Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
ccg123
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Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by ccg123 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:56 am

Happy new year,

I am very new to the whole music production thing and finding it difficult to get the synth sound I want...

I'm using Ableton Live 9 Suite and the Analogue instrument. I've been playing around with the Filter Envelope on a single oscillator mostly.

But no matter what settings and devices I use, all my synths sound very 'buzzy'. How do I get a cleaner sound with more colour?

I don't know whether to tweak the Analogue settings or use audio effects to get the sound I want.

Any recommendations/suggestions would be very much appreciated.

yur2die4
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by yur2die4 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:01 am

Maybe you want some thicker sounds. Try the Uni/detune parameters (there are extra unison settings in the window also)

Maybe detuning the two main oscillators, or adding just a little noise to get an analog sounding ffffft for your filter to work off of.

ccg123
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by ccg123 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:04 am

So, I can get the desired effect mostly from the Analogue settings? Or should I be focusing on compressor or distortion effects?

SuburbanThug
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by SuburbanThug » Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:14 pm

You might as well throw an eq, saturator, and compressor on there and see if you get results. Often when I'm working with a simple single oscillator sound I will employ all three to get the desired results from any soft synth. If you aren't well accustomed to using the effects then try one at a time. Even the nicest oscillators can benefit from a little saturation or reverb. Don't forget to use the return tracks to see what magic a little reverb or delay can bring.

login
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by login » Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:20 pm

The main timbre of the sound comes from the oscilator waveform. Sawtooth is the more fuzzy one, Square is less fuzzy and triangle is more ballsy, normaly triangle is used to beef up sound of another waveform.

if you wanna learn synthesis checkout Syntorial, great interactive tutorial.

mholloway
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by mholloway » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:27 pm

I'm shocked, shocked to learn that somebody who is brand new to music production and synthesis "can't get the synth sound [they] want."
my industrial music made with Ableton Live (as DEAD WHEN I FOUND HER): https://deadwhenifoundher.bandcamp.com/
my dark jazz / noir music made with Ableton Live: https://michaelarthurholloway.bandcamp. ... guilt-noir

Stromkraft
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by Stromkraft » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:40 pm

ccg123 wrote:
Any recommendations/suggestions would be very much appreciated.
None of the Live synths sound good really, though if you're new to programming your own sounds I suggest you learn the basics on them anyway. I think Sampler/Simpler in Drum racks are brilliant though for sampled drums. Tom Cosm has made in my opinion the most approachable tutorials of the possibilities of sound design on the Live synths and Live itself.

For later, try a lot of different demos of different synthesizers and do your research and make your pick of a few, no more.
Try higher playback rates at 88200 or 96000 in these great third party synthesizers. You won't hear a difference in all sound patches, but for some that go high up in frequencies it can be very noticeable.
Last edited by Stromkraft on Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Make some music!

mholloway
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by mholloway » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:41 pm

Stromkraft wrote:
None of the Live synths sound good really

Don't listen to this nonsense. Operator sounds fantastic.
my industrial music made with Ableton Live (as DEAD WHEN I FOUND HER): https://deadwhenifoundher.bandcamp.com/
my dark jazz / noir music made with Ableton Live: https://michaelarthurholloway.bandcamp. ... guilt-noir

mholloway
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by mholloway » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:43 pm

Stromkraft wrote:
For later, use higher playback rates at 88200 or 96000 for great third party synthesizers.
And don't listen to this nonsense, either.

This guy is brand new to synthesis, Strom. Telling him to try high playback rates of 88200 etc is fucking absurd. That is literally the last thing he needs to worry about right now, or ever.
my industrial music made with Ableton Live (as DEAD WHEN I FOUND HER): https://deadwhenifoundher.bandcamp.com/
my dark jazz / noir music made with Ableton Live: https://michaelarthurholloway.bandcamp. ... guilt-noir

Angstrom
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by Angstrom » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:47 pm

Also, Analogue sounds pretty damn good for what it is (a 2 osc VA)- it's just that the interface is abominable for beginners. Or for experts. For anybody really. The oscilators are nice and alias free.

Operator is pretty damn good, although of course the oscillators are more likely to alias being wavetables - but it's capable of some additive synthesis and now that it's got the new Cytomic filters with overdrive it's even better!

As long as you think of these synths as layers its possible to get very nice fat sounds from them.
Not perfect, not particularly deep, and not as patchable as many of the Uhe type competitors, but still very usable.

Stromkraft
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by Stromkraft » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:49 pm

mholloway wrote:
Stromkraft wrote:
None of the Live synths sound good really

Don't listen to this nonsense. Operator sounds fantastic.
It's not nonsense just because our opinion differs. If you put the virtually identical, very basic patch programmed in Operator against certain third party synthesizers you can only cry. That is, One oscillator (or 2 Operators with one as carrier) and one filter, nothing else. Do this in an honest, thourough way and Operator will fade as an option very quickly. The new filter possibilities of 9.5 certainly is an upgrade though.

This doesn't mean it's useless. But I wholeheartedly feel it's a waste of time as anything else than a learning tool or if you accept its limitations and work from that. If you make brilliant stuff you will sound good with anything.
Last edited by Stromkraft on Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:58 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Make some music!

Stromkraft
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by Stromkraft » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:52 pm

Angstrom wrote:
As long as you think of these synths as layers its possible to get very nice fat sounds from them.
Not perfect, not particularly deep, and not as patchable as many of the Uhe type competitors, but still very usable.
Yes, I agree this is the best way to make use of the Live synths. It's also a central technique in the Tom Cosm material I suggested above.
Make some music!

