In some ways it seems quite strange to find myself authoring a post on synthesis that has as its main topic: “Not everyone needs to be a synthesist”. But from another angle of practicality, it makes a great deal of sense. Many of us already have found ourselves naturally diving into certain areas of synthesis from within the field and somewhat skating around others. So… If you are not a synthesis geek, this article is for you.
‘Why would it be helpful to explore this area?’ you may be wondering. Even though today’s virtual instruments commonly ship with hundreds or even thousands of presets, many users will still find themselves passing over sounds that are not quite right. Yet with some fundamental knowledge and strategies I feel most non-synthesist could quickly address some of these sound’s shortcomings and reshape them close enough to quickly put them in service.
This is precisely my goal. I hope to address some fundamental strategies and principles relating to synthesis and synthesizers in order to facilitate what I like to think of as quick fixes. Even though these strategies will not work 100% of the time, you should find them coming to the rescue quite often.
From the onset it will be my intention to populate this article with images from multiple synths. This is a small attempt to expose you to as many different views as possible. Given that each synth designer has its own GUI strategies (in addition to its own sound design strategies), I hope this will further help the usefulness of the material presented.
There is also a body of knowledge that we must have to enable us to find sounds, change them, and then Save these changes. Let’s jump in…
Sound designers by nature have an inherent curiosity towards sound. We explore the way sounds work every time we approach a project. With each new opportunity to design a sound, we ask ourselves questions such as: What object/event produced the sound(s)? Where is the sound source located in relation to the listener, and just as importantly, how does (or how will) the sound impact an audience’s emotional state when heard?
It goes without saying that the sheer act of producing our own sonic work, and by critically listening to and dissecting the works of others (as Berrak Nil Boya explored and extrapolated on in her recent post) will inherently make us stronger and better critical listeners. Though along with these practices, it is invaluable to also step away from evaluating completed, produced works and critically listen to some alternate sound sources, and in some potentially new ways; just like exercising a muscle, the more angles you can target your critical listening “muscle”, the stronger and more well-rounded it becomes.
The question then must be, other than by evaluating an already existing game or film’s audio as it was intended, how, and what, can we listen to in order to hone our listening abilities?
This post looks to add to this conversation by offering a few exercises I’ve picked up and augmented over the years and still use to this day. Once again, just like any exercise routine, training your critical listening is an on-going responsibility for any sound designer (though vitally important early in your career, continued practice is essential to maintain a high level of critical listening fitness).
In case you’ve been under a rock, and somehow haven’t noticed yet, Tim Prebble’s Hiss and a Roar sound effects label is having a birthday sale…and it’s BIG ONE! Through August 31st, you can get 50% off by using the discount code BOING at checkout. He’s also got a new library out too, SD020 Wind Instruments.
A lot of new and recently-released independent sound libraries to bring to your attention. Don’t forget – you can let us know about an independent sfx release by filling in the SFX Independence Submission form and be listed in subsequent roundups.
Soundbits new online store
Soundbits has a new look and to celebrate they are having a sale. They are giving 30% off all purchases until August 17th. Plus, every new customer who create a new account automatically qualify for a €5 credit at the Soundbits store.
HISSandaROAR have been busy this past month putting together a new collection of all things wood. Tortured Wood features recordings of pallets, planks, furniture and 40kg poles that have been thrown around, broken and destroyed.
Recorded at 24-bit/192KHz, for a limited time Tortured Wood is available to purchase for $79.00 (usual price is $99.00).
Pro Sound Effects – World Cup Sound Effect Download Pack
The FIFA 2014 World Cup may be over but the new collection from Pro Sound Effects will keep the samba vibe going that little bit longer. Comprising all of the footie sounds you’ll need: 62 professional sound effects, including 11 versions of announcers yelling “GOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!” and the infamous vuvuzuela of the 2010 World Cup. All sounds are delivered as 16bit 44.1 kHz .wav files, and with other sounds such as crowds cheering, booing, net swishes and ball smashes, this makes a great collection for and can be used royalty-free in any productions – whether a fan video or a feature length documentary.
