A New Way To Learn Synthesis – Syntorial: Z3TA+ 2 Edition

Syntorial Z3TA+ 2

Syntorial: Z3TA+ 2 Edition – A New Way To Learn Synthesis
Syntorial is video game-like training software that will teach you how to program synth patches by ear. With almost 200 lessons, combining video demonstrations with interactive challenges, you’ll get hands on experience programming patches on a built-in soft synth and learn everything you need to know to start making your own sounds with ease.

Now comes with over 3 hours of Z3TA+ 2 video lessons!

Learn more and try it for free
 

5 Awesome Virtual Instrument Tips in SONAR

With thousands of features, workflows, and settings,  even the most hardcore user can miss out on something awesome buried in SONAR. It happens to the best of us. So we’ve put together 5 quick and easy features that can improve your workflow as well as your creativity with Virtual Instruments and Synths. Check out the video here:

 

Try SONAR free for 30 days

Recording Virtual Synthesizers: The Art of Imperfection

Synths can make perfect sounds…but is that always a perfect solution?

by Craig Anderton

Recording a virtual instrument is simple…you just insert it, hit a few keys, and mix it in with the other tracks. Right?

Well…no. Synthesizers are musical instruments, and you wouldn’t mic a drum set by taking the first mic you found and pointing it the general direction of the drummer, nor would you record an electric guitar by just plugging it into a mixing console. A little extra effort spent on avoiding an unnatural sound when mixing synths with acoustic instruments, improving expressiveness, tightening timing inconsistencies, and other issues can help you get the most out of your virtual instruments.

But first, remember that “rules” were made to be broken. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to record, only ways that satisfy you to a greater or lesser degree. Sometimes doing the exact opposite of what’s expected gives the best results. So take the following as suggestions, not rules, that may be just what the doctor ordered when you want to spice up an otherwise ordinary synth sound.

THE SYNTHESIZER’S SECRET IDENTITY

The paramount aspect of recording a synth is to define the desired results as completely as possible. Using synths to reinforce guitars on a heavy metal track is a completely different musical task from creating a all-synthesized 30-second spot. Sometimes you want synths to sound warm and organic, but if you’re doing techno, you’ll probably want a robot, machine-like vibe (with trance music, you might want to combine both possibilities).

So, analyze your synth’s “sonic signature”—is it bright, dark, gritty, clean, warm, metallic, or…? Whereas some people attach value judgements to these different characteristics, veteran synthesists understand that different synthesizers have different general sound qualities, and choose the right sound for the right application. For example, although Cakewalk’s Z3TA+ is highly versatile, to my ears its natural “character” is defined, present, and detailed.

Regarding sonic signatures, perhaps one of the reasons for a resurgence in analog synths sounds is digital recording. Analog synths tended to use low-pass filters that lacked the “edgy” sound of digital sound generation. Recording the darker analog sounds on analog tape sometimes resulted in a muddy sound; but when recording on digital, analog sounded comparatively sweet. Digital also captured all the little hisses, grunts, and burps that characterized analog synths. This is a case where the “imperfections” of analog and the “perfection” of digital recording complemented each other.

Another thought: look at guitars, voices, pianos, etc. on a spectrum analyzer, and you’ll note there is little natural high end. If you’re trying to blend a virtual instrument in with physical instruments, remember that a virtual synth has no problems obtaining a solid high end. Using the ProChannel’s LP filter set to 48dB/octave and lowering the frequency just a little bit can introduce the “imperfection” that matches the spectral characteristics of “real” acoustic and electric instruments more closely, so the synth seems to blend in better with the other tracks (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: The ProChannel QuadCurve EQ’s lowpass filter can help digital synths sit better in tracks that use multiple physical or acoustic instruments. Continue reading Recording Virtual Synthesizers: The Art of Imperfection

The “Punch” Factor with Synthesizers

What exactly constitutes “punch”? Find out here

by Craig Anderton

We all know a punchy recorded sound when we hear it—but what exactly constitutes “punch”? It seems that perhaps punch is something that can not only be defined, but quantified.

This all started because years ago, I wondered why seemingly every musician agrees that the Minimoog has a punchy sound. Then, when I started playing a Peavey DPM3, several people commented that my bass patches had a punchy sound, “like a Minimoog.” Clearly, the technologies are totally different: one was analog, the other digital; one used voltage-controlled oscillators, the other sample playback. Yet to listeners, they both shared some common factor that was perceived as punchiness.

Analyzing a Minimoog bass line revealed something interesting: even with the sustain set to minimum, there was about 20-30 milliseconds where the sound stayed at maximum level before the decay began. There is no way to eliminate that short period of full volume sustain; it’s part of the Minimoog’s characteristic sound.

I then looked at the DPM3’s amplitude envelope and it exhibited the same characteristic—a 20-30 ms, maximum level period of sustain before the decay kicked in. Also, both instruments had virtually instantaneous attacks. Could this combination be the secret of punch?

