Tuesday, 22 April 2014

New Patch a Week Blog

For those of you who have followed my synth patch blogs in the past you won't be surprised to hear I am learning a new instrument - the legendary MS-20, in 'mini' format. If you want to read more follow the link at the top of this page.


Friday, 18 May 2012

Patch 014 - Trumpet

While trawling through YouTube late one night I found the following excellent tutorial for synth noobs explaining the basics of subtractive synthesis:


In it Adrian Scott (BabyGrandOz) programs a trumpet patch on his Roland Gaia (starting at 3 minutes or so in the video) which I am going to try and recreate on the microKORG. Adrian has a fantastic way of explaining things in layman terms which means this task should be straightforward enough...

The amp and low pass filter (with a little resonance) were both modulated by the amp envelope (tweaked to give the "parp" like attack of a trumpet). This left the filter envelope free to modulate LFO2 such that there was a noticable delay in the modulation of the cutoff and for a little vibrato (so it was only noticeable on the sustained notes).This was the only way round the fact that there is no way to delay the onset of the LFOs. Finally I added a reverb-like delay.

Here are the settings (starting from init, shift+3):

Voice: SYT, SGL, PLY, ---, --- (unchanged)
Pitch: 0, 0, 0, 2, 5 (unchanged)
Osc 1: SAW, 0, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Osc 2: SAW, OFF, 0, 0, --- (unchanged)
Mixer: 127, 0, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Filter: 12L, 23, 10, 0, 0
Filter EG: 60, 36, 127, 45, ON
Amp: 127, CNT, OFF, 0, --- (unchanged)
Amp EG: 20, 53, 55, 44, ON
LFO 1: TRI, OFF, OFF, 10, --- (unchanged)
LFO 2: SIN, OFF, OFF, 6, ---

Patch 1: AEG, CUT, 63, ---, ---
Patch 2: FEG, LF2, 63, ---, ---
Patch 3: LF2, CUT, 19, ---, ---
Patch 4: LF2, PTC, -2, ---, ---
Mod FX: FLG, 20, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Delay: STR, OFF, 38, 40, ---
EQ: 320, 0, 6.0, 0, --- (unchanged)
Arpeg. A: 120, 1.16, 80, UP, 1 (unchanged)
Arpeg. B: OFF, 0, ON, 8, --- (unchanged)

As ever, I consulted with Sound on Sound's Synth Secrets while programming this which I found to be of great interest, you can read the relevant article here which goes into things in a bit more detail. I am going to sign off by quoting the final paragraph of that article, which I found to be particularly relevant when programming in this patch:

You may have access to the perfect brass patch, or to a perfectly recorded trumpet sample, or even to the physically modelled brass patches on a Yamaha VL7 or a Korg Z1. However, none of them will sound authentic unless you play them in a manner that is sympathetic to the original instrument. Some synthesists — Wendy Carlos is an excellent example — manage to coax remarkably lifelike performances from their synths. You and I, on the other hand, may find ourselves unable to approach the same level of authenticity, even when playing the same patches on the same instruments. When this happens, our natural inclination is to blame the equipment, the outboard effects, or the person who gave you the patch settings. But before you do this, consider your playing technique. Synthesis is not just about sounds; it's also about performance. And no amount of signal-routing diagrams can help you with that.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Patch 013 - Decaying Bass

After working on my microKORG ADK for the last couple of weeks I am keen to get back to tuned sounds so this week I am going to concentrate on a bass sound to accompany the drums. My favourite synth bass sound ever probably comes from the Moog Taurus bass pedals, which bellows out the most fantastically rich bass sound. I have used a sampled Taurus sound (from a Future Music cover disc I think) in a lot of my tracks over the years and am keen to squeeze something like that out of the microKORG. I was also inspired with the sound of a bass guitar, where you can't get infinite sustain.

Starting with the initialized patch, I changed the voice assign to monophonic and the trigger to single (so the envelope doesn't reset on each successive note, like sliding the fingers up and down the bass guitar). I also added a little portamento to simulate the change in pitch as you work up and down the frets.

I experimented with the oscillator types (twin saw or saw / square) and settled on twin saws, with the second detuned slightly. To beef up the sound further I modulated the pitch of waveform of Osc 1 using LFO1 by altering Control 2, fattened things up further by dropping Osc 2 and octave and added distortion (reducing the levels in the mixer so it wasn't too overdriven). For a bit more oomph I turned unison on, with a small detune amount. Filter-wise I closed the 24dB LPF filter a bit (with very little resonance) and added a little bit of envelope modulation.

