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Guess the plugins (Max Martin)
Old 25th December 2020
  #1
Gear Head
 
Guess the plugins (Max Martin)

I've wanted to know Max Martin's vocal chain for a long time now.
And there's this video....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKsQqkV0rk0

Where you can see quite a blurred pro tools screen with what looks like 4 plugins and a few sends on each vocal track. (Best shot at 2:19). You can hear the vocals through it throughout the video.

One is bypassed (which I'm guessing is the autotune??, on the track above it's obviously been set and isn't bypassed).

The other 4 though?
What does the vocal sound like the plugins are?

Obviously a couple of the sends are the verb and delay (maybe a flanger??)


I know Max's gang like the CLA-76 and Waves DeEsser (might a couple of them be those).

See what you think.


Paired with the Mic and room (possibly compression on the way in) his vocals sound so crisp yet not harsh (no resonances whatsoever). I'd love to know what he uses (at least whilst recording).

Thanks.

Last edited by nate12; 25th December 2020 at 02:42 AM.. Reason: Made mistake
Old 5th January 2021
  #2
Gear Head
 
Nevermind, I found his chain. And I gotta say, works wonders. Quickest I've got that 'pop sound' yet.
Old 5th January 2021 | Show parent
  #3
Deleted f644948
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
Nevermind, I found his chain. And I gotta say, works wonders. Quickest I've got that 'pop sound' yet.
And the chain is....?
Old 6th January 2021
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
drum roll

Cheers
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Head
 
Autotune, Two CLA-76s, Metric Halo Channelstrip for EQ, Waves DeEsser, Echoboy and Valhalla Vintage Verb
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Head
 
Very similar to the John Hanes/Serban Ghenea chain mentioned in John's q and a
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
Very similar to the John Hanes/Serban Ghenea chain mentioned in John's q and a
Do you perhaps have the link to this Q&A?
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Head
 
It's here on GS lol. Not sure how to find it. If you just google 'John Hanes gearslutz q a' it comes up.
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
It's here on GS lol. Not sure how to find it. If you just google 'John Hanes gearslutz q a' it comes up.
Lol thanks for the info
Old 10th January 2021
  #10
Lives for gear
black or blue CLA-76s?
Old 10th January 2021 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Head
 
First a blackey (for about -3db)
Then a bluey (for about -10db)
Old 9th March 2021 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
Autotune, Two CLA-76s, Metric Halo Channelstrip for EQ, Waves DeEsser, Echoboy and Valhalla Vintage Verb
Just curious, when did John confirm this? I don't recall him detailing anything. I can't seem to see where in the video there's a clear shot either?
Old 10th March 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Head
 
Plugins that you use on every mix?

I've since learned even more about his vocals though.
..

Producers on Max's team track with an 1176 (and Chandler TG2 pre). So maybe he does less in mixing when it's being tracked this way.

I saw the pro tools session for one of his unmixed productions recently and everything is already very compressed.
Old 10th March 2021 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
Plugins that you use on every mix?

I've since learned even more about his vocals though.
..

Producers on Max's team track with an 1176 (and Chandler TG2 pre). So maybe he does less in mixing when it's being tracked this way.

I saw the pro tools session for one of his unmixed productions recently and everything is already very compressed.
That's awesome, how did you see the session? Compressed with plugins or you mean the waveform via an outboard signal chain?
Old 10th March 2021 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Head
 
You could see by the waveform that it had been pretty heavily compressed on the way in. Makes sense, considering Max is know to use that tracking chain.

It was Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson.
Old 19th April 2021 | Show parent
  #16
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
Autotune, Two CLA-76s, Metric Halo Channelstrip for EQ, Waves DeEsser, Echoboy and Valhalla Vintage Verb
Oh my God thank you! Could you perhaps give us the source, please? It would be highly appreciated

Ethan
Old 19th April 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Levy ➡️
Oh my God thank you! Could you perhaps give us the source, please? It would be highly appreciated

Ethan
I did a lot of detective work....

...and most of Max's collaborators use the same thing.

There's a video of Dr Luke using the CLA and Metric Halo on a couple of Katy Perry songs.

Ilya confirmed that he uses those two as well (he mentioned the Waves DeEsser too).

Those two work with Max a ton.

Also here on GS John Hanes said about using the CLA as his go-to on vocals (him and Serban Ghenea mix most of Max's stuff and likely leave his plugins on the vocals a lot of the time).

After listening to many of Max's acapellas I can definitely hear these plugins. I've used them for ages and know exactly how they sound.

But also remember that they track through a real 1176 and Chandler TG2.

