Do I suck at synth programming? Or is it the softsynths?

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lost cause
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Do I suck at synth programming? Or is it the softsynths?

Post by lost cause » Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:31 am

Guys,

I'm trying to program Imagination's 'Music & Lights' synth bass patch. This bass sound is not the same as the 'Just an Illusion' patch. The latter is smoother with less grit/bite than the sound I'm going for.

I'm no expert (hence this post), but I think the Music & Lights patch comprises 3 waveforms: A saw/square mix (square mixed at around 50% of the saw) for the grit/bite and a sine (or possible triangle) for the sub.

I programmed the MIDI parts and then began trying to create the patch using the Arturia Minimoog. I originally focussed on creating the grit/bite part of the sound as I figured I could easily add the sine later. I couldn't get anywhere near it. So, I tried the Imposcar next. Again, no luck. :?

So, I turned to my trusty Juno (the only analogue hardware I own) and tried again. This time I achieved a better result and was able to achieve a reasonable 80's style funky synth bass. The patch I came up with on the Juno had a lot more grit/bite than my previous attempts using softsynths (because of a real analogue filter perhaps?), but it still wasn't similar enough to the Imagination patch.

Is this a case of 'a bad workman blames his tools' or are my tools inadequate for the task I'm trying to achieve? Should I just forget it and save up for a hardware Moog or should I try some other VSTi's?

I'm a great believer at getting things right at the source, but after experimenting with this for several days I'm not sure if any of the sources at my disposal can do the job. Should I persevere with compression/distortion/amp/speaker simulators to get the bite I'm looking for? Or am I just banging my head against a brick wall because:

1. The sound I want is specific to a certain hardware synth.

2. Softsynth filter models pale in comparison to the real thing.

....sorry for the rambling/long post. I could really use some expert advice on this! :wink:
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Post by Untouchable_888 » Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:19 pm

lost cause wrote:So, I turned to my trusty Juno (the only analogue hardware I own) and tried again. This time I achieved a better result and was able to achieve a reasonable 80's style funky synth bass. The patch I came up with on the Juno had a lot more grit/bite than my previous attempts using softsynths (because of a real analogue filter perhaps?), but it still wasn't similar enough to the Imagination patch.
That is precisely it. Nothing can ever match up to an analogue. EVER. Some say that analogue sounds bad, and dont liek it, like my best friend/badnmate. (ironic, hey? cause im such an analogue freak)
He thinks that the cold digital sound sounds nice and clean and crisp. I say it sounds dead. And that the analogue distortion has life. "Organicness," as many say....

But aside from that (oh, and let me tell you that I am NOT an xpert), I would say that if you really want some funky bass, get an sh, like an SH-101 or SH-09. The SH-2 is really nice too, but my guess is that an sh-101 or -09 woudl suit you. But, the best thing to do is to go to You Tube and check out demos fo different synths. Yes, hardware synths. And start with brands. Check out the rolands, then the korgs, then the Alesis, then the Moogs, then the Arps, then the Seil, then the Kurzwiel. You seem like you have a good ear, so you should be able to tell the differences.
Roland sounds nice and round, complete, and full - to me, at least. Alesis sounds a bit shelfy and "thick." korg is a bit hollow and thin. But that is just to me, and all those can sound good for a certain desire, like you seem to have. I know i have mine. Mine is Roland. mainly 80s analogue Roland. But one of my old friends, was big into Alesis. His band was TerracorpsE (www.myspace.com/terracorpse). On the album, he used the alesis micron and some other one, i forget which, and i thought it sounded amazing - for his writing style. but on the myspace, i think that is all digital stuff. computer. im not sure. but the badn broke up, so whatever...

but you get my point, right? so, try that out, and if you have more questions, then let me know. pm me. or ask Bryan Erickson. He is good at synths. www.myspace.com/velvetacidchrist93.

Good Luck!!![/quote]
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~NOVATION IMPULSE 49 -> Cheetah ms6, Roland JP-08, Arturia Minibrute, Kong Volca Keys, bass guitar, <-/-> M-Audio MIDIman 2x4 -> Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 etc.

