KBSoundSmith wrote:Linplug Spectral, easily.
It's one of those synths that suffers because of bad presets. And because you really have to dig to make use of its capabilities -- it's not like Diva, where you can turn one knob and get a good result. Spectral is NOT an instant gratification synth.
It may have the best FM/AM/RM/filter modulation available, IMO, at least as far as implementation goes -- I'm sure you can find some mad-scientist project out there that does more (but is comparatively unusable...). Then the ability to additively design and crossfade between your own custom waveforms, design your own filter curves... very powerful. And if you don't want to deal with the complexity, you can treat it as a subtractive synth.
It's a synth for people who really like to tinker and get crazy, utterly unique results. It's a one-of-a-kind synth, it sounds fantastic, and despite the complexity, the design is as ergonomic and deceptively simple as possible -- very mature design.
The only thing I wish it had that it does not is MSEGs -- of course, you can use the arp/sequencer as a modulation source...but that's not quite the same as an MSEG.
I was taking a look at Spectral the other day after a visit to Linplug's site to pick up a new-old copy of Albino3. Now I'm not all that keen on additive synthesis, a drawbar synth is about as far as I'll go in that direction because the results are always good and easy to get. Spectral, well, leans hard on cpu and using it as a plain ol subtractive synth feels like a waste.
So how do you approach the more complex stuff and make use of all that? Start with a fundamental and plop in specific harmonics around and above it? Is there some formula or starting point you always grab for certain sounds? I'd love to know how you come to grips with that kinda thing and make it fly. Just seems a tad tedious to do it all by hand... maybe that's why it's underestimated huh!
Hmm. Well I'd split programming sounds into three areas:
1) Knowing exactly what you want to make
2) A general idea of what you want
3) No clue what you want
The approach for each is totally different.1) Knowing exactly what you want to make
#1 doesn't require much -- just make what you want, lol. You're also probably operating in known territory.2) A general idea of what you want
#2 I outline the things I know I want to have -- whether that be the sound of the oscillator, or if it's the modulation settings (for example, if I know I'm going to use an arp/sequencer, I might start there rather than fiddling with oscillator settings -- those can wait).
I always consider the other sounds in the project. It has to fit with everything else. And not every feature has to be used for every preset -- using the complex parts just for the sake of it just isn't necessary.
But, sometimes you do want something advanced/complex/[insert adjective here]. Start there.Also, having preset templates is a good idea. If you know you want a brassy sound, having a vanilla brass patch that can be loaded and tweaked can be a nice time-saver. No need to reinvent the wheel every time.3) No clue what you want
#3 Sometimes it's within the context of a project. Other times, it's just good to learn how to use your gear. Or explore a sonic concept.
I'll choose a particular synth feature or sonic concept I really want to learn, then just experiment with that -- I'll keep everything else simple or unused, then gradually add in components to see how they affect the sound.
For example, Spectral has a nice feature where you can turn off keytracking on the oscillators, allowing you to do FM with fixed frequencies -- and that's per oscillator, so you can have some be keytracked, others not, etc. It's interesting to explore how that interacts with an oscillator that IS keytracked. Then other things, like if the modulator has a higher/lower/same frequency as the carrier, whether the ratio is an even number or not...SummaryIn short: choose ONE thing out of the options available to you, tweak it, then make something about it permanent. Then piece by piece, explore how other parameters interact with that permanent feature. Also, design and use templates.
It's slow, doesn't always yield good results -- but it does give you an experiential catalogue of what's possible. Then, when you program sounds in the future, you can get to results much faster because you've built up an intuition of how you might achieve it. Essentially, you'll be able to offload ideas in #3 into #2.
Maybe if I have time later, it might be fun to design a preset and walk through the process.