How to get The Beatles' sound in software
11th Sep 2009 | 10:49
Abbey Road plug-ins
As we all know, The Beatles recorded the vast majority of their music at Abbey Road, so if you’re looking to emulate the Fab Four’s sound, plug-ins based on some of the studio’s most famous vintage hardware are a no-brainer. The range includes The Brilliance Pack (which contains the EMI RS127 and RS135 EQ units), the Mastering Pack (this features the EQ and filter modules from the original EMI TG12410 transfer console) and the TG 12413 Limiter (an emulation of the compressor/limiter from the EMI TG12345 mixing console).
Propellerhead Software Abbey Road Keyboards
Propellerhead’s Reason software doesn’t support plug-ins, but the company does offer this mop-toppy ReFill. It contains sampled version of seven classic Abbey Road keyboard instruments: the Mrs Mills Steinway upright piano pictured above (think Lady Madonna); the Challen Studio Piano; the Hammond RT-3; the Mannborg Harmonium; the Schiedmayer Celeste; the Mellotron M400 (Strawberry Fields anyone?); and the Premier Tubular Bells.
EastWest Fab Four
If you’re looking for a one-stop Beatles-mimicking software solution, this has to be it. It’s a lovingly-compiled ROMpler that features many of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s signature instruments (guitars, basses, drums and keyboards) and was recorded on the appropriate vintage hardware. EastWest even went so far as to recruit Beatles collaborator Ken Scott to help out with the engineering.
Named after its inventor, Donald Leslie, this rotating speaker is most commonly associated with the Hammond organ (it produces chorus, tremolo and vibrato effects). However, inspired by their engineer Geoff Emerick, The Beatles used it in all sorts of ways – John Lennon’s vocal on Tomorrow Never Knows was run though a Leslie, for example – so a plug-in version is a must for any wannabe. There are various options available, but we’ve picked out BetabugsAudio’s Spinbug, because it’s free.
GForce Software M-Tron Pro
As its name suggests, this cross-platform plug-in delivers Strawberry Fields-esque Mellotron sounds and, appropriately enough, the tape banks from the original version were remastered at Abbey Road for this Pro update. However, there are actually more than 200 banks included (others coming from the likes of the Chamberlin, Birotron and Optigan) making M-Tron Pro a more flexible proposition than you might at first think.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 4 Essential
No Beatles-lover’s plug-in rack would be complete without a guitar amp/effect modelling solution – Vox’s AC30 pretty much defined the sound of the band’s early albums, after all. This has been ably emulated by Native Instruments for its Guitar Rig range of products, and is included (along with various other amps, cabs and effects) in Guitar Rig 4 Essential, which will be released on 1 October.