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Depeche Mode Halo - which synth? Desktop Synthesizers
Old 12th October 2018
  #1
Depeche Mode Halo - which synth?

Hey all,

You know this type of “knocky” saw synth sound? Like the one in Depeche Mode’s Halo (YouTube) between 1:26 and 1:33. I can achieve kind of similar results with my JP-8000 but still not quite there... Does anyone of you guys have recommendations of what synth or filter to look for?

Another example is Diorama’s Child Of Entertainment (YouTube) right in the beginning (0:13). Maybe a Korg PolySix?
Old 12th October 2018
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter.m.junior View Post
Another example is Diorama’s Child Of Entertainment (YouTube) right in the beginning (0:13)
I like this sound.
Can you maybe post your JP version for us to hear what the difference is ?
Old 12th October 2018
  #3
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I think it's just a fairly standard plucky synth sound. Need a synth with a tight envelope, many will do it. The DM sound is through a short pre-delayed reverb or possibly a delay. The synth is panned and the reverb return is more central. That's what makes it 'knocky'.
Old 12th October 2018
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmanrock View Post
I think it's just a fairly standard plucky synth sound.
Right.
I am just assuming that Peter heard these songs hundreds of times and can probably hear more subtleties of this sound than i can.
Old 12th October 2018
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
I like this sound.
Can you maybe post your JP version for us to hear what the difference is ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmanrock View Post
I think it's just a fairly standard plucky synth sound. Need a synth with a tight envelope, many will do it. The DM sound is through a short pre-delayed reverb or possibly a delay. The synth is panned and the reverb return is more central. That's what makes it 'knocky'.
I can tweak the hell out of my JP but it will still lack that character and the difference is well, more than obvious. For an old VA it's not really a surprise. I only have 2 analogue synths, a Dark Energy II and a Moog Sub Phatty. The DEII has a VERY snappy envelope but a 12 dB/oct LP filter which is not suitable for these kind of sounds. The Sub Phatty has 24 dB/oct filter but kind of lazy envelopes so that's not good either. Funnily, it's my PolySix VST which gets the closest but still falls short.

The fx processing definitely makes a difference in both songs but it's this raw and powerful character I'm after. I have the feeling that I can almost touch these sounds, they are so alive.
Old 12th October 2018
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
Right.
I am just assuming that Peter heard these songs hundreds of times and can probably hear more subtleties of this sound than i can.
I think with the DM one the effects are a big part of it, it's like a slapback echo. I've just listened to the Diorama one again, sounds like maybe a Nord or even FM? Could be anything though, so many synths can do these sounds now.
Old 12th October 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter.m.junior View Post
I can tweak the hell out of my JP but it will still lack that character and the difference is well, more than obvious. For an old VA it's not really a surprise. I only have 2 analogue synths, a Dark Energy II and a Moog Sub Phatty. The DEII has a VERY snappy envelope but a 12 dB/oct LP filter which is not suitable for these kind of sounds. The Sub Phatty has 24 dB/oct filter but kind of lazy envelopes so that's not good either. Funnily, it's my PolySix VST which gets the closest but still falls short.

The fx processing definitely makes a difference in both songs but it's this raw and powerful character I'm after. I have the feeling that I can almost touch these sounds, they are so alive.
It sounds like there might be a slight bit of velocity to filter action going on with the DM one, adding expression. Or it could be an analogue sequencer on the filter. They did that on some of the basslines on Violator.
Old 12th October 2018
  #8
Thanks for your inputs! And yes, the filter is definitely automated I think in both tunes. Must be an analogue sequencer in Halo... Now I have an idea of connecting the DEII with the Sub Phatty - so I’ll have snappy envelopes with a 24dB filter. Should give it a try.
Old 12th October 2018
  #9
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Downloaded the Diorama song from YT to see if i can get there with some effects.
Old 12th October 2018
  #10
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Here:

[edit]The percussive part is not exactly right though.
Attached Files

diorama.m4a (206.1 KB, 435 views)

Old 12th October 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
Here:

[edit]The percussive part is not exactly right though.
Yours is beefier but the audience don't like it so much

The Diorama one does sound like some FM in there, it has that woody sort of timbre to it.
Old 13th October 2018
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
Here:

[edit]The percussive part is not exactly right though.
Sounds nice and warm! And yes, it's that percussive nature what I'm missing on my synths as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmanrock View Post
The Diorama one does sound like some FM in there, it has that woody sort of timbre to it.
Okay, I'm stealing this as it's the best description of what I'm after. That woody timbre. Might be FM hmmm...

Let me show two examples from my work-in-progress album. These have similar character/timbre. A percussive JD-990 bass, and my attempt of this woody saw on the Sub Phatty (this is what I'd like to do "better").
Attached Files

perc_bass_JD-990_sample.wav (4.01 MB, 405 views)

moog_knocky_saw_sample.wav (6.49 MB, 413 views)

Old 13th October 2018
  #13
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I'll have another go at it today.
BTW My way to get the perc attack is layering the main pluck with another instance of the synth.
Maybe it would go smoother and easier if i just used a drum synth for that haha...

[edit]Oh and my pluck is not FM, just a virtual analog with 2 saws x 4 unison through few effects.
Old 13th October 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
I'll have another go at it today.
Got some cool sounds but nothing close to the target.
I guess that was both a success and a fail...
Old 13th October 2018
  #15
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unease's Avatar
My guess is that DM have fed a pretty standard bass sound through a compressor to exaggerate the attack portion, much like you often do with snare drums. An then there is a short reverb with a lot of pre delay, which turns it into a slap-back echo type of sound. The character of the reverb is probably as important as the synth sound.
Some automation or velocity is varying the envelope to filter cut off amount.
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