For the amp envelope I increased the decay time but dropped the release time. I wanted the sound to decay when held but drop away quickly if released (like a bass guitar). I started with a sustain of zero but increased this slightly as I thought it sounded more natural. I made sure the patch was velocity sensitive but unfortunately couldn't work out, even on single trigger mode, how to ensure that the amp level was dictated by the initial note on velocity (any suggestions??). To combat this, I only increased the modulation amount to 20, any higher than that and the change in level sounded off unless you sequenced it or played very skillfully. [Try it yourself, increase the sensitivity and then strike the initial key softly and subsequent keys hard, it sounds dreadful.]

I finally added a flanger and can't really describe the effect it has except to say it seems to add definition to the lower notes, which, for a bass instrument, has to be a good thing! And apart from some minor EQ tweaks that was it. Unfortunately I haven't done a sound comparison with a Taurus bass yet so can't tell how close it sounds, but I like it. Probably more for slow, brooding lines, rather than rapid bass runs but it works for both.

Here are the settings (starting from init, shift+3):

Voice: SYT, SGL, UNI, SGL, 2
Pitch: 0, 0, 0, 2, 10
Osc 1: SAW, 0, 10, ---, ---
Osc 2: SAW, OFF, -12, 5, ---
Mixer: 76, 103, 0, ---, ---
Filter: 24L, 80, 3, 2, 27
Filter EG: 5, 121, 0, 69, ON
Amp: 127, CNT, ON, 0, ---
Amp EG: 5, 121, 6, 56, OFF
LFO 1: TRI, OFF, OFF, 10, --- (unchanged)
LFO 2: SIN, OFF, OFF, 70, --- (unchanged)

Patch 1: VEL, AMP, 20, ---, ---
Patch 2: LF2, PTC, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 3: LF1, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 4: LF2, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Mod FX: FLG, 15, 12, ---, ---
Delay: STR, OFF, 40, 0, --- (unchanged)
EQ: 1.00, 5, 16.0, -6, ---
Arpeg. A: 120, 1.16, 80, UP, 1 (unchanged)
Arpeg. B: OFF, 0, ON, 8, --- (unchanged)


Thursday, 3 May 2012

ADK Samples / Reason Refill

As promised, all eight samples from the first MPAW Series, the Analog Drum Kit, are provided in the following zip file:

ADK Samples

All samples are in .wav format, 16 bit, 44.1kHz. If any of you are interested they were sampled dry directly via the line input of my Zoom H2 digital recorder and subsequently trimmed / normalized in ReCycle / Bias Peak Pro.

For all you Reason users, I have also created a custom Refill using these samples:

The microKORG ADK

The samples are provided with the Refill container in the same format as given above, but I have also provided these all wrapped up in a Combinator with programmable Matrix Sequencers for the Kick, Snare and Hi Hat samples. The microKORG ADK Combinator comes resplendent in a custom skin as shown below:



Special thanks must go to a Discovering Reason article on the Propellerhead website, and the associated .cmb file, which formed the basis for my microKORG ADK Combinator.

NOTE - I have now included "The microKORG ADK" Refill on my new blog dedicated to Reason where I intend dumping a lot of my archived Combinators and Refills as well as any new stuff I dream up. Check it out here Reason users. 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Patch 012 - ADK Drip

I doubt that many of you were trembling with excitement about reading about the intended subject of today's patch in the introduction to the Analog Drum Kit series, the conga, but if you were then I am truly sorry. One for another day perhaps? The main reason for ditching the conga was that you really needed different conga sounds to create an interesting sequence (from striking different parts of the drum skin) and this just wouldn't work in a sampling situation.

Instead of the conga however you are getting a kind of drip sound which is basically a noise source with a low pass filter (with the resonance cranked up) with a filter envelope driving the change in pitch. An amp envelope with decay but no release means that you can get some cool stuttering rhythms (and squelches) by playing the patch on the keyboard rather than sampling it (although you could get the same effect using a sampler).

Here are the settings (starting from init, shift+3):

Voice: SYT, SGL, PLY, ---, --- (unchanged)
Pitch: 0, 0, 0, 2, 5 (unchanged)
Osc 1: SAW, 0, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Osc 2: SAW, OFF, 0, 0, --- (unchanged)
Mixer: 0, 0, 127, ---, ---
Filter: 12L, 52, 127, -19, 0
Filter EG: 0, 72, 0, 0, ON
Amp: 127, CNT, OFF, 0, --- (unchanged)
Amp EG: 0, 48, 0, 0, ON
LFO 1: TRI, OFF, OFF, 10, --- (unchanged)
LFO 2: SIN, OFF, OFF, 70, --- (unchanged)

Patch 1: LF1, PTC, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 2: LF2, PTC, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 3: LF1, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 4: LF2, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Mod FX: FLG, 20, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Delay: STR, OFF, 40, 0, --- (unchanged)
EQ: 320, 0, 6.0, 0, --- (unchanged)
Arpeg. A: 120, 1.16, 80, UP, 1 (unchanged)
Arpeg. B: OFF, 0, ON, 8, --- (unchanged)

And that concludes the ADK Series! As promised I will be releasing this as a sample set and Reason Refill, watch this space!

