator, Overdrive, Amp, Cabinet, Redux and Erosion. Saturator is a saturator and waveshaper, Overdrive is a distortion unit, Amp is similar to overdrive but models guitar amps and has more options, Cabinet emulated guitar speaker cabinets, Redux does bitcrushing and downsampling (which doesn’t decrease CPU usage, its not true downsampling its an effect, and will actually increase CPU usage) and Erosion is kind of like an interesting FM/AM type thingy with a couple different types of noise and a sine wave that you can add into sounds. It took him along time to produce the album, and drum sounds like this take a decent amount of work to get to. You’re never going to get it sounding exactly like him but what I would suggest is to program a simple drum loop with all the hits on separate channels and then group them so you can affect them all together as well, and start playing around with these different tools. Distortion, like any other effect takes along time and a lot of practice to really learn how to get the results that you want so my advice would be to stick to one of these effects first – read the Live manual on them (very helpful) and just play around with different things. See how much you can get from putting different effects on different drums – chain them up, bounce them, slow them down, make something really quiet then boost it to decent level with distortion etc there are lots of different ways to use distortion and saturation so you’ll want to get to know the tools you have well. Don’t be tempted to look for “that one plugin” that gives you “that sound” because trust me it doesn’t exist. One thing to bear in mind with distortion and saturation is that you’ll need to pay attention to how it dynamically affects the sound. Distortion and saturation effects by their nature squash the dynamic range of the signal so you’ll need to be aware of this and start to learn about things such as parallel distortion / saturation / compression etc and also just general compression that you can use to shape the dynamics after you have smacked them to shit with distortion. One rule of thumb I generally tend to stick to when using these sorts of effects is “little and often”. What I mean by this is adding small amounts of these things one by one each with different flavours or qualities that will add up to something great. You’re never going to know exactly what he did to get that sound so you’re better off learning how these effects work so you can use them to get results that you want. Also remember that with these sorts of effects they act very different depending on how hot the signal is when it goes into the effect so experiment with your gain staging. The key in all off this basically is to stick to one or two effects and EXPERIMENT LOADS on drums. It will take time to learn what they can do and how they effect different material but this process is fun and you’ll come up with interesting stuff as you do it.

2. The groove. Another huge part of drum parts are the groove, not only how they interact with each other within the groove but how they interact with the rest of the song. In this case they sound very human, and not so much programmed. If you have seen his live show he basically performs all the tunes on chaoss pads so I would imagine he has played these parts in or at least spent a lot of time “humanizing” the groove. This means lots of subtle timing and velocity changes to accent the different parts of the groove and one thing he has done very well here is use specific sounds in specific places of the groove that fit these different accents, again something that comes with experimentation and also a solid understanding of how rhythm and groove works. A good practice is to put the audio in one track – loop say 16 bars and try to get all the drum hits in exactly the right place on your drum rack or whatever your using. Its quite simple as you can see where the hits are in the audio file. Then you can start to see how he has pushed and pulled various sounds against the groove to get it sounding so life like and human. Then the groove with regards to the track is also important – listen to how it interacts as a whole to the music, the push and pull effect of all the little hits and ghost notes are offset with the slighty pushed main snare to give this rigid and yet at the same time loose feel. Again – EXPERIMENT with your grooves and placings to see how you can coax different feelings out of a simple pattern.

3. In terms of all the other effects and stuff I would say that basically once you’ve got your drum hits sounding decent and a groove that does what you want it to.. its pretty standing mixing from an eq, reverb perspective. The mix is quite raw which again adds to the overall vibe of the track. I don’t actually hear any side chaining persay going on in these drums, more just careful and musical use of velocities and sound selection.

Anyway I hope that gives you some ideas of how you can explore and experiment to start to achieve some of these sounds. He’s a brilliant producer that’s been making music with some of the best for a really long time.. it takes a lot of experience, time and a really good ear to make something this good!
Wow, thanks Morgo. Awesome advice.

Thanks everyone else, too. Looking forward to getting into Live and messing around with all these suggestions.

MusicIsMath
Posts: 96
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2007 6:16 pm

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by MusicIsMath » Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:06 pm

He loves his Korg Kaoss pads. Of which contain most of the types of effects he uses and he utilises these live to change things up a tad :)

Verside
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:36 am
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Contact:

Re: Jon Hopkins' drums - processing, method, etc.

