Creating Interesting Synth Patches

April 3, 2012 Leave a comment

CREATING INTEREST

As with many things in electronic music production, everything operates in layers from the ground up, and small changes everywhere add up to a final product. In this arcticle I’m going to introduce to you some techniques for adding some interest to your synth patches. This is accomplished either through the synth itself or by manually automating parameters if your device routing options are limited.

When designing your sound, of course you will start off with a few basic ideas, the main oscillators, and envelope options on your volume and cutoff. This gives you your basic starting tone. So what are some things when can employ to add a little richness?

GRADUAL AUTOMATIONS

Firstly, one of my favorite techniques is to automate the panning of an oscillator. On the Pulverisatuer you have panning options for each individual oscillator. Instead of panning the entire output drastically, try adding a small slight up and down pan across a number of bars on a single oscillator. Of course you can also try this on more than one oscillator. This is a great idea to implement for pads in audiotool as it creates a lot of extra movement, which is usually the goal with a pad timbre.

You can also utilize this same idea for other parameters. Instead of having a large drastic, obvious change, you can implement, a long, gradual, and slight change by one or two percent throughout the course of a song. You could do this on an oscillator tune, or volume, pulsewidth amount, or any other number of knobs. The net effect is a very unnoticeably changing set of harmonics which operates at different states throughout the song. It’s a great way to emulate old analogue synthesizers which would drift tune from it’s physical circuitry.

KEYBOARD TRACKING

Next, an easy way to employ a little variance on your synth sound is to use the “KB Track” option. This is a common function on many synthesizers and will alter a parameter based on keyboard poisiton. In the case of the pulverisateur it’s hardwired to the filter cutoff. Basically, how it works, is it increases or decreases the filter cutoff position based on what key is played. So as you go up a scale, the filter opens, or reversely if you set the knob the opposite way. This can be a fairly intesting effect, especially with the cutoff envelope also set.

HUMANIZED NOTES

It isn’t quite modulation, but one often overlooked idea is that to alter the lengths and start positions of your notes. Of course, if your recording from a keyboard controller, this is already done for you as you play. But if your stuck with a mouse and computer, you can emulate real life performance by altering note positions ever so slightly, and playing with the note lengths. This shifts the groove of the track slightly, and is especially important for genres like rap and dubstep, which rely on creating a good funk or vibe with the drums.

Another way to spice up your pattern is to use different velocity amounts. Especially with plucked timbres, you can superimpose ryhthmic elements into your pattern by altering the velocity amounts. Choose key notes to hit on, and make the volumes of these the loudest. Use the elements of rythem with your synth pattern as if it were drums. You would be surprised how much funk this can add to a beat, especially at lower tempos.

For a good example of this, take a look at my “virus” track on audiotool.

FILTER SWEEPS

Often not considered by many is to utilize automated extra filters to sweep and add some extra interest. In audiotool, this comes in the form of the slope tool. Try chaining in a slope after your instrument and automationg the filter cutoff. I’m not just talking about the standard lowpass either. Try using bandpass, notch, or highpass filters as well. Adjust the mix ratio to let more of the original signal through and you will create a subtle phase. On that note, using this technique you can emulate a phaser-esque sound by employing a notch filter and sweeping the frequency.

EFFECTS AND ROUTING

Lastly, of course the easiest way to add modulation is to add stereo effects. This includes pedals such as the S. Detune, Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser. Some things to consider however, even though some of these will include a wet and dry amount, you might like to try using them as a bus effect rather than an insert. This makes it so that the original signal is at it’s full capacity with the effect additively imposed on top of it. Some interesting considerations can be made in this capacity in that you can essentially effect an effect instead of stacking up everything in the same effect chain. So for example, you could flanger a delay without applying the flange to the main instrument.

In audiotool there is a feature on the minimixer and centroid which allows you to route external effects in this manner. Yeah, that aux output? That’s what it’s for. More interestingly though, you can utilize a splitter to duplicate your synth output and route different chains of effects along with the dry signal. I often like to do with a splitter and a minimixer. An interesting effect to use in this manner is a compressor as you can mix your compressed, flat output with your punchy transient uncompressed output. Another simple thing you can do with this is mix an S. Detuned signal with your dry signal.

As you can see there are many ways to add some more interest to your sound. Especially in audiotool this is very important as simply programming the pulverisatuer intself will only get you so far. The more subtle changes you make to a timbre, the more complex it will sound. Of course, keep in mind that in music you want to utilize a sense of contrast, So simple sounds have their place as well, in combination with complex sounds to create a rich pallate of sonic variety!

