Ulrich Schnauss is a London-based producer originating from Kiel, Germany. His style has been heavily linked to the shoegaze sounds, as well as more overt hat-tips to tangerine Dream (whom he is now a member of), and the early Krautrock music scene. His music references everything from ambient to drum’n’bass.
Ulrich Schnauss, pictured with Yamaha CP-80, Roland System 700, Oberheim Matrix 12, Korg VC-10, Waldorf Blofeld and way too much other stuff to mention. Image © Audio Visual Academy.
Einfeld is taken from Schnauss’s 2007 album Goodbye. It’s typical of his work: slowly evolving motifs, lots of ethereal textures and instrumentals despite having quite a song-y chord structure. The main idea kicks in around 0.32:
Let’s see what we can do to get close to his sound in Logic X. I’ve pulled the audio in and got the tempo to be about 73 bpm. Let’s start off with the most striking element: the bells (wahey!). Logic’s new addition Alchemy has a good starting place with the Chimera Bells patch. Here’s the part, a simple two bar repeated figure in the key of F:
The next sound is a sine wave lead. I’ve gotten close to this in Logic’s ES2 using two slightly detuned sine waves and some Analog detuning: give envelope 3 (hard-wired to amplitude) a tiny bit of attack, around 300ms of decay, just under 50% sustain and a healthy bit of release (around 600ms).
Enabling the Soft Osc Start will ensure the oscillator’s phase starts at 0º each time. Finally I’ve added some of the built-in chorus and some Valhalla Shimmer:
N.B. I’ve edited the empty bars out of audio example for speed.
At the end of each block of four bars is an ascending pattern caked in delay. Using the Summing Stack (shift + cmd + D) in Logic we can send a MIDI part to two or more instruments.
Starting off with the Factory Default in Logic’s physical modelling synth, Sculpture, we’re close already (I’ve disabled the Delay). I’ve added Arturia’s CS-80V underneath (strangely enough also with the patch it defaults to, J.M_ThinDepth), shortening the attack times of both oscillators.
The chordal part is probably the trickiest as it’s such an enveloping sound; there’s really no knowing what might have gone into the makeup of this sound. The two chords are D- and Bb∆7:
D F A C, Bb D F A.
I’ve used a fair few sounds layered in a summing stack to try and replicate what’s going on. There’s Reaktor’s Titan, another CS-80V, some GarageBand synth called Hybrid Morph and Lennar Digital’s Sylenth, each with their own channel strip. It was close but not close enough.
The next step I took was to add a sampler in the background. I’ve taken a pad that has gone through many generations of resampling playing a low A through the chords. This adds just enough character that synths can’t replicate: [should there be a link/sound file here?]
Here’s the resampled pad:
…and here it is in the mix with the other sounds and an Arturia Mini V playing the bass part:
In the above example I added Eventide’s UltraChannel on the stack (utilising its excellent H3000-esque Micro Pitch Shift as well as the Parametric EQ, Compressor and Stereo Delay). In addition there’s an instance of Valhalla Shimmer, some compression and EQ.
The loop was finished off with some wavetable synthesis courtesy of Native Instruments’ Massive, using two out of phase LFOs doing amplitude modulation and some ring modulation of OSC 3.
I’ve also added in a very quiet kick drum (sine wave from ES2 with envelope pitch modulation) and an pitch bent sine wave with some delayed vibrato, again from ES2 at the end of the loop. Some healthy compression and limiting on the master helps glue everything together:
Ulrich and his Korg MS-20.
Speaking to to Barcode back in 2008, we can get an insight into some of the synths used to create his unique sound:
Well instrument wise what I’m really relying most heavily on is probably the Oberheim OB-8 synthesiser, which basically over the last 10 years has probably been my main instrument. My favourite synth is probably the Octave Plateau Voyetra 8, which is a great instrument, and in the digital world, probably the Prophet VS – I’m using that a lot as well. Effects wise, a couple of late eighties/early nineties Roland reverbs, the R-880 Digital Reverb is really nice and the whole SRV/STX series that Roland did in the early nineties is a nice reverb as well. Then I’m recording the stuff into the computer using Logic and plug-in-wise I’m using Pluggo mostly and Reaktor.
A lot of these can be procured digitally. The Oberheim OB-8 is nicely modelled by the OBXD, and it’s free! He claims it’s one of his most used synth – a great starting point as it’s both warm and rich.
The Waldorf Wave is something else synonymous with his sound. While many manufactures offer wavetable possibilities (Synthmaster and Massive have already been mentioned) Waldorf’s own Waldorf Edition is probably the best starting place.
Other synths notoriously used by the man are the Yamaha DX7 (neatly reimagined by Native Instruments’ FM8), The Rhodes Chroma and MemoryMoog (both of which appear in Kontakt’s Retro Machines Mk2 library), the Prophet VS, which Arturia offer an emulation of and the Elka Synthex, which XLIS Lab has modelled.
One of his synths not available in the VST market is the awesome, lush-sounding Octave Plateau Voyetra 8, which from the sounds of this demo is an absolutely fantastic piece of hardware:
If you want to learn more about Ulrich’s synths, effects, studio and composition techniques I’ve made a YouTube playlist of his various video interviews:
Equipboard also has a dedicated community of users detailing his equipment and Sounds for Synth has created a TAL U-NO library somewhat in the vein of Schnauss and Boards of Canada, which costs a mere £13.
Last words on the synth topic, I found this video tutorial really useful: using a sampler to get a warbly-VHS type effect, similar to Boards of Canada: