Kraak & Smaak are a Dutch producer collective who has made remixes for Moby, Jamiroquai, Sam Sparro, and Junkie XL among many others.
In this Producer’s Corner, Kraak & Smaak member, Oscar de Jong [far right], outlines his use of UAD Powered Plug-Ins on the the track, “Summer Runnin.’”
At first, we started off using plug-ins for economic reasons — high-priced vintage hardware was becoming more and more expensive. But as time went on, we became convinced that the differences between "real" vintage gear and their plug-in counterparts were getting more and more negligible, especially the Universal Audio ones. In fact, UAD plug-ins are the ones that resemble the classic vintage machines we found in the old mixing studios the most.
This track is an alternate version of a track called “Runnin,'” called “Summer Runnin.'” The beats are a combination of old disco samples and some live drums, the bass is played by our live bass player, Alex Oele, and Rhodes and other synths by me, and the vocals are samples.
Slammin’ the Drums & Bass
To start, I often put the drums and bass on the same bus and apply a very heavy preset called “Drumbeat Presence” from the UAD EX-1 EQ/Compressor from the old UAD CS-1 Channel Strip.
Here is the drum and bass track without the EX-1:
Here is the same track with the EX-1 engaged:
It's a little extreme —beyond the typical “glue” — but I love the effect it has. It really bumps everything up, especially the kick and the bass.
Goin’ Old School with the Studer
The effect of the Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder Plug-In on the drum and bass bus is subtle, but for the music we make — dance music with a lot of old school disco-funk ingredients — the Studer adds just the right twist.
Here is the track without the Studer:
And here it is with the Studer plug-in:
Not only does the Studer plug-in give the track some vintage sauce, it opens up the frequencies on the top end just a little bit.
Bringing Back the Transients
The SPL Transient Designer used on the disco beat is used to get more juice out of the groove — and the handclaps in particular — especially because of the negative effect plug-ins like the EX-1 have. Heavy compression tends to lower the transient peaks, so I lean heavily on the SPL to get them back up.
Here are the drums and bass without UAD processing:
And here it is running through the SPL Transient Designer:
You can really hear the added punch and focus.
Warm Up the Bass
The Teletronix LA-2A Classic Leveler doesn't need too much of an introduction. I would guess that 80% of my bass guitar and vocals tracks start off with the LA-2A for gain control when recording. It simply does what it should and it also adds a little warmth. I couldn't imagine working without it anymore.
Here’s the bass without the LA-2A
And here it is with the LA-2A:
The LA-2A does what it does best — makes the bass sound fatter and gets it to sit perfectly in the mix.
Adding Lushness to the Rhodes
The Fender Rhodes has this specific ’70s stereo sound, which I love. However, for this track, it needed something more. The mix needed a little more space, so I wanted to widen the Rhodes in the stereo spectrum, as it is the instrument covering the majority of mid-high frequency area — you don't want to spread the lower parts too much. The perfect tool to do this is the Brainworx bx_digital V2 EQ Plug-In. It uses M/S stereo technique, which is the most honest way to widen a stereo image. To put the final touches on the Rhodes, I also used a little plate reverb from the classic EMT 140 Classic Plate Reverberator Plug-In.
First, the Rhodes without any UAD processing:
Then, the Rhodes with the EMT 140 and bx Digital EQ plug-ins: