Posts Tagged ‘effects’

A synth is created through tone generation, manipulation, and amplification.

Generation:

A basic synth will often have a single oscillator (the generator) with the ability to generate some kind of sound wave, the most common being the square, saw, triangle and sine waves.

To start building a synth sound, first select your wave. The square wave has quite a ‘woody’ sort of sound, and is often good for bass synths, the saw wave is quite sharp and a common lead synth wave, the triangle wave sounds similar to the square wave but a bit more dull and harmonically weaker and the sine wave is very pure and lifeless. This is because the shape of the other waves creates harmonics, and if you were to filter out the frequencies around the note you were playing you would end up with something that sounds like a sine wave anyway.

These waves are often not the only choices, many synths offer you the choice of combining two waves, and some synths offer you noise waves, or even the ability to create your own wave shape.

So depending on your synth, these are your choices… for one oscillator. Very often synths will have multiple oscillators, giving you the ability to layer sounds on top of each other, and blend the volumes for an even or one sided combination, as well as a pitch control (often used to put an oscillator up or down and octave, but sometimes used for different intervals, be careful with using intervals other than an octave, it might sound cool at first but it could create problems in the harmonic progression of your song.) Individual detune controls are often available to add some crunch by putting oscillators slightly out of tune with each other.

Many synths also allow you to choose how many unison voices the synth has, which essentially means the synth adds multiple copies of itself onto itself, this is a great way to create a really huge sound, but don’t get carried away or you won’t leave any space in your mix for anything else!

If you’re just starting out I suggest you just use one or two oscillators, and stick with basic wave shapes, one of my favourite sounds is 2-3 oscillators all set to a basic saw wave. Which sounds kind of boring, but here’s where it gets more interesting.

Manipulation:

The first manipulator is the ADSR envelope (an envelope is where the signal passes through to be manipulated, feel free to call it the manipulator thing.) This stands for Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release.

The attack is how long it takes for the synth to go from no volume to peak volume

The decay is how long it takes to go from peak volume to sustain volume

The sustain is the volume from the end of the decay period to until the note you’re playing is released

And the release is the time taken for the sound to reach silence after the note is released

This is best shown using this graph:

Slow attack and release times are most common in pads to allow the chord to swell up and fade away.

Decay and release are only experimented with excessively for more unusual kinds of sounds.

The next manipulators are the filter and resonance:

The filter is used to roll of frequencies above a certain point, sometimes you are given control of how fast they roll off as well. This is often used to filter out unwanted harmonics or if the high frequencies are masking another sound in the mix and you feel you don’t need them. Another common use for it is to have the filter set low and automate it to open up gradually, allowing the synth to grow and fill out the audio spectrum. If you don’t know how to automate, leave a comment and I’ll do a post on it as I won’t be going into that in this post.

The resonance is a control to create a resonance at a certain frequency, making it more prominent in the sound. This is often used to create a bigger bass sound or to emphasise some interesting harmonics in lead sounds.

Other manipulators are –

The LFO: This stands for ‘Low Frequency Oscillator,’ but it doesn’t generate sound, however it is still a waveform, this waveform is just used to control other aspects of the synth. A common use is to have it control the volume on a bass synth so that the volume fluctuates at the rate the wave is set to, the wave is then often synced to the song tempo, and there we have… WUB WUB!

Other uses are to control things like the filter, the pitch, the resonance or anything really, and you can get some really insane sounds.

Effects: These can be anything from chorus, flange, delay, reverb, or many other things, but I won’t be going into these in this post either.

Unison Detune: This is often a single knob to control the detune for all the voices in the synth that aren’t given actual oscillators.

I’m sure there are lots of synths with manipulators I haven’t mentioned, but these are what I’ve found to be most common, but if I’ve forgotten an important one, let me know!

Finally, the amplifier:

This isn’t really something you need to think about unless you’re using a hardware synth that requires an amp to make sound, in which case you will just have to buy an amp and get familiar with it, because all amps are very different. Software synths are amplified by your DAW or your computer (if its a standalone synth) and played through your speakers.

There is also another kind of synthesis called FM or ‘Frequency Modulation’ synthesis, but I will save that for another post as it gets quite complicated.

Thanks for reading, hope you found this helpful, if theres anything you’d like me to do a post on, let me know!

Advertisements

Setup and Recording:

Guitar and bass: The guitar and bass were both recorded using an Axe FX pre-amp, running into Helix board 18 fire wire digital mixer set up with a recording track in logic. The tone/virtual amp setup for the guitar was an off axis miking of a virtual Recto Orange amp. The bass was run through the Axe FX and into the mixer as a direct signal.

Drums: The drums were programmed with MIDI using Superior Drummer software.

Synths: The synths were programmed with MIDI using the Nexus plugin.

Voice: All vocals were recorded in a small room with little treatment using an AKG Perception 220 running into a DI interface, into a recording track in logic. A pop filter was used and singer/vocalist stood a few inches away from pop filter with that a few inches from the mic.

Processing and Effects:

Guitar: The 2 guitar parts were panned hard left and hard right. Both being processed with CLA Guitar plugins from waves, to add a little reverb, compression and EQ colour, some frequencies were then EQed out separately. Intro riff was notch EQed for effect.

Bass: The bass was EQed with a high roll off and some mids cut out, then compressed lightly.

Synths: Synths were given some Drastic EQ dips, peaks and roll offs to help stop masking. Delay and reverb were applied in the plugin whilst creating the sound.

Drums: In the plugin: Kick and snare were EQed and compressed. The toms were noise gated and compressed, some were also filtered. All drums except overheads and hats were bussed to a separate channel and given parallel compression. This bus was then sent to the main out with everything else at a lower level to add an intense thickness to the sound. Drums were all panned to the appropriate places to where a drummer would be sitting. Out of the plugin (aka the drums as a group:) Multipression to compress upper mids was applied, as well as a limiter at a low threshold to keep from peaking.

Vocals: All sung vocals were given a tight reverb, relatively strong compression, some stereo widening (particularly on the harmonies) and some EQ for colouring. Often harmonies were pushed down in volume to keep them from masking the main melody. Screamed vocals were triple tracked, EQed, had reverb applied, and compressed slightly. One track was panned half left, one half right, and one widened to maximum.

Checked phase correlation using a correlation meter plugin and frequency spectrum using a multimeter plugin.

Mastering: Mastering was done using iZotope Ozone 4. In the paragraphic equalizer some lower mids were cut, as well as some of the highs, as there was a lot of hiss. A limiter was added with a -4.2dB threshold to really improve the loudness of the track. A harmonic exciter was added to enhance the higher frequencies in particular. A multipressor was used to compress all the frequencies with slightly different amounts, as the mix needed it to help translate to other speakers in my house, crossovers were set at 80Hz, 324Hz and 5.05kHz. A multiband stereo imager was used to centre all frequencies below 80Hz a little and widen all frequencies above 5.05kHz quite a lot.

IZotope Ozone 4 also has a built in correlation meter, level meters and phase monitoring allowing keeping tabs on phase cancelation and peaking. Mix was converted  to mono to listen, however, just to be sure.

Just heard this today, sounds a little Short Stacky, but there is some really awesome production, great drum sounds, the way the vocal harmonies are mixed sit really really well, everything else is quite standard, but theres also some really awesome effects, filters, if you’re into pop punk production at all, find a high quality version of this song and I’m sure you’ll learn something from some critical listening.