Who uses presets?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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Who uses presets?

Post by sporkles » Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:48 pm

Up until recently, I always, with the exception of, I don't know, five sounds or so, created all my synth sounds more or less from scratch. I've mostly been using "down to earth" synths, like Sylenth1, the Reason synths, etc, and lately Operator. A few weeks ago, I got a pretty sweet deal on an NI bundle, which included Absynth 4, FM8, Massive and Pro-53. I jumped at it because of the price (about €180 for the lot), but I'm not particularly interested in spending a lot of time learning new synths. The presets are simply mind-blowing, though, so I was wondering: does anyone in here frequently use preset sounds in their music?

I'm tempted to use some of Absynth's soundscapes to "pad" my music, but I can't help but feeling it's cheating a bit. Then again, didn't someone identify the opening sound on Lost as a preset on some VSTi? And do you reckon a preset on a synth is comparable to using a particular traditional instrument?


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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by deanthomastunes » Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:54 pm

I use tweaked presets almost all the time.
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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by oddstep » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:06 pm

The 808 kick and the amen break are effectively presets... plenty of good, original music made with them. Depends how much you rate having a totally unique sound... if its really important you should probably construct your own synths in code,max or hardware.
I use presets if they fit with what i want for a track. Occasionally i run into a preset that is so great that i write a track around it. Usually i start from scratch and make my own patches...for me, the timbre of a sound is often as important as the notes it plays and i wouldn't want to leave those elements to someone else... it'd be like using the construction kit clips as the basis for a track.
So, I don't have a kneejerk prohibition on presets, but I generally steer clear of them. A bit like cigarettes or lunchtime drinking.

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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by leedsquietman » Fri Nov 26, 2010 1:32 am

With the NI synths, I usually tweak a preset. With Arturia's synths I tend to build from templates or scratch.

Certain synths like Absynth, Alchemy, Omnisphere, have such a wealth of great sounds that it is easy to get into presetitis. But it's also easy to tweak them into something quite different quickly.
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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by Jacqueslacouth » Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:04 am

I use the Gibson Melody Maker preset religiously when I'm......errrr...playing my Gibson Melody Maker :mrgreen:

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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by Pasha » Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:17 am

I very rarely start from scratch for synth sounds.
90% of my music is based of untouched presets.
I tweak the macros of the racks when available but
almost never change the instrument setting.
L8 library is full of very good ready to play presets.

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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by Rave » Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:44 am

If a guitar or a piano is a preset then everyone has cheated. Music comes from what u do with it :)

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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by Rationalizer » Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:25 am

Well what's the point of presets if you don't use them? I've got NI's Komplete with 8000+ presets. So I simply tweak them to my taste and use them with good conscience :)
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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by Sibanger » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:31 am

I have no issue with using presets.

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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by Cezband » Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:02 am

I guess it's about how deep down you want to go - if you've got a sweet synthline melody that you've written and you want a certain sound for it, and a preset has that sound, then why not use it? It's basically just making work for yourself if you don't. On the other hand, if you can't find the sound you want then building it yourself is the only option.

Personally, when I use samples and presets, there's quite a clear point where it feels like I'm "cheating"...say, putting a really distinctive pad preset front and centre of a mix with no editing or tweaking. It feels like I'm just ripping off the guy who made the preset. On the other hand, if I've written and recorded a riff and I add in some general pads on top for atmosphere, I don't worry so much because the focus is on the home-grown riff not the preset pad. So as long as I don't cross that line then I'm ok with using whatever comes along to make my music better.
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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by Captain Johnson » Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:21 am

..........Just keep making music....... regardless ..of ..how..boom boom boom boom!!

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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by necho » Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:30 pm


I'm not against using presets, but sound design is a very important part of the process for me.
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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by silveriofunk » Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:58 pm

i try to mix up tweaked presets with sound design, sometimes it's just too time consuming to design every single thing.... i mean how much time do you have?

...don't see a problem if you can find a balance, however, for me the more i learn how to use the tools, the less presets i use.

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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by ukslice » Fri Nov 26, 2010 1:37 pm

A lot depends on what your in it for. If you want commercial success then as long as it sells then everything you do is ok. If you are after the respect of other musicians and no money then you should be designing your own synths with a soldering iron and pieces of old boards rescued from the skip.

At the end of the day joe public listens and either likes or hates it, no thought process went into how much time you spent producing it, Duck Sauce Barbara Streisand being a prime example. It is so close to the original Boney M hit and it's predecessor (from Germany) that I personally would be embarrassed to release it. I wouldn't be embarrassed though when that first royalty cheque came in.

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Re: Who uses presets?

Post by Silwolffe » Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:43 pm

1.) Load up FM8.
2.) Select the guitar category in the browser window, then go down to 'Crunch Crusher'
3.) Play a low-octave key on your keyboard, like near C1
4.) Play it for awhile, get a feel for the sound...
5.) Then listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reiSqGAQXx8

People, especially professionals, use presets all the time in their work. So it must be okay for you to use them, right?

I make music for fun and enjoyment. Some presets are simply mind-blowing, and sound so good. They can be fun to play with. So, I use them. Do I feel a little guilty about it? Well, yeah, to a degree. I always try to add a little bit of personal touch to a preset, though. Whether that be modifying it, running it through an arpeggio, saturating it with effects, .etc

Even though the main 'hook' in Marty O'Donnel's 'Engaged' is a preset patch w/included arpeggio, it's still one of my favorite tracks for Halo.

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