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The Synth Thread

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by TheWinterSnow, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. TheWinterSnow

    TheWinterSnow Den Mørke Natt

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    So months back I made this thread asking about hardware synths. Since then I have acquired Massive and FM8 (VSTs) and have come to the realization that dialing in pro sounds is much more difficult then modern metal production/engineering. I have spent the past couple months trying to create sounds and have come up with nothing decent.

    I recently got into EDM, mostly Dubstep and have been into progressive house as well as top 40 music and see (or hear) a lot of similarities or reoccurring themes in synth sounds. Synth sounds that are deep in the sense of texture. When you get presets they all sound like something from 8-bit video games from the 80s and when I try to dial in my own sounds, sounds I spend 8+ hours a day for weeks and they still sounds 2 dimensional and lame.

    I would like a dialog about creating original sounds and recreating the generic complex sounds that range from metal to dubstep to top 40 and even 70s music. Tutorials, discussions anything that sheds light on the mysterious subject. When you look at most tutorials of VSTs you get the same dubstep growls or leads tutorials but nothing on atmospheric pads and other cool things.

    Resources:
    SoundOnSound Synth Articles

    Youtube pages:
    Future Music Youtube page
    DubSpot Youtube page
    Nezvers Youtube page

    Any further links, youtube playlists are welcome, I will continue to update with links, you tube playlists etc as well as quick references to posts with tutorials and useful information.
     
  2. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    Interesting Topic.

    I'm in no way a EDM type programmer, or a great programmer, but I have done a tone of programming for a variety of indie and major label records.

    I agree with the statement that stock presets, or even tweaked patches are difficult to make sound big. My work flow at the time basically revolved around simple midi patterns that were double or tripled and sent to all kinds of different sounds, each with distinct characteristics.

    Even Massive alone you can get pretty good sounds, all it takes is some layering, and then post processing. I find layering a clean sub or low bass, with a cutting sawlead for the mids, and an air pad into one sound and processing together can get more into the range of "pro sounds". After that it's alot of saturation and compression to make it consistent and tight.

    The biggest thing with synths specifically is the range in which they are done, or where the main power is. I find a lot of amateur programmers load tones of sounds all into the same spectrum range and then complain about not having all them all clearly audible. the best part of synth work is you can use the whole range.

    For pads, I personally always keep them on the thinner side. Like I almost always filter everything below 100-150hz if not higher. They just don't need the bottom, especially if you're adding the usual sub bass shit.

    As far as synths I love/recommend:

    anything by spectrasonic
    Nexus
    NI stuff is good but needs more work.
     
  3. TheWinterSnow

    TheWinterSnow Den Mørke Natt

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    That's great, I love to see some actual dialog here.

    I have done programming in small doses with my band with synths. Layering cool presets to make one new sound. But now it comes down to the fact that I want to branch out and be able to make my own sounds. Most of my programming has been with drums and real orchestra samples but not making synthesis sounds. You hear EDM guys talking about if they have a sound in their head they can hash it out on either Massive or FM8 within 5 minutes and I am thinking, how the hell do you gain that kind of knowledge as I have been tinkering and twisting knobs to see what does what on certain VSTs for well over 10 years now and still can't dial in dick for tones. Just like playing a musical instrument there has to be some sort of theory as to achieving basic sounds. I am not talking about the generic preset sounds, I mean, basic sounds you hear in EDM and top 40 music...sounds you hear everyday in pop music.

    I feel without some basic theory that it would be the same as handing a kid a guitar and saying learn how to play only by experimenting, requiring them to discover theory, scales and chords just by plunking around on the guitar...its not going to happen.

    What has irked me the most is just making a basic saw pad that has thickness and depth as well as having intelligence. I make a saw type pad and it sounds noisy and muddy and the three notes making a major or minor chord sound more like noise then when I listen to say Skrillex he can have a similar sound and you can hear all the three notes in that chord and I am left thinking, what the hell can I do to a saw wave to make it more airy less brassy and still have the notes be intelligible. Its a complete mindfuck if you ask me.

    Most of the tutorials on youtube are really shitty, some of them do well teaching how to do Dubstep wobbles, but most of us wouldn't be interested in that. Most would be more worried about sounds that fit in a mix. Maybe we can have a discussion and share our knowledge and let this thread be a large library of tutorials of the theory of making basic electronic synth sounds and even have list of other websites with tutorials, like a drum samples meta thread but for making synth sounds for newbies.
     
  4. FrankTheSmith

    FrankTheSmith Member

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    Dubstep?
     
    #4 FrankTheSmith, Sep 30, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2015
  5. vespiz

    vespiz Mixing!

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    Learn Subtractive synthesis, it's pretty much the basis for everything*. Synths have their own sound, just as guitars do; it's "just" a matter of getting to know them and it takes time.

