The Petti Test – Pt 1: Reverse Engineering the ‘Hoover’ Sound – Bloody Beetroots + Steve Aoki ‘Warp 1.9′

In this new video tutorial series The Petti Test, Dubspot Electronic Music Production Instructor, Propellerhead Reason course designer, sound design and sound programmer-extraordinaire Chris Petti will put any sound to test! Petti will be deciphering and reverse-engineering sounds and recordings submitted by anyone from anywhere! If you want to put a sound to the Petti Test, email

In the first installment of The Petti Test, Chris examines a very popular sound that had been used for decades in electronic music and has most certainly achieved cult status stardom. The sound is most commonly known as “the Hoover“.  It has been used all the way around the board for all electronic music styles ranging from electro, dubstep, drum n bass, techno, house, hip-hop, and pop. In this example, I will be looking at its more current usage in the The Bloody Beetroots and Steve Aoki’s “Warp 1.9″.

Hello everybody, I am Chris Petti and welcome to my new segment with Dubspot! Now, I can’t take full credit for coming up with this idea. The thanks for this goes out to some very creative visionaries that are part of the Dubspot family. I was just doing what I normally do, minding my own business, when this idea was presented. The idea was conceived by some very clever people who were just observing my involvement and interaction at Dubspot with the staff and the students.

I teach a number of the music production classes at Dubspot for the Propellerhead Reason and Ableton Live programs, and encounter a great many musicians and DJs from all over the planet. I get exposed to a lot of new, interesting, and sometimes great music. My scholastic and professional background prior to coming to Dubspot was with sound design and sound programming. I studied music synthesis in college and had the fortune of working for some of the major MI companies and getting to do some sound programming and preset patch creation for their products. On this side of things I had the pleasure of meeting some of the real masters of this craft. Many of them were kind enough to share some of their best sound programming and design secrets with me. I still do contract work for preset patch creation, and I’d like to think that some of the sounds I have created might just be some of your favorite patches.

My ear has become very trained over the years for deciphering and figuring out sounds that are heard on recordings. This is how this whole segment and the video you are about to watch was born. I am constantly reverse-engineering sounds that I hear on recordings for myself and also for students and staff at Dubspot.

So, we’ve now decided to go global on this and open this part of my life up to everybody. The idea is simple yet effective, and can/will involve anyone that wants to participate. Those who are interested can submit, via email, a sound from a specific song/track that you would like to know how to make or create. On the show I will take the submission and break the sound down into the most identifiable components and then do what I do; figure out how to make it. I will be explaining the process all the way through, describing how I hear it and break it apart into its core components. I will then recreate the sound to the best of my abilities. None of this is rehearsed and I am not getting all that much time to “live” with the sound and study it, so this really is a test for me. I will be doing the reconstruction primarily in Propellerhead Reason, as it provides the all the synthesis and sampling tools necessary to make this work. It also shows that with the most basic building blocks, any sound can be found or forged. I will also be mentioning specific plug-ins that allow us to produce these specific sounds. The idea here is to present the concepts. When put in the right hands, even the most basic tools can be used to create the imaginable and unimaginable. You just have to know how to use them.

Let’s face it, we live in a fast-food preset world. Immediacy and instantaneous gratification are par for course at this point in our existence. However, we most likely don’t want our music to sound like everyone else’s. Relying on presets makes this inevitable because everyone has access to the same library of patches. By first understanding how these sounds are forged, we can then create our own custom variations and spin-offs with nearly any synthesis or sampling engine that provides the necessary features and functions. Once we have a firm understanding of mimicking other sounds we can start to take things in an entirely different direction and perhaps make the next big sound that rises to legendary cult following and underground status. Remember the old saying, Innovation is based off of imitation.

The idea was unknowingly submitted by two younger students that I have had over the past year. They are really into the track, “Warp 1.9″ by The Bloody Beetroots featuring Steve Aoki, and brought it to me during a class for my help in recreating that lead. Although there is an abundance of presets that could mimic this, I felt it far more valuable to teach them how to construct it.

I realize that this is not an overly complicated sound, but I felt that it was a great one to start the series off with. It has just enough going on to make it interesting, and its deconstruction/reconstruction process should be easy enough for all to follow. This will also outline the basic constants to sound analyses that we can then apply to others. Like I said earlier, this sound is used all over the place and probably does exist as a preset in one of your software or hardware synths. Understanding its inner-workings will allow you to modify and shape your own version of the Hoover that will add that much more uniqueness to your music. If all you’d like to do is mimic it to a tee, this should provide you with the understanding and know-how.

I really hope that you all enjoy watching this new series as I had a blast making it. It’s a lot of fun for me to be doing this for a much wider audience. Please feel free to drop me a line if you have an idea or suggestion for a sound that you would like to have featured and torn apart on the show. Enjoy! Blip Bleep!

- Chris Petti, Dubspot EMP Instructor and Sound Designer

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