THE ART OF SOUND DESIGN
The original Mellotron didn’t offer much to players in the way of “sound design”, but thanks to our total reworking of the mechanics and electronics, the Arturia version has massive scope for truly pushing the boundaries. To bring the sound of Mellotron V to life, we assembled a small, crack team of experts to give you the best tape-replay experience ever.
No doubt this particular Arturia plugin will become a winner.
Boele Gerkes is a Dutch musician, producer, and sound designer who has been fascinated by synthesizers since the mid-70s. He’s owned and played countless analog, digital and hybrid synthesizers - including a real Mellotron - and for the last 40 years and has been professionally testing and creating presets for various synth companies.
Pitch fluctuations, audio dropouts on worn out tapes, the weird frequency characteristics, amplifier distortion: imperfection is what makes the Mellotron so adorable because imperfection created its character.
Arturia has done a great job in collecting a very broad sound palette of instruments for Mellotron V. Tapes that were recorded decades ago in the sixties and seventies. No, you can not do a lot of modulation like on most synthesizers, but you really don’t need to, because the modulation is already there on those tapes.
Being involved in sound design for this project was a joy. Arturia added a big Swiss army knife by putting together a lot of useful and great sounding stompbox-style effect pedals. The ability to mix two or three tapes within a preset is another great enhancement. When Arturia asked me to do a few demo’s I was amazed how easy it was to come up with melodies and structures. This instrument forces the user to play it.
I made this patch “Final Frontier” because I could create this beautiful ambient sound with a Mellotron tape (Wine Glass) without actually sounding like a Mellotron. There is nothing wrong with a Mellotron sounding like a Mellotron of course, but this particular preset was fun to make because the plugin let you go unique ways. In this case by setting up the sound with three times the same tape, panned differently, by using the effect stompboxes and by setting a VCA envelope that would not be possible on the original.
There are so many classic recordings that use the Mellotron.
Paul Schilling is a musician, sound designer and computer programmer. He became enamored with synthesizers at an early age and has created presets and demos for Arturia, Deckard's Dream and others.
To me the main strength of Mellotron V is what Arturia puts into every emulation they do - their pure love for the original machine. In this case it is the ability to add in tape flutter, saturation and mechanics, and the fact that they included all of the original Mellotron tapes, beautifully reproduced. Also the FX section is amazing, especially the new reverbs. Any high quality effects you'd want to add to a Mellotron performance are there.
The original tapes are beautifully recorded. To me they sound very natural, and bands like Tangerine Dream were good at bringing out this natural beauty of the Mellotron. What I tried to do was imitate their approach. Use a small selection of the available tapes, and add FX to them in a tasteful way.
Big Stereo Choir
The original Mellotron choirs are beautifully recorded, I didn't want to alter the sound much but wanted to see what it would sound like to have two different choir tapes panned left and right, much like a real choir might be arranged.
I picked the Mixed Choir and Male Choir tapes, panned them left and right, took advantage of the sample looping feature (so you can hold notes indefinitely), and adjusted the sample envelopes for a soft attack and long release. Then added small amounts of EQ and reverb.