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Having fun programming soft synths?
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supercool482
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#1
12th May 2013
Old 12th May 2013
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Having fun programming soft synths?

I'm at a point where I can't get any interesting patches coming out of my soft synths. I can't afford analog, and I guess I'm just not inspired with mouse and keyboard. Any advice??
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12th May 2013
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MIDI controller?
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12th May 2013
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Just keep doing it, if it's something you enjoy you'll find out eventually, if it's not, you'll find out eventually.

I use to be similar and thought knobs and stuff would inspire me, and it did for a bit, but what really eventually inspired me was the process itself. Now I prefer a mouse if at all possible.

I use to only like to write keyboard parts, so I would always jam with presets. Then I got bored of hunting presets and bored in general, so I started making them. Eventually it all just kind of fit and when one thing is seeming a little boring you have a multitude of others that seem just as fun.
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12th May 2013
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Some soft synths are a lot more fun to program than others.

For quick instant gratification sounds, I keep coming back to Strobe - it's so fast to dial up something that sounds good and works in a track.

For more detailed programming, Alchemy has a lovely interface that allows you to go really deep without things becoming a pain in the arse. The implementation of the mod matrix is exemplary.

I've tried making templates/using auto map on my novation SL controller keyboard, but it always ends up being a disappointing compromise.

In hardware world, I still absolutely love my OP-1. The functionality of each synth engine is exposed through just four 'mode' buttons and four encoders. This may sound a bit limited initially, but together with very well chosen parameter mappings it ultimately strikes a beautiful balance between complexity and depth against speed and simplicity.
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12th May 2013
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Experiment. Synths can make a huge variety of sounds.
What can you route where, what happens if you try different routing oscillators, oscillators, LFOs, envelopes etc.

Also, what do you mean by "I can't afford analog"? Synths come in all sorts of prices, Mopho is pretty cheap and the Korg Volcas will be super cheap.
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12th May 2013
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I have this theory that controllers like the Novation ones will never be able to get you near to the actual experience of working with a knobby synth.

The thing about a hardware synth is that you learn its architecture over time. Even with a menu diver, you know which controls will get you where. Your mind acquires a visual map of where everything is and you just go for it.

Now when you program patches for multiple softsynths into the one controller, the same physical architecture controls what could be quite different synths. The differing maps potentially overlap in your mind, forcing you to think before you act. I imagine your mileage may vary, depending on how your mind works.

I suppose you could approach it from the point of view of how you categorise the controls in your midi controller. Oscillators always in a certain section, filters in another.

Still, it may be the case that, paradoxically, the ideal softsynth controller shouldn't have more knobs, but instead visually show you the architecture of the softsynth within the same frame of view as 4-8 knobs, then allow you to select which control is active in an extremely immediate manner.

Last edited by FubarSnafu; 12th May 2013 at 02:09 AM.. Reason: it's=its
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supercool482 View Post
I'm at a point where I can't get any interesting patches coming out of my soft synths. I can't afford analog, and I guess I'm just not inspired with mouse and keyboard. Any advice??
When you sit down to design a sound how do you approach it? For example do play with the controls of the synth until you find a sound you like or do you develop an idea of the sound and then try and program it.

I was doing the first approach for a long time and it got me absolutely no where. It wasn't until I started imagining my own sounds first that I started getting better. Soft synths or hardware doesn't matter. they both produce similar timbres with some minor exceptions.

Stick it out.
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12th May 2013
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In razor is a lot of fun. I can spend hours tweaking on screen knobs with the mouse. I guess it come down to the synth reacting in an inspiring way to your changes
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Latch a note in the range you want the sound to be and let it drone on.. then start tweaking

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12th May 2013
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Pick one synth and concentrate exclusively on making patches for that one. Really learn the ins and outs of its voice architecture.
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12th May 2013
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Even a simple MIDI controller like the Korg NanoKontrol will really bring out any VST.

Just find the parameters you use most and assign them (in ableton this is really easy).
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12th May 2013
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Maybe try photography?
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Get a cheap knobby VA.

There was a Novation X-Station for $100 somewhere in Melbourne and if I didn't already have one I'd have snapp[ed in up in a second (I nearly bought it anyway, because it was so cheap).

In comparison to what it is emulating, there's no contest, but for an audio interface, controller, and a damn fine for-what-it-is synth, it's fantastic. You can learn subtractive style synthesis, as well as there being some FM capabilities (and a lot of decent modulations which for me is the heart of synthesis), and it sounds fine for plenty of sounds - just don't expect analogue and you won't be disappointed.
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by networkacid View Post
Maybe try photography?
Not a bad advice at all. A second hobby is really nice to have when you lack ideas or inspiration in the musical department. You leave the music as it is and have fun with your other hobby and then suddenly the ideas and urge to make music kick you in again.
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
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Maybe try photography?
How about adding collecting bottles of vintage wine as well?

I'm into synthesizers and photography, and they're not cheap hobbies. Financially I'd be better off with something like collecting snails.
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supercool482 View Post
I'm at a point where I can't get any interesting patches coming out of my soft synths. I can't afford analog, and I guess I'm just not inspired with mouse and keyboard. Any advice??
Do what they used to do... save up.
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supercool482 View Post
I'm at a point where I can't get any interesting patches coming out of my soft synths. I can't afford analog, and I guess I'm just not inspired with mouse and keyboard. Any advice??
Thread Title: Yes,I do have fun programming my softsynths. Just recently I started building my own stuff in Reaktor again. Definitely fun.

Some obvious questions:
- What kind of sound would you like from your patch?
- What kind of softsynths are you using?

If you want "phat analog" probably using Absynth is the wrong choice, if you want airy modulation madness Diva is all wrong, etc.

There is quite interesting free stuff, but it tends not to be good for everything

The same thing (well except for the free stuff part) also applies to hardware synths.

Like some guy already mentioned: find a synth you kind of like and stick with it (at least for a while), than try something else, after doing that a couple of times revisit your earlier synths and see what you can do with the stuff you learned from other synths.

There is some quite interesting free stuff out there. Random examples:
- Bazille should be free for some more time
- I like Ilblit for basic subtractive stuff. Not on the same level as DIVA/Monarch, but rather nice.
- Zebralette can do some fun stuff
- Hexter VST if you like FM (ugly and a bit hard to find, but rather nice)
There sould be a thread with tons of more great VSTs somewhere around here...

About inspiration: Building good presets is mostly like every other skill: It takes some practice. I´m still not always able to come up with sounds I like and sometimes I get stuck programming similar sounds over and over again, but the more sounds I program the more I understand stuff, so just keep going.
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supercool482 View Post
I'm at a point where I can't get any interesting patches coming out of my soft synths. I can't afford analog, and I guess I'm just not inspired with mouse and keyboard. Any advice??
Which plugins?

Which controller do you have? As said, don't try to map everything, just the vitals - filter and amp envelopes, fx sends - that kind of stuff.

There is no real guarantee that you will get more inspiring sounds out of analog. How many have you demo'd already? Mopho x4 or Phatty/Minitaur? If the answer is none, do that first.
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12th May 2013
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