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Post by Untouchable_888 » Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:22 pm

oh, and sorry. just in case i was not clear, #1, is right. IMO.
lost cause wrote:1. The sound I want is specific to a certain hardware synth.
:D
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lost cause
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Post by lost cause » Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:05 am

Untouchable, thanks for your input.

Your opinion clarifies what I suspected. Softsynths are only capable of producing certain types of synth sound.

I guess I'd better start saving up (again)!! :wink:
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Post by Hugo76 » Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:16 am

lost cause wrote:Untouchable, thanks for your input.

Your opinion clarifies what I suspected. Softsynths are only capable of producing certain types of synth sound.

I guess I'd better start saving up (again)!! :wink:
That, I strongly doubt. I do not have extensive experience with hardware analogue synths, but I strongly doubt you have to get a real analogue to reproduce the sound you're after.

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Post by Joey » Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:58 pm

untouchable is wrong, don't listen to him.

analog synths are not the end all be all of synths.

take this from the owner of several analogs, and not a snobby kid.

like he said, he is NOT an expert.

I'm not either, but I've been around the block a bit more than he has synth wise.

you want to use a saw/pulse mix, with the filter about three quarters of the way closed, a bit of portamento, and a really fast decay on the filter envelope, with a tiny bit of sustain, and no release on the amp or filter

set the amp to taste, just no release.

a slight overdrive, and i mean SLIGHT, might add a bit of grit to it, or a tube amp simulator

you are never going to get the exact sound because you don't have that specific synth, or the processing it went through (eq, compressors, etc).

you can get close though, even with VST's.

you could get a close approximation with your juno as well, but it sounds like it could be a minimoog, and its definitely more than one osc, in which case the minimoog v will get you closer because it has a similar overall tone. (this does not mean they sound the same).
No one cares, no one sympathizes,
so you just stay home and play synthesizers.

http://wearereplicants.com

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Post by Untouchable_888 » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:34 pm

Joey wrote:untouchable is wrong, don't listen to him.

analog synths are not the end all be all of synths.

take this from the owner of several analogs, and not a snobby kid.

like he said, he is NOT an expert.

I'm not either, but I've been around the block a bit more than he has synth wise.

you want to use a saw/pulse mix, with the filter about three quarters of the way closed, a bit of portamento, and a really fast decay on the filter envelope, with a tiny bit of sustain, and no release on the amp or filter

set the amp to taste, just no release.

a slight overdrive, and i mean SLIGHT, might add a bit of grit to it, or a tube amp simulator

you are never going to get the exact sound because you don't have that specific synth, or the processing it went through (eq, compressors, etc).

you can get close though, even with VST's.

you could get a close approximation with your juno as well, but it sounds like it could be a minimoog, and its definitely more than one osc, in which case the minimoog v will get you closer because it has a similar overall tone. (this does not mean they sound the same).
Some can tell the difference, others can not.
A.D.I.D.A.S.
[All Day I Dream About Synths]

~NOVATION IMPULSE 49 -> Cheetah ms6, Roland JP-08, Arturia Minibrute, Kong Volca Keys, bass guitar, <-/-> M-Audio MIDIman 2x4 -> Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 etc.

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Post by Joey » Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:50 pm

Untouchable_888 wrote:
Joey wrote:untouchable is wrong, don't listen to him.

analog synths are not the end all be all of synths.

take this from the owner of several analogs, and not a snobby kid.

like he said, he is NOT an expert.

I'm not either, but I've been around the block a bit more than he has synth wise.

you want to use a saw/pulse mix, with the filter about three quarters of the way closed, a bit of portamento, and a really fast decay on the filter envelope, with a tiny bit of sustain, and no release on the amp or filter

set the amp to taste, just no release.

a slight overdrive, and i mean SLIGHT, might add a bit of grit to it, or a tube amp simulator

you are never going to get the exact sound because you don't have that specific synth, or the processing it went through (eq, compressors, etc).

you can get close though, even with VST's.

you could get a close approximation with your juno as well, but it sounds like it could be a minimoog, and its definitely more than one osc, in which case the minimoog v will get you closer because it has a similar overall tone. (this does not mean they sound the same).
Some can tell the difference, others can not.
considering how many analog synths I have owned, I think I can vouch for the differences between analog and digital.

his VST's will do him just fine for now. He doesn't need to spend anymore money.