World Cup Sound Effect Download is available for $20.14
Hollywood Tension FX is a collection of designed movie trailer impacts, risers, larger than life film percussion hits, tension evoking ambiences and abstract percussion loops perfect for enhancing any film trailer, heavy production and more.
Crafted by sound designer Alessandro Romeo with no attention to detail spared and comes in the usual 24 bit .wav and sampler instrument options. All sounds are royalty free. The samples come preloaded in your choice of sampler instrument, including EXS24, Reason NN-XT, Kontakt, Ableton Sampler, Motu MachFive, Steinberg Halion and SFZ.
Granted exclusive access to the airport at Bell’s corporate headquarters in Ft. Worth, Texas, Echo| Collective: Fields have put together a library of Bell 407 and Bell 429 aircrafts. With the ability to capture starts, hovers, aways, returns, spin ups and spin downs, Utility Helicopters features interior and exterior recordings, as well as many beautiful long tails in and out.
Utility Helicopters comes packaged as over 1 hour 45 minutes of recordings, recorded at 24-bit/96KHz.
Recorded in industrial locations, Industrial Disquiet is great for scenes relating to industry, urban horror, and suburban unease. The library pack includes 53 tracks in total; 25 day-time tracks and 28 night-time ones, and all tracks were recorded and edited at 24bit, 96kHz.
Recorded over two sessions and 12 hours of exploring and listening, San Francisco: City Life comes packaged as over 3 hours of ambiences from the heart of downtown San Francisco. From detailed street-level traffic of various flavors, sidewalk pedestrian activity, urban streets and side streets with unique spacious characteristics, rooftop-perspective traffic, and even a construction site, this library is workable for many urban cityscapes – not just San Francisco!
Spheric Collection is a library dedicated to ambisonic sound recordings. All the sounds have soundminer metadatas embeded for an easy access, and a choice of free plug-ins: Free Surround Zone 2 in AAX, VST and standalone harpex player. With a variety of packs available, including Applause 1, Birds 1, Fireworks 1, Forest, Announcing 1, Rain 1 and Room Tone 1, they come with template sessions for all main DAWs included.
surroundsoundlibrary – Synthetic Blend and Whoosh Bundle
The Synthetic Blend and Whoosh Library is a toolkit for creating movement, movement of objects, scene changes and/or cuts to life is not an easy thing to do. This pack features blenders, whooshes, swooshes, slides, fly-bys, rises, landings, swells and stingers. Drag and drop the 5 separate sounds into your DAW for balanced and panned surround sound – from front to rear, rear to front, left to right, right to left, or circular movement.
All files are 24-but/96Khz and come as a bundle Design Box and Construction Kit – all for €69.00
The IR1 Impulse Response Set from Soundeffects.ch lets you create real multichannel reverb from True-Stereo, 5.1 surround sound and (for the first time) Auro-3D® 11.1 Sound. This new set realises two technological achievements: the principle of creating multichannel impulse responses
as well as the creation of impulse responses for 3D sound.
With 54 sets of impulse responses ranging from domestic rooms and staircases to concert halls and theatre auditoriums, it will enable you to create natural, highly
realistic spaces for multichannel and 3D applications. Compatible with True-Stereo – optimized for TL Space and Altiverb.
Special Introductory Price: €72.00 for a single user licence (normal retail price: €86.00)
The NoiseCreations collection ‘GLASS’ features glass debris recorded on various surfaces. Included are shard smashes, glass panes, mirrors, pint glasses, jars and bottle smashes, and footsteps, with attention to detail given in every performance of to give as many variations as possible
I’m really stoked by the way The Tonebenders Podcast has been jumping onto our monthly topics when they can. This time, they’ve got a spectacular roundtable conversation with Rob Noke, Watson Wu and Max Lachmann. Give it a listen, and make sure to visit the Tonebenders webpage to find out more information about their guests in this episode.