For comparison, I then checked two synths that nobody considered punchy-sounding: an Oberheim OB-8, which is generally characterized as “warm” and/or “fat” but not punchy, and a Yamaha TG55. Both had fixed attack times, even with the attack control set to zero, that lasted a few milliseconds. I also recalled some experiments ex-Peter Gabriel keyboard player Larry Fast ran in the mid-70s, when he was curious how fast an attack had to be for a sound to be “punchy.” His research indicated that most listeners noticed a perceptible loss of punch with attack times as short as one or two milliseconds.

So it seems the secret of punch is that you need an extremely fast attack time, but you also need a bit of sustain time at maximum level. This sustain isn’t long enough to be perceived as sustain per se; it’s more of a psychoacoustic phenomenon.

Wondering if this same technique worked with other sounds, I took an unprocessed snare drum sound and tried to add punch by normalizing each cycle to the highest level possible for the first 20-30 milliseconds. Comparing the processed and unprocessed sounds left no doubt that the edited version had more punch.

When I designed the Minimoog Expansion Pack for Rapture, I made sure that where appropriate, the envelopes had that characteristic Moog attack (Fig. 1). Note that the second node sustains the sound for 27.5 ms. Rapture’s tight attack time and ability to create “high-resolution” envelopes made it easy to add punch.

Fig. 1: Adding the “punch” factor to a Rapture Minimoog patch. Continue reading The “Punch” Factor with Synthesizers

Summer 2009: Boost Your Sound Library At The Serious-Sounds Network

Cakewalk has teamed up with The Serious-Sounds Network to bring you a summer of endless sound-sculpting possibilities!

Over the next three months (May, June, July) we will be giving away free copies of Z3TA+ and Rapture, along with Craig Anderton’s New Electronic Guitars Expansion Pack. At the end of each month Cakewalk and Serious-Sounds will draw two lucky winners at random.

Serious-Sounds.net is a massive members-only community for music producers providing tutorials, help, and advice on the world of music production and more- all available for free!

TO BE ELIGIBLE to win the contest all you have to do is either log in or register at Serious-Sounds.net(registration is quick, free & easy) and answer a few simple questions located in the exclusive competition thread. Then simply email your answers along with your member username & number to the address provided within.

PLEASE REMEMBER: You must be a registered member at Serious-Sounds.net to view content on The Serious-Sounds Network. If you’re not already signed up, then register today!

Free Club Presets Available for Z3ta+1

Need new sounds for your mix? There’s a new library of club presets now available online for Z3TA+. Check out the video and grab the presets at Synthtopia !

Whether you’re looking for luch, warm pads, slowly evolving atmospheres, searing leads or sparkling FW sounds, Cakewalk’s Z3TA+, delivers the goods and includes hundreds of professional presets. Z3TA+ is an award-winning analog-style synthesizer with incredible sound-shaping capabilities. The exclusive bandwidth Waveshaping technology makes Z3TA+ one of the best and most respected synths in the industry.

As a complete instrument, Z3TA+ is oriented to the professional musician and sound programmer looking for uncompromised sound quality and features. Z3TA+ ships with DWi, VST, and stand-alone versions.

Producer Wyshmaster Finds Niche in Hip-Hop and R&B

After 7 years of dedication and focus, Wyshmaster is finally cutting himself a new niche in the hip-hop and R&B worlds for his ferociously unique beats; and Cakewalk is at the forefront of his game. Most recently, Wysh has been busy creating music for The Lonely Island -“I’m on a Boat” feat. T-Pain (as heard on Saturday Night Live), Jeremy Greene – “Rain” feat. Bossman, and Nelly – “U Ain’t Him” feat. Rick Ross on the Brass Knuckles album.

“I primarily use Cakewalk synths because they give me the power to create unique sounds. With so many people in the game now, you have to choose your tools wisely so you don’t sound like every other cat. That’s what Cakewalk and SONAR do for me, they allow me to create and sound how I want to sound.” – Wyshmaster

New Electronic Band: Lal Meri Hits Primetime TV

Carmen Rizzo’s new electronic band, Lal Meri, released their self-entitled debut album through Six Degrees Records on February 17th. The release features 11 tracks, including two remixes by Carmen Rizzo and Morgan Page. Carmen, Rosey Kaye and Ireesh Laal, found early success with the new album, as their track “Sweet Love” has earned two placements on primetime TV, on the CBS show “Shark” and the ABC show “Samantha Who”.

Carmen Rizzo uses Cakewalk’s soft-synths Rapture and Dimension Pro to produce his projects.

See his Artist Spotlight feature here.

A Weekend at NAMM: In Pictures

As the Cakewalk team slowly settles back to earth after an epic weekend, we’ll be posting more and more footage from our weekend in Anaheim, California. Here are a few images from the conference that say it all:’Come together’ to educate and create great music!

More photos will be posted to our FlickR account in the coming days.