Stromkraft
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by Stromkraft » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:07 pm

mholloway wrote:
Stromkraft wrote:
For later, use higher playback rates at 88200 or 96000 for great third party synthesizers.
And don't listen to this nonsense, either.

This guy is brand new to synthesis, Strom. Telling him to try high playback rates of 88200 etc is fucking absurd. That is literally the last thing he needs to worry about right now, or ever.
I was quite clear that the Live synths are good starting points. It's when you're fresh and have no prejudice you form your foundational opinion on how the tools work with your musicality. I think it's vital to protect this natural musicality.

One experience that shaped me in many ways was quantization resolution* limitations that I noticed when live recording drum pads and it never came back as I had played because the sequencer quantized to its max resolution. That taught me very clearly what Swing, groove and human timing was about. If I had believed and accepted technology to be perfect I'd miss that aspect of reality and my musicality.

For a few years I've both been learning in detail how to program software synths (different in many ways from hardware) with great disappointments and have been in debate with hardware owners of the sound quality in synths. It wasn't before I tried 88200 and 96000 I released this was what was missing to get on the level of hardware and this was pretty recently too.

I've missed several years that I had to focus on other things not as productive when I already had the tools at my disposal. I want to share this, to newbies and experienced people alike. We may not agree, but some will agree with me. I'm not alone in thinking this is a very real aspect of software synths.





*quantization resolution is how a sequencer, like the one that is active in Live's MIDI clips, may move notes you play on a keyboard or pad MIDI controller so these occur nearer a grid of more or less perfect time divisions. Quantization makes it easier then to correct small mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are intentional and part of your playing style even if you may be unaware of this.
Last edited by Stromkraft on Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:10 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Make some music!

dented42ford
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by dented42ford » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:14 pm

mholloway wrote:I'm shocked, shocked to learn that somebody who is brand new to music production and synthesis "can't get the synth sound [they] want."
Way to be totally useless! You have no sense of entitled arrogance at all. I am absolutely astounded at your level of humility, seriously, how do you manage?

:roll:
ccg123 wrote: I'm using Ableton Live 9 Suite and the Analogue instrument. I've been playing around with the Filter Envelope on a single oscillator mostly.

But no matter what settings and devices I use, all my synths sound very 'buzzy'. How do I get a cleaner sound with more colour?
You are doing pretty much the exact opposite of what you need to do to get a "full" sound. Very few BIG sounding synths are single-oscilator, at least in the sense of single-sound-with-filter. Take your sound, and remove all filtering - does it sound big? If not, you aren't going to get it to through subtractive synthesis (which is what you are trying to do).

Easy[ish] suggestion? (I'll assume you are using Analog.) Start with a Sawtooth wave - that is where most big sounds start. Just initialize (insert onto a track) Analog, and make sure OSC1 is on "Saw" (it should be). Turn volume on OSC2 all the way down for now. Now click on the output section, and enable "UNI" - that enables unison (multiple voices of the same oscillator). Look at the center section - it should have a "Unison" section that lights up orange when you enable UNI. Change "Voices" to 4. Change "Delay" to ~5ms. Look back to the section on the right - change "Detune" to ~20. Play a few notes - you should have a thick, but quite bright, sound. If it still sounds a bit thin to you, click on the OSC1 section again and turn up the Sub % to around 50-60% - bottom right side.

Now for filters - make sure the "F1/F2" slider is all the way to "F1" - we are keeping this to a single (Unison'd) Oscilator with a single filter for now. Click on the F1 section - make sure it is set to "LP24". Set the Freq to ~1khz, and Reso around 50%. Turn up the Attack to around 25ms - or just play around with the ADSR, the point is to make the filter obvious. Now you should have a reasonably thick basic Saw sound, filtered a bit.

Let's thicken it up some more - now this will be the gist of what makes "HUGE" sounds. Turn on OSC2, and set it to Saw. Make sure its volume is at 0.0db for now, and that its filter slider is on "F1", just like OSC1. Take the "Octave" knob and turn it to -1, then play a few notes - big. Try -2 - HUGE. Leave it on -1 for now, though. Turn the Sub on OSC2 up to around 50%, just like you did on OSC1. Bigger, right, but not as big as setting it to -2OCT? Go back to OSC1, and turn the "Detune" to +/-0.15 or so. Now you should have a REALLY big sound, but still usable - it probably doesn't sound the best, mostly because it is still too bright and simple, but should be much bigger than what you were getting with a single Oscilator...

I could go on about using the Envelopes and LFOs to make it even thicker, and using the filters to color it even more, but the point was to get you to a place where you get why you were having trouble getting a "full" sound in the first place. Almost NO full sounds come from single oscillators without some sort of unison mode to thicken them up. That is what you need to mess with, before mucking about with external filters and distortion and EQ and other such things!

Hope that was helpful, and have fun learning synthesis!

PS: The Live synths are fine, if a bit bare-bones and with a tendency towards aliasing. That being said, they are pretty easy to cut your proverbial teeth on, so arguing about it in a newbie's thread doesn't seem like the most productive thing...

WildOak
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Re: Getting a full synth sound in Ableton Live 9 Suite

Post by WildOak » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:22 pm

Hey so something that worked well for me when I was first learning synthesis is finding a preset that sounds good to you and reverse engineering it.

Also here is a synth I made quickly with analog, I don't know exactly what you are going for but maybe seeing how I work could help :roll:


Image

Good luck and keep on keepin on!
DAW-
Ableton 9.6

System-
MacBook Pro Intel Core i7
2.9 Ghz 8 GB
OSX 10.8.5

Interface-
Apollo Twin DUO

Monitors-
Yamaha HS7

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