Categories: Audiotool

Guide To Resampling

June 3, 2011 1 comment

With the advent of Audiotool 2.0 came one of the best features thus far introduced; the ability to record and import your own samples. This is a great tool to add samples from your library. However, consider the more creative options this feature presents. By recording and rerecording elements from within the program itself, you can create some interesting new sounds. I’m talking about “Resampling”.

 HAVE A PLAN

Proper Naming is Essential.

Before I get to talking about re-sampling itself, I just want to take a brief moment to talking about staying organized. This is especially important in Audiotool as once you upload a sample, it’s there forever. Sit down beforehand and write out a standardized way you want to name your samples.

A good naming structure will keep your present and future endeavours consistent. For example, you may want to call all your drum samples “user_drum_01” and all of your effects “user_effect_01” etc. This makes it so that it’s a lot easier to browse and remember your samples. It also makes it so other users maybe have an easier time making sense of your samples as well.

It’s also important to tag your samples in order for others to find them. This is not as big of a deal as Audiotool forces you to pick one. However, try to pick a few tags that make sense so people can get access to your sounds.

 FATTEN YOUR DRUMS

One of the most straightforward ways to use resampling is to create your own quality, processed sounds. Instead of having a million effects cluttering your project to eq and compress for example, a kick drum, effect and automate the hell out your sounds beforehand. Then, bounce them from the timeline and re-import them as a newer, better sound.

When using this technique, here are some things to try.

 #1 – Layering

Use multiple samples to combine them into one.

One great and classic way to create thick, phat drum sounds is to layer multiple samples with differing properties together.

Say you have a clap. It sounds alright. Now add another clap and play it at the same time. Now it sounds perhaps a little more interesting. Then add a snare and play it at the same time as well. Now you have a multi-layered sound which is different than any other sample individually.

Try to pick complementary sounds with different properties. For example, pick a short, bright snare, and layer it with a long, dull snare. Take a low, booming kick and staple a high-end hat to the top of it.

Experiment with adding subtle effects, playing with different volumes, settings and envelopes to your stacked sounds.

 #2 – Custom Envelopes

Make your own envelopes.

Now that your working in the span of a few seconds instead of a whole song, you can go crazy with custom envelopes by using automations. One of the most immediately useful ways to do this is by automating the volume from your mixer or master volume on your device in the timeline. By doing this, you can create Basically any kind of ADSR type enevelop you want, instead of relying on the fixed envelope styles of the Machiniste ( Though the machiniste is very flexible in this regard ).

Creating everything in the timeline as opposed to the built in envelopes gives you a visual look at everything. Plus, you can also create non-standard envelopes that go up and down, or cut in and out any way you want, for any parameter you want! Feel free to experiment and make your edits as detailed as you want, since once you render, you won’t have a million automations choking up your final project timeline.

 #3 – Slicing Loops

Slicing loops is awesome.

Rendering loops can give you certain interesting effects that a programmed midi sequence cannot. For example, you can time stretch your sample, or cut it up to make interesting stuttered effects. You could also reverse certain parts, or granulize your sound in the timeline. At the very least, it will give you a fast effective way to layer some loops together. It will also save you resources on your song.

Exporting and slicing a loop is especially relevant in genres like glitch and breaks type tracks which rely on cutting and modding drum loops. Just look at how many times the amen break has been sampled and modified! Think of this as the same thing, but using your own loops and sounds.

 #4 – Squashing

Creative Compression.

An interesting way to utilize compression creatively is by cranking up the levels of a sound and limiting the heck out of it before running it through some solid levelling. You can get some interesting new sounds this way, and especially in the case of kicks, you can use it to make individual drum sounds a lot smoother and boomy.

Let me explain how I usually do this. Add a kick to your project and having it playing once on loop. Then, add two P.Eq plugins and a compressor. Make sure the threshold and ratio are set to something moderate, and set your mode to peak.

Next, set your Eq. Use the first P.Eq to reduce 138 hz by a few db, and the second to greatly increase 60 or so hz with a narrow q setting. The compressor will then clamp down on this huge excess of bass and the sample will conform to the shape of your compressor envelope. Then, tweak your compressor and eq settings until it sounds like something good to you.

This technique specifically will turn your kicks from boxy and muddy to satisfying, short thuds… Of course you don’t want to get too carried away with your compression, but that’s another topic for another day.

 GET CREATIVE

Feel free to experiment as much as possible, and before you know it, you’ll have a ton of great samples for yourself and others! Happy Audiotooling!

