Oldschool Lead Synth

How to make that sound...
KVRist
369 posts since 15 Apr, 2020

Post Thu May 06, 2021 5:11 am

Great early 1980s soul track. I really like the way records sounded back then: the composition and arrangement, the vocal and instrument performance, the mic'ing and the mixing (great reverb sound on the background vocals) create a perfect masterpiece altogether.

The synth sound I'm referring to comes in right in the intro at 0:04 - 0:24 and then again at 0:58 and at some additional moments, most prominently at 2:58. It might be one of these string ensemble synths that were popular back then. How would I get this sound "in the box"?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHMzyXWnGAE

KVRian
1123 posts since 3 Nov, 2010

Post Thu May 06, 2021 9:40 am

Doesn't sound like an actual ensemble but if you get a decent string sample or string vst and put a wow&flutter effect on it afterwards you'll be pretty much there
CHOOSX Remakes on my Youtube Channel

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KVRist
369 posts since 4 Dec, 2019

Post Thu May 06, 2021 9:52 am

I shall give my 2 cents but I'd just love people to contradict me, add details, give second opinions and all that which makes this place a forum.
I generally don't like it if I as a beginner am the only one who gives his comment on s.th. in this forum. Don't worry, it's something I always say first so maybe someone will be encouraged to also say SOMETHING.

Now, as far as I know, synth strings like these can be emulated by using saw waves with unison voices. Back then 8 voices of unison was definately the max. At least somebody said that once.
I'd only slightly detune them at, say, 7 %.

Attack on strings is generally relatively long, then they may decay over a few seconds (?) until reaching a sustain level of maybe -3dB (?) but it could also be -4dB or - 5dB or..., then there's always some release but not as much as for the attack (?).

A low pass filter I would use, maybe at 1,5K with some resonance on it as well.
I'd also use 2 saws with one being an octave above the other and maybe a bit quieter.

There's a little pitch wobble and volume wobble, too, but only a tiny one, and you can use a plugin like Vinylizer to smoothe out the sound and get both the analogue and instrument wobbly effects or you may use LFOs for the instrument sound itself. I don't know which one is better.

There may be much more to the sound and if I try it like that and set my ears to "very attentive mode" and also pull on my ear conches a bit towards the ceiling I can already hear some further nuances in the original and I'm already starting to be incontent with the preliminary result again. I don't know. There may be more people who know SOMETHING about it...
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KVRist
369 posts since 4 Dec, 2019

Post Thu May 06, 2021 10:15 am

I see that I'm now the second one to have commented on this. It just appeared when I clicked on "Submit".
Still not enough!
Nothing can be better than liberty and free time to spend as you choose. Don't let those modern slaveholders ruin your life!

KVRist

Topic Starter

369 posts since 15 Apr, 2020

Post Thu May 06, 2021 10:26 am

I think the slight wobbly pitch fluctuations are mainly due to the playback medium (old vinyl rip). I wonder whether it's actually two sounds, one string type synth and one that's more of a saw or pulse type lead?

At 2:58 when the sound begin listen closely at 3:02 ! Is that the same sound or another synth sound (pulse / saw) added?

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KVRist
369 posts since 4 Dec, 2019

Post Thu May 06, 2021 10:30 am

Ah, I thought you wanted to emulate the playback effect as well. Yeah, then you could leave Vinylizer out. But the strings do have that vibrato and tremolo to them as well, though only slightly. Let's have a listen again.
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KVRist
369 posts since 4 Dec, 2019

Post Thu May 06, 2021 10:34 am

Sure, there's another sound coming there. It's another synth sound tuning in there. I thought you were only referring to the strings, though. :D
Nothing can be better than liberty and free time to spend as you choose. Don't let those modern slaveholders ruin your life!

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KVRist
369 posts since 4 Dec, 2019

Post Thu May 06, 2021 10:39 am

To me that 2nd synth sound doesn't sound much like a pulse but it could be. There's less or more narrow unison on this 2nd guy and also some filter movement! My ear drum moves a bit different on that one. :D
Nothing can be better than liberty and free time to spend as you choose. Don't let those modern slaveholders ruin your life!

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KVRist
369 posts since 4 Dec, 2019

Post Thu May 06, 2021 11:08 am

A thin pulse actually sounds good (as a 2nd osc together with a saw? ) for the 2nd sound. This song is a nice and mellow one. Just the one I needed now! They still use those good old sounds in G funk today...
Nothing can be better than liberty and free time to spend as you choose. Don't let those modern slaveholders ruin your life!

KVRist

Topic Starter

369 posts since 15 Apr, 2020

Post Thu May 06, 2021 11:50 am

juno987654321 wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 10:34 am
Sure, there's another sound coming there. It's another synth sound tuning in there. I thought you were only referring to the strings, though. :D
Yeah, my ears are not getting better. The second synth that is coming in in addition to that string sound reminds me of this (time 0:10)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5gFAiPJhvI

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KVRist
369 posts since 4 Dec, 2019

Post Thu May 06, 2021 12:13 pm

Oh my god. I know this one! It's one of the sweetest songs, probably what I had in mind there, too. I'll have to find out about this sound now. Let's do this!
There's filter movement swinging up and down as you hit the keys and there's some portamento on this one, too. Sooo sweet! It makes the sound be alive and almost sing with the singer. There may not be more than 3 unison voices.
Nothing can be better than liberty and free time to spend as you choose. Don't let those modern slaveholders ruin your life!

KVRist

Topic Starter

369 posts since 15 Apr, 2020

Post Thu May 06, 2021 1:54 pm

Thanks my friend. I have to pause for today, but I'm curious what you might come up with.

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KVRist
369 posts since 4 Dec, 2019

Post Thu May 06, 2021 1:56 pm

I've got that patch now! Hah! You could make it with only 1 saw.

Then you could add some reverb to give it that room you like. I liked that plate reverb on this sound.

Yoo! This is some NICE sound we got here! Now let me listen to that song again. :D

(Note that there is also many an "acciaccatura" / ornamental note if you wanna play the melody.)
Last edited by juno987654321 on Mon May 10, 2021 5:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
Nothing can be better than liberty and free time to spend as you choose. Don't let those modern slaveholders ruin your life!

KVRist

Topic Starter

369 posts since 15 Apr, 2020

Post Fri May 07, 2021 1:11 am

Wow, thanks for the in-depth guide. I will try to recreate this in Vital, though I find Vital tends to sound a bit too digitally clean. Maybe the wavetables sampled from old synths will do or I use another synth (Tyrell is still one of my favs)?

The instrumentation and mix of that track is so fantastic, love the piano chords coming in here and there and that plate reverb on those background vocals sounds so good.

I guess now I gotta... hurry hurry hurry :phones:

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