A Synth is only as good as its presets

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
User avatar
Markku
KVRist
311 posts since 3 Mar, 2014

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:03 am

I think good factory presets give possible purchaser fast way to check what the synth is capable of. Also, even if you're proficient in sound design, some ideas in factory presets may be base of a new design.

For me (dumbass with no gifts in sound design) they're essential. I may change them a bit, but that's it.

Stefken
KVRian
974 posts since 9 Nov, 2016

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:06 am

I think a good preset bank for a softsynth is as essential as a good gui, good sound,... it's part of the package we've come to expect.

It makes the synth a lot more approachable and easier to demo. If a synth has no good presets, i have to be very excited about the architecture or the sound or else i won't bother.

Saukar30
KVRian
1148 posts since 2 Mar, 2005

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:07 am

Presets have A LOT to do with how a synth sells & how it is perceived. Not because of my personal opinion but because of the FACT that many people who buy soft synths are unsure of how to use them initially until they have an idea. A synth has to have a good feature set technically but also be inspirational.

When I started in music and using synths 16 years ago, I didn't have any idea how to use any of them. I downloaded all of the free ones that I could to see who had the best patches to help inspire what I was trying to accomplish. We must not forget that there different crowds of people who purchase synths. There are experienced, novices, amateurs & those who are buying for one of those 3 groups. A good portion of people on KVR are novices or experienced. Developers are not just selling to this crowd. And though many of this crowd started using synths in the 70s & 80s, there are lots of kids (& older adults) who are just starting to use them now.

AnX
KVRAF
4121 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:08 am

ENV1 wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 6:49 am
To me, factory or 3rd party presets are a complete non-factor in the evaluation of a synth. Couldnt care less. In fact i delete any factory presets wherever possible because i know i will never use them anyway and for the same reason i never buy or even download for free any 3rd party presets either.

Since i have a good enough understanding of how synths work i can do everything myself. Be that sounds or even building my own architectures, makes no difference to me. So when i check out a synth all that matters to me is the sound, the features, the workflow, and how well everything works. Presets, irrelevant.

+1

User avatar
aciddose
KVRAF
12165 posts since 7 Dec, 2004

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:16 am

Markku wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:03 am
For me (dumbass with no gifts in sound design) they're essential. I may change them a bit, but that's it.
Long random rant on presets, synthesizers and technique:

None of us have "talent in sound design". Artists don't work that way, compositions don't just appear from silence and an amazing painting doesn't suddenly land on a blank canvas... uh, unless you're into that sort of thing. *splat*

It's all about making little tweaks, tiny bits of gradual evolution. The real talent is when you have enough experience to know "that sound just needs this tiny adjustment" and the only place you can find that is through repeating the process over and over until you develop that intuition.

It can be interesting to look at a work (whether a composition or a preset sound) and ask yourself "how can I keep this sound and maintain its identity while making it better?"

I notice a lot of people peck at knobs or controls on a synthesizer in a way that seems super random. That's the opposite of what you want to do.

The reason is you only want to make that 1% change which is very slight that makes the biggest possible improvement. If you change the wrong parameter you'll start to "drift" and suddenly find yourself 10%, 20%, 50% and eventually totally off the edge in another dimension.

That's why "undo" is a cool feature and "A/B" can be nice as well for a beginner. The easiest way to do this in some synthesizers is copy the preset you want to work with in two spaces. Say you have 128 user bank presets, put the original in 128 and a copy to modify in 127. Then you can do A/B as you make little changes. Each time you find something you want to save or even just randomly once in a while: save it either in the bank or to a file.

Sometimes you can do this with two or more sources too: you can try to blend the characteristics of the envelope and modulation from one preset with the timbre from another.

Once you learn that stuff you'll start to really notice how random a lot of youtube videos look where people have no idea what they're doing. Being random works on a very basic synthesizer like the SH-101: it's not a good way to work on a more complicated synthesizer.
Free plug-ins for Windows, MacOS and Linux. Xhip Synthesizer v8.0 and Xhip Effects Bundle v6.7.

User avatar
aciddose
KVRAF
12165 posts since 7 Dec, 2004

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:17 am

aciddose wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:16 am
None of us have "talent in sound design".
The talent is how much joy you feel from the sounds you like. Focus on that and build that: the stronger those feelings grow the more accurately you can refine your sounds.
Free plug-ins for Windows, MacOS and Linux. Xhip Synthesizer v8.0 and Xhip Effects Bundle v6.7.

stvrsz
KVRist
100 posts since 23 May, 2011

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:18 am

I like the init as well, but I have to admit, I sometimes judge whether I like a synth or what its capabilities are by the stock preset bank that comes with it. I am not saying that I use the presets necessarily and I often find myself surprised when programming my own what a particular synth can do. They are a starting point and I am sure that many "producers" use presets or slightly tweaked presets in production. Is it a coincidence that the top selling synths in history have the most preset banks available or is it the other way...people love programming them so much the preset banks were a result?

As a consumer, I think presets are VERY important to the prospective customer to highlight the capability of a synth. I also think they should demonstrate a synths capabilities to a particular audience whether it be EDM, Hip-Hop, soundtrack, or whatever. How else are they supposed to know whether the synth will meet their needs.

My Minimoog Model D even came with a "Factory" Patch Book and blank templates after all.

Lotuzia
KVRAF
9991 posts since 19 Feb, 2004 from Paris

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:25 am

Besides the few persons who like to make everything by themselves (at the risk or reinventing the wheel) presets are simply a must for every synthesizer (that has the capability to have some).

If they weren't, they would have disappeared for a long time. It's as simple as that.