    Layering is key in a big mix. I might be repeating myself, but on our last record, I think I had at least 3 different synths/sounds comprising the strings and choirs. Then some big reverbs and some stereowidening tricks (Haas, S1, delays). This was the first album I got them to "sound" the way I want them to, sitting in the back behind everything else. Don't know if it has anything to do with it, but they were all HW synths recorded through a passive DI (iron) and TG-2 preamps (another iron).





    *Yes, yes, there's FM, Additive, Granular, etc.
     
  6. JHA

    JHA Member

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    I see this as a positive really. Commodore 64's SID is a classic and in fact now many synth developers and musicians are trying to emulate or make similar sounds.
     
  7. xFkx

    xFkx gain induction

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    Check out future music's youtube channel, they have a shitload of videos with producers showing their workflow.

    After watching a video with noisia I made a patch that I liked in 15 seconds.

    Also there are some "hidden" tricks here and there, like rising the unisono count in the voicing parameters of ni massive.
     
  8. smy1

    smy1 Member

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    The Winter Snow: regarding your "muddy chord" problem - use 3 instances of the same sound, play them as the single notes of the chord and EQ/process each instance.
     
  9. Nuno Filipe

    Nuno Filipe You talkin' to me?

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    For progressive house, it´s hard to beat Nexus. Most of the presest already sound great. By the other hand, I find omnisphere very weak, it has more than 40gb of shit and most of the presest are useless, really useless IMO. Well but if you want to go into a experimental path, Omnisphere could be useful because has too many weird shit. But besides the great reviews, Omnisphere has, and for the huge library that it has I find it quite weak. Nexus expansions usually have no more than 1gb and with just a few of them, Nexus beat the hell of Omnisphere.
     
  10. smy1

    smy1 Member

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    Haha, I think exactly the opposite. I use Omnisphere all the time and everytime I tried Nexus I found it to be weak. :)

    Nexus is hard to make sound good.
     
  11. Nuno Filipe

    Nuno Filipe You talkin' to me?

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    I was thinking in progressive trance not house!lol For house Omnisphere might be better but not for trance IMO. Anyway, omnisphere doesnt have presets out the box, I always have to tweak it to hell and back.
     
  12. smy1

    smy1 Member

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    Nuno: I think we are talking about different things: you are talking about preset sounds that you want to use while I am talking about the general sound of the plugin. Although both are (at least partially) ROMplers I prefer the sound of Omnisphere. For some reason it cuts better through a mix and is less grainy. Omnisphere is not as good as Massive or Sylenth, but for me Nexus always sounds noisy/hissy/thin.
     
  13. SocialNumb

    SocialNumb Damn Christians!

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    Why would anyone want a synth for just it's presets? Presets are cool to showcase what a synth can do. Maybe to revers engineer that shit and learn something. That's about it. I call them track eaters. They sound great on their own but are to "wet" for my taste.

    Also, I agree Omnisphere (still don't use it, that "wet" thing again. Yes, I know I can take the FX off.) sounds way better than Nexus.

    Anyways, this might help someone: http://www.adp-gmbh.ch/csound/synth_secret.html
    http://www.soundonsound.com/search?url=/search&Keyword="synth+secrets"&Words=All&Summary=Yes
     
  14. Nuno Filipe

    Nuno Filipe You talkin' to me?

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    Well I am using synths mainly for metal for now, so we are using the same programs for different styles of music but when I use nexus sounds, I dont eq a lot, just the basic stuff, like HP/LP, cut some mids and boosting some highs.

    Just as an example, nexus strings have much more low end, it´s more expressive and deep than the strings of Omnisphere, and the delay/reverb combo in nexus it´s really good. But then again, omnisphere probably works better for the kind of sounds that you have in mind.
     
  15. Nuno Filipe

    Nuno Filipe You talkin' to me?

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    Omnisphere and Nexus you are quite dependent on presets, of course you can tweak it and edit some few things but you cant create sounds from nothing. They dont work that way. It´s possible to change quite a bit, more in omnisphere but that preset kind of sound will be always there.

    This are kind of synths for people who dont have much patience or knowledge to create things from nothing.
     
  16. SocialNumb

    SocialNumb Damn Christians!

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    I'm well aware Nonu. ;) I have hardware analog/virtual analog/digital synths. As well as plugin synths of all kinds. I'm all about it. I like them more than guitars. However, don't be fooled, you can edit the shit out of Omnisphere.
     
  17. smy1

    smy1 Member

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    Nuno: he's right. You could just start with a sinewave and create something from scratch.

    Otoh, I never use Omnisphere for "clear" sounds (like you mentioned: strings) but for the "weirdness" and for "ambience" that you feel rather than clearly hear. Then again: I don't think I've created synth sounds in the past 2 years that aren't heavily layered, so what sounds like 1 bass is really 5 basses divided into different frequency-areas.
     
  18. indecizo

    indecizo Member

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    I find Reason good for making cool sounds from scratch.
     
  19. domingooo

    domingooo Member

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  20. SocialNumb

    SocialNumb Damn Christians!

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    ^That's pretty much what I posted. I guess twice can't hurt.
     

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