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synths: the ultimate guide / computer music

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INCLUDES DOWNLOAD Synth plug-ins, tutorial files and 400MB of samples from Time+Space

Packed with step-by-step synth tutorials For all ability levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced Tutorial support files and software download included

From the makers of


Synth basics 10 Synthesis Fundamentals Get a handle on the core concepts behind this wonderful thing we call synthesis

14 Oscillators

Every sound has to start somewhere, and in the case of your virtual analogue synth, that’ll be right here

20 Filters

Learn how to use the most essential and sonically rewarding of all tone-shaping tools

24 LFOs

Get your synth patches moving with our guide to the ubiquitous low frequency oscillator

28 Envelopes

Define the shape of your sound with the mighty four-stage envelope generator

32 Basic patch design

Put all that you’ve learnt so far into practice and build some tried-and-tested analogue synth sounds

38 The Beginner’s guide to modular synthesis

Why just make patches when you can build the whole frikkin’ synth!? We get seriously constructive…

44 The Beginner’s guide to FM synthesis Discover why FM really isn’t the untamable, complicated beast you might have been led to believe

50 The Beginner’s guide to Additive synthesis

The opposite of subtractive, you won’t be surprised to learn. Any sound is possible with this far-out method

56 The Beginner’s guide to Wavetable synthesis

Using sampled waveforms, this clever form of synthesis is a key weapon in the sound designer’s arsenal

62 The Beginner’s guide to Granular synthesis

Smash a sound to smithereens, then take command of the resulting fragments to make truly crazy tones

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the BeSt SynthS

FOr BeginnerS

Synth masterclasses

Our guide to what we reckon are some of the best plug-ins around for those just getting started with synthesis

83 Super Synth me!

Get your virtual synths sounding every bit as lively as the real thing with our tips and techniques

90 drum SyntheSiS

It’s not all basses and pads, you know – synths can make awesome percussion sounds too, as our guide reveals

96 Original SOund tricKS

18 classic electronica and dance music sounds that every synthesist should know how to make

68 & 114 SuBScriBe!

115 puShing the envelOpe

We go way, way beyond the standard ADSR with an in-depth exploration of complex envelopes

Save money and get Computer Music and Computer Music Specials delivered to your door

121 S SOFtWare OFtWare X0X-BOX revival Roland’s seminal TB-303, TR-808 and TR-909 are alive and well and living on your hard drive!

Q&A quick guides 128 Warped bass in Reason

145 Jack Beats-style fidget house bass in Massive

129 Electro bassline in ZETA+

146 Smash TV gated synth sound in Massive

130 Jump-up-style bass

147 Hardstyle lead synth


148 Boys Noize sounds in Reason 4

Makina offbeat bass in Albino 3

132 Giorgio Moroder-style basslines in Reason

149 Jordan Rudess-style synth lead

133 Ying Yang Twins bass in Massive

150 Crystal Method-style lead

134 Herve-style bassline


135 Funky house basslines in Albino

152 Duran Duran-style arpeggio and lead

136 Moog Modular V trance arp

153 Wippenberg stab sounds

137 Dirty Rusko-style bassline in Reason

154 Classic 60s sound effects with

138 Get started with Ableton Operator

155 Fumblestealth synth

139 Kaskade-style synth sound

156 Dubstep bass with Albino and Live

140 Phace-style DnB bass



158 Underworld Rez-style lead

Make a huge pad sound with Helix

‘Vocal’ lead sounds with ZETA+


Electro lead in Massive

142 Super8 & Tab-style synth sounds in ZebraCM

159 Chuckie-style lead sound

143 Reese DnB sound in Sylenth1

160 Stefano Noferini-style bassline in Sylenth1

144 Phat, old-skool Noisia-style bass SynthS: the ultimate guide / 5

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Without envelope generators, the most complex waveforms would be static and dull. Follow our guide and breathe life into your patches You’ve already learned a lot about filters, oscillators and waveforms, but armed with only those features, we wouldn’t be able to make too many interesting sounds. Why? Because they don’t provide any way to shape the sound over time. This is where your synthesiser’s envelope generators come in. The envelope generator is a crucial part of synthesis. Without it your sound would start abruptly, and at full volume, when you played a note. It would remain unwaveringly loud until you released the key, at which point it would

cease as suddenly as it began. It is the envelope generator that tells the amplifier to fade in gradually (or not), and how loud the sustained level ought to be. It also determines the speed at which the level fades away when you release the note.