A cool EQ trick Dr Luke does is boost in the highs with a regular quite narrow Q rather than the shelf. the shelf can sometimes sound plastic. That's an awesome way to get that sheen in the highs. I like boosting too much in the highs, then de ess afterwards. That's cool.



If you are interested in pop vocal chains I discovered another one that works amazingly. Try Waves RVox for most of the compression (-10dbish) and then the CLA-76 (about -3db) with a fast release and 20:1 ratio to give some of the bite back. Then I like to put Waves C4 multi band on to totally polish the vocals. Sounds awesome. Just mess with the settings until it sounds right. Andrew Watt and Louis Bell use this chain a lot, I believe.
Old 19th April 2021 | Show parent
  #18
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
I did a lot of detective work....

...and most of Max's collaborators use the same thing.

There's a video of Dr Luke using the CLA and Metric Halo on a couple of Katy Perry songs.

Ilya confirmed that he uses those two as well (he mentioned the Waves DeEsser too).

Those two work with Max a ton.

Also here on GS John Hanes said about using the CLA as his go-to on vocals (him and Serban Ghenea mix most of Max's stuff and likely leave his plugins on the vocals a lot of the time).

After listening to many of Max's acapellas I can definitely hear these plugins. I've used them for ages and know exactly how they sound.

But also remember that they track through a real 1176 and Chandler TG2.

A cool EQ trick Dr Luke does is boost in the highs with a regular quite narrow Q rather than the shelf. the shelf can sometimes sound plastic. That's an awesome way to get that sheen in the highs. I like boosting too much in the highs, then de ess afterwards. That's cool.



If you are interested in pop vocal chains I discovered another one that works amazingly. Try Waves RVox for most of the compression (-10dbish) and then the CLA-76 (about -3db) with a fast release and 20:1 ratio to give some of the bite back. Then I like to put Waves C4 multi band on to totally polish the vocals. Sounds awesome. Just mess with the settings until it sounds right. Andrew Watt and Louis Bell use this chain a lot, I believe.
Thank you!

It looks like you were there during Ilya's q&a on instagram, by any chance, did you take some screenshots?

Also, you said two CLA-76, so one for peaks and one for shaping the sound I suppose?

Do you have other informations concerning Max's production (or his collaborators)? I'm a huge fan of Max (maybe a bit too much haha), went multiple times to his London show etc...

I heard that Ali Payami uses a lot Reason.
Old 20th April 2021 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Levy ➡️
Thank you!

It looks like you were there during Ilya's q&a on instagram, by any chance, did you take some screenshots?

Also, you said two CLA-76, so one for peaks and one for shaping the sound I suppose?

Do you have other informations concerning Max's production (or his collaborators)? I'm a huge fan of Max (maybe a bit too much haha), went multiple times to his London show etc...

I heard that Ali Payami uses a lot Reason.
Do you have the since u been gone session?
Old 20th April 2021 | Show parent
  #20
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
Do you have the since u been gone session?
Yeah I do, but there’s no plugin on there.
Some muted tracks, 1-2 volume automations, but nothing much going on.
Old 20th April 2021 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Levy ➡️
Yeah I do, but there’s no plugin on there.
Some muted tracks, 1-2 volume automations, but nothing much going on.
They might not have actually put any plugins on at that point. Everything's pretty dry and the compression would have come from the hardware.

I know that the sessions for ET, Tik Tok and Dark Horse are floating around, but I unfortunately don't have them.
Old 29th April 2021 | Show parent
  #22
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
They might not have actually put any plugins on at that point. Everything's pretty dry and the compression would have come from the hardware.

I know that the sessions for ET, Tik Tok and Dark Horse are floating around, but I unfortunately don't have them.
hi, sorry for asking again, but do you have screenshots of Ilya's q&a on instagram (it was in 2018 I believe)?
Old 29th April 2021
  #23
Old 29th April 2021 | Show parent
  #24
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
thank you!

oh wow he uses limiter, it's for catching peaks I guess nah?
Old 30th April 2021 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Levy ➡️
thank you!

oh wow he uses limiter, it's for catching peaks I guess nah?
By looking at the waveforms of some of his acapellas they are pretty squashed.

