Techno producer Paradoks on the EQ he uses “on every channel of every project”

The Belgian-Swiss artist praises the versatility of software synths and talks us through his favourite plugins

Paradoks

Paradoks

Paradoks is a Belgian-Swiss producer who makes enormous-sounding melodic dance music that has fittingly found itself in DJ sets by the likes of Tale Of Us, Lost Frequencies, Tiesto, Vintage Culture and many more. His latest release, The Last Time on Armada Music, is another powerful track that weaves vocals with pads and an almighty lead synth to create a magical dancefloor moment.

We speak to Paradoks about why plugins work so well for his production process. He tells us about his obsession with FabFilter’s Pro Q3, and shares his experiences exploring new technologies like Synplant 2’s genopatch feature.

FabFilter Pro Q3
FabFilter Pro Q3

Do you use a lot of plugins when producing?

I mostly work with software plugins nowadays; I never had any hardware in the likes of compressors or stuff like that. The only hardware synths I use are my Sequential Prophet Rev 2, Roland SH01A, and from time to time my Moog Model D. I like the convenience of having software synths, especially when I’m on the move. Plus, I’m a perfectionist, so sometimes I want to be able to tweak the MIDI and the patch again in version 57 of my track, which is a flexibility I can’t get out of hardware synths.

Sonic Charge Synplant 2
Sonic Charge Synplant 2

What was your latest plugin purchase?

I recently bought Sonic Charge’s Synplant 2. I was already considering buying Synplant after seeing some Flume-inspired sound design videos. Then, out of nowhere, Synplant 2 came out with new “genopatch technology,” which I was really curious and excited about. It’s using AI to try and recreate sounds from samples. Having them as a synth patch gives it the versatility of tweaking the envelopes, filters, effects, and more for automation, as working with samples is very limiting when it comes to developing the sound over time.

I played around with it and created some cool sounds. Turns out the Genopatch works ok, but I enjoy using the seeds-planting feature from the synth more and use it mostly for some ear candy. The presets are cool, but I didn’t spend much time exploring those as I was mostly messing around with the Genopatch and seeds.

Xfer Records Serum
Xfer Records Serum

What’s the best free plugin you own?

Voxengo SPAN. It’s an amazing spectrum analyser that gives detailed information about frequencies, especially when you select the high-res mode. I’m currently not working in an ideal, acoustically treated environment, so it really helps my mixing decisions, especially in the low end when working with reference tracks. I use it all the time.

What plugins would your new single The Last Time be incomplete without?

Xfer Records’ Serum and Pro Q3 did most of the work here (arp, bass, pads etc), but the main synth comes from Arturia’s Analog Lab.

Cableguys Shaperbox 3
Cableguys Shaperbox 3

Is that what comes in at 1:50 on The Last Time?

Yes! This is a preset I tweaked from Arturia Analog Lab, as I just bought the suite in the same period that I produced The Last Time. I played with the pitch modulation rate, and envelopes and added some glide. I then used the Cableguys’ Shaperbox 3 noise module to give it a noise layer, Saturn 2 to saturate it and make it fatter, Pro Q3 to remove any unwanted frequencies, and Valhalla Room Reverb to make it big.

For the delay here, I used a return channel. On the return channel, I first cut out the lows with FabFilter Pro Q3, then used Native Instruments Replika for the delay (any delay plugin would work) and finally used the Ableton compressor to sidechain the wet signal (delayed signal) to the dry signal of the lead so that the delay doesn’t interfere when the synth hits. Quite a classic way of doing it I would say.

Nicky Romero’s Kickstart 2
Nicky Romero’s Kickstart 2

Do you have any secret sauce plugins?

FabFilter Pro Q3 simply because it’s the most precise and versatile EQ out there. I can remove annoying resonances and use it as a dynamic EQ and check which frequencies interfere between synths. I’m honestly a freak with that plugin and maybe should start actually using it less. I use it on every channel of every project.

What about a guilty pleasure plugin?

Nicky Romero’s Kickstart 2 is amazing for side-chaining kick and bass. I duplicate the plugin as I use the first one in band mode for the low end and then the other one for the rest of the frequencies, generally applying different sidechaining to them. I just love that we can see the Kick waveform to allow precise sidechaining. I could use Shaperbox 2 and skip the need to duplicate the plugin but I somehow just love the Kickstart 2 sidechain.

Check out Paradoks’ website.

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