Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

How to make that sound...
User avatar
SoundGoddess
KVRian
532 posts since 18 Sep, 2013 from Mesa, AZ

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:56 pm

It seems that the only options for virtual saxophone are sample-based and not synthesized.

I don't really care if it sounds completely authentic, just would be nice to be able to have something that sounds good.
~ good luck ~
~ re~member to do good in a spirit of love, unity, compassion, and kindness ~

User avatar
aciddose
KVRAF
12274 posts since 7 Dec, 2004

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:57 pm

Define "good".

I can start by defining "bad", or what I assume would be "bad" based upon my assumption of what your "good" may be likely to resemble :)

https://soundcloud.com/xhip/sax-2
https://soundcloud.com/xhip/badsax

These were both done in Xhip, first by gsoto and second by me. The distinct timbre of the two sounds shows you that the two of us selected quite distinct elements of the sax timbre to aim at emulating. In common they have the sub-harmonic quality and bright even-harmonic.

https://soundcloud.com/aciddose/saxormaphone

This last clip is an analog synthesizer. Again, the sub-harmonic timbre element is there with bright even-harmonic. I did this one also.
Free plug-ins for Windows, MacOS and Linux. Xhip Synthesizer v8.0 and Xhip Effects Bundle v6.7.

User avatar
Krakatau
KVRAF
5522 posts since 25 May, 2002 from Bobo-dioulasso\BF__Geneva/CH

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:10 pm

aciddose wrote:Define "good".

I can start by defining "bad", or what I assume would be "bad" based upon my assumption of what your "good" may be likely to resemble :)

https://soundcloud.com/xhip/sax-2
https://soundcloud.com/xhip/badsax

These were both done in Xhip, first by gsoto and second by me. The distinct timbre of the two sounds shows you that the two of us selected quite distinct elements of the sax timbre to aim at emulating. In common they have the sub-harmonic quality and bright even-harmonic.

https://soundcloud.com/aciddose/saxormaphone

This last clip is an analog synthesizer. Again, the sub-harmonic timbre element is there with bright even-harmonic. I did this one also.
Interesting to read what you underline as sonic characters that help to approach to a decent synthesized sax sound :tu: ...undoubtely helpful and on the appropriate mix, might do the trick even more than expected !

User avatar
SoundGoddess
KVRian
532 posts since 18 Sep, 2013 from Mesa, AZ

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:20 pm

I got fooled by a preset pack that was playing this as part of the demo...I thought it was a synth patch so I was excited to see how they made it, but turns out it was one of the "bonus" wav files.

https://clyp.it/yfpsgjlz

I'd love to get some jazzy/house sax sounds, I'm playing with saxlab demo a bit but $100 is a bit much to fork out for one kind of sound. The stuff that sounds really good is even more expensive than that. Would be nice to get a synthy kind of sound in a similar dynamic range, but idk if it's even possible.

I guess I'll try loading some of the free philharmonia orchestra saxophone samples into SynthMaster's wavetable editor and see if I can do anything interesting with it.
~ good luck ~
~ re~member to do good in a spirit of love, unity, compassion, and kindness ~

User avatar
aciddose
KVRAF
12274 posts since 7 Dec, 2004

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:28 pm

If you want to aim at synthesizing similar sounds I could actually go in to a lot more detail.

When I say "sub-harmonic" I mean the sort of "warble" or "dirty" element of the timbre. gsoto's clip is a great example of direct control of this. In the case of his sound I suspect this is actually achieved using another oscillator or LFO (actually, modulator in audio-rate mode) with detune and no keytracking. You can hear the frequency of the modulation (or mix of the oscillator) does not change with the notes played.

He used what I guess is the exponential waveshaper mode and what appears to be a ramp (saw) waveform in combination with the filter, and I'd guess the source of the "sub-harmonic" or "dirty" quality is cutoff modulation.

In my preset I focused a lot more on the initial "attack" of the sound vs. the overall timbre. That initial "warble" effect and detuning create a more emergent dynamic quality vs. what sounds like in his sound direct automation/controller adjustment of the modulation depth. This creates the more dynamic detuned effect as different notes are played which actually is quite negative as far as realism is concerned, yet I feel the attack sounds far more "natural" in my sound as it interacts with the way the sound is played like a real sax player would vary in breath and pressure while playing.

