Thursday, January 29, 2015

ProTip: Interesting Harmonic Distortion on the V-synth

If you want to emulate another piece of gear's harmonics, you can attempt to do so with the V-synth. With an FFT program, (I recommend SigScope) you can determine the harmonics of the amplifier distortion MFX on the V-synth.

1. Select a sine wave.
2. Play the note that closely relates to a FFT graph you are emulating. (In my case a 1k sine wave)
3. Use the Guitar Amp Master Fx and scroll through different settings to see the output.
4. Find someone else's FFT test graph for whatever piece of gear you are emulating.
5. Adjust the Gain & EQ to match the graphs. The harmonics are the lines after the first large spike. The spacing and height of each determines the change. You can just guess or do the best you can. You might not be able to match it at all, or you might find a new sound you like.

With the V-synth you must use really low gain both on the OSC and the MFC volume. If you hear the sinewave overdriving, you are a little too loud.

I was able to match Neve 1073 channel strip with two Marshall amplifiers, one in the COSM, and one in the MFX. Both had low gain. I used a LPF on the first COSM slot to have a bit of roll-off. You can also introduce noise into the mix on the second OSC.

Basically, it is "british EQ" on the V-synth!Does it sound the same?  I'm not sure I even care, I'm just exploring the sound pallette everyday with this keyboard. I'm sure I've done things the designers hadn't thought of.

So what can you do with all this? You could run audio through the input, or use the LPF for different synth sounds. SigScope pro can also check the waveform shapes if you want to explore more. If you have this set up, you will probably run out of slots for creating synth sounds, so maybe use a sample. If you have a JP-80 you could probably go wild, as it has more FX combinations. If you are going old-school, you could probably use a plate reverb.

So thats my tip for getting slightly different distortion textures! No matter what you do, you can never get things perfect, but its fun to try and explore the endless possibilities.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Roland Promars Plug Out

I think this one sounds a lot better than the System 1 original! Roland is going to be king of digital synthesis again.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Namm 2015 Roundup: Roland JD Xi, JD XA, Dave Smith Prophet 6

Roland JD Xi

This one looks pretty good, except for the small keys (you can play triplets, but still my hands are too big for it). Its pretty much an analog / digital, all-in-one, groove keyboard. I haven't seen a demo from the digital side except that it has supersaw. I really hope these voice well and combine the oscillators in a patch. But whats even better is the Roland JD-XA!

If you are into keyboards, this is obviously the one you will want to wait for.

What else?


It sounds great again and is packed with features! It looks like a revisit to the Prophet 5.  Its really good looking! Listen to it here on soundcloud. I like it when these companies are fully ready to show everything off.

Where is Yamaha? I don't know yet...

So far I think these are the best products to post up. Korg has some nice new replicas, and there are some other analog monophonics, but those are not things I'm into...the tech is just too old! I need patch memory.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Akai Pro Advance 25,49,61 Keyboard Midi Controllers come with software.

New Midi controllers from Akai. They have a built in screen of some type and come with some software instruments. They do look pretty cool if you work inside the computer. I'm really afraid of midi controllers. The ones promising to be ultra integrated have been the hardest to set up. Time will tell.

From NAMM 2015 AKAI PRO link

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jupiter 8 sounds on the V-synth

Lets synthesize the Jupiter 8 sound!

The trick to making a Jupiter 8 on the V-synth is different from other analog types. Its quite easy to make a Moog lead (or analog pad) on the V-synth by just using the TB-303 filter. I don't have a JP-8 in front of me, but the pitch seems to be quite stable.

Use a small randomization and drift factor for pitch.
 -2, RND PITCH LFO, -2 Randomization in the pitch section.
 The above setting will make it go out of tune by only 4 cents!  Other analog instruments use more.

The PWM can be drifted by -30! If you use a basic wave, like triangle or SIN, you will start to get the right shape, but don't go too bright. You can also adjust the attack and envelope if you want.

Next use a regular -12db filter, with really moderate settings! I thought the filter would need special programming beyond the what V-synth does, but thats not the case. However, the resonance is quite impossible to nail down perfectly. The attack and decay depend on the sound you are making. I actually think less than 5 attack is not necessary.

Amplification is the final part.

Use the Guitar amp MFX, JC-120 amp. Does this amp have the same circuitry as the JP8? I don't know, but maybe it was used on a lot of records and it gets the tone right. Turn the gain to LOW. Set the input to 43 or so. Turn off the speaker. Set the EQ Bass and Mid to 110, treble turned down a bit. Brightness off. You might have to nudge things around to get the proper brightness. This amp kind of makes the treble sing and thats why we use it.

This isn't a complete tutorial to a specific sound, but now you have the basics. There are not a lot of options to get a modeled analog sound on this keyboard, but there are tons of workarounds and secrets!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Using Feedback in Sound Design

One way to make a sound more alive is by using feedback loops at different stages. In a synthesizer or FX chain a loop will shape sound with a repeated frequency. The sound is referencing its own signal from another part of the system. Ultimately the sound will hit a maximum resonant frequency or amplitude. If the system is well designed, it won't blow your speakers! If its digital, the worst that can happen is clipping. You can adjust levels to create the most interesting effect without going overboard. There are ways to control the sound so its not just a constant overload which I also mention below.
  1. Feedback Knobs - This is found on chorus, phasers, delay etc.
  2. Dynamic Envelopes - Like a compressor, or dynamic filter, these reference the amplitude of the input to make the sound come alive. Found on V-synth, lots of software FX filters.
  3. Feedback Oscillator or Loop chain built into a synth - This is found on Dave Smith's designs and also V-synth. This can create circuit overload and clipping sounds.
  4. Reverb - Reverbs are a type of feedback. The sound is repeated back to you and affected by time / resonance.
Step Two: How to control and shape the feedback.

Try amplitude modulation or randomization before the inputs. The goal is to find some kind of balance and interesting use of the feedback. The end result is a new sound with some cool time effects. All of the modulation and self referencing will make the sound come alive.

WARNING, this is what happens when you feedback a Roland supersaw wave.

Roland JD-Xi Leaks

It looks like it has mini keys and a small mod wheel. It likely has a step sequencer with the bottom pads. I'd imagine the quality is similar to the midi keyboards, which is acceptable, but not amazing key action. Hopefully this has on-board sounds. I'd imagine this connects to downloadable AIRA / presets. The fact they are using the JD letters probably means it is synth + some of the original roland waves, but not Supernatural. Thats my best guess. I'm also going to guess this costs $599 or less.