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I'm putting together a Youtube Series on how to make your own synths using the free cross-platform software, "Helm", you should check it out!

Hey! I just started working on a project, and figured I'd share it with the Hubski crowd in case any of the musically-inclined folks here are interested.

After doing an impromptu sound design stream yesterday to teach some synth basics to my friends, I decided to turn some of the topics I talked about into a proper quick-and-dirty YouTube series to teach the basics of synthesis in the least scary way possible (my inner preschool teacher starts to come through pretty quickly here). This is definitely not comprehensive, but hopefully de-mystifies some otherwise confusing aspects of synthesis and sound design in general.

I'll be uploading new videos over the next couple weeks, and hopefully starting to do live sound design streams every Saturday. Let me know if anyone has specific requests!

Here's the playlist (doesn't want to embed nicely, I suppose):

Cedar  ·  737 days ago  ·  link  ·

You briefly touched on the harmonics on the wave that is being generated and it reminded me of something from my college days, where we learnt about square waves and 'overshoot' or 'bounce'.

It was an interesting lesson I have mostly forgotten now, but I was interested in the 'Odd Harmonics' aspect and I wanted to see what that looked like. So naturally I opened Excel and in time-honored tradition of misuse, I made a graph. The below formula is pretty simple and you just copy it along and down as appropriate, the square wave is the sum of all of these:

It gets far more interesting when you make it more granular -- lower increment of x, more odd harmonics... here's 501 harmonics with x increasing by 1:

Devac  ·  736 days ago  ·  link  ·

Here's Wolfram Alpha.

``  Plot[Sum[Sin[n*x]/n, {n, 1, 5, 2}], {x, 0, 2Pi}]``

{n, 1, 5, 2} in Sum means "sum over n from 1 to 5, incrementing n by 2". You can plug pretty much any functions and values. WA is pretty limited but you can still have fun with it.

Cedar  ·  736 days ago  ·  link  ·

Thanks Devac, that's neat; Wolfram is the must nicer choice but this was 2 years before it launched :).

HumanLikeYou  ·  773 days ago  ·  link  ·

Nice, seems pretty cool. Although I'm not sure if for me learning how to make a synth is useful. I still just stick with the Ableton stock plugins like wavetable and analog. But perhaps learning how to make a synth will help me improve my sound design a little bit.

am_Unition  ·  772 days ago  ·  link  ·

Wavetable is almost like cheating, hahah, the presets are so good, and being able to drag and drop in your own wavetable envelope is crazy fun.

Still, there are some basic ideas in flac's vidoes that showcase widely agreed upon models of thinking about how sound synthesis works. If you can understand the differences in sound between the four waveforms of this shirt on top of the idea of the envelope (attack, sustain, decay, /however people want to dissect it) then you're doin' OK.

You should check out YouTube tutorials like e.g. how to make a tuned snare from Ableton's Operator stock plug-in. Before YouTube tutorials grew on trees, I stumbled through sound design. Although the experience yielded some unique results (and plenty more dead ends), we're now living in a golden age of YouTube expositions. I love it.

Cheers, yo.

veen  ·  819 days ago  ·  link  ·

Saving this for December! I have a long holiday planned and am keen to spend it fiddling around with music making.

thenewgreen  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·
thenewgreen  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·

I have an Arturia Mini Brute. I love it but the truth is I have no idea what I’m doing or how I’m doing it. I just fiddle around until I find a sound I like. I love how alive it feels, like it is a tiny monster growling. It’s a fun instrument to play.

goobster  ·  819 days ago  ·  link  ·

TNG, my friend, spend the time and watch the first three episodes flac put together.

About 2 minutes into the 3rd episode, lights and fireworks are going to go off in your head, and you are going to GET synthesizers in a deep and visceral way.

That's what happened for me. And flac is a fantastic presenter.

You don't even need to download Helm... just watch the videos. Watch what he controls, why he controls it, and the logic behind each of the adjustments. It's the same whether it is software or hardware, whether you use Helm, a Moog, or a hand-built synth.

Honestly. Flac's content has surprised the shit out of me... great, high quality content, presented well, and at a pace that allows you time to absorb the ideas. He's got a talent.

bhrgunatha  ·  819 days ago  ·  link  ·

I did though and it's so much more fun than just watching the videos.

