Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

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debrice
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Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by debrice » Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:34 am

I'm currently going through each synth on Ableton pretty much one by one, starting with Analog and am trying to learn best by trying to make all sounds without using preset sounds. It means I'm making less stuff and it's taking me longer but the reason is that I want to learn synthesis and learn the software properly.

I'm interested to know if people think that using preset sounds is 'cheating' in a way and if it might be bad in the long run to use them. Do most people on here make their sounds right from the ground up?

yur2die4
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by yur2die4 » Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:53 am

Anything goes!

Usually when you use a preset though, you'll probably tweak it a little so it better suits the sound of whatever you're working on. So then it goes from a basic concept, to becoming more and more your own.

Even synths themselves are at the core just a preset. You're given waveforms which are predetermined, filter limitations, envelopes, etc. But when used in music, tinkered with by humans (or other), the pissabilities are endless.

Also, presets are good learning tools. When you work From a preset you're gradually discovering what makes it work, what causes particular characteristics. And it is a great way to explore and understand things.

Of course it's also fun to just start from scratch sometimes too, and get as wacky as flippin possible!

debrice
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by debrice » Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:33 am

I don't myself think that using presets are cheating but I am finding that I'm learning more about making sounds at this stage than I was when using and editing the presets in Analog. Your right that the presets are a good reference point for studying how to make sounds from the neutral/base setting...

jlgrimes
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by jlgrimes » Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:36 am

I would say no.

Many successful producers are preset users.

Some peoples skills are more at composing/performing and arranging.

That said I think a lot depends on genre. I think for an electronica based genre, synth programming is very important. Or at least being able to tweak, layer, and process presets.

Angstrom
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by Angstrom » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:01 am

It's not "cheating" ,it's just a bit limiting if that's all you can do.
I think of it like this: I might strum along to Dock of the Bay and decide to make use of the same chords, in the same order. I might even use similar instrumentation. That's fine, it's bound to come out differently anyway. People have been using the same sounds, the same chords for years, its all allowable.

But I think of music writing and production like it's MMA: it's all very well having one big right hook, a big trick, a simple method of getting the job done fast - but the world of music is complex and nuanced. Sometimes you need a bit of wrestling, sometimes a bit of jiu jitsu to get the job done how you want it. Who knows what the music you make in future will require?

Learn everything you can.
How analog synths work, how FM works, how compression works, how a big band arrangement works, how fingerpicking works. You may never need it, but if you do you'll look like a magician compared to most 'producers' only capable of sampling monster kicks off collectable vinyl.

eddiex
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by eddiex » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:27 am

no, its not cheating.
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njh
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by njh » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:28 am

I remember dealing with this question a lot when I started making music and I feel I wasted much of time by listening to other peoples convictions.
The best thing for me to do at the time would have been to use presets and just write the song. Instead I would spend hours tweaking a synth so I could know that I was being original even though I was writing nothing.

You should ask yourself if you are a sound designer or a songwriter. If you are a sound designer go ahead and tweak the init patch but if you are a song writer you should focus on writing first and maybe tweak a preset to your liking.

As with learning everything, I feel that is better to do this as you progress. I wouldn't bother to learn everything there is to learn before writing a song. If you are writing music then that should be your primary focus and everything else will fall into place.

Now days I rarely bother creating my own patches I will start the song either by writing a melody on my midi keyboard or my guitar. From there I will work out the arrangement. If Im using synths it doesn't take me much time at all to subtlety tweak a preset so it sounds like what I want it to sound like.

jestermgee
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by jestermgee » Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:30 am

Pfffttt

I had a mate who got me into production almost 2 decades ago that refused to even use a loop or sound he didn't make himself because he thought that was cheating (in a time when a DAW ran in DOS).

His results were pretty plain because he was more impressed that he created a single sound in 3 hours than a track... Needless to say most people just heard noise.

Helps to know your tools but if the shoe fits the groove take it and run with it. Nothing wrong with a starting point. Sometimes I just want to find a sound for a project not spend my life re-creating the wheel.

pencilrocket
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by pencilrocket » Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:51 am

using computer is cheat. use multi track recorder and analog hardware synth.
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debrice
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by debrice » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:15 am

njh wrote:I remember dealing with this question a lot when I started making music and I feel I wasted much of time by listening to other peoples convictions.
The best thing for me to do at the time would have been to use presets and just write the song. Instead I would spend hours tweaking a synth so I could know that I was being original even though I was writing nothing.

You should ask yourself if you are a sound designer or a songwriter. If you are a sound designer go ahead and tweak the init patch but if you are a song writer you should focus on writing first and maybe tweak a preset to your liking.

As with learning everything, I feel that is better to do this as you progress. I wouldn't bother to learn everything there is to learn before writing a song. If you are writing music then that should be your primary focus and everything else will fall into place.

Now days I rarely bother creating my own patches I will start the song either by writing a melody on my midi keyboard or my guitar. From there I will work out the arrangement. If Im using synths it doesn't take me much time at all to subtlety tweak a preset so it sounds like what I want it to sound like.

Thanks for the reply, so would you say that at the early stages of learning production it's better to focus on making/finishing tracks and spending less time on the actual sound design? I guess the sound design can be improved bit by bit as you make tracks...

mholloway
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by mholloway » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:51 am

Yes, it is cheating. Don't listen to all the liars here, they're just cheaters too and therefore enablers. It's cheating and if you are caught you we will be banned from using Ableton or any other software instrument again, possibly fined, and maybe even get a jail sentence of up to 5 years. And your girlfriend will dump you and your parents will look sad and awkward every time you see them for the next few years (it's called Being Ashamed, and who can blame them, really).
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

Mister Natural
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by Mister Natural » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:03 am

yeah, I really don't like the pretense that somehow using a preset is less "authentic" than rolling your own synth setting.

as NJH mentions above : spend more time/energy at creating interesting MUSIC than creating a "sound"
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clement.m
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by clement.m » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:27 am

It's odd because within Ableton's instruments I sort of had this feeling of "cheating" at one point, but when I grab my cheap Casio I'm only using presets since there's nothing to tweak, and I don't feel ashamed of anything. I then realized that it was simply because the presets in Analog usually didn't match with the kind of sounds I was looking for. I guess the key is to find instruments that are already close (if not 100% equal) to what you're after.
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Samuel L. Jizzle
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by Samuel L. Jizzle » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:21 am

It's cheating.

TomViolenz
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Re: Is using synth presets 'cheating'?

Post by TomViolenz » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:26 am

mholloway wrote:Yes, it is cheating. Don't listen to all the liars here, they're just cheaters too and therefore enablers. It's cheating and if you are caught you we will be banned from using Ableton or any other software instrument again, possibly fined, and maybe even get a jail sentence of up to 5 years. And your girlfriend will dump you and your parents will look sad and awkward every time you see them for the next few years (it's called Being Ashamed, and who can blame them, really).
Well, nothing of that has really anything to do with you having used presets though, they just happened anyways ;-)

To the OP: Do whatever you like, what's imprortant is that you make it your own and I don't mean the presets, but the process.
If you enjoy making sounds, then don't let anyone (especially yourself!) tell you that you are taking to long and that you are not finishing anything. As long as you enjoy what you are doing (especially if you did not find your artistic voice yet), the time spend, is time spend on the right path.
And if you like using presets for awesome grooves, and drumsamples for great patterns, then groove away ;-)

As long as you enjoy doing it, it will lead you closer to discovering your artistic voice.

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