Sunday, July 5, 2009

Make Your Digital Patches Sound More Analog

Here are some quick tips to make your digital patches sound more analog:

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1. Don't Detune, Randomize! The old, common idea has been to to detune one of your oscillators to make it sound more analog. This method does not work because your sound will still be perfectly detuned, and will still have every bit of digital character. Each time the note is triggered it will still be the same. Thats fine if thats the sound you want, but instead, use the Randomize Pitch setting, to set notes outside of their tuned boundaries each time a note is triggered.

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Not UFO.

2. Use a little bit of LFO. To further gain analog realism, use an LFO on the pitch. LFOs can be set to sine wave or random. You don't want to actually hear the result, only give the OSCs some "warble," so a little goes a long way.

3. Randomize pulse width LFO. Some synthesizers may let you adjust the pulse width dynamically. This could simulate the analog electronics varying the shape and timing of OSC waveforms. I prefer to loosen it up, make it sound duller, or add some variance here.

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4. Change the structure of your signal (filter). On digital synths you may be stuck here, where the filter is placed directly after the OSC, but some synths let you reorganize it. Put a distortion effect before the filter. Doing this simulates flaws in the designs of analog synths (like the TB-303) where the signal may be slightly too hot or clipped within the electronics itself. On the roland V-synth its easy to do this. Just select a weak amp distortion, and then place the filter after. Don't use a hard distortion here or you'll lose too much character. This is a simple trick which may warm up your filter.

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5. Research the specs of similiar analog units. If you can find out the specs of famous analog synth's filters, you can come close to replicating them in the digital realm. For instance db/octave (#poles) and envelope timing.

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6. Use effects: EQ can go a long way in shaping a sounds character and make it unique. A slight chorus effect could mask many sound's digital properties.

Remember, the only thing that makes a sound digital is when it can be perfectly replicated each time. If you want to be "analog" just avoid it and use some more advanced expression within the digital realm.

Enjoy a truer analog-ish experience on your digital synth!

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