Categories: Audiotool

Designing Trance Leads/Pads

May 28, 2011 1 comment

 Lead The Way

A basic four-step trance progression.

The key to creating a good trance lead or pad lies in programming a sound both rich in harmonics and detuning. For it, you will want to use three oscillators, all set to saw. Each oscillator will also benefit from small amounts of tweaking to differentiate them slightly from each other. For example. instead of 100% saw on all of your oscillators, slightly offset each “waveform” knob. Another good area to offset is your tune knobs. Lastly, don’t forget to experiment with the pan knobs. Ideally, you want each oscillator to have slightly different settings. These small variations will add to the richness and dynamic qualities of your sound.

 Toneshaping

A basic supersaw setup.

Once you have your oscillators programmed, you will want to then adjust your filter envelope accordingly. The types of settings used in the filter section will determine the overall role of your synth in the song. For a more progressive plucked sound ( Good for arps ), set your release to medium, your attack to zero, and your decay to short. For a sharp, sustained sound, set your decay to zero, your release to zero, and your sustain to max. For a pad sound, set your release to long, your attack to long, and your sustain to long. Remember to play with your filter frequency knob to check that the filter sweeps sound good. With all the saws, you should have plenty of meat for your filter to work on.

Now that you have a core sound at the ready, it should be sounding pretty good. However, it will still need effects. The first and most important effect should be the S.Detune. Drag one in and set the tune knob to 10 o’clock. Next, you will want to create a reverberation send, and a delay. To create a more interesting effect with these plugins, I will go into how to set them up in more detail.

 Stereo Reverb

The effects chain, including stereo reverb.

You will want to create a routing so your reverberation chain can be used a send effect. For this, you will need at minimum two plugins; The Reverb, and the S.Detune. Place the S.Detune first, followed by the Reverb. Set the tune knob on the S.Detune to about 10 o’clock. This will spread the reverb filed into stereo. Secondly, set your reverberation room size to about 150, and your level knob to max. Finally connect these two plugins in series and route them to the aux in and out on your minimixer.

Optionally, you can also add in a Slope or P.Eq plugin after your reverb to act as a post-filter for your reverb. This acts as a sort of custom sound dampening, if you prefer. You can even add more than one for a lowpass and highpass on your reverb!

 Ping-Pong Delay

Example of a 4-tap complex delay.

Next up, is your delay chain. This can be simple as an insert effect, or as complex as a multi tap delay. You can put your delay across the minimixer output, or in your send chain after the reverb. To get a little more ambitious, you can also create a two-delay ping pong effect.

First off, you will want to add a splitter, and a minimixer to your project. Now, route your base signal from output A on your splitter to channel one on the minimixer. Secondly, add two delay plugins, and route a signal from both B and C to each accordingly. You will want to set both delays to the following settings: Feedback 0%, and Level 100%. This will make all sound 100% wet with a single delay. Now, set the delay timings on your delay plugins. For the first delay, set your steps knob to 1, 2, or 3. Then, on your second delay, set your steps knob to double the first. So for example, if you set your first delay to 3, set your second delay to 6. This will create two single delays which you can then route to your minimixer and adjust individually. Route your first delay to input 2 on your minimixer, and your second delay to input three. Then, pan input 2 left, and input 3 right. Lastly, decrease the volume on input 2, and decrease it further on input 3 to simulate a decaying effect.

If these instructions sound complicated, check out my video on this: Ping-Pong Delay

 Programming Pads

Trance chord with stacked octaves.

The trance pad sound and the trance lead sound are essentially programmed the same, with perhaps a few small considerations of difference. One thing which will greatly benefit the quality of your sound when programming a pad is to use a lot of octave stacked notes. You want your chords to have about 4 or 5 keys to them. This creates a smooth richness to your pad sound by adding many layers. For example, create a two key chord in the upper octave registers. Then, copy the root note down an octave, and then down an octave again. This will create a four-note chord with the root note repeated across octaves twice.

Another important part of making your pad sound is then to eq out the center frequencies with a broad eq reduction at around 2000-5000 hz. You don’t want your massive harmonically rich sound buzzing all over your mix midrange, and I find doing this makes the pads sound a lot “smoother”. Lastly, like most of your sounds it is worth it to experiment with compression at the end of your audio chain to keep the upper filter frequency from overpowering the lower range when you do gradual filter sweeps.

The finished template.


								
Categories: Audiotool

Interview with Astrum!

