Posted on May 21 2018
Last week, we dropped the “Daydream Sample Pack Volume 2”, the second installment in the Daydream series. We interviewed the creator of this series, and member of the Soul Surplus team, John Smythe. He gave some pretty in-depth answers about the “Daydream” sound, and the creation process behind it. Check it out below!
Wes: Coming off the heels of “Daydream Sample Pack Volume 1”, what things were you keeping in mind to not repeat yourself in Volume 2? And what did you do in order to keep the same feeling from Volume 1?
John: The first Daydream Pack was one of my favorite sample packs that I’ve ever recorded. It’s probably the most experimental sample pack I have ever made. There are a few things that make the Daydream Sample Pack sound the way it sounds. First off, it’s all guitar. No synths, or pianos, or bass. Second, it’s recorded only with a room mic. There’s no close mic’s on the amp. Third, it’s generally very spacey and wide open, in a 60’s Fender Combo Amp kind of way. I’ll explain that later because if you’re not a guitarist, you probably won’t understand that. And last, the arrangements take on a sci-fi-soul sort of mood. This is pretty much the “Daydream formula”. What separates the second volume from the first is really how far left I took the arrangements on the first volume. I didn’t necessarily create Volume 1 in a self-serving way, but it’s definitely not catered to those who aren’t looking to think outside the box. I think this is why so many people gravitated towards it though, because it’s unlike anything that’s out there. I created Volume 2 with the producer in mind who doesn’t want to think as hard to add these vibes to their music.
Wes: I can definitely hear that in these arrangements. You recorded volume two in a sample rate twice as high as volume one. Can you explain why? How much of a difference did it make from Volume 1 to Volume 2?
John: This is true! I did record Volume 1 at 88.2khz while Volume 2 was recorded at 44.1khz. I recently upgraded my computer and interface, so I have better analog to digital (AD) converters, and a computer that can handle recording at higher sample rates. The Daydream sound is pretty hazy, so it’s important to achieve separation between each guitar track in the mixdown stage. I find that recording in higher sample rates brings separation before it’s even time to mix. I also found that 88.2 has far more depth and detail than 44.1. I try not to be an elitist about sample rates, especially since 44.1 is so commonly used everywhere. But 88.2 is not only twice as high, but in my opinion, twice as good!
Wes: Last week, you talked about using a hybrid workflow. Can you talk about some of the tools you used to achieve this distinct sound in the Daydream series?
John: Sure! The Daydream is not reliant as much on in-the-box processing as much as it is getting the tone right before it gets to my computer. Like I said before, the Daydream Pack is all guitar. I played a Sterling AX30 and a Fender Stratocaster HSS guitar on this pack, into a few pedals. The Biyang Time Machine and T-Rex Tap Tone delay pedals are largely responsible for the space and dimension in my sound. The T-Rex Tap Tone wet delay signal is always modulated, so it gives a lot of color to the ambience created through the delays and spring reverb. The Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is a big part of the “warmth” of my tone, but the spring reverb that is onboard the amp gives the sample pack the undertone of vintage soul that makes it so unique. I’m using a Charter Oak SA538 tube condenser microphone about 6 feet away from the amp. This is the “secret sauce” of the tone. Having a condenser a few feet away keeps all of the hard transients out of the signal and keeps the sound very lush. The condenser is in omni, and not only picks up the sound of the amp, but how the amp resonates in the room. It creates a unique texture that is perfect for sampling. The Charter Oak SA538 is being amplified by a Dizengoff D4, a very big and detailed sounding tube preamp. I’m not compressing or EQing with hardware on the way in, because I’m doing all of that with my fingers, guitar, and amplifier. It’s a pretty natural process.
There isn’t much in-the-box processing before mixdown besides surgical EQ cuts in areas I know will be muddy. I usually use Waves F6, or the stock EQ in Logic for this. If I could get my hands on the 500 series SSL 611EQ, I would most certainly use that to keep it all analog (aside from AD conversion of course). But for now, I have a pretty good handle on the surgical EQ tools that are available to me.”
Download the “Daydream Sample Pack Volume 1” and “Daydream Sample Pack Volume 2” and inject some sci-fi soul into your productions to take your music beyond the stratosphere.