I'm using SONAR 5 Producer (I know, it's old.) to record/mix/master my recording. What I'm looking to do is with certain sounds, I'd like to create the effect of having hundreds of instruments without recording a hundred takes.

For example, I'd like to simulate the effect achieved throughout 30 Seconds To Mars' album having massive-sounding hand claps, stomps, and singing. It's my understanding that they actually had fans send in clips of them clapping, stomping, or singing. For someone like me who doesn't have millions of ready and willing fans (yet), how can I achieve this sound?

In the past, I've tried taking about 5-10 takes over one another and running all of them through a chorus, reverb, and delay, but it's still just not there: it doesn't sound nearly as "big."

How can I create this effect?

  • I believe you are looking for how to create the "Wall of Sound" which was pioneered by Phil Spector in the early 60s. Google "Wall of Sound" to learn more.
    – filzilla
    Mar 6, 2012 at 0:24
  • I have never tried this, but there is a concept for tiling images called the "cicada principle" where you create special tile sets crafted in such a way that their repetition is masked ( designfestival.com/… ). For clapping etc, you could probably adapt this method, make several "tilesets" of claps in different aural settings and loop them randomly to build up layers of seemingly unique tracks built from a small number of parts.
    – horatio
    Mar 8, 2012 at 22:15

2 Answers 2


The important thing about such sounds is that the sources aren't coherent, neither the deviations in rythm and frequency nor the actual audio phases and amplitudes follow any predictable relationships. That's unlike the extra signals normal chorus/delay/phaser effects add, where the modulation is usually at best periodic and the relation very simple, only varied in one of these parameters. What's needed is a randomized-modulation effect which applies time-varyingly all of delay, smooth eq and all-pass filtering to the extra signals. Furthermore, each of these should have a randomized signal level, and the signals should only be mixed after each of them has had all the modifications applied to it, so simply chaining multiple chorus and phaser plugins won't quite work. I don't know any plugin that offers this functionality, perhaps I should write one...

Of course, you should still use multiple seperate takes, and rather than running "all of them" through the FX you should run each of them through a seperate instance thereof, each with slightly different parameters.

  • 1
    Thumbs up for the plugin development part.
    – Johnny Bigoode
    Mar 6, 2012 at 15:26
  • Ditto that. +1 for plugin development.
    – Naftuli Tzvi Kay
    Mar 6, 2012 at 16:14
  • The problem is that there is no plugin that is capable of doing this. There are plugins trying, but no one has succeeded. Antares Audio Technologies have made a plugin for simulating a big choir with only a few voices (using the same plugin on multiple takes). I downloaded the trial, but it doesn't work at all. It doesn't give the impression of DIFFERENT VOICES, only VARIATIONS OF THE SAME SOUND. Record 1000 claps and get 10 people to do it. There you have 10 000 claps. The only way to do it properly. (And of course you have to use different mics and positions and rooms.)
    – Friend of Kim
    Mar 6, 2012 at 22:02

You can't create this effect, at least I was unable to do so.

I tried in the past creating street carvanal drums sounds (they're similar to a marching band) but it's kinda useless to use the same sound sample, since it gives a flanger effect.

If the sounds are higher pitched (like claps) it would probably have some frequency cancellation that would render the result rather useless.

For vocals this is even harder, since different people have different voices and that's the magic about choirs.

The small differences in velocity, pitch and time will create the effect that you're looking for, but still it's very problematic.

So what's the best solution? Well... depends. A LOT. For all cases Antares Vocal Kit can help, specially if you want 2 or 3 voicings. There's a CHOIR and DUO plug in that works even with melodic instruments, but it sucks with percussion.

For drums you can try piling samples. This works even for claps and snares, not a good idea for kick drums thou.

To be honest, there's something I learnt with time - it's usually better to have a good sample than trying to fix it. It would be better to search for what you're looking with the massive instruments. There are tons of open source sampling sites that you may get some samples, you can try finding someone (specially on reddit) that would be interested in doing this recording.

If you need a choir or a group of people singing, your friends might help and even craiglist could help for some money.

BTW, I haven't heard the song, so I'm not 100% of what you're asking, but I guess this is it.

  • Yeah, spot on, that was what I was asking for. As far as drums are concerned, I really only have synths which makes it harder. I'll just have to resort to recording ten million samples or something :)
    – Naftuli Tzvi Kay
    Mar 5, 2012 at 22:02
  • What are you trying to do? I'm curious.
    – Johnny Bigoode
    Mar 5, 2012 at 22:07
  • You know, making music ;) Blending styles that have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
    – Naftuli Tzvi Kay
    Mar 5, 2012 at 22:11
  • By the way, here's a link to that part of the song I'm mentioning.
    – Naftuli Tzvi Kay
    Mar 10, 2012 at 0:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.