Original synthesis versus Presets

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
djadonis206
Posts: 6490
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 4:23 pm
Location: Seattle, WA.

Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by djadonis206 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 6:32 pm

I'm struggling over here. I'm very preset averse, meaning I go out of my way to not use synth presets of any kind.

The problem is I get caught up/slowed down by trying to perfect some bass or synth sound.

I have a friend who is not preset averse and he's producing tracks daily, on major labels.

BTW - I'm not looking to get signed by a label or mass produce music, I like to just have fun with it. But with that said, I would like to stay inspired and finish a track!

What's your take on original synthesis versus the preset?
Last edited by djadonis206 on Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ableton | Elektron

Music

glitchrock-buddha
Posts: 4357
Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2005 1:29 am
Location: The Ableton Live Forum

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by glitchrock-buddha » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:45 pm

The most important thing is to enjoy creating music. It's not a competition, so people who claim you are "cheating" by using presets are totally full of shit. Art gets made from paint, pencils, photographs, materials, instruments, samples, records, whatever.

If creating a sound from scratch is an artistically enjoyable experience then do it. But think you need to. I use the example all the time of a guitar because I'm a guitar player. I'll never be able to make a guitar that sounds as good to me as a Les Paul or telecaster, someone else has to make it. But that's fine, as long as it's expressive and I can express. I will say though that presets can sometimes be entire songs by pressing a single button so I do see a difference between a playable keyboard patch and a rhythmic and evolving patch that requires no playing. But in composition you might use sound sources from all over the place, you might layer a straight sample under a track. You didn't design the sample necessarily and sure as hell didn't play it, but lots of good art gets made out of sampling and making collages. And plenty of good art has been made from using "presets".
Professional Shark Jumper.

catsandwich
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:14 am

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by catsandwich » Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:46 pm

Do what I do. Try and complete your arrangement as quick as possible; use presets for all of your synth sounds. Once you're happy with the song; start messing with the timbre/effects/etc.

I compose with a hardware workstation or softsynths. Once the song's done; I'll bust out the MKS80/Matrix1000/DVP1/ARP2600/etc. and start replacing tracks with sounds from those devices.

Same goes for effects. I use live effects to get going, then I replace with eventide, etc.

djadonis206 wrote:I'm struggling over here. I'm very preset averse, meaning I go out of my way to not use synth presets of any kind.

The problem is I get caught up/slowed down by trying to perfect some bass or synth sound.

I have a friend who is not preset averse and he's producing tracks daily, on major labels.

BTW - I'm not looking to get signed by a label or mass produce music, I like to just have fun with it. But with that said, I would like to stay inspired and finish a track!

What's your take on original synthesis versus the preset?

beats me
Posts: 23319
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:39 pm

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by beats me » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:56 am

I just tallied it up. Taking all currently existing plug-ins and sample libraries there are exactly 12,345,746 presets. I wouldn’t burn too many calories worrying about coming up with a sound that is completely designed by you.

condra
Posts: 2753
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:03 pm
Location: Dublin
Contact:

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by condra » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:33 am

Regarding "Presets vs Roll-Your-Own", I think it depends on a few things, such as whether or not your style lends itself to presets - If I was doing pop music or electro, a couple of banks of Synelth patches would go a very long way. But I'm doing a lot of electronic, trip-hop and glitch these days, so as well as the odd preset, I like creating weird instruments, and a bit of creative sampling too.

Also a factor- how experienced you are at synthesis. Frankly, synth noobs shouldn't use their own presets unless they're making "experimental" music IMO. Once you know what you're doing though, it's definitely nice to create your own unique "signature" instruments.

There is a whole other benefit to creating your own patch library; familiarity. I have built up an extensive collection of homegrown Massive patches, and when I think of a sound in my head, I can always grab it, or something close, instantly from my own patch bank.

Getting deep into tweaking a synth while you're composing is not usually a good idea IMO. It's like making a new guitar when you're supposed to just write a song. I do love using my own patches though, so I try to spend dedicated patch-making time with the standalone version of Massive, and compose seperatly.

Angstrom
Posts: 14686
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:22 pm
Contact:

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by Angstrom » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:36 am

It's generally quicker for me to make the sound I hear in my head than it is to try and find it.
My mind is too particular to accept something that's only vaguely similar to what I wanted. It's annoying like that.

Image

mikesena
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:37 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by mikesena » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:57 am

Personally, I think using presets is fine. Its not using loops... sample loop users annoy me, samples are okay. But presets; there's a lot of skill in manipulating a synth.

