How to make a sample sound like vinyl

Open up your DAW of choice and record some tracks in that you think would sound good vinyl-ized. I'm using Ableton Live 10 here.

  Spread some elements out panned left and right on the audio spectrum because if you were sampling a real record, it would come into your DAW as a stereo file.

Spread some elements out panned left and right on the audio spectrum because if you were sampling a real record, it would come into your DAW as a stereo file.

Once you're satisfied with your tracks and are ready to make them sound like a sampled record, create a new track. This will be the bounce destination for our existing audio.

  Command + T is the keyboard shortcut for this in Ableton on the Mac (Ctrl + T on PC) but likely is the same in your DAW. 

Command + T is the keyboard shortcut for this in Ableton on the Mac (Ctrl + T on PC) but likely is the same in your DAW. 

You'll want to set your track input source to Master.

  You can also set up a bus as an input source and send the rest of your audio to that bus. This is an easier process in Logic or Pro Tools.

You can also set up a bus as an input source and send the rest of your audio to that bus. This is an easier process in Logic or Pro Tools.

Before you bounce your audio to the new track, you'll want to make sure your record button is armed and that you're not monitoring the track.

  If you turn monitoring on by accident, you'll create a nasty feedback loop. I don't recommend it.

If you turn monitoring on by accident, you'll create a nasty feedback loop. I don't recommend it.

If your bounce worked, you should see the stereo waveform recorded into the new track.

  If you're going for a loop, don't cut off the recording process too early.

If you're going for a loop, don't cut off the recording process too early.

Then dig in your plugins and find iZotope's Vinyl and drag it out to the bounce track.

  If you don't own the plugin, you can download it for free or you can also substitute Ableton's stock Vinyl Distortion plugin.

If you don't own the plugin, you can download it for free or you can also substitute Ableton's stock Vinyl Distortion plugin.

Then you'll want to mix in all of the settings to taste except Scratch. I find the Scratch to sound a little too artificial. Generally, I'll end up with settings like this:

  • Mechanical Noise: -16db
  • Wear: 10% (Bring this up too much and you'll lose all the low end under 250 Hz)
  • Electrical Noise: -24db
  • Dust: 0db with the amount cranked
  • Warp Depth: 50%
  • Output Gain: +2db
 When you arrive at a setting you like, make sure you compensate for any loss of volume by bumping up the Output Level on the plugin.

When you arrive at a setting you like, make sure you compensate for any loss of volume by bumping up the Output Level on the plugin.

Here's what it should sound like after. You'll lose a few low frequencies and gain some midrange, but the mojo injected by the vinyl-ization will sound irresistible.

Michael WiegandComment