Studio synth setup

Finally got all the synths I need. I’d like to share with my studio setup and explain each choice

First of all, I tried to keep synth pool as small as possible and have all sounds covered. Well, good plugins are pricey. But that’s not the only reason – to many synths can distract you from getting the actual job done.

Sylenth1

Sylenth1

Industry standard substractive. Very simple and easy to program, but with great sound quality. The main advantage of Sylenth1 is the filter section, which can withstand wildest modulation without overdrive or artifacts. Always smooth. Also, CPU usage is minimal. Used for rather simple and clean sounds – kick, psybass, supersaws, acid, random blips.

Dune 2

Dune 2

Bigger cousin of Sylenth1. Can do substractive, FM and Wavetable synthesis all at once and has great modulation possibilities. The key feature is unison section which allows you to dial up to 32 voices for any patch. Program whatever you need and just instantly make it big and awesome with multiple voices. Great at leads and pads, but also has cool acid presets. However, tends to glitch at small, fast-modulated sounds.

Serum

Serum

Wavetable monster. It would be just another substractive synth if not the impressive wavetable engine. Serum allows you to manipulate sounds in variety of ways, including wavetable scan and weird warp modes as well as more standard PWM, FM or phase distortion. Unmatched at basses and evolving arps as well as gritty FX. Great GUI makes it my new favourite.

Operator

Operator

Comes in Ableton Suite. This tiny toy can do substractive, FM and even additive synthesis. Very fast to program wih incredible sonic possibilities. Can produce some bass, but mostly practical in FX / electro / dubstep madness. Unfortunatelly it’s monophonic (or stereophonic at best), but can be easily layered thanks to negilible CPU usage.

The Mangle

The Mangle

Granular synth suited for harmonic sounds. Still in beta, but can already deliver beautiful pads as well as monstrous FX and risers. Great drag-and-drop GUI make it easy to program.

Granulator II

Granulator II

Another granular toy coming in Ableton Suite. Many custom options result in evolving pads, risers and rolls. ‘Scan’ feature will change any sample into warping monstrosity. For when you need to get dirty.

Sylenth1 and Dune 2 have custom skins.

This post will become more important once you hear tracks made with all of these 8)

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3 thoughts on “Studio synth setup

  1. Sounds like you will be able to get an impressive range of noises out of that collection!

    Just one minor point: Operator is not monophonic, at least not in any sense that I understand the word. You can definitely play several notes simultaneously through the same instance of operator and you can arrange the four oscillators per voice in a variety of ways using the coloured block diagrams (“algorithms” in Ableton speak), including being able to play four independent oscillators per voice. Operator may seem relatively simple of the surface, but don’t underestimate the range of sounds you can get out of it.

    Also, if you have Suite, be sure to play around with Analog too. You can get some big, aggressive bass sounds and rich pads by messing around with its detuning, PWM, sync and subs.

  2. Thanks for advice. I meant that Operator doesn’t have unison function and can at most play two detunes voices unlike other synth. This is key feature for big leads.

    Will need to try these PWM and sync on Analog, they are pretty new features to me and I didn’t fully explore them yet. Maybe Analog can still do something that other synths can’t.

  3. Operator doesn’t have a unison switch but you can get 4 voice unison from it by setting its “algorithm” to the picture of four coloured blocks side by side (i.e., so no osc is modulating any other), turning up all four oscillator levels, and setting each of their fine tune settings slightly different to each other (e.g., A to 0, B to 1, C to 2, D to 3). This will give a very good simulation of a unison mode since this is more or less what unison mode is.

    That said, I think you can get fatter sounds out of Analog, especially if you set its unison mode to 4 voices, set both oscillators to square waves and have their pulse widths controlled by LFOs with different, slow frequencies.

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