But overall though, I like only using it as a starting point. Presents, if you're using good VSTs or a synth itself, have been designed by people that know the product well. Even if you've downloaded a preset, its been good enough for you to be able to find it, so likely they know what they're doing (within reason).

Use it as a starting point, and then tweak the crap out of it. I do this a lot, particularly if its not wide enough, or too many voices etc. etc. Almost all can be tweaked, Nexus even has options on some rom patches to affect the volume of some of the virtual oscillators.

What I like to do now though, is I get a sound that sounds alright from a present, make the rhythm I want, lay down part of the track, and THEN go back and tweak it. I found myself spending WAY too much time trying to get the perfect lead sound, without having any atmosphere to try it in. Once I had the rest of the track, I would typically then make major changes again, because it just didn't work. So get an okay sound, that's along the lines of what you want, then tweak it once the track sounds right.

mikesena
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:37 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by mikesena » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:57 am

Angstrom wrote:It's generally quicker for me to make the sound I hear in my head than it is to try and find it.
My mind is too particular to accept something that's only vaguely similar to what I wanted. It's annoying like that.

Image
LOVE the image. :P

UnCL0NED
Posts: 306
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:43 am
Location: Latitude: 52° 4' 60 N, Longitude: 4° 17' 60 E

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by UnCL0NED » Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:26 am

Presets can be perfect to create a song with. I myself use mainly self created patches and/or self recorded samples, though. That's because I like the process of creating my own sounds. But this is very time consuming.

Millions of bands use the presets in their hardware and software synths. It's just another instrument in the end.
Of course you can tinker with the strings of your guitar or manipulate the body to make it sound different from other guitars, which can be very impressive. But I'm also (maybe even more) impressed by people who play a great song on a standard guitar.

Just do what works best for you, I guess!
soundcloud
"everything you read on the internet is true!"

ShelLuser
Posts: 4030
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:26 pm
Location: Wageningen, Netherlands

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by ShelLuser » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:23 am

Where would presets be without original synthesis ?

I wouldn't take it so hard or black/white. Presets are meant to be used. And if you want to you can always tweak 'm to better suit your needs (or to make 'm sound "different" enough).
With kind regards,

Peter

Using the 'Power' Trio: Live 10 Suite (+ Push & Max 8 ), Reason 10 and Maschine Mk3 (+ the ultimate Komplete 12).
Blog: SynthFan (under heavy construction!)

djadonis206
Posts: 6490
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 4:23 pm
Location: Seattle, WA.

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by djadonis206 » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:31 pm

I agree with everything said here. Last night I went home and tried a couple of presets rather than "init" (initialize).

Going through presets to find the right one is very time consuming. But finding something half way decent and tweaking it proved to be useful and fun.

Also from this thread, I picked up on the idea of having music making sessions seperate from synthesis sessions - where all I do is work on my own patches.

But with that said, in the time it takes to find a good preset I could be initializing the patch and starting from scratch and building my own sounds
Ableton | Elektron

Music

Dhak
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:38 pm

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by Dhak » Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:28 pm

I never quite understood the preset vs synthesis debate. Is it considered making your own sound if you take a preset and alter it by messing with the parameters and adding your own filters and effects?

I never use 100% stock presets but I don't see the difference between using operator (which gives you a preset "sound" when you load it up and play it without altering anything) vs tweaking an actual preset and adding effects to get my own sound out of it. Operator has filters, amps, etc. but I can also add those effects in myself to an already established sound that is close to what I am looking for.

doghouse
Posts: 1413
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:30 pm

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by doghouse » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:31 pm

djadonis206 wrote:What's your take on original synthesis versus the preset?
If you can't finish your tracks and you're spending all your time tweaking your sounds then either use presets or realize that you have more fun tweaking sounds than making finished songs...and that's OK.

Not everybody is great at songwriting and not everybody is great at sound design.

condra
Posts: 2753
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:03 pm
Location: Dublin
Contact:

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by condra » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:47 pm

+1
Very succinctly put.

Cymatic Kicks
Posts: 62
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 2:15 pm
Contact:

Re: Original synthesis versus Presets

Post by Cymatic Kicks » Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:20 am

I will often start with presets when I have melody in my head. Although on the flip side, when I do sound design, I almost always come up with a melody line I like after creating a cool sound. People who bitch about "you can totally tell that's a preset" are kind annoying. Just have fun, if people bitch, politely ask for constructive criticism.

Post Reply