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One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

For fans of synths, pianos or keyboard instruments of any sort.

Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Dave B » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:28 pm

It’s a special secret, handed down by word of mouth from one keyboard player to another. It’s effect is magical - sort of like playing Stairway to magically make the shopkeeper appear. And it can be abused to make synths sound bad - rumour has it that in 1980, Yamaha mortally offended someone in the know and they made all their CS80s sound so bad that their engineers had to release the DX7 to try and make things better. That’s how scary it is!
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Dave B » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:24 am

OK, so let's have the big reveal.

Ladies and/or Gentlemen (and anything else I've missed out) ... I give you .... (drumroll) .... :

Track 1 : "In The End" by Rich Hanson was all Alesis MiniBrute
Track 2 : "Faerie Ring" by Folderol was once again the Yoshimi plugin (under Linux)
Track 3 : "Interplanetary Dub" by Richie Royal was his Roland Alpha Juno 2
Track 4: "Magic Fire Music" by Logarhythm using the Helm plugin
Track 5: "SOS One Filter Challenge" by IAA was all Prophet 6 with it's vco yumminess
Track 6: "The Entrance of Autumn" by Blindrew was again all the Xpand!2 plugin
Track 7: "The Lounger" by MarkyC was Virus C again
Track 8: "Last Night Of Summer" was DaveB (hang on .. that's me!) using the AAS Chromophone plugin for everything bar the samples
Track 9: "Ar Goll" by Ramirez using just a Moog Mother 32
Track10: "Dark Horizon" was by Jumpeyspyder using a Roland SK 88 pro GM synth

First things first : big congrats to all for a fine body of choons. I know a couple were concerned that they used the same synth as last time, but nobody guessed and that's a testament to their skills.

I think that there are a few surprises in there as well. The reason that I asked about the 'real vs va' was that the guess was completely the opposite of reality. I was surprised by the Prophet 6 and I own one so I should really dig it out and get stuck into it more. And I was really shocked by Jumpey's synth - it sounded so obviously like an older Roland that I was confused - so a cunning bluff on his part. Plus it seems that a freebie plugin can sound just as 'real' as a 2 grand vco-based poly!

Hopefully, Richie will now explain just what he did to his Juno to punish our ears like that! Was it just mad eq? Or something else?

On a personal note, I was panicked when Martin Walker took an interest - I'm guessing that it was a courtesy on his part not to mention that I'd obviously used Chromophone - I seem to remember buying it on the strength of his review and recommendation as something a bit different.

I think that the 'theme' idea may have been a bit of a bust. TBH, I thought you guys wanted it so I just went with it. It gave me a nice starting point for the music but I'm just as happy not bother.

All good fun though innit? ;)
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby BillB » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:30 am

Fabulous!

Now we've got to go and listen to them all over again and say: Oh.... yes!.... obviously.....

:bouncy:
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby BillB » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:32 am

Actually, that's a thought - can you rename the tracks with the above info, or maybe upload a new set with that info?
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Jumpeyspyder » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:56 am

Dave B wrote:I was really shocked by Jumpey's synth - it sounded so obviously like an older Roland that I was confused - so a cunning bluff on his part. Plus it seems that a freebie plugin can sound just as 'real' as a 2 grand vco-based poly!

For the avoidance of confusion, it's the full fat hardware SK-88 Pro Keyboard I've got - not software!
Handy hardware access to filter cutoff and resonance was very useful in my deception (also some very mild overdrive and plenty of chorus from the onboard EFX)

Can't wait to listen to them all again :)
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:02 am

As for Martin's title of mine (along the Blade Runner lines) - I wasn't consciously trying to do a Vangelis but I had recently been watching both Blade Runner films, so I guess it must have snuck in like that, but I can certainly see exactly what he means. Indeed, the sound of the first melody line is scarily similar to that at the start of Chariots of Fire, which I hadn't actually noticed!
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Ramirez » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:19 am

Rich Hanson wrote:As for Martin's title of mine (along the Blade Runner lines) - I wasn't consciously trying to do a Vangelis but I had recently been watching both Blade Runner films, so I guess it must have snuck in like that, but I can certainly see exactly what he means. Indeed, the sound of the first melody line is scarily similar to that at the start of Chariots of Fire, which I hadn't actually noticed!

I was also hearing echoes of "To The Unknown Man". Loved it!


I'm quite taken with the "Jetsons play Kraftwerk" description for my piece.
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Dave B » Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:41 am

Sorry Jumpey, should have put a break in between those two statements to make it clear that I was talking about the Helm plugin.

In terms of synth choice, I almost went down the Alpha Juno route myself but decided against it as I would probably end up using sounds that I already knew and loved. And the idea was to push myself a bit out of the comfort zone.

I also dug out my Morpheus from storage. That was interesting but it became apparent that I would really need to spend a lot of time with it first to get the hang of programming it from scratch. If I'd had an editor, I might have given it a shot, but I just didn't have time for a 2 line lcd and a lot of head scratching when going through z-plane filters...

I'm happy with the Chromophone plugin though. I've used it for a few hits, strikes and thumps but never really given it a push to see what it's capable of. Most of my track was tweaked presets which is a bit naughty, but it did give me a variety of starting points for sounds. It reminds me of the old Korg Prophecy in some respects - which is probably because both are physical modelling synths.

And I'm quite happy with the track - it ended up being quite a bit better than I thought it would. So at some point, I'm going to re-work the arrangement and make it a bit more Alan Parsons-y.