The last sound is right out :) Just a narrow pulse mixed with varied level of sub-oscillator into a low-pass filter and the output is hard-clipped on one side. Realism is out the window in this one, yet the timbre reminds me of a sax for whatever reason.
Free plug-ins for Windows, MacOS and Linux. Xhip Synthesizer v8.0 and Xhip Effects Bundle v6.7.

chris.r
KVRist
263 posts since 29 Dec, 2007

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:38 pm

Best synthesized sax I came across was Yamaha VL-1 demoed by a guy using BC3 controller back some year ago, then EX5 and it's VL Alto Sax, a patch edited by me which I played using 9 simultaneous controllers: bc, vel, aftertouch, bender, 2x modulation wheels, 2x foot pedals and ribbon controller. It was hard to learn to play it but you could get very convincing results.

Today, I think, a good designed sampler-software are taking over though.

User avatar
valerian_777
Banned
1182 posts since 24 Jun, 2014 from Giza Plateau

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:43 pm

SoundGoddess wrote:I'd love to get some jazzy/house sax sounds, I'm playing with saxlab demo a bit but $100 is a bit much to fork out for one kind of sound.
They had a 33% off sale two month ago. Saxlab is really great imo.
║▌║█║▌│║▌║▌█

User avatar
Krakatau
KVRAF
5522 posts since 25 May, 2002 from Bobo-dioulasso\BF__Geneva/CH

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 11:27 pm

currently the sample modeling saxophones seems to most accurate choice if you can afford it :

http://www.samplemodeling.com/en/demos_saxophones.php

...but i must admit it isn't the primary purpose of the topic in term of doing it from scratch with more generic kind of synthesis !

User avatar
Krakatau
KVRAF
5522 posts since 25 May, 2002 from Bobo-dioulasso\BF__Geneva/CH

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 11:31 pm

aciddose wrote:When I say "sub-harmonic" I mean the sort of "warble" or "dirty" element of the timbre. .
i assume you mean a convincing approximation of the growling sax's technique, that's as far as i can judge, a crucial sonic character to catch on that purpose...

User avatar
SoundGoddess
KVRian
532 posts since 18 Sep, 2013 from Mesa, AZ

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sat Feb 28, 2015 11:35 pm

Yeah I'm not looking to do Charlie Parker type stuff, just want to add a little bit of jazz to some house music. Here's a couple songs that come to mind:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW-LNzVBkq8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc33KU-CEcI

(explicit lyrics for those who care about such things):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DWpycZQ3pw

If I could do something on par with those songs it would be nice.

I tried loading up an SFZ alto sax in SynthMaster and playing with some of the effects but I think if I want anything actually good I'll probably have to invest in Saxlab. I used to play saxophone back in the day so anything pricer than that I might as well just buy a cheap alto sax and record it myself.
~ good luck ~
~ re~member to do good in a spirit of love, unity, compassion, and kindness ~

xoxos
Mr Entertainment
12148 posts since 30 Apr, 2002 from i might peeramid

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:39 am

1) preamble, solution

2) caveats

3) modulation

i used to *love* the modeled instruments on the korg z1.. my entire vst career is pretty much founded on trying to establish the same tech they had out by the mid 90's......

between the failure of my own phys. modeling efforts and the prohibitive prices of available instruments, a few years ago i gave up and started doing what i could do.

i've now repeated this process to patch a couple of dozen instruments..

http://xoxos.net/temp/preview/lostmelody.mp3

for me, a "very satisfactory, *FREE*" sax can be created as follows:

1) start with a saw osc

2) mix a small amount of a 2nd osc which is tuned higher, heavily phase modulated and possibly hard synced (at least synced to gateon) and phase adjusted to create some less perfectly regular higher harmonics that create a bit of timbral interest..

3) 12dB lowpass filter for expression - cc#1 increases cutoff and amp

4) open the EQ section of your host, highpass the patch to fit the part - i always patch each part by ear than by formula/figures, and it usually is fit to the key/notes/phrase

5) add a BIG PEQ peak in the 3k-4kHz range. when you open up the filter, it should get louder

6) eXT has 4 EQ parts, so there are two left ;) how you use them is important. add a few more parametric peaks between the HP and the big peak.. start experimenting with a 6 to 12dB boost, and sweep over the passage until there are regions that "sound emulative" - you'll find a few sweet spots.

ideally, you want to add a bit of a peak maybe ~400-600Hz, which is like the "bell" tone and gives warmth. also, maybe in the 700-1200hz range, you'll start to pick out some lower harmonics and can find a point that gives "character.."

