Friday, March 25, 2011

What Makes A Good Synth Generator?

 By synth generators I mean  plugins that allow to create your own unique sounds. Some artists prefer such plugins instead of using samplers because it makes you way cooler.

What matters: 
  1. How many oscillators are there?

    There should be at least 2 oscillators. You'll use 1 or 2 for most sounds unless you are really good at it

  2. What type of waves you can choose from?

    You will be able to choose from simple waves like saw, sine, square, pulse, but it's nice to have some additional options.

    Rob Papen Blue which has 6 oscillators and multiple wave options compared to 3xosc which has 3 oscillators, few wave options:

  3. Filter options

    How many filters can you choose from? Can each oscillator be linked to filter you want? Most will have Highpass and Lowpass filters. Some of top tier synths might not have Formant, Notch and Comb filters.

    Z3ta+ having 6 oscillators and only 2 filters:

  4. Envelopes

    Do you want a pad sound or keyboard hits?
    That's where envelopes come in.. It's good if you have separate ASDR envelope for each oscillator. It's also good to have envelope for filters.

    Vanguard doesn't have separate envelopes for each oscillator, only main ones:

  5. LFO options
    Low Frequency Oscillators add some more programming options. Wobbles! What waves can you choose from? Can you have multiple LFOs? Can you link one LFO to another?

    Malstorm having some fancy waves and some minimal linking options(mod:A control changes speed of the first LFO):

  6. Modulation options

    This is where serious shit gets going. The most popular interface is source/destination and I like it more than 2d graphs which make stuff complicated.

    Example in Thor synth:

    Unnecesary complicated Sytrus modulation options:

  7. Portamento
    Make sure you've got that knob! It can be hard to do outside of Generator.
Things that don't matter in a Synth Generator(in my opinion):
  1. Post effects (reverb, delay, distortion, etc..) - I think these should be left for other plugins using mixer channels. There you can do it more effectively.
  2. Gate, arp settings can be done outside of generators too.


pedro.cohen said...

Very nice ;)

Jay.CA said...

a bit technical, but good info. :)

ed said...

i like moog stuff

Moob said...

pretty informative post you got here

Anonymous said...

Man synths have so many knobs it's confusing! I just put a !@#$ load of reverb to make it sound good :D

Electric Addict said...

bookmarking this, these are some really good tips!

psyke said...

Had no clue on how synths work. I used to randomly turn knobs. Thanks!

Anita Johnson said...

Great stuff. Check out my new blog,, if you haven't yet!

Triper said...

It can be helpfull info my friend, im going to make rap, and thanks for info.

Kevings said...

I remember I had one of those prgrams a few years back to make beats etc, and I actualluy got quite adept at at. Unfortuneatly, i had no idea what I was doing or why, it just sounded well the way i did it xD

Janez said...

this is some comlicating stuff

taking it one step at the time

Kuda said...

I can see your blogs are going to be quite helpful to me. I have just bought Logic Pro and am having a fiddle. I'm quite a good guitarist and pianist, but don't really know the production side. Would you recommend the ESX24 for wobbly drum loops?

HappyFunMoney said...

this was actually pretty helpful, thanks

Alphabeta said...

Love the Malstorm - use it all the time.

mac-and-me said...

interesting post

GFTM said...

very technical, awesome post, following!

p said...

wow that is very neat stuff!

BlowingInTheWind said...

Nice, iv needed the help! Never know what to judge synth generators on :( Thank you!