I love Minimal Deep Tech house music. In 2022, that means 128 BPM tempos, bouncy baselines, and critically: swishy resonantly filtered chord stabs.
Above are some examples of what I’m going for. A bright rhythmic stab with a rhythmic filter over it. I can hear reversed sounds in there, and also delays. If you’re just starting out, you can start with a sample pack. I’ve bought several, the place to start is Sample Market and the PIV packs. Grab some stabs, throw them in your project and alternate them until you get a good call and response going.
To create this effect yourself, the most repeatable technique I’ve found is to automate an Auto Filter cut off over a bright sound. The Tantra plugin is good for easily generating filtered sequences (it has some good presets). Otherwise, I’ve tried a ton of plugins and find myself preset surfing with poor results. Sadly, aside from Tantra, I haven’t found a magic filter plugin for quick-and-easy results.
Technique 1: Automated Auto Filter
The Auto Filter technique uses a Low Pass filter manually automated over the frequency (draw the filter frequency sweeps in so you can time them rhythmically). You can also use a bandpass filter and an LFO to automate the frequency.
I got the best results with this sequence of Ableton effects
- Use an open-voiced minor chord (minor 9ths work well). I like an Ableton Chord set on 3, 7, 14, 10, -2.
- Bright E-Pianos worked well for me and I also have had good luck with Sylenth, I think because it has a slightly retro-deep house sound (at least the presets I had laying around).
- Add a high pass EQ (to remove lows).
- Add an Automated Auto Filter Low Pass (to rhythmically remove highs).
- Use a delay with it’s own built-in filter so that only the higher frequencies cause echos.
Other plugins I’ve tried: Sound Toys Filter Freak, Waves Meta-filter, Arturia M12 are all great – but surfing presets is wasting time, I think I’ll need to learn to tweak them as skillfully as I’ve gotten with Auto Filter.
Technique 2: The Pad Stab
This is a really simple way to create a current “deep tech” sound. Slice a pad on transients in Simpler. Input midi notes until you get a pattern you like. Shape the sound with a filter as above, or use a high and low pass filter and set their Amount and Rate parameters to cut each other up in interesting ways.
Technique 3: Percussive Vocoder
For this technique, run a percussive loop (or throw on a drum rack and play something) through a vocoder. Use a bright pad sound as the carrier. Tweak the vocoder parameters to taste, or use the Max for Live LFO to modulate them. As a bonus: freeze it to audio, warp in beats mode, and bring the duration down to create a musical texture you can mix in with your drums.
Kimba demonstrates the Tantra Plugin here. Inside his academy, he hosts a really useful walkthrough with Genetika.
Demarzo EMC has some great tutorials from Demarzo and Sidney Charles on the topic.
Julien Earle has a whole mountain of Deep Minimal Ableton Templates you can use.
Underground Beats (Youtube and Patreon) also has some top-quality templates.
To hear my music applying these techniques follow the links from leonthelover.com.
What else have I missed? What is your technique for getting great-sounding modern deep house stabs? Let me know in the comments below.
Another: tip I forgot (discovered via Genetika) was to throw on a Kilohearts reverser. It’s a quick and easy plugin for reversing some of the audio (you control how much and at what tempo it gets reversed) to give you even more rhythmic motion and interest.