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Synth ID: Patrick O'Hearn "Espana"
Old 5 days ago
  #1
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Synth ID: Patrick O'Hearn "Espana"

Hello -

I've always loved Patrick O'Hearn's beautiful synth sounds. To my tastes, he finds a perfect middle ground between ambient and "new age" (for lack of a better term). More melodic than much minimal ambient, but without the excessive sweetness of much new age. I find his sounds from albums like Indigo and So Flows the Current timeless; I've listened countless times and never tire of these albums.

Any idea of how one might create something like this string/pad? (The sound enters at 0:24)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMWSbkR22sI

Also this may be the same sound, from the far more recent "Playground" (string sound begins at 0:30)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKmz...%27Hearn-Topic

It seems like a very simple pure sound; yet I've tried on various hardware synths (Roland Juno, JX) and now experimenting with plugins. So far I cannot find that balance of softness and presence. My attempted patch creations are either too rezzy/trancy, or too muffled/muted. Maybe it's the chorus and reverb that gives this sounds its distinct atmosphere.

Any thoughts on hardware or software, patch parameters, effects?

This interview mentions some of Mr. O'Hearn's favorites:
Ambient Visions Presents an Interview with Patrick O'Hearn

"Most of my equipment I've owned for some time now. The mainstays of tone creation would be: PPG 2.2 synthesizer, Studio Electronics Minimoog, Analogue Solutions custom modular, Akai S6000 sampler, Lexicon PCM 90,80,70's,42's, Eventide H3000 Harmonizer, Doepfer Shaltwerk and MAQ 16/3 sequencers...."

Any guidance from the synth gurus here would be much appreciated. I am still (probably forever) learning the art of synthesis.
Old 5 days ago
  #2
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spaceman's Avatar
He also uses the Kawai K5000, for a lot of his pads.
Old 5 days ago
  #3
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synthguy's Avatar
It sounds an awful lot like one of Roland's SN synths. Since it isn't, I think the culprits are a string synth sample on the S6000, likely blended with some synth string pad. The timbre is too harmonically rich to be any kind of analog synth without some carefullayering. But you can get these kinds of sounds on the JD-XA endlessly, lots of them.
Old 4 days ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synthguy View Post
It sounds an awful lot like one of Roland's SN synths. Since it isn't, I think the culprits are a string synth sample on the S6000, likely blended with some synth string pad. The timbre is too harmonically rich to be any kind of analog synth without some carefullayering. But you can get these kinds of sounds on the JD-XA endlessly, lots of them.
Thank you for the ideas...Perhaps it is a sample or sample layer.

Indeed it reminds me a bit of the strings in this In The Nursery track from around the same time, which is clearly a sampled string section:

In the Nursery - Azure Wings
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr0I...eNursery-Topic
Old 3 days ago
  #5
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synthpunk's Avatar
I think your right on. I know Patrick has also been using a Nord3 recently.

Saying that you can certainly get close to this sound with MKS-70, JD-990, XV series, Omnisphere, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by synthguy View Post
It sounds an awful lot like one of Roland's SN synths. Since it isn't, I think the culprits are a string synth sample on the S6000, likely blended with some synth string pad. The timbre is too harmonically rich to be any kind of analog synth without some carefullayering. But you can get these kinds of sounds on the JD-XA endlessly, lots of them.
Old 3 days ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synthpunk View Post
I think your right on. I know Patrick has also been using a Nord3 recently.

Saying that you can certainly get close to this sound with MKS-70, JD-990, XV series, Omnisphere, etc.
I'm thinking D50 or JD-990.
Old 3 days ago
  #7
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synthpunk's Avatar
The D-50/D-550 is certainly capable of some nice lush string and pad sounds but I do remember Patrick saying in a interview back in the old Private Music days that he was only using a D-50 as a master controller.

a big part of Patrick's sound design is also effects such as Lexicons and Eventides.

I also want to say in case Patrick checks into this thread that his Music and Sound design is a very cool influence on me and still is to this day.

I hope we see the new album with Peter Maunu (from the Group 87 days) soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mindseye9 View Post
I'm thinking D50 or JD-990.
Old 3 days ago
  #8
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synthguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mindseye9 View Post
I'm thinking D50 or JD-990.
Those were at the top of my list too. But Patrick didn't admit to using/owning them, and I'm not sure his recordings were anywhere near the release calendar of the SN synths. For sure though, if you have a D-50 or JD-990 - especially with a Vintage Synth board installed on the JD, you should be able to get those kinds of sounds without much trouble.
Old 3 days ago
  #9
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So far...

Thank you to everyone with thoughts and advice so far...

So, if I gather correctly, it is unlikely/impossible to create this kind of sound with just an analogue synth? Either a digital synth, digital/analogue hybrid, or sampler (or sampler/synth layer) using real string samples would be required?

I've tried various synths now: Roland JX, Juno 106 (hardware), Roland Jupiter (official plugin), Diva, Logic's built-in synths, and a few others...no luck so far. Everything sounds too grainy, especially when playing lower pitched notes and chords, compared to the smoothness of the sound I am seeking. Chorus and reverb in liberal doses helps to some extent, but not completely.

Chorus: I've tried hardware Boss CE-300, Ensoniq DP/4, various plugin chorus (Audio Damage, etc)
Reverb: tried various Valhalla and Lexicon PCM

Any further thoughts on the hardware of the time that might have created sounds like this?
Old 3 days ago
  #10
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Last edited by synthpunk; 3 days ago at 01:52 AM..
Old 3 days ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synthpunk View Post
Use this patch in Logic Retrosynth, Dial in/layer some good acoustic strings with med attack/long release, add Vintageverb to taste.
Thank you, synthpunk!
Nice patch indeed for layering.

The sound in question does seem to require the acoustic strings sample layer. I had set it to myself as a challenge to try to create that sort of smooth just slightly "rosiny" string sound via analogue (or virtual analogue) synthesis alone (i.e. no samples), but perhaps I'm attempting the impossible.

Maybe the key is in the right choice of effects processing, especially chorus, to thicken and smooth the sound...but I haven't found the magic that way yet either. It's a good exercise though so I will continue on...
Old 3 days ago
  #12
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Roland Dimension D magic is the effect you might be hearing. Although it is more three dimensional and subtle than thick and smooth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic View Post
Thank you, synthpunk!
Nice patch indeed for layering.

The sound in question does seem to require the acoustic strings sample layer. I had set it to myself as a challenge to try to create that sort of smooth just slightly "rosiny" string sound via analogue (or virtual analogue) synthesis alone (i.e. no samples), but perhaps I'm attempting the impossible.

Maybe the key is in the right choice of effects processing, especially chorus, to thicken and smooth the sound...but I haven't found the magic that way yet either. It's a good exercise though so I will continue on...

Last edited by synthpunk; 3 days ago at 01:53 AM..
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