A peek into how you can use UJAM’s vintage analog drum machine plugin to add classic electronic grooves to anything you like
FEBRUARY 26TH, 2023
In the past, we’ve focused our Beatmakers around specific genres and styles: drum & bass, dubstep, reggaeton, industrial, you name it. With CIRCUITS we decided to switch things up and give you a broad-use construction kit with iconic drum machine sounds from the 70s so you can add a vintage electronic feel to anything you choose! Unlike a sample pack, CIRCUITS gives you a diverse set of MIDI loops and broad-stroke effects you can apply to quickly shape your drum sounds however you like. Let’s cover some of the many applications of CIRCUITS and how you can add some vintage character to anything you like!
First things first: In a more general sense, why would you want to add vintage drum sounds to your music? The oft-quoted answer is that digital music can be cold, but retro saturation, pitch imperfections and more help bring a bit of the “real”, analog world back into things. This is an oversimplification of music production aesthetics of course, but there’s certainly merit to injecting some extra juice into your songs to get just the right amount of imperfection. When it’s time to go that route, you can dive through folders upon folders of samples to find the perfect sounds and arrange them into a groove ... or you can use the pre-built kits inside CIRCUITS to do it all for you instantly.
If you’re unfamiliar with UJAM’s Beatmakers, every single groove can be dragged from the UI directly into your session, allowing you to modify any patterns you like and make them completely your own. This is a great way to avoid the dreaded blank DAW session and get things moving fast, without the limitations of static loops. Inside you’ll find kicks, snares, high hats, crashes, and other various percussion samples hailing from some of the oldest ever drum machines (dating all the way back to the 70s). These are distinctly different from some of the more traditional analog drum sounds you might be used to, making them perfect for everything from ultra-retro grooves to a classic tone quality that’s challenging to reproduce from digital synthesis.
While you can certainly process your grooves from CIRCUITS however you like, there are a few onboard multi-effects to be aware of. One is the Special Control Boost, which beefs up the high and low frequencies and sharpens the transients — this is an easy way to bring a more modern production quality to the vintage samples at your disposal and help the kick and snare to pop out. You can also reverse the control, rolling off the highs and lows and adding a mid range knock that makes for an excellent support layer in other drums. You can modulate this between sections to build and decrease intensity as needed, and it makes for a nice buildup into a drop!
On the right hand side of the UI, you’ll see the Mix control with 12 different presets:
- Simple - accentuates the low end and rolls off the highs for a more vintage feel
- Pressure - thins out the sound and adds fuzzy saturation to the top end
- Console - classic lofi, downsampling glory
- Whirlwind - adds stereo width and a hollow, stylized distortion
- Transistor - extreme stereo width and old-school flanging for wild, spacey effects
- Battery - low end distortion and widening, gentle delay and a hip-hop style crack in the upper mids
- Capacitor - width and tight delay to make everything feel a little bigger
- Sparky - ambient space and tight, focused distortion on the snare
- Wobble - soft and round low end and a moving flanger on the snare
- Higher - tight, choppy releases and crumbly distortion on the snare
- Induced - washed out with tight, noisy distortion
- Repeater - widened and washed out
Cycle through this and see what speaks to you — and just like the Boost control, you can modulate the amount at will across your songs, maximizing the variety and depth you can pull out of CIRCUITS!
Now that we’ve covered a bit of CIRCUITS's features and how it works under the hood, let’s talk about how to start using it in your songs. The simplest way is to break it out as-is and use CIRCUITS to construct your main groove, which oftentimes will be enough. The standard grooves available to you are a great place to start, and you can get a lot of mileage out of simply tweaking the Mix and Boost presets. If you want to take things even further, you can use a Finisher like RETRO (or even our free option, MICRO) to shape your drums into something more unique or add movement with DYNAMO.
Once you have something you're happy with, then it’s time to add a firm kick and snare — that might mean using another Beatmaker for something specific, but you can also queue up another instance of CIRCUITS and double the kick and snare for some extra oomph, dialing up the Boost setting to max and choosing the appropriate mix preset. If you want to add in some chords and a bassline to hear your beat in context, you can download our free Usynth DRIVE to fill things out easily. There are an infinite number of ways to use CIRCUITS, so let your inspiration guide you and reference some early electronic music if you need some inspiration!
CIRCUITS is the perfect tool for adding vintage analog drum machine sounds to your music, and the best part is, they’re not genre-specific by any means. Whether you’re creating EDM or even want to add a warm coloration to a rock or metal traffic, whatever your goals are ... CIRCUITS is equipped to handle it all.
You can comfortably use it as a textural tool in so many different contexts, and the Boost and Mix controls allow you to quickly shape it to your liking based on the needs of the song. Get creative, have fun bringing the sound of 70s electronic drums into your music, and make something awesome!
About the Author
Harry Lodes is a copywriter, marketing consultant and content writer for audio and ecommerce brands. He lives in the Philadelphia area, releasing Eastern/Western hybrid EDM under the artist name KAIRI hearkening back to his roots in Berklee College of Music.