March 29, 2011 2 comments

With the coming of Audiotool 2.0, it’s now easier than ever to connect and communicate with other Audiotool users. Have you ever wondered however, who the artists really are behind the music? Today, I begin a series where I will take you behind the scenes to talk with some of Audiotool’s most prolific names.

Today’s Featured Artist Is: ASTRUM!

Daws: Audiotool, Fl Studio (not anymore though), and hopefully Reason soon

Genres: Electro, Dance, Techno, Dubstep

Websites: Audiotool, Soundcloud, Bandcamp

Top Tracks: Wormhole 2.0, Infinite, 4 AM


“So, let’s get acquainted with the man behind the music. Tell me a little about yourself.”

Well, I’m basically just your average 16 year old. I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. I love listening to music, and I love writing and playing music. I’ve been playing the drums for 8 years now, so that is one of my main hobbies besides audiotool. I really like finding new and innovative artists to get inspiration from, and not just from audiotool.

“Outside of Audiotool, do you do any other musical work? Any live shows or Dj gigs?”

I play the drums in a band with my friends. We’ve played a few small gigs around our city, but we’re hoping to start playing bigger shows and establish a bigger fan base. As for Dj-ing, I’d really like to learn how to do it but I don’t have the equipment or money for it. I don’t think it would be hard to get a Dj gig though if I did know how to do it because there’s a decent party scene here for young people. It’d be really nice to start hearing some of my tracks played out.

“I wanna know; what compelled you to decide on the name “Astrum?”

My old audiotool name was crazydruminator. I made that up when I was making an AIM screen name in 5th grade, so I felt like I needed a change. I didn’t think people would take me very seriously if I kept that name. I talked to one of my friends about a new name, and we decided that something in latin would be cool sounding. We just hopped on google translator and started typing in words to translate that have to do with space, since I felt like that was sort of the main theme of my music at the time. Astrum means star in latin. It sounds cocky, I know, but my friend thought it was awesome.

“How did you find out about Audiotool? What happened when you first came to the site? “

I was using stumbleupon.com and got to André Michelle’s website, http://lab.andre-michelle.com/. I started messing around with the tonematrix module on there, and I thought it was really cool. I think I found a link on that site to hobnox.com, where the audiotool app was born, and then I created an account there and started making loops using the 303 and 909. That kept me entertained for months. When I found out audiotool had become its own website early last year, I was ecstatic. I was scared of the pulverisateur though for weeks; I never attempted to use it. The templates and tutorials created by the audiotool team helped so much!

“When it comes to Audiotool, what are some of your favorite plugins or features?

“Well I obviously have to mention the pulverisateur! I make the main parts with it for every one of my tracks. The ability to automate everything on it is so useful. There’s such a huge variety of sounds it can make that I am still in the process of discovering. I also love how compatible it is with all of the effect pedals. The machiniste is also a large part of everything I do on the site. The addition of the machiniste last year brought my tracks to a new level. I think that my favorite effect pedals, or at least the ones I use most frequently, would be Delay, Reverb, Parametric EQ, and the compressor. Without the compressor, I wouldn’t be able to use the copious amount of side-chaining that I do.

“If you could add something to the program, what would it be?”

I would love to have a sampler with at least a piano and some different strings or pad sounds. I think that’s the only thing I really would like to use in my tracks, because I can’t really get good pad sounds from the pulverisatuer, but maybe I’m just bad at it. The available one-shot pad sounds aren’t the greatest either. I would say midi control, but audiotool 2.0 has taken care of that! I don’t even own a midi controller but I want to get one. My room would look a bit more like a studio with one also, as right now its currently just a macbook with some 20 dollar speakers.

“Do you have any Audiotool techniques you like to use a lot? What are they?”

After I found out about stereo delay from you, I started to use it all the time. I think I might have used it in every track since then, even. I also love using reverb. I just love how the pulverisateur sounds when it is set to a very low filter frequency with a lot of reverb. Like I said, I also use a lot of side-chaining through the compressor. I really like opening tracks with unique sounds from various users and recreating their synths (thank you noraus, beat canteen, and anthony bartone!) or just finding some inspiration. Also, I have recently been taking the kick sounds out of loops and using that instead of looking through one-shot samples. I can find the kick sounds that I want from loops much easier than I can when clicking through one-shot samples.

“Describe your usual process in making a song. What do you like to start with, etc?”

I usually just drag out a machiniste or pulverisateur and begin trying to make something cool sounding. A lot of the time, though, I am just experimenting and trying to find new sounds with the pulverisateur automations or different chains of effects, and I’ll stumble across something nice sounding that I use as the basis for a new track. Sometimes I look through the loops to try and find some inspiration or a jumping-off point. When I’m remixing a song, I actually go from the beginning to the end, thinking about things that could sound good and creating those sounds along the way. Most of the time when I’m on audiotool is time that I spend listening to parts that I’ve created over and over again, and thinking about how it could sound better or what would sound awesome coming afterwards.

