2016 Roundup

Ending year 2016 was quite interesting, full of ups and downs. For sure it was busy.

First and most important, I got my first track released – it’s remix of Ruska – Saimaa made for a contest. I was hoping now releases will be flying every month or so.

However, since then it was a downfall. Even though I feel I improve the quality of every new track, none of them was accepted. Some remixes were not good enough, others seemingly were off the style.

It took me a while to understand what is still wrong with the tracks and why people don’t enjoy them as much as commercial releases. And eventually I figured it out. Check the improved remix of Impellent:

The stats… we live in the world where no one cares who you are and what you do, but only how popular you are. I’m not very popular at all (especially compared to 2008), but the blog stats keep growing this year:

wordpress-stats-2016

This is with lowest post count ever. Most of visits hit Chaotic Wavetable Pack for Serum, which turned out very interesting for users even though it was made over one day and in fact is nothing extraordinary. Personally I never used it yet :P.

Growing stats may also come from the fact that I no longer post about “work in progress”, but simply finish tracks and post worthy pieces of music. Certainly it would help if I posted some tutorials and started video blog, but there are other things I need to deal with first. Neverthless, I gave some lectures on production this year so it’s not far from here. Especially earlier show on FM synthesis turned out great.

I only mixed like 9 DJ sets this year… unfortunatelly it takes a lot of time. Even though, these few sets get great number of plays, so once I get back to it someday, things should be running well.

The studio… I got quite some gear and a number of synths this year. Acually it’s more than I was able to use so far. Which doesn’t mean I don’t try to – the quest for ultimate studio drives me both creatively and at regular work. I not only need money for better place, but also need to actually make use of all the synths (yet alone gear) I gathered so far. Now the only thing that limits me is the time. Which leads to one last point…

The workflow. Earlier this year I decided to learn how to use Push for real. And I did, it just works so well. Now I’m working in Session mode, creating clips and layers one by one. Then switch to Arrangement View, create whole arrangement in one go and… voila! Track is finished. Let’s do another one. Making tracks, even very diverse, is quite repeatable process – one I know how to. And creating better track doesn’t neccessarily mean spending more time on it. It’s all about the skills and just know-how.

The future. The future is now, 2017 will be a breakthrough. Just at the end on the year I have all the pieces I need to produce great music. Just have to sort out earlier unfinished projects before getting new PC and moving on to future productions. All I need now is time – and to make good use of it. The same is true for DJ sets. These should come back in a month or two.

Happy new year 2017!

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)

Supersaw 2 is ready!

After almost a year, new version of Supersaw synth was released. It now has all necessary and desired features and hopefully is free of bugs or glitches.

Ligaya

New features:

  • Doubled number of oscillators. Now the other pair can play octave higher or lower, and, what’s the most interesting, a decade higher. This gives perfect 5:2 frequency ratio, which is what was used in euro-dance and trance ten years ago, but just better.
  • Advanced detune features. It allows to create wide, deep and powerful spectra without artificial sound or noise.
  • Trancegate. For massive, powerful leads in the style of Nu-NRG and what not. No excuses.
  • Volume control. Yeah, that was quite a requested feature.

Fixes:

  • Reworked air reverb. Oh my, what a mess it was. Now it’s simple, clear and easy to understand. Also, it doesn’t use that much of CPU.
  • A number of glitches, saturations, discontinuities and other artifacts were removed. No more clicking.
  • Simplified flow, optimized oscillators. CPU usage was reduced, even though synth has more features now.

Get the VST plugin at KVR.

To prove that the synth is actually useful, there is a fact – my two latest tracks, Primal and Nice, utilized early version of this synth to produce some really massive leads. Feel the power and energy, enjoy the pristine sound of a supersaw.

Ah, and the manual. It is planned soon.

Orju.net has launched!

Orju.net is a music production site that continues with former The Serious Sound Network community.

Unfortunatelly, since few months ago our guru and admin, Xe-Cute, has passed, we need to abandom old forums and move to another place.

Orju.net is currently in beta stage, however with the addition of all the amazing WordPress features, it feels more clear and more functional that old TSSN, which was already good.

The main purpose of site is to share tutorials, production tips, plugins and samples, and of course to promote the music itself. Discussion board is also there of course, but former TSSN has alays been famous for its extensive database of useful content and not just chit-chat. I recommend this site for everyone who wants to improve knowledge about electronic music production.

I also contribute to the board myself, so meet me on Orju.net 🙂

The Serious Sound Network

TSSN is a forum of electronic music producers with long history.

The reason I decided to write about it is that recently I became moderator on the board and now feel responsible for the community 🙂

The main feature of Serious Sound Network is amazing collection of tutorials, guides and production-related tips. It includes also plugin presets, samples,midi packs and other. Particularly interesting is “how to create this serious sound” sub-forum, wehere experienced members help to synthesize specific sound on request.

Unfortunatelly, forum lacks active community apart from old users. We get dozens of visitors all the time, but little contributors, which is sad.

The reason why people hesistate to ask for help or contribute to the board may be the attitude of some members. Each time somebody asks a question: “How to make it sound better”, they answer: “Just try harder and you will make it someday”. Well, I don’t recommend that advice, as I’ve been trying for like 10 years with little success. Fiddling random knobs won’t get you anywhere if you don’t know WHAT you are actually doing.

Another approach is to threat music making as a sound engineering, which is sience. Music composition is also a sience, since there are many music school that teach it with notable success.

I spent years tweaking various syths for nothing, but creating really good track needs veyr different approach. You need to understand technical meaning of synth controls. It’s good to study manuals, books on synthesis and synth design itself.  I started on studies from the very basic idea of Fourier series and in the end got to synth programming myself. It is important to see how particular control or modulation will alter the sound before you actually hear it. Once you understand the theory, getting to right tune becomes much faster. And you always go the right direction, instead of just trying blindly.

If you dislike books and technical stuff, you can always watch some tutorials on our board. Any and all of them. You learn the most from tutorials that are simply good, so don’t look only for “right” tutorial that shows exactly what you’re after. It won’t work.

Every producer has different studio setup, and, moreover, different experience. What works in their track may not work in yours, even if it sound ok at glance. It is often important to sacrifice one sound to make the track sound great as a whole. There is no single tip to compose entire track, but once you know hundreds of single tips, you become wiser and just use them when needed.

That was quite an experience I wanted to share with beginning producers. If you are experienced producer, however, just post something on our board. That’s the best place for music tutorials 🙂

Warmonger