Taking the stage

Envelope generators are described as having a certain number of segments, or stages. The simplest envelope might consist only of attack and release segments. The attack stage controls

how long the envelope takes to achieve its full volume once the note is triggered. The release determines how long the sound takes to fade once the note is released. More frequently, you’ll find four-stage envelopes. These are called ADSR envelopes and also offer decay and sustain segments. The decay setting tells the envelope how long it should take to fade into the sustain level after the attack segment has run its course. The sustain level is, of course, the level of the signal while the note is held.

> Step by step Simple ADSR envelope volume shaping



In this walkthrough, we’re going to introduce you to an envelope generator that you need to get to know very well: the four-stage ADSR variety. Let us once again turn to TAL-Elek7ro for this exercise, and, as before, dial up the Default patch. Play a few notes to get familiar with the sound as it now stands.

Why did that happen? Well, our Sustain is set lower than full volume and our Attack will always bring the sound in at full volume. As you’ll recall, it’s the decay stage that determines how long the sound takes to go from the full peak level to the sustain level. Sure enough, our Decay is all the way down. Turn it up to around half way.



The default sawtooth waveform is suitable for our needs this time around. All we’re going to do is shape the sound using our envelope generator, so it hardly matters what sound the oscillator is making. Find the Envelopes section. The top row of knobs comprises our ADSR envelope. Turn the Attack knob up to around 11 o’clock.

Can you hear what has changed? The sound now fades from the full level of the attack to the steady state governed by the Sustain knob. Now, try the Release knob. Set it to approximately 1 o’clock. Play and hold a note, then release it. The sound gradually fades away.



Now, play and hold a note. The sound should fade gradually in, then hold for the length of time you keep the key down. It sustains at full volume, since the Sustain knob is all the way up. Now turn the Sustain down to around the 11 o’clock position, and play and hold a note. That doesn’t seem right! The sound fades in, then abruptly jumps to a lower volume.

TAL-Elek7ro has a two-stage envelope just below the one we’ve been using. By default, it’s assigned to control the pitch of Oscillator 1. Set the Attack of this one to 8 o’clock and the Decay to 10 o’clock, and listen to the result. Can you figure out what the envelope is doing? By now, we’d hope that you can!

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envelopes /  synth basics <

Outside the gate You may see quite a few variations on the ADSR theme, including instruments that stick an additional ‘hold’ stage in the envelope, just between the attack and decay stages. This stage does exactly what it says on the tin: it holds the volume level steady for a specified period before the decay stage kicks in. This AHDSR envelope can be found on a wide variety of instruments, including LinPlug’s RMV drum synthesiser and Devine Machine’s Krishna Synth. Some instruments also offer a ‘fade’ segment, occurring between the sustain and the release. You will in all likelihood encounter other envelope-related

terms that hark back to the envelope generators of old. For example, some synthesisers still make use of virtual ‘gates’ and ‘triggers’ that perform the functions of their forebears. These terms come to us from the world of electronics and describe virtual behaviour that mimics the electrical circuits from which these features are derived. A trigger is a signal that sets an action into motion. Triggers are single, unsustained events. If your keyboard sends a trigger signal, and that trigger is tied to, say, an AR envelope generator, the envelope will fire and play through, with no sustain. That makes it useful for









The four stages of an ADSR envelope are easy to understand when visualised

percussive sounds that don’t have any sustain to them. A gate signal, however, remains active until you tell it otherwise. If your keyboard is tied to a gate, that signal will be ‘on’ until you release the key. Better for sustained sounds, then. Many analogue die-hards were perplexed when their old ADSR envelopes were superseded by the

‘time/level’ envelopes favoured by Roland and Yamaha. As you’ve probably guessed, these envelopes offer control over both the level and rate of each stage. They’re actually not that difficult to fathom, especially when compared to some soft synth envelopes. They simply add a second level of control to each step.

