5 Advance Sound Design Tips
The Synth Manual
Yes this is an advance technique! Many manuals go into detail about their synthesis methods, design and functions which can be overwhelming for new synth users. We seriously recommend you give the synth manual some time. Did you realise U-he Diva had a function that enables you to output the mathematical product of two different modulation sources? And how would that influence the sound if you used it? It’s little features like this that’ll help raise your synth game from good to godlike.
Noise as a feature
Often overlooked, noise can add some useful harmonics to sounds, making them sound fuller, thicker, nicer and generally more pleasing. It has mix benefits too, filling out the mix without having to use additional layers. White noise is ideal, good used on short plucky sounds that cut through the filter for that warm fuzzy plucky sound. Sometimes just a few notches on the dial is all that's needed. Perfectly illustrated in our preset at in the video below. You don't hear it so much as feel it. Hmm, lovely stuff.
Movement of sound
Movement of sound adds variation which adds interest to the ear. Use LFOs and other modulation sources to bring in changes in pitch, filter, pan or others to up your sound design game. With some synths such as Xfer Serum almost any parameter can be modulated from the subtle to the mind bending in modulation choices. Try applying low-med LFO rate pitch modulation to one oscillator in very small increments. You can here this in subtle action on the main SQUARE lead here. or in the extremes (high LFO rate and high depth) in the second video.
It's often typical to enable the synths additional oscillators and leave the levels where they are. Enable additional oscillators with some really different tones then drop the volume to 0 and slowly introduce it until it adds a different quality to the sound. It’s not about hearing this sound itself but more about hearing the sum of it’s parts when combined with the rest of the sound source, which can be quite different to the same OSCillator but on full volume.
Know your synth
This goes beyond reading the manual, this is about understanding your synth and using the features that are unique to that synth. Many synths for example won't include a hard sync of oscillators. Use the unique features as it will enable you to get sounds that will be difficult to reproduce on other synths. You'll then start to hone in on "your sound" and have everyone wondering "How can I sound like that!?"