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How to use the Simple synth

The Simple synth is a straightforward and easy-to-use polyphonic software synthesizer and one of Soundation’s Virtual instruments. Polyphonic means you can play multiple notes at the same time, which makes it great for chords. It features 4 selectable oscillators, a noise oscillator, an amp envelope, a filter, and a filter envelope.

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  • Glass piano
  • Chime pad

What is a synthesizer?

A synthesizer (or synth) is an electronic instrument. There are different types but the most common type uses what’s called subtractive synthesis. This is when you start with basic waveforms and use filters to remove frequencies and shape the timbre.

Subtractive synthesis is also what was used on the first analog synthesizers like the Minimoog. Analog synths use analog circuits and signals to produce their sounds.

In the modern age, we can do this digitally. All you need is a computer and a software synthesizer like the Simple synth. The original subtractive workflow has stuck for good reasons, it makes it fairly easy to do sound design and create pleasing sounds.

Adding Simple synth presets [Beginner]

  1. 1
    Open Soundation and create a project
  2. 2
    Click on Virtual instruments in the Sound library
  3. 3
    Search for “Simple synth”
  4. 4
    Drag in a preset to the Arrangement area
  5. 5
    Start playing or drawing in notes

Making Simple synth sounds [Pro]

  1. 1
    Open Soundation and create a project
  2. 2
    Click on Add channel and add an Instrument channel
  3. 3
    Click on Edit Simple synth in the Bottom panel
  4. 4
    Start tweaking the settings to your liking

Oscillator 1-4

There are 4 oscillators that each produce a waveform at a certain pitch. These can be combined in various ways to create different types of sounds.

Waveforms

A waveform is a raw audio signal. The waveforms you can choose from are Saw, Square, Sine, and Triangle.

The difference between them is the harmonics. The harmonics of a sound is what gives it its tone and character. The Sine-wave has no harmonics and is the simplest and softest waveform. The Triangle-wave has some harmonics, the Square-wave has even more, and the Saw-wave has the most harmonics which results in a bright and rich sound.

Volume

Volume lets you control the loudness of the individual oscillators. Turn the volume all the way down if you want to disable an oscillator.

Pitch

Pitch adjusts the pitch of each oscillator in a range of -24 to +24 semitones.

Most of the time, you only want to change to a different octave. This means it will play the same note but in a higher or lower register. For this, you should stick to 0, -12, -24, +12, and +24 semitones. For a bass, you might want to drop the pitch down 1 or 2 octaves (-12 and -24) and for a lead, you might want to pitch it up 1 or 2 octaves (+12 and +24).

Detune

Detune lets you fine-tune the pitch of each oscillator in a range of -100 to +100 cents. This is commonly used to tune two or more oscillators away slightly from each other (+/- 10 cents or less) to create a thicker sound.

Noise

The Noise oscillator generates white noise (random frequencies over the whole spectrum). This sounds kind of like TV-static and can be used to add some extra texture, hiss, or dirt to your synth sound.

Volume

Volume lets you control the loudness of the noise. Turn the volume all the way down if you want to disable the noise.

Color

Color controls the tone of the noise from dark to bright.

Amp envelope

The Amp envelope controls the shape and movement of the amplitude (loudness). It’s a standard ADSR envelope, which stands for Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release. You can adjust it to create anything from short plucks to long growing pads.

Attack

Attack is the amount of time it takes for the amplitude to reach the maximum level from when the note starts. Set it low for a fast attack that works well for plucks. Set it high for a slow attack that works well for pads.

Decay

Decay is the amount of time it takes to move from the maximum amplitude to the Sustain amplitude. Set it low for a fast plucky sound and high for a slower descent. If the Sustain is all the way up, the Decay will not make a difference.

Sustain

Sustain is the amplitude level for when a note is being held out. Set it low for a sound that doesn’t sustain, which is good for plucks. Set it high for a sustained sound, which is good for pads.

Release

Release is the amount of time it takes for the amplitude to drop to silence after the note has ended. Set it low if you want the note to go away quickly, which is good for plucks. Set it high if you want the note to continue to ring out, which is good for pads.

Filter

The Filter in Simple synth is a low-pass filter which means it only lets through the frequencies under the Cutoff point. The Filter is used to shape the timbre of the synth.

Cutoff

The frequencies above the Cutoff point will be filtered away. This means you can control the tone by changing the Cutoff position. Decrease the Cutoff to darken the tone, increase the Cutoff to brighten the tone.

Resonance

Turn up the Resonance to increase the emphasis around the Cutoff point. This creates a ringing, whistling, or vocal quality.

Filter envelope

The Filter envelope works in relation to the Filter. The settings are similar to that of the Amp envelope but instead of controlling the amplitude, it controls the Cutoff of the Filter. The Filter envelope lets you further shape your sound and is great to create more movement and interesting tones.

Attack

Attack is the amount of time it takes for the Cutoff to reach the Intensity level from when the note starts. Set it low for a fast attack that works well for plucks. Set it high for a slow attack that works well for pads.

Decay

Decay is the amount of time it takes to move from the Intensity level to the Sustain level. Set it low for a fast plucky sound and high for a slower descent. If the Sustain is all the way up, the Decay will not make a difference.

Sustain

Sustain is the Cutoff level for when a note is being held out. Set it low for a sound that doesn’t sustain, which is good for plucks. Set it high for a sustained sound, which is good for pads.

Release

Release is the amount of time it takes for the Cutoff to drop to the original Cutoff level after the note has ended. Set it low if you want the note to go away quickly, which is good for plucks. Set it high if you want the note to continue to ring out, which is good for pads.

Intensity

Intensity is how much the Filter envelope affects the Cutoff level. Set it low if you don’t want much movement to the Filter Cutoff. Set it high if you want a lot of movement to the Filter Cutoff.

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