> Step by step Advanced ADSR controls



Even synthesisers with basic ADSR-style envelope generators might provide advanced functions that boost the power of the old four-stage model. Our own ZebraCM has quite a few extra controls of this nature. Let’s take a look at some of them. Call up an instance of ZebraCM. We’ll use the Default patch.

We’ll just leave the Timebase at 8sX, which provides up to eight seconds for each segment. There are also three different modes on tap. Currently, the Quadric mode is selected. This is equal to an exponential slope. There’s a Linear slope as well. The most interesting option is V-Slope, however, which enables you to adjust the curve as you like. Click the Mode menu and select V-Slope.



Turn the filter Cutoff all the way up and the filter’s Env2 control to the 12 o’clock position. We’ll be working solely with Envelope 1, which is tied to ZebraCM’s amplitude. Turn Envelope 1’s Sustain and Release segments all the way down. The Decay should be 38.00. Set the Velocity control to 0.00.

So how are you supposed to adjust the curve? We’ll need the Envelope pane for that. You’ll find three tabs just below the Envelope section. The Mix & FX tab is selected by default. Click the tab labelled more Env to bring up the Envelope pane. There are loads of advanced envelope controls to mess around with here!



Normally, the timing of each stage of the envelope would be absolute, though you might be able to choose between linear and exponential responses (the latter are best for sharp, percussive sounds). ZebraCM gives you more options than this, though – for one, you can choose from a variety of Timebase settings. Click the Timebase menu to see the options.

Now, let’s see what this V-Slope can do. Play a few notes. You should hear the sound decay after about a second or so. Find the Slope (V-Slope) knob for Envelope 1. Turn it all the way to the right (100.00). Play your keyboard once again. The notes now sound for a much longer period. Next, turn the Slope knob all the way to the left (-100.00). Your notes will be far shorter.

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The beginner’s guide to


synthesis They may look complex – and they sometimes are – but modular systems offer an ideal opportunity to dive into the deeper end of synthesis

download See page 6 and download this feature’s examples at

Modular synthesiser. The phrase probably conjures up images of towering behemoths festooned with hundreds of knobs, jacks and sliders and redolent of affluence or academia. Both of these stereotypes are, in some cases, accurate. Modular synths have historically been both expensive and exclusive, though in recent years they’ve undergone a resurrection of sorts, with more software manufacturers and developers trundling out increasingly accessible instruments. In fact, as we’ll soon see, some of them are available for no cost at all. Furthermore, although modular synthesisers are indeed matchless tools for teaching synthesis, they are in no way intended solely for the learned. Thanks to the portability of the laptop, modular systems can now be freed from their studio and university surroundings and easily taken to the stage, the practice pad or even the back garden.

“Loosed from the tyranny – and convenience – of fixed-path instruments, modular synthesis is the ultimate step in sound design”

Nevertheless, those wishing to explore modular synthesis should be aware that it is not for the faint of heart. Loosed from the tyranny (and convenience) of familiar fixed-path instruments, modular synthesis is the ultimate step in sound design. Modular instruments are, by design, more complex and flexible than a fixed-path synth. They’re infinitely expandable and user-configurable. You decide how many oscillators you need, how many filters, amplifiers and modulation sources, and you determine how all of these components should ultimately be patched together. When you create a modular patch, you’re not simply creating a single sound. Rather, you’re building an instrument with which sounds can be designed. An individual modular synth patch can be a fully outfitted synthesiser with all the trimmings, or it can be as simple as a single oscillator running through an amp. There really are no limits to what you can come up with, assuming your software of choice has all the goodies you need to cobble together your dream synth. Sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? Over the next few pages, then, we’re going to give you the lowdown on the various sorts of modular systems that you’re likely to encounter – and we’ll also show you how to build your own patches using a couple of the coolest ones available.