If on the other hand he wants to move from software to a tangible interface, then he totally should.

but he doesn't need to buy a minimoog just for this one bass sound.
No one cares, no one sympathizes,
so you just stay home and play synthesizers.

http://wearereplicants.com

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Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:27 am

Joey wrote:considering how many analog synths I have owned, I think I can vouch for the differences between analog and digital.

his VST's will do him just fine for now. He doesn't need to spend anymore money.

If on the other hand he wants to move from software to a tangible interface, then he totally should.

but he doesn't need to buy a minimoog just for this one bass sound.
Totally agree.

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Post by sacredcow » Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:38 am

Untouchable is very wrong.
The softsynth you might be trying to use to reproduce the patch could possibly be incapable of doing so, but if so, that has nothing to do with the fact that it's a softsynth and not analog. There are very many digitals out there that could fool anyone in a lot of instances especially when recorded in a digital audio format which is probably what you're trying to compare it to in the first place.
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Post by lost cause » Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:33 pm

Thanks for the opinions guys. I'll try again with the Minimoog V.

Just out of interest, does anyone know what synths Swain & Jolley were using in 81/82? I assume that the Imagination basslines were created using a Minimoog but can anyone confirm this?
Joey wrote: you want to use a saw/pulse mix, with the filter about three quarters of the way closed, a bit of portamento, and a really fast decay on the filter envelope, with a tiny bit of sustain, and no release on the amp or filter

set the amp to taste, just no release.

a slight overdrive, and i mean SLIGHT, might add a bit of grit to it, or a tube amp simulator

you are never going to get the exact sound because you don't have that specific synth, or the processing it went through (eq, compressors, etc).

you can get close though, even with VST's.

you could get a close approximation with your juno as well, but it sounds like it could be a minimoog, and its definitely more than one osc, in which case the minimoog v will get you closer because it has a similar overall tone. (this does not mean they sound the same).
Joey, many thanks for the tip - I'll try it later. :)
Hardware: Juno-60, Pro DCB Mk3, JD-990, XV-2020 & SRX-07, MSQ-700, LinnDrum & Forat midi, OB DX & Electrongate midi, Korg KMS-30, Kurzweil K2000, BCR2000

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Post by lost cause » Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:52 am

Guys... to update you

I had another go last night with the Minimoog V.

:) Using Joey's suggestions I was able to get very close to an Imagination style bassline sound:

Osc1: Saw 16'
Osc2: Pulse 8', fine tune +8%
Osc3: Off
Sync: Off
Osc1 Level: 5.45dB
Osc2 Level: 7.96dB

Filter Keyboard tracking: On
Cutoff: -2.66 = 172Hz
Emphasis: 3.59
Contour Amount: 27.34%
VCF Attack: 0
VCF Decay: 297.33ms
VCF Sustain: 4.45

VCA Attack: 0
VCA Decay: 190.63
VCA Sustain: 10

Overall volume: 13.86dB
Soft Clipping: Off

The sustain portion of the held notes that bend up to the next note don't sound right if the VCF sustain is set very low. Some of the higher frequencies need to be present in the sustain section of the sound to give these sliding notes some presence.

With careful editing of note lengths, a healthy dose of compression and some eq I'm getting very close to the 'Just an Illusion' bassline sound, however (like I said in the original post) the 'Music & Lights' patch is a different beast... and remains elusive... :?

Anyway, I'm going to keep going with this. I'm learning a lot although it's quite a frustrating and laborious process!

One thing for sure: I'm in awe of Swain & Jolley, especially when you consider that these tracks are nearly 30 years old - long before the days of any sophisticated hardware or software sequencers! It's made me fully appreciate just how superb their playing/programming/producing skills were! :notworthy:

Many thanks once again guys, please feel free to chime in with any further suggestions!
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