Our Warehouse Techno sample pack was created using a huge selection of production gear - hardware synths, drum machines, FX units and outboard processing - in order to get a rough, raw, pumping techno sound inspired by the likes of Dense & Pika, Scuba, Radio Slave and Levon Vincent. But whether you've a well-stocked studio or are producing solely using a laptop and Ableton Live, we've compiled some key tips and tricks that will help you get that raw warehouse vibe in no time...
Found sound percussion
Get creative and grab a cheap portable audio recorder gather unique recordings for custom industrial-edged percussive lines and grooves. Bang pots and pans in the kitchen. Run a stick along railing in the street. Slam doors. Get them in your DAW and use them as unique and characterful percussion mapped to a drum sampler for unique, rhythmic ideas.
Outdoor ambiances and processed industrial noises such as trains, underpasses and construction work can be re-contextualised into grainy beds or industrial leads when looped up and processed into a repeating figure.
Degrading rhythms and noise-beds make otherwise bland musical elements come to life in mysterious and unexpected ways. Set-up a classic tape-delay plug-in (or hardware unit) such as the Roland RE-201 or EP-34 Tape Echo (both available from UAD) on a send and start sending various channels to the plug-ins. Rhythmic tops, chord stabs or general found sound textures start feeding back and distorting on each other with high feedback settings and a classic Warehouse Techno trick is to stop shoot your chord channel to a tape delay for unexpected triplet rhythms and tape-degradation for dayyyys...
Don't be afraid of too much reverb. Side-chain the reverb and EQ out the lowest of the low end to stop your mix becoming a washed-out mess. Warehouse techno style makes use of lots of big hall reverbs and one of the few that uses reverb on the kick drum on occasion. When putting reverb on the kick use sidechain it with the input signal from the kick, with auto-filter. Dirty things up some more with lots of overdrive or bit-crushing as well to give your reverb a distinctly screwed up sound.
Repeat with heavy reverbs on mid, mid-hi and hi synth sounds as well. Stacking your reverbs into sends will allow you to experiment on sending several different elements to your reverb send and be mindful of filtering the reverb itself into only the sound you need. Why not send your hats to a reverb gated by the kick for example? This will give a rhythmic pump to otherwise stale and dry rides, cymbals and layered hi-hats.
Transition-wise send based reverbs are perfect for adding interest and tension to build-ups and breakdowns in Warehouse Techno, send snares to long tail reverbs or cymbals to high-density modules to pre-empt a big, nasty drop.
Warehouse techno has a harsh sonic aesthetic with definite destruction of dynamics in the drums and bass. Compression is used to really push the elements of what’s there as well as rein unwanted sonic frequencies and sounds by specific use of a very stringent side-chain. Timber wise why not to try dynamic distortion .. squeeze the hell out of it .. heavy compression is the key to that dirty, heavy techno sound .. also bring the kick way up front thats what gives you your drive. It will influence how the compressor will shape the overall sound as well by making the rest pump.
In terms of setting a pump side-chain set the compressor up with a longish attack then by triggering the sub of the kick, after the initial crack, will trigger the comp and make a sort of off beat pumping. Try side-chaining just about all your channels plus the kitchen sink to the kick or bass of your track for a solid rolling motion.
Finally, try clipping an analogue mixer if you have one - run it red!
Lots of techno out there, from early Tresor and Counter Balance right up to modern Ostgut and Sandwell District use a dense, mono, low passed reverb on the kick drum instead of an actual 'bassline' start out with a nice, rounded classic 909 as a classic starting point for this technique.
Try applying heavy compression to the reverb send (or return it to your overall bass buss, if you use one) followed by another compressor side-chained to the kick itself, to ensure the kick always cuts through this cavernous low end "soup" If it doesn't sound right yet, don't worry - just start to tweak the reverb size, density and pre-delay parameters to get locked in a rolling groove with the kick. With these settings, combined with the ducking from the kick triggering the side-chained compressor, you can achieve various kinds of sucking/pulling effect, as if a cleverly-programmed sub bassline is at work, when really it isn't.
Reverse reverbs were really common in the mid 90s. There’s no need for sidechaining, just bang a reverse reverb on your 909 kick, lowpass filter it and you can get a half-bar wobble in seconds, which is tuned to the kick. Suddenly this is our bassline without a bassline - everything is stemming from the fundamental tone of your kick drum!