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modular synthesis /  synth basics < > Step by step Building a basic patch in KarmaFX Synth 

Arturia’s Moog Modular V is modelled after the famous modular synthesisers of the past, warts and all




Ogo’s KarmaFX Synth ( is a superb modular synthesiser for Windows. It offers a wide selection of modules that can be slotted into your creations. It’s a plug-in, so you’ll need to open it in a VST host. The default patch is a fully functional synth, but we’re going to build a new one from the ground up, so right-click in the background and select Empty Patch from the New Patch menu.

Now you should have a new module labelled Generator1. The title bar reveals Osc 1 as the type of Generator in play. We need a filter to shape our Generator’s waveform (a sawtooth wave), so right-click the background to choose your filter from the Add Module menu. A classic Moog filter is a good choice.

You may have noticed that our patch still doesn’t make a sound – that’s because nothing is patched into the Output module. We’ll get to that in a moment, but first we need to add an Amplifier module. Do so using the same method we used to add our other modules, then right-click in the Amplifier’s title bar to select Filter1 as the input.




As you will no doubt have noticed, most of the various modules disappeared when we created a new patch. Only the obligatory Output module remains. Every synth needs an oscillator, so let’s begin with that. Adding modules is easy. Simply right-click in KarmaFX Synth’s background and a menu will come up. Choose Add Module, then select Osc 1 from the Generator menu.

Now to patch our oscillator into our filter. Right-click the Filter’s title bar and select Generator1 from the Input menu. Any installed modules (except the Output module) will appear in the list of available inputs. Once you’ve selected your input, your oscillator and filter modules will be joined with a virtual patch cable. That cable has an arrowhead that can be clicked and scrolled to govern the amount of signal allowed through.

Now, let’s add a Controller module. There are a few available, but we want the NotePitch Controller. Patch it in between the Amplifier and the Output. You should now be able to trigger your patch from a keyboard, assuming you have one (if you don’t, it can be triggered from your host’s sequencer).

Patched in So what is it that makes a synth ‘modular’, and why do there seem to be so many obviously different instruments so labelled? Essentially, a modular synthesiser is one that requires the user to define the signal path. Most synthesisers are of the fixed-path variety, meaning that the developer or manufacturer decides how many oscillators, filters, envelopes and LFOs it ought to have and how they should be connected. There may be some flexibility in a fixed-path instrument (most let you assign the LFO, for instance), but you can’t reroute the whole system as you like or bring in extra oscillators if you want them. As we’ve discussed elsewhere in this Ultimate Guide, some instruments – like Green Oak Crystal – are described as semi-modular, which means that you might be given a lot of control over the signal path, but not over the number of components available. These instruments call upon a modulation matrix to route the signal path of the existing modules. A fully modular architecture is exactly that. The user is given a sort of ‘blank canvas’, where the various components that make up a synthesiser (or effects device) can be inserted and patched together. Some developers stick closely to the hardware paradigm, with graphics depicting a rack that can be populated with individual modules. Those modules are then patched together by using some variation of virtual click-and-drag patch cables. P-Soft’s Void modular is one such instrument. So, too, is the excellent KarmaFX Synth from Ogo software. Arturia’s popular Moog Modular V is similar, though the number of available modules is limited, making it more of a semi-modular affair. Instruments such as these offer some amount of familiarity, featuring pre-defined modules complete with knobs for each parameter and jacks for the cables.