Else : I like presets. By this I mean, ... not only mine. I often use presets made by other people when writing music. I might modify them a bit to fit the track (That's what presets are for). Or simply use them 'as it' (Because they are so inspiring and it's also what presets are for) When it comes to sound design, ime, all -real- sound designers have a different approach, and a different vibe. This not only means that a preset from Mr X will be different than the one crafted by Mrs Y, it means that Mr X would probably not have been 'able' to make the same presets than Mrs Y. For good reasons (because he/she has no interest in a precise genre, category of presets, not the same musical focus, not the same keyboard abilities, different synthesis approach and knowledge etc).

In the end, music relies on diversity. And I think the same applies to presets.
http://www.lelotusbleu.fr Synth Presets

77 Exclusive Soundbanks for 23 synths, 8 Sound Designers, Hours of audio Demos. The Sound you miss might be there

recursive one
KVRAF
3850 posts since 7 Feb, 2013

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:25 am

Markku wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:03 am
I think good factory presets give possible purchaser fast way to check what the synth is capable of.
+1
Markku wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:03 am
Also, even if you're proficient in sound design, some ideas in factory presets may be base of a new design.
+1

In my own tracks about 80% synth sounds are made from init, the remaining 20% are some existing presets usually tweaked and processed beyond recognition. However when checking out a new synth I start with playing the factory presets. Because, you know, too many synths too little time.

For example, the youtube demos for Ayin Zahev Serum packs convinced me to buy Serum, but I didn't buy these banks because one I know that Serum is cabable of such sounds I can make them myself.
You may think you can fly ... but you better not try

ENV1
KVRAF
2445 posts since 31 Aug, 2011

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:30 am

Just hurrying to add that im not saying that presets are useless.

Many people depend on them so its great that others make them for them.

Just saying that pre-made sounds are not important to me, personally, to evaluate a synth (and see if i like or dislike it) because for me it works better when i start from INIT and just see how the synth responds to whatever im doing. (Plus it is a great way of familiarizing yourself with the features and controls early on.)

User avatar
wagtunes
KVRAF
15198 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:46 am

When I demo a synth, I start with INIT (if the synth has one as not all do) and then start programming. If I don't like what I'm hearing, I don't get the synth. It's that simple. Not saying I don't use the presets of others. As I'm focusing now more on making music, I don't always want to take the time to, as Lotuzia says, reinvent the wheel. So I'll go to the category I need and audition a few. When I find something close to what I'm looking for (usually doesn't take long) I'll pull it up and make any changes I need to make. Most, I find, are usually in release times and filter cutoff settings. And then there are the FX, if the synth has any. Now I usually disable them to add my own.

If a synth came with no presets at all, would I get it? Probably not. But not for the reasons you'd think. If a synth developer is so lazy that he can't even provide us with a few presets, how good can you expect the synth to be? I mean doesn't he want to show off what his synth is capable of doing? And I'm not even saying give me 300 presets to go through. Give me 50. 10 pads, 10 leads, 10 ARPs, 10 comps and 10 plucks. More than enough for me to get a decent idea what the synth can do and give me a selection of sounds to choose from when making a song.

Having said that, just because a synth comes with 2,000 presets doesn't mean I'm automatically going to get it. There are other things that are just as important, like GUI size, bugs and other things that have nothing to do with how the synth sounds. Which is why I haven't purchased one synth this year. These days it takes a lot to get me to open my wallet.

The good news is, most synths today come with tons of presets because developers know that, for the most part, their customers want them.

Use them, don't use them, whatever floats your boat.

stvrsz
KVRist
100 posts since 23 May, 2011

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:50 am

It is my contention that a good preset bank can make or break a new synth. Plenty of devs have released synths with too few or bad(unusable) presets and that has caused the instrument to not be adopted as well as it could have been. After all from the instrument rating on this very site, romplers like Nexus or Camel Audio Alchemy seem to do pretty well in comparison with synths that come with an INIT. Fortunately, there are sound designers that are very talented and can put together amazing banks that make a synth shine (Robe Lee, Kevin Schroeder, Aiyn Zahev et. al.). SynthmasterOne used just such a model and came as a great synth with great, usable presets in a variety of genres. One way devs can do this for free is to use the Urs model, release a trial edition, follow with an OSC challenge, and viola...multiple banks. LOL

AnX
KVRAF
4121 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:52 am

i grew up without presets, so had to quickly learn how to make my own sounds, over and over.

imo, factory banks should be a tutorial of how a synth works and its capabilities for anyone new to that synth/synthesis in general.

1200 edm sounds are never going to do a synth justice (tho that doesn't seem to stop people buying them)

but, as env1 said, i dont object to them being there, easy enough to delete

User avatar
Teksonik
KVRAF
12340 posts since 16 Sep, 2001 from Las Vegas,USA

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:53 am

I've never understood the snobbery of people who won't use patches made by other people. Unless you are the greatest sound designer in the world and no one reading this thread is then we can all benefit from the talents of others. I love making my own patches and consider myself fairly good at it but if I find a patch made by someone else musically inspiring then I'll use it in a heartbeat without a bit of guilt.

Perhaps it's because I've actually been in bands where the free exchange of musical ideas and inspiration is quite common. :shrug:
None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

User avatar
wagtunes
KVRAF
15198 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Re: A Synth is only as good as its presets

Post Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:08 am

Teksonik wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:53 am
I've never understood the snobbery of people who won't use patches made by other people. Unless you are the greatest sound designer in the world and no one reading this thread is then we can all benefit from the talents of others. I love making my own patches and consider myself fairly good at it but if I find a patch made by someone else musically inspiring then I'll use it in a heartbeat without a bit of guilt.

Perhaps it's because I've actually been in bands where the free exchange of musical ideas and inspiration is quite common. :shrug:
Those were the good old days. Of course back then, we were all just trying to sound like Greg Hawkes of "The Cars."

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