becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

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vvd
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becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by vvd » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:53 pm

playing around with the VCO's, LFO's, filters and ADSR's on my new Micron, i have found that possibilities are quite many and that my "knob tweaking" is kind of random, which results in quite boring sounds so far.

How would i become a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard?

I mean, listening to the preset sounds of the synthesizer i am quite astonished about the variety of the sounds that can be made with just some VCO's, a bit of filtering, LFO's and envelopes!

an idea i recently had to learn some skills was to start with an empty preset for tweaking, then, take a preset sound i like and copy only, say the VCO setup (or the Envelopes, or the filter settings), and continue from there by just listening to the preset sound (just to have some sort of valid basement and to reduce the parameter space). then, if i still cant get it sounding quite right, copy another section of parameters and so on....

that would be just to get a feel for "how can i get this or that effect?".

what do you think about this idea?
would you consider yourself a Wizard and are willing to let us know how you got there?
are there any base skills/techniques you know of? (eg, "to create a deep, phat bass, you have to..." or "always start with the volume envelopes!" etc.)

thank you ")
Last edited by vvd on Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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micahjonhughes
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Re: becoming a Substractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by micahjonhughes » Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:05 am

I'd suggest reading some of these http://www.soundonsound.com/search?sect ... th+secrets

While you might not really want to make, for example, flute sounds, it is a great way to learn subtractive synth technique.

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Re: becoming a Substractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by Synthaholic » Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:08 am

A Micron isn't the easiest synth to be learning on, due to its limited interface. Maybe get a knobby synth such as an old Juno or an Ion (which is a bigger, knobbier version of the Micron), so you can tweak the knobs individually and see how they affect the sound.

Or if you aren't up to buying more synths, try some free softsynths that have "knobby synth" type interfaces.
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Re: becoming a Substractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by Yoozer » Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:38 am

vvd wrote: How would i become a Substractive Synthesis Wizard?
Tweak systematically.

Start from an init patch. Go listen to all the combinations of 2 oscillators - check what each waveform does. Then, detune oscillator 2 12 semitones up. Repeat listening to the waveforms combinations; so you know what a osc 1 sinewave, osc 2 saw (+12) sounds like and all variations thereof. Add effects to that - lots of polysynths with only 2 oscillators out there. Listen to all combinations with all detunings, both coarse and fine.

Then go figure out sync and ringmod.
are there any base skills/techniques you know of? (eg, "to create a deep, phat bass, you have to..." or "always start with the volume envelopes!" etc.)
Only when recreating a sound; I start with volume, try to determine the source (that's why endlessly listening to those combinations pays off!); the filter generally sorts out itself.
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

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Re: becoming a Substractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by aredj » Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:39 am

Tweak systematically.
+1

Reverse engineering patches can be educational as well...

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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by felis » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:28 pm

All good advice above.

Read, experiment, look at how the stock patches are constructed, experiment with each section of the synth separately (osc.'s, lfo's, filters, etc.) Try not to get frustrated if you're making slow progress - it takes time.
A couple things might makeit a bit easier - someone suggested using a softsynth. That will make visualizing it easier as on most of them, you can see most parameters at once. Check KVR for free softsynths to give you a start.
There's also a couple editors available at the Yahoo group for the Ion/Micron.

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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by mis psiquicios y yo » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:28 pm

Try to imitate sounds you hear, not just acoustic sounds, try to imitate the lead sound of a song you like or a pad, hoover sound, noise, drone, etc, but try hard, in the inbetweens you'll learn more and more. And also, you'll probably would learn some songs too, and that's good :D
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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by Marching Pig » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:49 am

I started learning proper subtractive synthesis on a micron, and it's taken me about a year, but i've got to where i want to be, i can create almost any sort of sound i want or need.

I started by just tweaking the presets and then saving the altered preset as a copy. Additionally, especially with the micron, see waht happens when you turn this or that off.

I can not tell you how many times i forgot to do this, and ended up tearing my hair out about what i thought was some sort of funky PWM effect, but turned out to be just a Phase Warp Filter.

I've found, for uber-fat, but controllable, Sub-y sort of basses, put a SQR wave and a SINE wave (you'll have to determine the mix, and PWM of each) through a band-pass filter, then through a low pass, using the filter offset, rather than actual frequency for cut-off. If you set it low enough for the first, and with the right off-set, you should get a really nice deep sub bass.

Just remember, lots of the pre-set basses have quite high cut-offs, which sucks when you emulate them, 'cause lots of them sound rubbish. My hats go off to whoever programmed the j00piter bass though, it's f**k rad (though i accidentally deleted it :( )

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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by Marching Pig » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:53 am

mis psiquicios y yo wrote:Try to imitate sounds you hear, not just acoustic sounds, try to imitate the lead sound of a song you like or a pad, hoover sound, noise, drone, etc, but try hard, in the inbetweens you'll learn more and more. And also, you'll probably would learn some songs too, and that's good :D

Just another thought, stick with this idea, but try and look through the presets for something similar to what you're hearing in a song, and then try tweaking the preset to get it closer to the song. I was trying to program an Ultravox-Vienna type lead, and was having difficulty with the Osc Sync, so i found a preset that had similar characteristics, tweaked it, thus working out how it worked, and then made my own lead, that was spot on. Then i trashed it, by putting a comb filter in it, lol

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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by Marching Pig » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:56 am

and one last thing, get Welsh's synthesizer cookbook, it's a real gem at showing you how to get some pretty stock patches that you can then use to create your own things, plus it has REALLY handy filter and tuning percentage tables, which are just beyond useful....

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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by syncretism » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:20 pm

Here's another boost for Welsh's book; harmonic analysis is a powerful, but surprisingly easy, way to get the most out an analogue synth. It'll cover the basics and provide a theoretical foundation to build on over time.
Yours,
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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by BlackGnosis » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:50 pm

I recommend getting one of the following 4 synths to learn on.

SAMS RECCOMENDED TOP 4 LEARNING SYNTHS

1- ROLAND SH-101
2- ROLAND JP-8000
3- Roland SH-201
4- KORG MS-2000 [rack version is fine as long as you got a good controller with it]
5- A drumstick.
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Ashe37 wrote:I find it funny that you're a guitar pedal snob and yet don't own a single analog synth.

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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by breckjay » Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:43 pm

novation k station is a great way to learn.
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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by condit79 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:56 pm

I second all the ideas from everyone else. Starting with a basic patch can be daunting when you're just starting out, but eventually you'll get annoyed starting with a preset. Start taking existing patches apart. Change things and try to wrap your brain/ears around what's happening. IMO the best way to become a synth wizard is a modular synth where you have to literally patch everything, but that's not ideal if youre not financially able. I know when I sold off some gear and got a modular system running my skills got way better as the whole process is so hands on and you really learn what each section does because if you get the signal path wrong, no sound comes out at all. Anyway, good luck and read up.
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Re: becoming a Subtractive Synthesis Wizard

Post by vicd » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:39 am

I would advise also visualizing your sounds. Viewing the waveforms or the spectrograms of what you're playing or of what you're trying to achieve is helpful for understanding the basics like "what's happening here" and "where should I move now".
An oscilloscope plugin in a DAW, a sound editor, a standalone oscilloscope - whatever. It's pure fun watching them evolve in time!

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