..but generally, between the HP and the highest peak, add a couple of high Q parametric peaks.. they can be extremely high gain too, don't be afraid to start at 24dB.....

often you can tuck one or two right around the peak.. and with a narrow Q you probably won't even hear them apart from one note in the scale that catches a harmonic.. add a few anywhere say 600Hz to 4000Hz and the model will start to sound less plasticy.

the EQ settings are synergetic with the timbre, notes, if the ones you pick don't work, chuck em and roll it again. i have created at least a dozen *extremely* gratifying patches this way - just closing the filter can be very warm and animated, i wonder how it sounds so warm and good with no noise in the signal.

section II: caveats
----------------------
the big caveat here is that after you become amazingly impressed with how playable and sax-like this can be (it's really commuted synthesis, source->resonator, using EQ as resonator.. you could do it the "smart" way and look at spectrums of real instruments if you like..)

..with how gorgeous your full harmonic ranged, expressive part sounds soaring in reverb..

..the obvious problem is that you are left with an expressive synth part. you can add a lot of nuance in the patch and automation tha can be impressively emulative, but the end result is that i think my saxes sound great and are satisfying to have rolled on my own, i don't even worry about the plasticity after the epression, the part sounds fine..

..but if you do a *really good job* and make it sound as much like a sax as you can.. if you do that really well, the result is that you have a part that sounds like a recording of a saxophone with all the tiny details scrubbed out, like someone put your waterproof jacket in the washer and it came out nonwaterproof, or someone processed all the trichomes off your bud and gave you a sack of leaf matter.

i would bet you could squeeze this technique into the back of some commercial productions and be fine, few sax notes.. but lacking a very well concealed location, you have to find some logic in your composition why your sax is make believe.

for me, that's easy, because make believe is the setting of my work.

section III: modulation
--------------------------
this should have been II but the point of section II supercedes it.

i've been using this philosophy for a decade in vst.. sock puppets. glue some eyes on the f**ker and stick your hand up the bottom and the task is to engage people in conversation with it. kind of like politicians eh? eh?

now that you've got a sock puppet, how well you can make it breathe is going to make or break the performance. i'm still learning this, it's nice to have a host that doesn't crash when you throw tons of modulation curves at it.

i find it tempting often to give notes a mod peak at the beginning, dip then rise at the end.. this is boring and a crutch.. all i'm gonna say is mod takes a lot of application, imagination.. learning how to add tremolo to a swell, then learning how not to do it the same way again..

i like to keep it simple, one to cutoff and amp and one for tremolo. maybe another lfo for a growl or somethnig for breathyness, but after a few years, i find the ganged f/amp simple = mo better.. especially being able to transfer a sequence to another instrument.

i compose in my head then transfer to sequence, rarely produce parts by messing notes around (no keys). sometimes these are songs that have been in my head for months, and i've imagined several variations in parts.. so it takes time to funnel your processes/skill set into modulation.

there are often instances where an exact setting, curve et c. sounds really emulative with a particular note/patch, and composing is about making the most emulative parts of the sequence work for the song...

iirc it was ellington's "t.t. on toast" written because one note on tizol's (? gambling on memory here) trumpet had a particular sound, the composition was written to use it.

so i feel very comfortable translating that sentiment to adding peq peaks et c. that work on just one note, using patches that i have to avoid a particular note on..
Last edited by xoxos on Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
you come and go, you come and go. amitabha neither a follower nor a leader be tagore "where roads are made i lose my way" where there is certainty, consideration is absent.

xoxos
Mr Entertainment
12148 posts since 30 Apr, 2002 from i might peeramid

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:00 am

here's a more recent example.

it's obviously so tremendously good and awesome, you should kick in your door and smash your house up to help it look more like some kind of amazing god visited your speakers today.

http://xoxos.net/temp/saxsynth.mp3

everyone else can now stop trying to do anything forever.
you come and go, you come and go. amitabha neither a follower nor a leader be tagore "where roads are made i lose my way" where there is certainty, consideration is absent.

User avatar
SoundGoddess
KVRian
532 posts since 18 Sep, 2013 from Mesa, AZ

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:25 am

Thanks, I'll try your approach and see if I can come up with anything that sounds good.

I'm only a bit over 1/4 the way through Syntorial so I'm hardly a seasoned sound designer, but if I can figure out how to make an expressive patch with saxophone-like timbre I'd be pretty happy with it...I honestly don't care much about fooling people into believing it's a real sax, I just want to record some sexy vibes.

What you came up with sounds great! :tu: Did you use one of your own synths for it?
~ good luck ~
~ re~member to do good in a spirit of love, unity, compassion, and kindness ~

User avatar
irre
KVRAF
4419 posts since 21 Jan, 2008 from oO

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:28 am

check this: http://www.linplug.com/saxlab.html

quite awesome!

Anti-Logic
KVRist
156 posts since 4 Mar, 2014

Re: Is it not possible to synthesize a saxophone?

Post Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:37 am


Return to “Sound Design”