It's nice to have it work as a stand alone app for messing around rather than it be controlled through a DAW.

flac  ·  819 days ago  ·  link  ·

it begins...

flac  ·  819 days ago  ·  link  ·

Aw, heck :)

flac  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·

I've got a Microbrute over here, which remains one of my absolute favorite bits of gear - I think the mini brute just has some nice added bells and whistles. I totally relate to it "feeling alive" - there's sort of a playfulness built into it, it's fun to just turn some knobs and see what comes out.

Do you ever dive into the "Mod Matrix" on it? Took me a little while to understand it when I first got started, but that's where things really come alive.

Also, here's a web app someone made to scroll through "presets" for the microbrute, I wonder if there's a comparable one for the Mini Brute? I like this as a jumping off-point for experimentation.

thenewgreen  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·

I was mistaken, I don’t have a mini, I have a micro (I’m gonna live to regret this sentence). I will check out that link Re presets. I literally have NO IDEA how to properly use it beyond fiddling with it using intuition. But it sure is fun.

flac  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·

Ah, nice! Well, I'm planning on doing a general sound design stream this weekend - I think I'll focus on using the Microbrute this time instead of Helm, and I'll send you an archive of the stream to check out after it's done!

goobster  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·

Uncanny timing... I'm just about to buy my first hardware synth, and am coming from the strings side of the band (bass and guitar). My tennis elbow prevents me from doing much on the strings right now, so I figured I'd finally get a synth and play with it.

Definitely going to be watching this series. Thank you!

flac  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·

Awesome! Got a particular one picked out?

goobster  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·

Yeah... I've been going back and forth a lot. I know I can do everything in software, but I think I am beyond the age of "can learn anything", and need to fall back on knobs and dials. I need the visceral effect of twisting a knob and hearing the LFO warp and change the tone...

So the Behringer Poly D is the one I'm going to get this week. I've held off for a while, not wanting to pop \$650 on something from Behringer (who, as a company, I hate with a passion for what they've done to the industry by knocking off leading products and making low-budget copies) ... but they have really hit it with this Moog ripoff.

The addition of the fourth oscillator, and the simplicity of the sequencer were really the selling points for me. Plus, apparently the build quality is significantly better than the Behringer I knew 20 years ago, and this synth is really well built. And, it is also configurable. You can get into all the pots on the back and become a hardware geek if you want to...

But I also have my eyes on the Moog Werkstadt-EXP-01. Which is one hell of a synth for \$200. And while I love supporting Moog, it does require you to have a pretty rich mental map of the inner workings of a synth to be able to really make it work.

But the Werkstadt is a true synth in the old-world style of being modular hardware that you actually BUILD and can mod and buy components for. Which is a really exciting thing for me, once I get my head around the Fisher Price... erm... Behringer Poly D and learn how to make a synth do my bidding. :-)

flac  ·  820 days ago  ·  link  ·

Oh believe me, I am a HUGE fan of tactical knobs - I still get a ton of mileage out of the synth I learned on, the Aturia Microbrute (which I still highly recommend as a cheap first synth). I think having that immediate feedback of turning a knob and hearing the change makes the principles stick better for a lot of people (myself included!)

I've looked into the Werkstadt myself - seems like a great piece of gear for the price. One of my absolute favorite bits of gear is the Koma Field Kit FX, a modular fx kit. I just built some CV touchpads to control it using this tutorial, which also works with my microbrute. There are tons of great DIY tutorials online for modular synths - if you're looking for a hobby that will swallow you whole, I recommend it.

Good luck with the Poly D, seems pretty intuitive! And it should mostly line up with my tutorials.

goobster  ·  819 days ago  ·  link  ·

Dude. I gotta tell ya... Episode 3 of your podcast is some JUICY shit, presented extremely well, and at a pace that really lets the information sink in.

I mean, all your episodes are like that. But #3 is where the light went on in my brain, and I fundamentally understood the basics of synthesis and how you actually assemble the parts to build a sound... that is some seriously quality shit, right there! :-)

flac  ·  819 days ago  ·  link  ·

Thanks, I really appreciate hearing that! I've seen lots of videos that just sort of gloss over some of the more fundamental parts of building a synth, so I'm glad I was able to make things clear. My background as a teacher's finally paying off lol