Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A quick guide to modeling some drums on the V-synth

Warning: This post is for V-synth and synth experts.

First set up your split point ZONES. You will end up with over an octave of drums. If you have a drum patch set up elsewhere you can borrow it. I won't tell you exactly how to do everything. You should use your ears and spectrum analyzer software. If your are new to V-synth, consult your manual. I will provide the core building blocks of doing realistic drums. Drums are highly dynamic. You should use the velocity curves and sharp envelopes whenever it makes sense.

General tips:
In general, "the snap" or attack of most drums is created by fast pitch decay.
Most drum sounds shouldn't be perfectly tuned and ring out. They won't sound real.
Most of the harmonic content will be noise.
Many drums should dampen reasonably over time with a LPF & Env (26-50)
Google the harmonics and mesaurements of drums to get close. Use your spectrum analyzer.
If you have any real life instruments to play with, or have samples to use as references, tuning will go a lot faster.
"Pitch KF" can screw with your zone tuning.
There are 500 memory slots. You can save different working versions and create many drum sets. Recompile your favorite sounds into the "Ultimate Drum Set."

The Bass Drum
  • Structure 1, A SQUARE WAVE + Sub osc (slightly lower volume).
  • -39 Pitch, Curve 2, Sens 48,  Env Depth 26, Decay 18, Sustain 0, LFO +12
  • LFO Fade 55, 116 rate, Sin
  • Pulsewidth LFO +42
  • Detune + 59
  • TVA Decay 85, Curve 2
  • COSM Lowpass filter
This uses the two square waves like membranes. The LFO creates the wobble of a big drum. The Envelopes give the snap and decay. I'm not sure there is much of a beater sound going on. You can always resample the oscs into one osc, then use the free one for a new element.

The Snare Drum

This one is a bit more difficult. We are using the feedback oscillator to create the ring of the shell. The noise is the snare. We run it through the lowpass filter to make it more like a sine wave. next we are using the Banjo resonator. The banjo has a shell and drum like membrane. That is perfect for tuning the rest of the drum head and more resonance.

Goals: What do we want to emulate? The membrane oscillation (feedback osc), snare noise (noise osc), Shell ring (resonator) and then it dampens (with the lowpass filter) because everything is so tight. We also want some "snap" in the pitch envelope. We can also randomize the pitch to emulate different stick hits in different locations on the drum head if you want. Here is what I tried:
  • Use Structure 1
  • Turn harmonics all the way up. Tune to your prefence
  • Modulate feedback amount with key velocity
  • Cosm 1 uses a longer decay lowpass filter, Env Depth +55, -6db, 109 Resonance. This muffles the sound.
  • Cosm 2 Banjo. Use a lower resonance and 50% balance. Tune to your prefence.
  • TVA, Fast attack < 10 and Decay about 40.
I am not going to give you the exact tuning for this one. Experimentation gave me a wide range of membrane tones and shell ringing. I have tuned mine to sound like my real life Yamaha Snare. I also have one with more ringing for rock. I have a third snare zone which is a clunkier sound, like a rimshot! It is all a study and experiment. I do not know what happens before I try it. I did use a lot of envelopes which are too numerous to list. I couldn't believe how cool it was.

Also...I was able to modify the above formula to make a woodblock tone. I switched to a triangle wave, and turned the resonator to guitar (wood), and turned its resonance very high. I also retuned everything. We are doing some real physical modeling now! Supernatural Drums, eat my dust!

The Cymbals

It is really difficult to make good cymbals. If you get anywhere close, you deserve a reward. You could save a lot of time by just using samples. This is what the TR-909 did. If you want to reduce aliasing, you could use a low pass filter on the sample (V-synth aliasing critics can shut their mouth now, haha!). What I tried:
  • Feedback oscillator
  • Noise oscillator
  • Frequency Shifter
  • HPF/LPF dual filter
  • FM Mod
  • Fast envelopes
Many people have given up. At least give it a try. It will still sound a bit electronic I think.

The Toms

You can make a really quick and dirty Tom by running the triangle wave through the Frequency Shifter COSM. Fast attack and some pitch env. Frequency shifter set low. Usual attention to fast envelopes and curve dynamic.

The FX
I use the Dynamic Compression (4:1 or 2:1) and Hall Reverb. I adjust the FX for each drum zone. Also set panning. Redo any velocity or amp envelopes. Listen to real drums and retune your zones.
If you want a really secret tip, I will sometimes run these drums through the Guitar Amp MFX and set the gain low, to model a tube amp. Green Day apparently used a tube preamp. With the gain up, you can hear all the frequencies combining to create more complex tones. You don't always want them to ring out in perfect tune. You could also try to match tunings and the overall characteristics of old break beats this way.

Good luck. You could come up with all kinds of drum sounds now.

Thanks to everyone who has supported my blog in the past. You really make a difference.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

New Synth Toys For 2016

Roland System 500 Complete set. I think this might be somewhat collectible or useable for a long time into the future. I do like the digital 1m module too however & their other eurorack modules look nice. As a toy collector I'd pick up all of these. The JD and mini modules I do not like for different reasons. They are cheap / small looking.

Yamaha's new Montage looks quite good. They added their FM engine back in.

The Matrix Brute....I think it might not sound that great, or something is funny. So many controls and its so cheap! What would I really do with it? I don't know. I'd need more audio demos to make a decision.

