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Soft Focus - Catalinbread

Sep 07 2022
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catalinbread soft focus
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The Soft Focus is Catalinbread's attempt to create an instant shoegaze button.

This modulated, washy, shimmer plate reverb was inspired by the famous patch from the Yamaha FX500 – most notably the band Slowdive used it extensively on their album Souvlaki.

At it's core, it's a highly modified plate reverb. The reverb is split into 3 parts:

  1. "Symphonic" chorus modulator
  2. Octave-up mixed in with reverb
  3. Untouched plate reverb

All controls are very interactive. Symph controls the mix of the octave-up. Mod controls the rate of the modulation. Verb sets the overall decay of the reverb.

For all settings, I've set the volume of the Soft Touch to unity, which seems to be around 9 o'clock. So there is serious volume on tap if you need to flood the frontend of your amp with reverb.

I'm thoroughly enchanted by the sounds of the Soft Touch. It's so tasteful and lush no matter how you set the controls. It doesn't really sound like any other reverb I know.

And of course it works beautifully as an early chain reverb. In front of a distortion like the Black Mass 1312, it creates a rich and textured noise rock sound without being harsh or uncontrollable.

I found the Soft Touch to be very inspiring. Every guitar track on this demo has some reverb from the Soft Touch, either before or after distortion. It's very versatile and easy to tweak, but at the same time it doesn't really matter how you set the knobs because all settings sound beautiful.

Recording Notes

Main Guitar

Guitar Overdubs

I tried to create a little shoegaze homage, so I've made extensive use of the Descendant Vibrato on my Stellarosa.

I've double tracked pretty much all overdubs with different pickup configurations and hard-panned them left and right. For the second half of the loop, I used lots of Soft Focus reverb into the Black Mass 1312.

For lower gain sounds, I've used the Calamity Drive into the Soft Focus.

I also used the CBA MOOD together with the Soft Focus and the 1312 to create modulated pads with a bit of noise. I hard-panned a few tracks and mixed it down very subtly. I do this a lot for backing tracks. It just creates an extra layer of ambience and widens the stereo image a little.

Bass

I've mixed the processed signal with the unaffected D.I. signal. I applied an aggressive low-pass filter to the D.I. bass. This was just to get back some low-end that was lost because of the distortion.

Drums

  • GarageBand Drummer Gavin (indie rock) on the Brooklyn kit
  • Kick and snare treated with the stock GarageBand RAT-style pedal plugin

The whole mix was "mastered" with exciter, limiter and mild compression in the DAW.

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