“Which of your Audiotool tracks do you think is your best? Tell me about it.”

I think that would be my song Wormhole 2.0, just judging by the feedback I’ve gotten from it. It’s a remix of one of Jonjon’s old tracks that I thought was way ahead of the curve at the time. It took me a long time; I don’t know how many hours exactly, I think at least 12. A lot of that was spent sitting and just listening. It was really hard to EQ properly because there were so many different sounds and frequencies to think about. Jonjon had created a synth from the pulverisateur that I thought was incredibly innovative and unique. It makes wobble sounds using the filter envelope decay rate with the filter env. loop option turned on, and that is something I never would have thought about trying. Figuring out what rates to use to get different speed wobbles was sort of a challenge since the values had to be so precise. It’s definitely my biggest audiotool project.

“Do you have any future plans for your music?”

As long as things keep moving forward for me in some way, I’ll be happy. I want to find a way to get my music more known. I definitely want to keep progressing in audiotool and making better and better tracks, although I honestly have no idea how I can top Wormhole 2.0. I’m hoping to get Reason for my birthday in a couple weeks, but no worries, I will never leave audiotool!

“What do you think holds for the future of Audiotool?”

It’s hard to say right now considering thier new website just dropped. I think as far as new features go, I’m sure that the awesome audiotool team will implement more great and innovative synths and tools like the machiniste and the new centroid. I hope that more people find out about audiotool because it’s such an amazing, free music application. I know many people that would love the chance to create electronic music but do not have the money for programs like Logic, Fl Studio, Cubase, or Reason. That’s why I try to spread the word of audiotool as much as I can!

“Any last comments you would like to add?”

Just keep on making these blog entries and youtube videos! I think many, including me, find them very useful. And thanks to all those audiotool artists that have inspired me- rnzr, Jonjon, Virtuous, Kepz, Farcio, enjoyyourshoes, Mr. Standfast, arche289, Eliatrix, noraus, and Anthony Bartone. And you of course!

Photo courtesy of Emily Gamble, Photo Editing by Kyryl Polozyuk

Categories: Audiotool

Mixing Tips And Tricks

March 24, 2011 1 comment

One of the keys to making a great track lies in your ability to mix properly.

Today, I am going to talk about what makes a good mix, how your can acheive it, and what kind of techniques you can use specifically relevant to audiotool. The first part will be aimed more towards beginner users. In it I will explain some techniques to avoid common mistakes, with provided context. The latter part will be aimed towards more experienced users who want to know more about audiotool. In this part I will share some of my ideas specific to audiotool which will help the experienced user.

So without further delay…

MIXING YOUR TRACKS


Providing You With Some Context.

“Why do the tracks on the radio sound so good compared to mine?” This is the constant question every beggining electronic artists asks himself. There is no single reason why this is so. In fact, there are many reasons. To put it simply, tracks on the radio sound better because they are louder, and the sounds are clearer. To achieve this however is no simple task. You have to know what makes a good mix, and how you can plan your sounds and make good use of the tools available to you.

To start, I want you to think about a rock band. At it’s core you have a drummer, a vocalist, a bass guitar, and a lead guitar. Each memeber fufills a specific role, both literally, and sonically. You have a low frequency sound witht he bassist (bass), a medium frequency sound with the lead (mid), and a medium to high frequency sound with the vocalist. (treble). The drummer also lends to each frequency with kicks and toms (bass), snares (mid), and hats (treble). If you think about it, it’s kind of like an “audio sandwich” where bass, mid, and treble combine into a well defined whole.

The concept is very important to digital audio, as there is only limited room for sound. Unlike your favorite pub, sound cannot simply be jacked up as loud as the speakers will tolerate. You have only a limited amount of room to put in sound, and so the whole trick becomes to properly manage your sounds to be as efficient and diverse as possible.

One of the main ways to do this is to always be thinking about your tracks like the rock band. Think of your synths as your band members. You want a bass sound, some nice middleground sounds, a main higher end part, and drums. You wouldn’t have two drummers playing at the same time, or two bassists playing at the same time (usually), so why should your track be any different?

Ramblings To Help Your Mix.

So, what is the bottom line to all this talk? How can you apply this to your tracks? Well let me give you some guidelines.