I like the Korg Minilogue. I think the sound does not seem too complex yet. However it looks like a nice build for a great price that blows out Arturia.

Where was Akai? Waldorf is kinda meh too. Neither company has a flagship.

So it is 2016?
What is the ultimate synthesizer? What should you really buy to make music?

1. Jupiter-80 (find me a more powerful synthesizer with effects & layering! you can't!)
2. Korg Kronos
3. Korg Odyssey
4. Yamaha Montage
5. Dave Smith Prophet 12 or Pro 2

What else would you need to make music? Maybe just sound banks on your computer, or a drum machine. This would be my recs for buying something new off the shelf. Happy 2016. Push the envelope of technology and make new music for me. Do not settle for retro music or nostalgia.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Roland Boutique, Moog Mother, and More Updates.

So what is going on with the new Roland boutique line? It looks awesome, but of course when you get into the details its another product I do not need. I just hope this tech comes to a mega-synth module that's overpowered with all the options. The boutique systems are only 4 polyphony. Therefore, I can't use it as a Jupiter 8 clone. Minikeys also invaded to keep the cost down. My fingers are too big. I could use it as a module, or buy two of them, but geez thats too many hookups and doubles the cost for a digital system. They are kind of cool and sound better than whats out there now, but I'd end up spending as much as my computer for a Jupiter-8. I'd just end up fooling around with it.

Roland's Boutique line is Kinda Cool, but a pass just from the specs alone. Roland came out with other synths this year but I don't care about those either!

Moog's Mother 32 is a Euro rack system that sounds good so far and is not expensive. I think a lot of people will be picking this up. It seems to nudge a lot of budget options out of consideration if you are into modular.

What else? I've been playing synthesizer at home. I renewed this domain for another year and plan to keep it going as long as I can. I'm still happy with the switch to Blogger platform. I might create a seperate video gaming blog and review games, because that is also a hobby.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Synthesizing Cymbals (909 High-hats) on the V-synth

It is quite hard to get a good cymbal sound by subtractive synthesis alone. A lot of tutorials will use mainly a noise oscillator and a triangle, but you can go a little bit farther. This will not be a full tutorial, but I will give some nice hints. This setup makes a slightly 909-ish high hat sound.

This is my chain for high hats.

Juno OSC with octave oscillator up + Noise OSC -> FM Modulation -> Comb Filter -> Resonator, Resonator Guitar model.


The Juno Osc seems to make a nice cymbal sound. It is sort of like triangle but has extra waves. With the extra oscillator engaged you can tune it a little. Turn the pitch up very high. Next, the Noise Osc can actually be tuned slightly with the PWM control. The FM modulation enaged seems to make more sharp noise. You can try it on or off. The comb filter, tuned up seems to channel the energy, and you can adjust the tone. Lastly, the metallic guitar resonator  gives it all that 909 sample cymbal sound if you balance it right and tune it up high. (I also found the resonator works better than the frequency shifter for snare drums and toms, but thats a different tutorial).

You will have to find the right tunings and timings yourself. I'm not going to go into the envelope settings because they are either long or short for open or closed high hat. You can also change parameters dynamically with velocity. Copying the sound into zones allows you to make the open & closed sound. Remember to make the pitch scale flat of the oscillators so the sound doesn't change.

Good luck. If you have a better formulation, leave it below.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How to get PCSX2 working with Wineskin on Yosemite

The mac is not the best system to run the latest batch of emulators. I can promise to get the emulator program working, but not every game. Its still better to buy an actual PS2 and the actual game, but this is a start up tutorial to help you get tinkering. Below is some text instructions that will help.
  1. Open Wineskin Winery. Create a wrapper. Name your app PCSX2. View wrapper in finder.
  2. Open the app's package by right-clicking "show package contents" Double click Wineskin.
  3. Install PCSX2 software. Choose setup executable (the PCX2 exe installer). Quit.
  4. Back out of the folders. Double click the actual application PCSX2.
  5. PCSX2 settings. GS: ZeroGS. SPU2: Configure. Select PortAudio.
  6. Put your PS2 Bios files inside the Bios folder in the OSX user document's folder! Overall its pretty annoying finding the right directories, and I'm not going to go into it further. I left it default because the program crashes and gets confused sometimes.
  7. Select the bios and hit Finish! The PCSX2 is running. You can run your ISO rom files with fast boot.
  8. Recheck your graphics and audio settings, like the PortAudio, and make sure its configured to the default audio device.
Overall I got some games to boot up, but there were slow downs. I'm not promising you can play the games. I was able to get a bit into Monster Rancher 4. I couldn't get Ridge Racer 5 to run right. If you have extra tips on settings please post them. I will not answer any questions or provide other links. This was the best method I found to get the application to work sadly. Hopefully the programmers make a real mac version that runs games. The state of PS2 emulation is pretty poor compared to Genesis and SNES.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Anouncing V-synth Ultimate Pack 2

New for 2015, this is the second V-synth Patch Bank with 300+ more presets from our website. If you are a previous customer of the first V-synth bank, you'll want to purchase this Ultimate Pack 2! You can have a preview of it's synthesizer category here: https://soundcloud.com/stealthgear/vsynth-ultimate-pack-2-synths. This is a serious fill-up!

It features more great sounds, piano, guitar, FX, dubstep sounds, the best basses, ambient pads, and 70s & 80s synths. Its $99 and is the culmination of a year's work of making presets. These are specifically developed for this website and are not copies. More useable and more mixable than ever before.