Studio hacks: 6 pro synth programming techniques


Analogies – what are they? Is it the same as an analog? The term is most commonly synonymous with more organic, more alive, and less harsh and sterile sounds than typical contemporary sounds. The sounds are also characterized by warmth, subtle movement, and unpredictable variations.  

What is a synthesizer and how to use it?  

Whenever anything vibrates continuously, the air around that object does too. Our ears catch all these vibrations produced around the object and convert them into messages that go to our brains to understand the sound.  

A synth programs it and mimics this process, but instead of using a vocal chord or vibrating guitar string, an electrical signal produces the vibration that can be slowed down, speed up, and modified in multiple ways that natural acoustic sounds cannot do it. At some point, these signals are amplified vigorously and sent through a music speaker as multiple vibrations happening in the air that we can hear.  

Producer Jonny Strinati explains some synth programming basic tips and techniques for getting the most out of any synth programming sound in your arsenal with the quirks and peculiarities of vintage analogs.  

Oscillator Retrigger  

The oscillator waveforms of the oscillators in most analog synthesizers and synthesizer programming would be free running, meaning their waveforms would continue regardless of whether the note is played. As a result, each letter is slightly different since the oscillator starts at a somewhat different phase in each period. There are slight imperfections in classic analog hardware that contribute to its warm, organic sound.  

 Virtually all soft synths program let you choose whether or not the oscillators retrigger. The default setting on some synths like Sylenth1 is an oscillator per oscillator. For other synths like Massive, it is not. If you discover the “Osc Phase Retrig” or similar control on your soft synth programming sound and disable it, you will get a more authentic analog sound.  

White Noise  

ARP 2600, Roland System 100, and Prophet 5 were classic analog synthesizers that included a noise generator. In addition to grit and high-end presence, the noise generator added a particular spirit to synth programming sounds.   

Try adding a layer of noise before using an EQ or exciter the next time you work with a synth programming sound that lacks brightness. You can also select from an assortment of analog-modeled noise sources in Xfer Records’ Serum.  

Watch The Waveform  

There are many types of waveforms available in modern soft synths. Wavetable synths such as Massive and Serum allow you to produce an almost limitless range of waveforms! The waveforms on classic analog hardware synths were usually sawtooth, triangle, sine, and square waves. This means that your DAW can offer different waveform options when you use Spire, for example. When creating classic 303 acid sounds, you should stick with square waves or sawtooth waves since the Roland TB-303 had waveform selectors.  

Process With Analogue-Emulating Effects Plugins  

Vintage emulation plug-ins aren’t complicated to find these days, and often they can make a digital synth sound warmer and a lot more natural. In my opinion, Slate Digital is one of the most impressive developers of analog emulation plug-ins.   

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