At anytime, do not have more than four or five different sounds to your track. This includes a low end, middle end, high end, and drums. Choose one main part to focus on (like a vocalist) and concentrate your volume increasing efforts there.

Make sure your bass and kick drums are always in the center of your mix. Do not send them to the left or right speaker! Keep them centered and it will allow any speakers it plays from to properly deliver the maximum punch from your sound. Think about it, there are no “stereo” subwoofers. It’s just a big single box that pushes air, so it makes no sense to put low sounds left or right.

If you want to have more than one main focus to your song, then have one drop out so the other one can drop in, rather than playing them both at the same time. Think about it. Listen to your favorite rock track. You will usually either have vocals or guitar solo. Usually with a guitar solo, you will hear the vocals drop out to make room for it.  Now you know the reason why; they both occupy the same sonic role in the song.

When using effects you want to try and keep everything to a minimum. Effects add extra sound to a mix and effectively reduce the amount of sonic space coming out of your speaker. That’s why it’s important not to go insanely overboard with reverb and delay etc (even though they sound really cool).

A good trick I find is to adjust the octave on your instruments. Low end can sound good but sometimes there is just too much bass and low end going on and the sound gets washed up. If it doesn’t fit, try rasing the octave, or even just transposing your notes up higher on the piano roll. you would be surprised how often this simple trick can benefit your track.

Save Your Money!

I also thought it was worth it to mention, mixing your tracks well does not require money. Many “famous” artists are making thier albums on nothing more than a hunk of junk old macintosh with crt monitors and a keyboard controller. Do not think you need to run out and buy thousand dollar gear to create good tracks.

Expensive gear does not an artist make. All you need is speakers, and a computer. From there, you need to practice, and arm yourself with some good knowledge about what makes a good track!

AUDIOTOOL TRICKS

The Master Limiter.

Audiotool may not have all the precise mixing gadgetry of a professional studio or retail vsts, but it does have some useful, if often overlooked tools for you to use. One such tool is the built in limiter and db meter, courtesy of the master output device.

One thing I will commonly be doing on all my tracks is checking the db meter on the limiter. It will tell you when your track is clipping ( provided you turn limiting off ).  Since there are no real precise readings, you can tell how much your track is clipping by how often your meter is going red. If you are a little more experienced, you can also hear the amount of compression being applied.

Clipping is okay, if not desired almost, as long as it’s in a small amount. You want to have a bit of “clip” in your track so that when you turn your limiting on, it will give your sound a little compression boost. Don’t crank up the volume too loud however, as it will squash all your sounds.

Some of you might ask, why not just compress the track beforehand so there is no clipping at all? This is just a matter of personal preference. I find the master limiter to make things “sound better” then the compressor plugin. Like many other mixing plugins, after you work with it for awhile you will get a feel for what it can and cannot do, what it sounds like, and how it likes to react to certain things. Plus it’s just easier.

I Love TubeD!

This is the best plugin for beefing up your sounds in audiotool. Period. The TubeD will work wonders in your mix both as intentional distortion and as “automatic compression”.

Primarily, I’ve found that instead of placing it over instruments for distortion effects, you can actually just put the “drive” knob to zero and play with the “gain” for instant sound levelling and boosting. Not only does this help with your mix, it also goes a long way to make your “thin” synths and loops sound more beefy and robust.

To see this idea in action, just create a loop in a new project, and set it so it’s just barely clipping in the limiter meter. Throw on a TubeD with the drive set to zero, and you should see that the meter will stop clipping!

Of course, like all other things in mixing, you want to make sure you are not overdoing this technique, as it will make everything a little too overcompressed. Sometimes you don’t need it, but sometimes it can benefit greatly. Remember, the key to good compression is slight boosts over many things rather than one big boost on the master channel.

It’s also worth noting that the “distortion” aspect of the TubeD will sometimes bleed through on certain instruments, even with the drive set to zero. This commonly comes up in cases where you are making a lot of filter movements, or going for very clean sounding sub basses. Just a heads up!

Make Use of Eq.

Another plugin which is better than it seems is the P.Eq. I find myself using these all the time for my bass sounds. For a good bass boost, try cutting around 138hz with a medium bandwidth, and boosting slighty in the 60-80hz range with a narrow eq.

I also like to use them to create a bit of “air” on certain things. To do this, set your bandwidth to wide, and your frequency near max. Give it a little boost of about a db or so and it will make your sound a lot clearer.

Sometimes it can be a bit easy to go overboard with eq. The main limiter will get angry with you if you try to force too much sub bass and top end through it. So you should always be checking your levels along the way, and reducing volumes and disabling eq to check if you really need them there.