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download See page 6 and download this feature’s examples at

drum synthesis

Synthesising your own drum sounds from scratch isn’t just for retro throwbacks – it can add originality and enhance both your compositions and mixes, as our guide reveals Before the invention of dedicated drum machines – analogue, digital and sample-based – any electronic drum sounds you wanted in your track had to be created completely from scratch. Multi-gigabyte sample libraries and easy-to-use software sequencers with drag-and-drop functionality are a distant world away from the sonic crafting that electronic pioneers had to employ to create their drum sounds. Drum machines were first introduced as accessories for organ players to keep time to. In fact, one of the market leaders during the early era of beatboxes was Ace Tone Industries, founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi. Mr Kakehashi would then go on to found the mighty Roland Corporation in 1972. Roland were responsible for two of the most famous drum machines of all time –

the TR-808 and the TR-909. While the drum sounds produced by these machines were far from realistic, they became hugely popular due to their weighty kicks, comprehensive tuning options and unique analogue character. Both of them are still incredibly popular today in hip-hop, house, techno, drum ’n’ bass and even pop music.

Processed beats

It was expected that the unrealistic sounds and retro styling of such devices would see them resigned to the dustbin as soon as much more accurate sample-based drum machines began to flourish. The appeal of drum synthesis, though, lies in its versatility. Not only is it possible to create drum sounds using almost any subtractive synthesiser, but the tuning, modulation and envelope options go far beyond

that of a manipulated drum sample. It’s possible to tune a synthesised drum sound to any frequency and, as the sounds are synthesised in real-time, the artifacts introduced when tuning samples, present in early drum machines like the Linndrum and MPC60, aren’t an issue. This enables programmers to create incredibly deep and smooth sub-bass kicks – something the TR-808 is famous for. Over the next few pages we’re going to look at creating a kick drum, a snare, tom toms and hi-hats using nothing but soft synths – the ES2 from Apple’s Logic DAW by way of example, but we’ll be staying within its basic functionality, so any virtual analogue dual-oscillator synth with frequency modulation will do. We’ll also show how you can go about mixing them into your tracks and combining them with sampled sounds.

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drum synthesis /  synth masterclasses < > Step by step

Synthesising a kick drum

The characteristic decay of a cymbal can be synthesised using an envelope



Here’s a sample of a TR-808 kick drum from The A Class Series’ Planet Drum Machines sample pack in Audacity. As you can see, it most closely resembles a decaying sine wave. While it’s not a pure sine, it gives us the clue that this would still be a good starting point for our synthesised kick drum.

We need to shape the sound to make it more percussive. Using Env3, drag the Sustain right down to 0, then set the Decay to around 200ms and the Release to around 30ms. Leave the Attack at 0. This will give you a short, sharp sine wave.



We’re going to recreate the sampled kick using Logic’s ES2 synth. Load it or any other virtual analogue synth. The default ES2 preset has too much going on, so we’ve put a pure sine wave patch in the download for you – it’s called Pure Sine Wave ES2.pst.

With an acoustic drum, the harder you hit it, the higher the initial pitch is. We’re going to recreate that using ES2’s modulation system. In the first mod slot, select Pitch 1 as the Target and Env2 as the Source, then drag the Amount right up to 1.00.


>Tune your kicks


Draw in some MIDI notes – preferably a low note such as C0. You should hear a high-pitched trigger – this is because the Sustain of the pitch envelope is still at maximum. Drag it down to 0 and your new kick will come alive. Experiment with different Decay amounts and adjust the oscillator semitone tuning to taste.

One of the main advantages of using synthesised kicks is the ability to accurately tune them to the key of your track. Tuned lowfrequency content can make the mixing process much easier as you won’t have a dissonant clash between the kick and the bassline. In fact, they’ll usually complement each other. Even if you’re used to using samples, why not underpin your sampled kick with a tuned, synthesised one? It may save you a few hours of mixing time further down the line.

