Author Topic: HOW to emulate (?)/get the sound character of MOD sound? (VST/DAW)  (Read 510 times)

Offline ModManiac12

  • Shy artist
  • Posts: 8
hi again, im sorry for another topic but i really couldnt fit it in the other topics as this is pretty specific.
i myself dont use TRACKERs, i tried to in the past but not much as i just cannot wrap my head around typing in the notes, i prefer much more a piano roll in a daw. maybe it is just training but i didnt find a good tutorial or havent had the patience yet :/ but since my childhood i just SOOOOOOOO LOVE tracker music, Future crew, alexander brandon, straylight etc. just to name some "more known" ones i guess, also checked a lot on scene.org in the past, lovely, i miss these days when also gaming was more fun and not such a big market now, glad there are still trackers out there :D.

ok onto my questions. please correct me if im wrong!

1. trackers use 8 bit samples? stereo or/and mono?
2. what made or makes the songs out of trackers sound so unique? i mean if i listen to e.g. CRUSADER NO REMORSE, DEUS EX, UNREAL etc. it sounds so unique. is it the samples? i also listened on youtube and some tracker music like Techno, Drum and bass, trance etc. which sounded more STANDARd but still kinda unique and old school, not as CLEAN (i dunno how to describe!) as nowadays.
3. is there a way to emulate this sound in a DAW like Cubase for example? there are plugins which could just be on the master bus and turn down the sample rate to 22khz for example, i tested it and played some VSTs but it didnt sound like tracker music, so i must be missing something?

in the end i would love the tracker sound in my DAW but not having to use a TRACKER music software :/, as i wanna use my piano roll...

hopefuly you guys can help me, thx!

Offline Saga Musix

  • OpenMPT Developers
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,491
  • aka Jojo
    • Download music, samples, VST plugins: Saga Musix Website
  • Operating System: Windows 10 x64
Re: HOW to emulate (?)/get the sound character of MOD sound? (VST/DAW)
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2022, 14:13:57 »
1. trackers use 8 bit samples? stereo or/and mono?
I'd say whether the samples are 8 bit or 16 bit doesn't really change anything. Since you mention Unreal Engine games, you will find plenty of 16-bit samples in those.
Stereo vs mono is much more important, but that's not specific to tracker music. Of course to get a nice stereo spectrum, you need to work completely differently with mono samples than you would with stereo samples. The Unreal Engine games you referred to all use mono samples, so if you want to create something similar, that is probably the way to go. Even when using stereo samples of exactly the same sources as those mono samples, the resulting stereo image of the music will be completely different. You can observe the same effect outside of trackers in sample-heavy music from the 90s, like jungle music. Most producers were using samplers back then, and mostly using mono samples. This gives this type of music a very distinctive sound that would be very different if it was recreated with stereo samples.

2. what made or makes the songs out of trackers sound so unique? i mean if i listen to e.g. CRUSADER NO REMORSE, DEUS EX, UNREAL etc. it sounds so unique. is it the samples? i also listened on youtube and some tracker music like Techno, Drum and bass, trance etc. which sounded more STANDARd but still kinda unique and old school, not as CLEAN (i dunno how to describe!) as nowadays.
A bit of everything. Have you thought about the fact that all of those soundtracks are written by a very small group of people, and that this group of people have very recognizable music styles? Of course you can just take their samples and maybe that would give your own track a but of an "Unreal" feeling, but it's only one part of the equation. Alex Brandon has a very distinctive style that you can still hear in his modern soundtracks that are not done with a tracker. That shows that neither the samples nor the software used are all that important (but they do contribute of course), the creative mind behind the music is much more important I think.

3. is there a way to emulate this sound in a DAW like Cubase for example? there are plugins which could just be on the master bus and turn down the sample rate to 22khz for example, i tested it and played some VSTs but it didnt sound like tracker music, so i must be missing something?
There is no need to turn down the sample rate. What can help is using a sampler that allows you to use lower-quality resampling (interpolation settings). There are plugins that specifically try to emulate the sound of some famous 90s sampler hardware, those could be a starting point. Trackers aren't identical to that hardware but their sampler code typically has very comparable fidelity. If you just use the default sampler of your DAW, its focus is probably much more on high-quality playback of samples, so old, low-quality samples taken from MODs will sound very muffled in them.
ยป No support, bug reports, feature requests via private messages - they will not be answered. Use the forums and the issue tracker so that everyone can benefit from your post.

Offline LPChip

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,135
    • http://lpchip.nl
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro x64
Re: HOW to emulate (?)/get the sound character of MOD sound? (VST/DAW)
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2022, 11:49:15 »
I have actually thought about why tracked music is different to sequenced music and came to the conclusion that part of this is due to how each work.

A tracker is generally used to build a song where a sequencer is generally used to perform a song.

Now, I know that both can be done on either program, but the interface of a tracker makes it so that its easy to build/construct the song, whereas in a sequencer it is easier to perform(play) the song.

Why is this important? When you are new with the software and you learn it, by following tutorials and reading about it, etc, you learn the program by how easy it is to do one vs the other.

If you have less inspiration it is easier to fall back on what you initially learned. You don't compose a song before opening your software. You use the software to make the song.

In a tracker, it is easier to come up with something and build onto that idea piece by piece. You construct the song segment by segment. If you want a certain sound, in a tracker it is easier to lay that out. Making it sound very human is much harder in a tracker.

In a sequencer, as you start, you often use a midi keyboard, hit record and just play your notes and compose your song instrument by instrument. Because you play the notes and record that, it sounds very human. Sure, you can quantisize notes, but that still does record the velocities too. You can of course use the piano roll editor and write music that way, but its very time consuming, so people who have and can play a midi keyboard or other midi instrument will often record note input from that.

I think it is this that gives a tracker its unique feel compared to a sequencer. Different methodology causes different thought patterns during and before composing and ultimately different writing methods.

If I create a new song in a tracker I know already that it will sound different than that I make a new song in a sequencer. I can of course make a song in a tracker and recreate it in a sequencer just fine and the other way around too, but because for each I have different thought patterns, a fresh song will simply come into existence differently.
"Heh, maybe I should've joined the compo only because it would've meant I wouldn't have had to worry about a damn EQ or compressor for a change. " - Atlantis
"yes.. I think in this case it was wishful thinking: MPT is makng my life hard so it must be wrong" - Rewbs