Virtual Compression.

Though using the sidechaining feature on the compressor plugin works reaosnably well, I always prefer to manually draw in a volume automating lfo to make room for the kicks and bass. This is usually more prominent in my trance tracks. If you don’t already know how to do this, just go to my audiotool videos and watch my tutorial on it. This technique will help you make some nice room for your basses, and help them sit together nicely.

Categories: Audiotool

How To: Make a Dubstep Bass.

March 20, 2011 4 comments

So I herd u liek dubstep…

Consider this your guide to creating an awesome dubstep bass. For this tutorial I will be using none other than the wonderful and free audiotool! I will also be showing you a few of my personal techniques and methods, many of which were used in my grimebot track.

( Check out my templates folder for the project file to this tutorial! )

THE BARE BONES

Some may like to start with drums, but let’s start off our track with a Pulverisatuer. From the output, you’ll want to add a distortion with default settings, and two equalizers. Set the first eq to cut the bass at 138 hz, with a narrow bandwidth, and the second eq to boost the low end at around 60 hz, with a wide bandwidth.

The reason for this setup is twofold. The distortion will fatten up your bass sound, add harmonics, and compress it. In addition to that, the eq after it will shape your dubstep bass into a speaker-smashing orgasm of subwoofer nirvana. ( That or it will smooth out your low end )

Don’t forget when adding your Pulverisatuer to set it to default values. ( You can do this by left-clicking on the device, clicking the little triangle, and selecting “Init Preset” ) I also like to edit a few of the parameters in addition to this Envelope releases we’ll set to min, and sustains to full. Also, Crank up the main synth volume to max!

Setting Up Your Synth.

Now, put 50% filter resonance (for added bite), and set your Pulverisatuer to mono-mode. We’ll then proceed to find a nice, low test-note to work out the basic timbre of our sound. Try to find one which sounds satisfying on your speakers. I personally settle on note C1, but you can pick whatever note sounds the “subbiest” to you.

A Sub-Crushing Sine at C1!

Alright, so you got everything set up, it’s looping the same sine over and over. Good.

From here, I’m going to be a little less definitive. You will require a little playing around to get a nice, fat basic tone. But in general, the main elements you will want to experiment with are oscillators, and the effects. The overall goal here is going to be creating a staple tone which will provide you with low-end backbone throughout the track.

For the oscillator sections, the main controls you will want to play with are octave, tune, and waveform type. You will also want to play with the amount of oscillators. When it comes to waveforms, I find that full square will give you the fullest, most resonant sound to work with for your filter, so keep this in mind. Also, don’t be afraid to stack oscillators together on the same octave, as this can really fatten up a sound!

For the effects, you will want to adjust the “Drive” and “Gain” Knobs while you are working with the oscillators to sound nice with your filter. I like to do “Filter Checks” while playing around with the oscillators to make sure it’s sounding good. For this purpose, you can either play with the filter manually, or set your LFO to a filter “Wobble”.

In dubstep, it’s of utmost importance to make sure you get a good filter effect, so set it up to work well!

So, keeping that in mind, here is what I wind up with:

Working With Your Oscillators.

ADDING A SECOND SYNTH

Okay. So I check my filter, adjust my distortion to a controlled amount, and it’s sounding sick! From here, it can benefit the sound to add an additional synth to the mix. This will layer over the first synth and provide some top-end stereo goodness! Utilize the “in” port of your primary synth, and chain both devices together. Remember to copy your notetrack over in the timeline!

PROTIP: Place note data in the timeline in order to get sound from your second synth.

Better Than Double-Rainbow.

So now we have a second synth and they are both playing happily together. It’s time to beef up this badboy! Utilize the same principles before for creating your sound, only this time there is a twist! Use at least two oscillators; one panned left and one panned right. This will create a stereo spread. In addition to this, Make sure to use high octave amounts so you aren’t squashing out the bass from your primary Pulverisatuer.

So, here is what I wind up with for my second synth:

Stereo-Spread Oscillators.

Now everything sounds pretty good on the filter, and with the tone. So it’s time for the fun part;

Adding bass wobbles!

WUBWUBWUBWUB

You have two options here for creating your wobbles. You can either use the built in pulverisatuer lfo, or you can use manual filter frequency automation in the timeline. If you would like to create your wobbles with the lfo, then you will want to add according automation lanes in the timeline for the “rate”, “depth”, and “shape” parameters. However, I prefer to make use of manual, looped automations.