Dr Luke always used to use CLA-76 with the ratio at 20 (so basically a limiter) and the fastest release. That's literally his entire sound.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #26
Gear Nut
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
Autotune, Two CLA-76s, Metric Halo Channelstrip for EQ, Waves DeEsser, Echoboy and Valhalla Vintage Verb
Wow thank you so much for that information!
Did you found out more about his vocal chain?
Like what reverb or eq settings he usually dials in? I am building a vocal chain for a singer and this is really helpful!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #27
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterPetz ➡️
Wow thank you so much for that information!
Did you found out more about his vocal chain?
Like what reverb or eq settings he usually dials in? I am building a vocal chain for a singer and this is really helpful!
I've since learned that he uses the L1 limiter before the 1176. The L1 does a few db to tame the peaks making the compression less obvious and just better sounding in general.

As for EQ it's always pretty minimal from what I've seen. Since they record on the best mics and in the best studios it's not necessary to go that precise. He, Luke, ilya and Serban also boost the highs using a regular medium band rather than a shelf. I've realised how much better this sounds lol. Boosting the highs a little too much then squashing them back down with the de-esser is a cool trick too. Gives you those ultra smooth esses and highs.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
Gear Nut
 
Thank you soo much!
So basically a limiter (-2/3 dB?) then 1176 black (-10db) with fast release followed by blue (-3db) a medium bell (at 10k?) and a desser after right?
Do you know the approx attack/ release/ ratio?
Sorry I am very inexperienced with pop vocal mixing..
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #29
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterPetz ➡️
Thank you soo much!
So basically a limiter (-2/3 dB?) then 1176 black (-10db) with fast release followed by blue (-3db) a medium bell (at 10k?) and a desser after right?
Do you know the approx attack/ release/ ratio?
Sorry I am very inexperienced with pop vocal mixing..
Here's Max/Serban's 'complete' process from what I've seen.

1. Going through turning down any of the loudest/quietest words a bit (don't make this too obvious). They do this with PT clip gain so it's rendered to the file itself instead of automation. You could do it with automation though, obviously, then bounce it down.

2. L1 Limiter (any limiter should work but the L1 is what Max uses and sounds the best for this imo). Slow release at around 800 and doing around -3db compression.

3. CLA-76 Black or Blue. Max/Dr Luke mostly seem to use the more aggressive Bluey but John Hanes said Serban mostly uses Black. Attack medium (4), Release fastest (7). Sometimes a ratio of 20 is great for pop but 4 should be fine most of the time. Do about -10db compression here.

4. Metric halo EQ (or literally any EQ). Low cut filtering, low mid control?, maybe some of the honky 1k area tamed? Obviously depends but recorded correctly on there mics in great rooms obviously doesn't need that much. As for the highs, a medium band at around 10k. Boost into the de-esser for awesome smooth esses.

5. Waves de-esser/r de-esser. default settings, bring down until it sounds right. Get the balance between boosting the highs and bringing in the de-esser.

That's basically the average approach from what I've seen. Serban Ghenea also uses the waves C4 on vocals a lot apparently.... Andrew Watt sends all his vocals to a C4 on the vocal bus (that's all is on the vocal bus). This just smooths everything out even more.

I think a lot of the perfect pop sound comes down to the comping of the best takes, time and pitch correction and just great recording in general.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #30
Gear Nut
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate12 ➡️
Here's Max/Serban's 'complete' process from what I've seen.

1. Going through turning down any of the loudest/quietest words a bit (don't make this too obvious). They do this with PT clip gain so it's rendered to the file itself instead of automation. You could do it with automation though, obviously, then bounce it down.

2. L1 Limiter (any limiter should work but the L1 is what Max uses and sounds the best for this imo). Slow release at around 800 and doing around -3db compression.

3. CLA-76 Black or Blue. Max/Dr Luke mostly seem to use the more aggressive Bluey but John Hanes said Serban mostly uses Black. Attack medium (4), Release fastest (7). Sometimes a ratio of 20 is great for pop but 4 should be fine most of the time. Do about -10db compression here.

4. Metric halo EQ (or literally any EQ). Low cut filtering, low mid control?, maybe some of the honky 1k area tamed? Obviously depends but recorded correctly on there mics in great rooms obviously doesn't need that much. As for the highs, a medium band at around 10k. Boost into the de-esser for awesome smooth esses.

5. Waves de-esser/r de-esser. default settings, bring down until it sounds right. Get the balance between boosting the highs and bringing in the de-esser.

That's basically the average approach from what I've seen. Serban Ghenea also uses the waves C4 on vocals a lot apparently.... Andrew Watt sends all his vocals to a C4 on the vocal bus (that's all is on the vocal bus). This just smooths everything out even more.

I think a lot of the perfect pop sound comes down to the comping of the best takes, time and pitch correction and just great recording in general.
And thanks again! Thats an awesome spot to start. Now I only wonder what setting they use on the way in with the 1176.
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