Shaping your sound When creating your own drum sounds, consider how their physical equivalents would sound in the real world. Percussion sounds, by their nature, start instantly when struck and range from very short, such as a closed hi-hat, to sounds with a long natural decay, such as a crash cymbal. In the world of synthesis, the duration of a tone is set using an amplitude envelope. An amplitude envelope shapes the sound by manipulating its volume level over time, and the most common type of envelope is the ADSR, named after its four parameters: Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release. Attack defines the time it takes the sound to reach full volume – ie, rising from silence. For drum sounds, this will almost always be set to just above zero, to trigger the sound instantly. Decay defines the time it takes for the sound to fall to the level dictated by the Sustain setting. For drum sounds, Decay is a vital parameter and will be set very short for tight sounds, medium for toms and similar, and longer for crashes and the like. The Sustain parameter doesn’t come into drum shaping much, since percussion instruments typically don’t sustain – they usually decay as soon as they’ve been struck. Exceptions might be drums played with brushes, or a cymbal roll played with mallets. Finally, Release dictates how long the sound takes to reach silence once a MIDI Note Off trigger is received by the software. Release wouldn’t be an issue in the real world, but in synthesis, once the note trigger ends, the sound will silence instantly if it’s set to zero. There are two solutions: extend the length on the MIDI note so that it stretches all the way to the start of the next note, or adjust the release time to taste. Around 40ms should give you a natural sound, without introducing a new decay tail. synths: thE UltIMatE GUIdE  /  91

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> synth masterclasses  / pushing the envelope

Envelopes and beyond One of the most important things to do when deploying multi-breakpoint envelopes is think of them as being much more than just envelopes. For example, if you set up a multi-breakpoint envelope with a couple of fade-in and fade-out segments (and the envelope loop parameter turned on), you’re now really describing a simulated custom LFO shape. Or, if you create a bouncy, pulsing groove with sync-to-host and envelope loop on, it might well sound like you’re using an arpeggiator or step sequencer. The lines between LFOs, envelope generators (EGs) and sequenced arpeggiators have become seriously blurred – in a good way. With today’s synths, we can easily conjure up custom EG shapes and assign them just as we would LFOs – except that while an LFO has a defined, regular waveshape, we can modify the segments of this EG-created LFO in any way we

> Step by step



see fit. This freedom simply isn’t possible with preset LFO shapes.

Track attack

“The lines between LFOs, envelope generators and sequenced arpeggiators have become blurred”

The attack portion of a synth patch – that really important first 250ms that can give a lead or bass sound its unique personality – is another area in which multibreakpoint envelopes can be used to great effect. One technique is to zoom in as far as you can on the very beginning of the envelope and add three or more breakpoints. By carefully making a jagged up/down/up/down sawtooth shape, you’ll add bite and character to the attack of your sound, which might help your lead synth or bassline to stand out more in the mix. Move the envelope segments around both in time (left

to right) and level (up and down), and listen to how even small movements change the attack. Some synths also offer a range of preset shapes that you can assign to each segment of the envelope. In Spectrasonics’ Omnisphere and Trilian, nine different shapes are available, including very useful three- and four-pulse segments that can be used to make very complex attacks easily. This sort of segment shape can also be very useful for making intricate embellishments in rhythmic patterns.

Setting up a rhythmic envelope in Absynth 5

First, load Absynth 5 in your DAW (get the demo at if you don’t own it). Switch to Absynth’s Patch pane (top centre) and, from the top left, select New Sound to call up an initialised (ie, blank) sine wave patch.

Select Generate AR Pulse… from the Transform menu. This will open up the editor window, in which you select exactly what type of regular, pulsing envelope shape you want to start with. Here’s a handy tip: in the Available Envelopes list on the left, you can apply the same shape to every envelope generator in the list!



In the OSC A box, click where it says Sine to pull up the waveform list and choose Saw_smooth. Hit OK at the bottom of the waveform select window. Next, click the small stairstep box to make it a smooth line. This switches the oscillator to a higher-resolution, smoother-sounding model.