For this I will simply create a “frequency” automation lane in my timeline for the primary synth.

Adding a Frequency Lane.

And now that everything is set up on our synths, here will be the key makings of our bass.

You will want to make automation blocks with different loops and filter movements to make the bass ebb and wobble throughout the song. ( To make a loop, simply draw in some kind of ramp or other pattern in your frequency automation lane, and move the automation loop sliders to create a sort of custom lfo. ) For each block, you will want to create different speeds and intensities of filter movement. Keep in mind the quantization bar to the right of the “add track” button. It’s great for this!

Automation Mayhem Courtesy: Team@Audiotool.

After you make a few different automation blocks that sound interesting, try creating some different notes other than C1. In dubstep, you will want to use fairly broad quantization for these notes. Note sizes should range anywhere from anywhere from a full bar to 1/4. Feel free to experiment however, as that’s what dubstep is all about!

THE FINAL PRODUCT

The Final Template.

Categories: Audiotool

Efficient Workflow

March 19, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Producing music, especially when working with the limited app resources of Audiotool, can demand a certain level of efficiency. Sometimes you may need to disable a few channels of fx to save CPU overhead. Other times you may need to cut down on the amount of plug-ins you’re using. This is why it can be good practice to stay organized and keep your work-flow clean and efficient. You can achieve this both by using good sound design, as well as intuitive project organization.

The first key principle to efficiently working is to utilize the full potential of every device. This means trying to make the best sound you can without any additional effects or plug-ins. In Audiotool ( and many other applications ) the best way to do this is to know your synth and make sure you are making full use of automations, envelopes, and LFOs. This will lead to an great sound that usually can be manipulated in some sort of meaningful way, using only your synth parameters.

As an example of this, think of a dubstep bass. Many artists will set up a dynamic synth patch that remains interesting throughout the song and can be modulated in various ways. Of course, this is rather efficient as well as it only requires one well programmed chain of plug-ins. Audiotool is great at automating the Pulverisatuer ( among other things ) so make sure to spend lots of time with it and use those automation lanes!

Also important, is track organization. I think it’s a concept that can be a little overlooked by many, however, it goes a long way to organize your project layout. If your project is organized, and your devices and their connections are readily apparent, it makes it much easier for you to eliminate the devices which aren’t contributing. Of course, this saves you more project resources and not only makes things run better, but it also keeps you more focused, looks nicer, and helps other people understand what’s going on in your project file when they open it.

Here are a few of the things you can do in your projects to keep them organized:

#1 Name your devices.

 

 

 

 

Naming your devices is mostly for the sake of coordinating on the timeline. Looking up “Bass Synth” in the automation list is a lot more intuitive than “Pulverisatuer 3”. I usually will name my plug-ins as well, so I can tell which plug-ins are connected to which synth, without having to look at the device itself. The more complex your project gets, the more important it is to do this to keep from getting confused.

#2 Avoid Wire Salad.

Many projects I open and I can’t tell right away what is connected where. It pays to spend the small amount of time to generally arrange your devices so the wire connections and subsequent plug-ins are clear to you. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but if you’re a real stickler like me, you might even spend the time to move the devices so all the wire connections “auto-path” the exact way you want.

In terms of wire management, the two best devices for routing your devices are splitters and minimixers. Just remember when you are using splitters to move the dot in the middle of triangle all the way to your outputs so you are getting 100% volume. Also remember when you are using minimixers that the master output defaults to less than full volume.

Lastly, you will also want to keep in mind the orientation of the outputs on your plug-ins. This isn’t quite as important, but I find that generally routing your signal path from left to right works out the best. Devices on the left through to your main mixer on the right.

3# Use Multiple Lanes.

If you haven’t yet figured it out, you can use more than one note lane for a given device! This is especially helpful when programming drums as you can create a note lane for each drum part. You can also use this method with audiotrack plug-ins to arrange multiple loops on the same device. This is both helpful in reducing the number of plug-ins required, but also in giving you a little breathing room when you are making multiple “slice-edits” on loops.

4# Color Your Tracks.

This feature does not give you the most benefit, but it looks nice, and can keep you on track when you have very large projects with many patterns. A lot of people develop their own coloring schemes, and so I suggest you do the same.

In the long run, staying organized and using your devices efficiently can save you time and effort. This makes things run better, export faster, and makes edits easier to perform. Not only that but it makes everything look crisp and professional! As proof of concept, have a look at my Afterglow remix project file. Everything is arranged nicely and the synths and drum machines all do their part to create great sounds without using a battery of plug-ins.

Categories: Audiotool