Originally Posted by TBA
What about a virtual synth like Massive? Do I really need to go out and buy hardware (being that I am a broke college student)?
Massive is good enough and awesome, ignore djugel. The only thing he's right about is that it's easier if you don't have to use the mouse to actually hear notes; you need the mouse to adjust the settings. Buying a monosynth for a broke budget is good when you were broke in the late 90s, because then monosynths were cheap, and pretty much everyone over 30 forgot that this is no longer the case and the halcyon days are over, and this place is filled with people who missed their shot at stardom and are over 30 and just wish the entirety of current electronic music would go away.
Feinstrom's advice is solid and in the vein of what I recommend. Reverse-engineering sounds starts with stripping away the effects; this is easy with reverb and delay, a bit harder with chorus and flanger, and pretty damn hard with distortion because it mushes everything toghether.
The easiest part is the volume; does the sound fade in and take a long time to fade out (and this is why mentally stripping the effects away is important) - you need to know whether it's a short blip of a sound and a dense reverb, or whether you're actually hearing the sound fade out. Then you're looking at a "pad" type of envelope - long attack, long release, maximum decay and sustain.
You also have "gate" envelopes - zero attack, zero release, max decay/sustain; these sounds start and stop as soon as you hold the key. Then there are also "pluck" envelopes - zero attack, decay at 40-50%, sustain at zero, and release either at zero or at 30% or so. Those are the basic envelope shapes and they're good enough to cover most sounds you hear in popular music.
That covers the amplifier/volume envelope part. Next step: filters. Lowpass: muffled sound, kind of like standing in front of a club with the doors closed. All you hear is the oomph of the bass. Highpass: put your earbuds of your mp3 player somewhere on the table and stand somewhere else in the room; all you hear is chittering. Bandpass: a nasal sound; when you turn a lowpass up it gets brighter, but with bandpass, turning it up makes the sound stay "lean".
That's all you have to know about filters for now. Thing is, these have a big effect on sounds that have distortion put over 'm, so study the filter types.
Last but not least: oscillators! As Feinstrom says, learn combinations by heart. Osc 1 saw, osc 2 saw: what does it sound like? What does it sound like when osc 2 is slightly detuned? What if it's detuned to fifths? What if it's detuned with an octave? Learn those combinations by heart; saw-saw, square-square, saw-square, every possible basic waveform combination should be known to you in every combination of detuning. You don't need flash cards, but it's like learning multiplication below 10x10 - a requirement that allows you to tackle -every- multiplication in the decimal system without trouble.
Producers are lazy and will not go out of their way to use the complex waveforms unless you're dealing with dubstep. Dance/pop producers are especially lazy and the only reason their simple 2 osc saw patch will sound awesome and yours won't is because of the mix and the composition.
Don't "mess". Experiment. Don't move 5 knobs at a time; if you have no clue how a car works, it's a recipe for smashing into a wall. First try the accelerator; you hear what that does. When you're standing still, the brakes seem to have no effect; those only work when moving. It's the same with synths: some things appear to do nothing, but that's just because the other part is not enabled. Read pop sound sources
in my signature; it's got lots of screenshots and mp3s and useful info instead of self-indulgent crap you have to wait 10 minutes for.
Embedding works like this: when you are looking at the video, there's a part in the URL that says "JFEBhdKKbNk" - it comes right after "?v="
The part after the question mark tells the Youtube site (or any other site) to do certain things - in this case "v" stands for "video", so it's "show the video with the (unique) label "JFEBhdKKbNk". That's the only thing the Gearslutz forum software understands when you are embedding a video; it has no clue what to do with the rest because it's just not so smart.
Stuff like "&list=PLC9DA20B5FBC15D5E" is useful for Youtube, but not for the GS forum software; it has no clue what it means, so that's why it trips up.