Patch 011 - ADK Tambourine

I actually started today's patch using the settings for Patch 010 (the ADK Shaker) as I felt I was close to a tambourine sound. I felt it was missing two things however - the ringing like repetitions of the tambourine plates shaking, and a metallic tone.

I will deal with the metallic tone first. I played about with the filter settings (mainly with the resonance) on both the LPF in Osc 1 (set to noise) and the standard HPF and simply by adjusting these controllers the sound became more complex (as I discussed in the ADK Cymbal post, a complex harmonic spectrum is needed for metallic percussion), and thus more tambourine-like. I increased the higher frequencies further by adding a boost to these via EQ.

To give the impression of multiple shaking jingles, I simply added a delay and adjusted the settings to taste (also tweaking the amp envelope slightly).

The result is a not entirely convincing tambourine, but for the same reason given in the posts for the other metallic ADK percussion elements (i.e. it is hard with a simple synth like the microKORG) I shouldn't be too downhearted. Having said that, I am sure a seasoned synthesist could make a better attempt than this...

Here are the settings (starting from init, shift+3):

Voice: SYT, SGL, PLY, ---, --- (unchanged)
Pitch: 0, 0, 0, 2, 5 (unchanged)
Osc 1: NOS, 115, 51, ---, ---
Osc 2: SAW, OFF, 0, 0, --- (unchanged)
Mixer: 127, 0, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Filter: HPF, 68, 59, 0, 0
Filter EG: 0, 64, 127, 0, ON (unchanged)
Amp: 127, CNT, OFF, 0, --- (unchanged)
Amp EG: 3, 46, 0, 46, ON
LFO 1: TRI, OFF, OFF, 10, --- (unchanged)
LFO 2: SIN, OFF, OFF, 70, --- (unchanged)

Patch 1: LF1, PTC, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 2: LF2, PTC, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 3: LF1, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 4: LF2, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Mod FX: FLG, 20, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Delay: STR, OFF, 40, 47, ---
EQ: 320, 0, 2.25, 6, ---
Arpeg. A: 120, 1.16, 80, UP, 1 (unchanged)
Arpeg. B: OFF, 0, ON, 8, --- (unchanged)

Note 1 - For some reason, unbeknown to me, today's patch sounds better in the upper octaves (does the LPF for Osc 1 track the keyboard?)
Note 2 - As an alternative to the use of noise alone, I did experiment with using a sawtooth wave in Osc 2 ring modulated with the noise in Osc 1 (Osc 1 turned off, or down low in the mixer) and although I liked the results, felt that the patch I ended up using fitted in better with the other ADK patches to date.

Patch 010 - ADK Shaker

In a similar vein to Patch 009, I have pilfered all the settings for this shaker patch from a stock
factory patch for the Subtractor synth in Reason. Although I actually lifted the settings from the Tamburine (sic) patch, you'll see in my write-up of the next patch (actually a tambourine!) that these two patches are very similar.

Starting with the init patch, I dialed in a typical percussion amp envelope (instant attack, no sustain, moderate decay / sustain) and switched Osc 1 to noise with a bit of built in LPF that Osc 1 provides. I then added a high pass filter with a lot of resonance (thanks Subtractor for the settings!). It is already starting to sound shaker-like, but not quite. I didn't like the sharp attack and after slowing this down a touch the sound suddenly sounded just like a shaker. Finally, this patch was really quiet so I added more noise through the mixer and we were done.

Here are the settings (starting from init, shift+3):

Voice: SYT, SGL, PLY, ---, --- (unchanged)
Pitch: 0, 0, 0, 2, 5 (unchanged)
Osc 1: NOS, 88, 0, ---, ---
Osc 2: SAW, OFF, 0, 0, --- (unchanged)
Mixer: 127, 0, 127, ---, ---
Filter: HPF, 105, 105, 0, 0
Filter EG: 0, 64, 127, 0, ON (unchanged)
Amp: 127, CNT, OFF, 0, --- (unchanged)
Amp EG: 12, 47, 0, 50, ON
LFO 1: TRI, OFF, OFF, 10, --- (unchanged)
LFO 2: SIN, OFF, OFF, 70, --- (unchanged)

Patch 1: LF1, PTC, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 2: LF2, PTC, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 3: LF1, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 4: LF2, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Mod FX: FLG, 20, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Delay: STR, OFF, 40, 0, --- (unchanged)
EQ: 320, 0, 6.0, 0, --- (unchanged)
Arpeg. A: 120, 1.16, 80, UP, 1 (unchanged)
Arpeg. B: OFF, 0, ON, 8, --- (unchanged)