Diplo reveals his favourite soft synths and the "quintessential" Ableton stock plugin that's "fundamental" to his productions: "That's where all my sounds started from"

Grammy-winning producer Diplo is one of the chief architects of modern pop, having worked with everyone from Justin Bieber and Beyoncé to Bad Bunny and Usher; he's also found global success as a solo artist and through the collaborative projects Major Lazer, Jack Ü and Silk City. 

Diplo appeared on the Tape Notes podcast last year to discuss his varied career and his approach to music-making. In a video shared yesterday to Tape Notes' channel and embedded above, the producer reveals some of his favourite bits of gear used on some of his best-known tracks. 

When Tape Notes host John Kennedy asks Diplo if there's a "fundamental" piece of kit that's "quintessentially" his, the producer names Ableton's stock sampling plugin Sampler as an essential tool. "It's so basic, but I'd say the Ableton Sampler," Diplo says. 

"That's where all my sounds started from, just the access to fucking up raw audio like I did when I first started with a hardware sampler. I was putting stuff in there and finding weird sounds and making a polyphonic keyboard out of whatever you want."

Diplo goes on to recall working with the MPC3000 in his early days, before gesturing towards at his Native Instruments Maschine and Teenage Engineering OP-1, out of shot. "I love the OP-1, but fuck, it's a hard thing to learn!", he continues. 


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When Kennedy asks Diplo about the software he uses the most, Diplo picks out the virtual instrument Output Arcade as a go-to tool for idea generation. "You can lock into a key, and if you're stuck for a melody or a change in the music you can find something random... It's almost the same as using a record player and finding samples."

"For synths, I'm still so basic," Diplo continues. "I'm into Serum and Synplant. For the last couple years I've been recording a lot of live instruments and adding the basslines with synths."

The producer also revealed that he's been getting deep into producing acid house music, a genre closely associated with the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer. "That's all I've been working on... we downloaded so many different plugins to try to recreate the 303, but they were so hard to program." 

Eventually, Diplo opted for the real thing, picking up a second-hand TB-303 on eBay. "When you use this one and fuck with it naturally, you're going to get the best sound," he says. 

Listen to the full Tape Notes podcast with Diplo.

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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