:)
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Richie Royale » Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:52 am

Dave B wrote:
Hopefully, Richie will now explain just what he did to his Juno to punish our ears like that! Was it just mad eq? Or something else?

I'll check the session when I'm next at the studio. I can't recall doing anything fancy though except cutting the top as there was a click or hiss or something like that.
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:42 pm

I had been thinking of selling the MiniBrute but I've changed my mind after this.
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby blinddrew » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:45 pm

Just to provide a bit of context around track 6 (for the brevity if nothing else), I was really short on time for things this time around until I realised there was some nice serendipity at play.
We've just done a large colleague event at work (a couple of days in a big venue with 500 people, big screens, full AV rig etc) and to kick it all off I created a little speed-reading video (something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQsNMB0b3Nc). This needed a soundtrack, and it had to be custom to match the pace of words, so I pulled this together one afternoon. Midi drumkit into Reaper, 3 layers of taikos and 1of thunder drums from Xpand!2, bit of panning and delay to embiggen the sound. The synth sound is just one chord progression with four different pad sounds all automated to rise and fall at different points.
Think I added a bit of sub-boom on some of the drum hits as well if I recall.

I was pretty chuffed with myself when it all went dark at the event and that first drum hit came in. :)
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:05 pm

Ramirez wrote:
Rich Hanson wrote:As for Martin's title of mine (along the Blade Runner lines) - I wasn't consciously trying to do a Vangelis but I had recently been watching both Blade Runner films, so I guess it must have snuck in like that, but I can certainly see exactly what he means. Indeed, the sound of the first melody line is scarily similar to that at the start of Chariots of Fire, which I hadn't actually noticed!

I'm quite taken with the "Jetsons play Kraftwerk" description for my piece.

Rich: it just goes to show that subconscious influences can sometimes play a big part in our creations (shame that lawyers manage to make money out of it though ;) )

Ramirez: glad you like my description. I can now reveal that yours was my favourite track, largely for its experimental yet controlled nature. At first its soundscapes sounded very retro futuristic (hence the Jetsons reference), but as soon as those robotic electro drums came in Kraftwerk instantly popped into my head. Lovely combo! 8-)

Dave B: on a fresh listen I should have realised that your delicacy of touch was due to physical modelling. The sounds are all delightfully 'new' and fresh', with a hint of FM, and plenty of metallic overtones. Lovely!

blinddrew: Very filmic approach, and I can just imagine the impact in a darkened room with a video presentation :thumbup:


I shall now listen to all the other tracks again to learn more about the capabilities of these synths.

Thank you all for a delightful listening experience! :clap:


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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:08 pm

That must have sounded pretty good over a PA

ETA: aimed at blinddrew as if it wasn't obvious. Got Ninja'd by Martin :D
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby blinddrew » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:12 pm

When we first played it on the day before it was awful and I did have a whole 'my god, what have I done?' moment. But they hadn't sorted all the delays out at that point, once that was done the whole mush cleaned up. There was a healthy kick to it all. :)
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Richie Royale » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:35 pm

My track was constructed with sounds all sourced from the Juno and then some heavy reverb and delay from some outboard.

The drum parts were re-shaped having sampled them in using Cubase's envelope shaper which helps give more punch to the kick and snare. The snare is two different samples at different pitches which helps with the drum roll part making sound more natural.

Parts were EQ'd and there is some bus compression on the drums and probably some on that sub-bass. The only modulation effect is on a organ/pad that has a bit of rotary/Leslie effect on it that at one point was making my speakers visibly move at a very low frequency, even though the sound had no low end. It was resolved with a steep HPF.
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:46 pm

The only effects I used were delay (which is rather obvious :D) and reverb (probably IKMultimedia's CSR Hall although I can't remember off hand), plus there was a bit of flanging on the 'hi-hat' to give it a bit of movement.

One of my favourite techniques is to set an arpegiator running relatively slowly and then using delays to double or quadruple the speed (you can hear them building up at the very start), sometimes with autopan before the delay. I used Logic's arpegiator rather than the MiniBrute's own as its MIDI sync leaves a little to be desired.

Most parts were built up line by line - I sequenced the lines and then audio recorded them straight and then with various quantise settings with small tweaks to the pitch and filter and riding the mod wheel where appropriate. The pad parts are spread across the stereo field to give it some width.

The melody lines were all played in by hand.
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby IAA » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:55 pm

The pad parts are spread across the stereo field to give it some width

I thought that was well done, nice.

On my track, track 5, all FX were the P6’s - they’re surprisingly good I’ve found, such that I’ll often use them rather than my other fave plug ins - soundtoys.

I really enjoyed pushing the P6 it’s great to program and that really helps when you’re after “that sound”.

Nice one Dave.

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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Sep 21, 2018 2:07 pm

Rich Hanson wrote:I had been thinking of selling the MiniBrute but I've changed my mind after this.

Yep. I re-evaluated it after hearing your Synth Challenge rack - most impressive results!


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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:03 pm

*blushes*
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Re: One Synth Challenge II - The Filter Strikes Back

Postby MarkyC » Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:43 pm

I must admit I was most impressed with the overall finishing of so many of the tracks this time out. Anyone mind sharing their thoughts on their mastering.
DaveB, I really liked the sense of space in yours, tell me the secret recipe please!
I’m not sure if I’m over thinking my approach, did you guys just get the levels rite and take it from there, be really interested.

Oh goodness you do learn a lot doing these OSC things, more than just your synth! I got stuck on the bass part (still don’t like it) and then ended up focusing on that and nothing else much to the detriment of the whole thing. Ended up I hate the blasted track and won’t listen to it for quite some time.
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