Post by Verside » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:57 am

morgo wrote:Well basically there isn’t a really simple answer to this. And this isn’t really an answer, more a set of observations on what I can hear in this track. First of all I recommend you read his XLR8R interview, he speaks a bit about his production process, including a really interesting working technique with soundforge. There isn’t going to be one plugin that gets this sound. Anyway – moving on

1. Distortion / Saturation / Bitcrushing / Downsampling. It sounds to me like he has used a combination of these different effects to create the drum sounds. Its not just the sounds that give it “that sound” though (more on this later). Basically the tools you have in Live to do this are – Saturator, Overdrive, Amp, Cabinet, Redux and Erosion. Saturator is a saturator and waveshaper, Overdrive is a distortion unit, Amp is similar to overdrive but models guitar amps and has more options, Cabinet emulated guitar speaker cabinets, Redux does bitcrushing and downsampling (which doesn’t decrease CPU usage, its not true downsampling its an effect, and will actually increase CPU usage) and Erosion is kind of like an interesting FM/AM type thingy with a couple different types of noise and a sine wave that you can add into sounds. It took him along time to produce the album, and drum sounds like this take a decent amount of work to get to. You’re never going to get it sounding exactly like him but what I would suggest is to program a simple drum loop with all the hits on separate channels and then group them so you can affect them all together as well, and start playing around with these different tools. Distortion, like any other effect takes along time and a lot of practice to really learn how to get the results that you want so my advice would be to stick to one of these effects first – read the Live manual on them (very helpful) and just play around with different things. See how much you can get from putting different effects on different drums – chain them up, bounce them, slow them down, make something really quiet then boost it to decent level with distortion etc there are lots of different ways to use distortion and saturation so you’ll want to get to know the tools you have well. Don’t be tempted to look for “that one plugin” that gives you “that sound” because trust me it doesn’t exist. One thing to bear in mind with distortion and saturation is that you’ll need to pay attention to how it dynamically affects the sound. Distortion and saturation effects by their nature squash the dynamic range of the signal so you’ll need to be aware of this and start to learn about things such as parallel distortion / saturation / compression etc and also just general compression that you can use to shape the dynamics after you have smacked them to shit with distortion. One rule of thumb I generally tend to stick to when using these sorts of effects is “little and often”. What I mean by this is adding small amounts of these things one by one each with different flavours or qualities that will add up to something great. You’re never going to know exactly what he did to get that sound so you’re better off learning how these effects work so you can use them to get results that you want. Also remember that with these sorts of effects they act very different depending on how hot the signal is when it goes into the effect so experiment with your gain staging. The key in all off this basically is to stick to one or two effects and EXPERIMENT LOADS on drums. It will take time to learn what they can do and how they effect different material but this process is fun and you’ll come up with interesting stuff as you do it.

2. The groove. Another huge part of drum parts are the groove, not only how they interact with each other within the groove but how they interact with the rest of the song. In this case they sound very human, and not so much programmed. If you have seen his live show he basically performs all the tunes on chaoss pads so I would imagine he has played these parts in or at least spent a lot of time “humanizing” the groove. This means lots of subtle timing and velocity changes to accent the different parts of the groove and one thing he has done very well here is use specific sounds in specific places of the groove that fit these different accents, again something that comes with experimentation and also a solid understanding of how rhythm and groove works. A good practice is to put the audio in one track – loop say 16 bars and try to get all the drum hits in exactly the right place on your drum rack or whatever your using. Its quite simple as you can see where the hits are in the audio file. Then you can start to see how he has pushed and pulled various sounds against the groove to get it sounding so life like and human. Then the groove with regards to the track is also important – listen to how it interacts as a whole to the music, the push and pull effect of all the little hits and ghost notes are offset with the slighty pushed main snare to give this rigid and yet at the same time loose feel. Again – EXPERIMENT with your grooves and placings to see how you can coax different feelings out of a simple pattern.

3. In terms of all the other effects and stuff I would say that basically once you’ve got your drum hits sounding decent and a groove that does what you want it to.. its pretty standing mixing from an eq, reverb perspective. The mix is quite raw which again adds to the overall vibe of the track. I don’t actually hear any side chaining persay going on in these drums, more just careful and musical use of velocities and sound selection.

Anyway I hope that gives you some ideas of how you can explore and experiment to start to achieve some of these sounds. He’s a brilliant producer that’s been making music with some of the best for a really long time.. it takes a lot of experience, time and a really good ear to make something this good!
Superb :roll:
Everything you need to make all your dreams come true is already inside you. Let it out. - Verside Music | Verside Soundcloud

Post Reply