Now modify the pulses to make your own shape. Play a note and you’ll hear what the default settings give you. Beat dur is the timing duration of each pulse – 0.5000 is an eighth-note, while 0.2500 is a 16th-note. If Min amp is 0.000 then no sustain is heard. Slope is the curvature of each pulse – the smaller it is, the sharper the attack and the shorter each pulse. Hit OK when you have a shape you like.



Now switch to the Envelope pane and change the mode to Loop. Click Sync to make the EG sync to the project tempo. You’ll notice that two of the envelope segments now have a red symbol attached to them. The red c is the Loop Start marker, while the red + is the Loop End marker.

Turn on Grid and the movement of segments will be quantised (1/8, 1/16 or 1/32). Lock keeps later segments from moving, while Slide makes them, well, slide. Finally, there’s the Edit menu, which is where you’ll find the envelope Copy and Paste functions. Try applying your envelope to Absynth’s various parameters (click +new). Much sonic mayhem awaits!

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pushing the envelope /  synth masterclasses < > Step by step


Making a rhythmic envelope from a MIDI file in Omnisphere

Spectrasonics’ Omnisphere can use the timing of MIDI parts to generate envelope shapes. We’ve taken a percussion groove from Stylus RMX (a simple bongo pattern – 85-Bongos 1) and dragged its MIDI file to the desktop. Any MIDI file will do, but the idea is to make something more rhythmically interesting than just straight 16th-notes.


Load Omnisphere’s Big Analog Strings patch (type ‘Big Analog Strings’ into the Patch Search box to quickly locate it), switch to the Edit page and activate the blue Link button. This means that whatever we do to Oscillator A will also be applied to Oscillator B.


In the Envelope section (on the lower right), select Amp and click the magnifying glass button to open the Envelope Editor. Make sure Loop and Sync are activated in both the A Amp and B Amp pages.


>Bit-crushing envelopes



Drag the MIDI file from your desktop into Omnisphere’s graphical Envelope display and there you have it: your hand-made rhythmic envelope is assigned to both oscillators! If it doesn’t work, check that your MIDI file has the .mid extension at the end of its name.

Click the magnifying glass button to exit back to the Edit page. In the Filter section, turn the Cutoff down to 0.828kHz, Res up to 0.650 and Env to 0.350. Now right-click the Cutoff knob and select Modulate»Modulate with Envelope. Have a play: you’ll hear the filter moving with the default Mod 1 envelope settings.



Omnisphere’s effects roster doesn’t include a bit-crusher, but you can make all sorts of gritty, ‘aliased’ sounds with a short, looping EG. Activate the Envelope loop and set the loop start and end points a very short distance apart. Changing the number of segments, the length of the loop, the segment shapes and the Speed slider will all help to mess up the sound. This generally works best on ‘darker’ tones (try Blue Ripples from the sound source browser), but it can give brighter leads and basses a cool, trashy sound, too. Trilian, Absynth 5 and other synths with looping EGs can also do this.

The Release is currently assigned to the Step shape, which has no curvature option. So, zoom in on the last segment. Turn on Snap, right-click the breakpoint at bar 9 and choose Curve 1. Drag the breakpoint to the right, to half way through bar 10, and down to the zero line, as shown. Finally, drag the curve itself down, so that it bends downwards.

Let’s change the Mod 1 envelope preset. Click the magnifying glass in the Envelopes section, select MOD 1 and click the small triangle in the centre of the window. Navigate to Rhythmic Envelopes and choose Dingo Groove. You’ve loaded a new preset envelope! Now we’re going to use it to modulate effect parameters.


Hit the FX button. You should see the A effect rack, and it should be blank. Click the triangle at the top left of the rack and select Pro-Verb. Set the Mix slider to 0, then right-click it and choose Modulate» All Mod sources»Mod Envelope1. Now the reverb mix for Oscillator A follows the same modulation as the filter.

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