Monday, February 18, 2013

Why Do Old School Breakbeats Sound So Good?

When listening critically to the Amen Break or the Apache break, you start to realize that these sounds are just not possible in real life. You tuned your drum set, you got your best mics and set everything just like they told you in every tutorial. You set everything up and realize the sound is clean and vanilla. Its not bad, but you will never achieve the breakbeat sound this way. Its not about vinyl, the analog days, or tape effects, or sampling.

The biggest reason why old school breakbeats sound awesome compared to real life drums is because of their preamp. Overdrive your tube preamp and you are halfway to the breakbeat sound. Drums sound ridiculously good with an overdriven preamp. Cymbals sizzle and snares start to scream. All sounds start to take on a new timbre. The room reverb compresses and you hear every detail. The truth of the matter is that many old school breaks were horribly recorded compared to today.

GreenDay recorded drums with a tube preamp and used reverb. Their early albums have a coveted drum sound. The truth is that there was a reasonable amount of distortion in every part of the signal chain starting with the preamp. It was inevitable that distorted breakbeats would become very famous in the same way an as overdriven TR-909 would be used on every recording out there. Distorted drums scream!

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