View Full Version : Making samples not sound so recognizable

10-21-2009, 06:33 AM
So I have some samples from Kontakt that I use... my issue is that if I use them, people will be like "ZOMG THOSE R FORM KONTACT LOL".

What kind of techniques do you guys use to make the samples less recognizable, but yet authentic, especially if you want to use them to do solos or similar?

10-21-2009, 10:55 AM
What kind of samples? Percussion? Effects? Simply expand your collection beyond what's in the factory library.

Even then, if the sound works well and you choose it for that reason instead of "lol I dunno are there other bassdrums than fl_kick_001.wav", why not use it?

You can replace them by something else or try to roll your own. Just effects aren't going to make it completely unrecognizable or have such a far-ranging influence that they might not be fit for the genre anymore. I used a rather weak snaredrum; D16 Devastor turned it into a great underground drum 'n bass snare.

Dj Mokram
10-21-2009, 11:19 AM
Hey Arc,

It really depends on what samples you're using, and what result you're hoping to achieve.
Some effects will work well with some instruments, and not with others.
I'm not a pro by all means, but here are some things that I use:

-distortion/overdrive on drums for a cool dirty effect.
-large room reverb and EQ tweaks on strings or woodwinds, to give them presence.
-high-pass on guitar and low-pass filter on bass, plus fuzz on both to add some character.
-mutli-tap delay/echo for piano or synth to give an eerie, more ambient-building sound.
-mix two or three different sounds/samples on the same note to create a new customized one.

Then again, it works for me on samples that I know well.
The more you work with your samples, the more you know them and can determine what to apply to get desired result. ;-)

10-21-2009, 11:50 AM
adjust the adsr settings. like slow down the attack making it sound like a natural instrument rather than a keystroke from a midi board ya dig? so for example i always give my trumpets a somewhat slightly slower attack ..making it sound like the air is actually going through the instrument.. ya understand

10-21-2009, 09:45 PM
I'll probably just end up repeating what has just been said lol. For drums, the EQ you'll probably end up putting on the kick drum to make it work with the bassline will change the way it sounds. Snares/claps can be chorused and layered, hi hats can be muffled using eq then re-enhanced using harmonics/brighteners. Putting some really harsh compression over a drum loop can completely change the way it sounds, a la Rob Dougan.

Acoustic instruments can be layered together, you could use two different string samples from different sources for example. Place a nice hall reverb over them to taste, push the better one to the front and keep the not so good one in the background to thicken it out. Layering also works well with special fx samples.

As for using instruments for solos, again layering would work well here, and depending on the instrument, some very subtle phasing and use of appropriate reverb. The thing to remember is that an instrument can have a completely different expression depending on the context, so as long as you focus on the vibe of the song and not the amazing sample, the listener will be caught up in the groove (we hope!).

Meteo Xavier
10-21-2009, 10:02 PM
This is a good place to ask - this is a question that's been on my mind lately. What exactly is the problem with sounds being recognizable?

It bothers me to no end on the rare occasions I hear a sound that is something I have, but I have to wonder why. Just because I have that same sound, it makes my music somehow cheap and completely ineffective? What sort of logic is that?

Sample packs and libraries are mass marketed anyway, and if presets were sucky and lazy and cheap music crutches in the first place, why would award-winning (as advertised anyway) sound designers and companies put them in there?

I mean, good lord, I've recognized stuff I have that even my heroes, Uematsu, Motoi Sakuraba, and Peter Gabriel all used and I know they use the same recognizable sounds over sometimes - what exactly then is the problem?

Hy Bound
10-21-2009, 10:36 PM
Its simple. Layering...

I have out and out stolen drum samples from songs and layered them into some of my other drum samples and i dare you to figure out where they come from. That works for other samples as well. Theres a very obvious sound in StormDrum that is used by literally EVERY "ethnic" soundtrack ever made: the Taiko Drum rim shot. Yeah, that one. Layer in a bit of a rim shot from something else and it still sounds like it should, but it sounds different. You can compress them together to make it sound even better as well, or add some of the same reverb on them both.

10-22-2009, 12:59 AM
Sorry I should have been more specific in my original posting. In particular I'm using the mute trumpet from the free Kontakt 3.5 demo library. Obviously looking for another mute trumpet in the library really isn't an option.

I think I thought of this because I listened to another song recently and as soon as I heard the trumpet it immediately stuck out in my head. But then again I could also presume that not everyone in the world's going to know what mute trumpet sound you're using unless your song's so badly mixed that it sticks out.

Part of the reason is immersion. It somehow loses a lot of the immersive quality if, upon playing the song, the first thing you think of is, "Hey, that's the mute trumpet sample from Kontakt."

10-22-2009, 01:24 AM
Hey, that's the Wilhelm scream!

Actually, maybe that's a bad example, since it seems to have a cult following.

10-22-2009, 02:42 AM
Hey, that's the Wilhelm scream!

Actually, maybe that's a bad example, since it seems to have a cult following.



What I want to know is if the "Nephilim Song" from Xenosaga is stock from somewhere. I swear that I've heard it in a Red Cross Blood Donation commercial and in an early Da Vinci Code trailer, but I haven't been able to find those examples online.


Maybe you guys know what stock clip or sample library it's from? It's been bugging me for a while.

Meteo Xavier
10-22-2009, 04:06 AM
They might be choral phrases that appear in a certain, popular, professional library.

10-24-2009, 08:16 AM
They might be choral phrases that appear in a certain, popular, professional library.

I don't get the in-joke :( :(

Meteo Xavier
10-24-2009, 07:18 PM
I... wasn't making one. Someone probably just used the same library is what I'm saying.

I want to find the one that I keep hearing - that certain modified flute/whistle thing you hear in Chrono Cross on The Isle of the Damned right before some bells come in. I've heard it in Baten Kaitos and some documentaries too.

10-25-2009, 02:18 PM


10-26-2009, 01:44 PM
Seriously, effects are the way to go. In your case, playing around with the reverb (even using a different reverb plugin than the one that Kontakt has built in) will make a difference.

Here's a great example: Jordan Rudess playing Ra (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtaYQbxrh2M).

The low sound that he uses right at the start is a *clavinet* (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmVBN7EGCVs) that he's running through four effects. I can't remember which effects, other than EQ, but the point is you can drastically change a sound, for better or worse, with the right combination of effects.

For a muted trumpet, definitely play with EQ and reverb, and if you're intending to use it as a trumpet section and not a solo instrument, maybe some chorus.

Meteo Xavier
10-29-2009, 02:03 AM
Its my understanding that you don't generally want to play too much with the EQ. That's what the masters here have taught me and seem to agree on.

Having played with it myself, I can see why.

10-29-2009, 02:13 AM
Other than your typical effects, I tend to use a LP or HP filter with some sort of LFO. Bit reducers can be fun to use to.

10-29-2009, 02:16 AM
posting in this thread because Jordan Rudess was mentioned.