Introduction to Music Production: Lesson 6 Assignment

Introduction

Hi there! My name is Francis G. Loch and I am from Glasgow, Scotland. This lesson is for week 6 of Introduction to Music Production at Coursera.org. In this lesson I will be comparing the user interfaces of four different synthesisers, specifically the oscillator, filter, amplifier, envelope and LFO (low frequency oscillator) sections of each.

The synthesisers being compared are Synapse Audio’s Dune, Native Instruments’ Massive, Spectrasonics’ Omnisphere and Lennar Digital’s Sylenth 1. The images below show the typical interfaces for each synthesiser. Please note that the images may be enlarged by clicking on them.

Dune

Massive

Omnisphere

Sylenth 1

Despite each synthesiser looking quite different, they all share the same basic building blocks or modules for producing sounds.

Oscillator

The oscillator is the first of the modules which produces the initial sound in the synthesiser chain. Each synthesiser has a similar set of parameters for creating the initial sound such as selecting the type of waveform used, e.g. sawtooth, sine or square wave.

Here are the sections of each synthesiser that deal with configuring the oscillators.

Dune

Massive

Omnisphere

Sylenth 1

In Synlenth 1, there are two banks of oscillators which can be accessed by clicking the part select buttons at the top.

Filter

Next is the filter module which will filter the sound coming from the oscillator(s). Again, each synthesiser will have a similar set of parameters for configuring the filter such as setting the type of filter (e.g. a low pass filter), cutoff frequency and amount of resonance.

Dune

 Massive

Omnisphere

Sylenth 1

In Sylenth 1, in addition to each oscillator bank having its own filter, there is also a common filter control.

sylenth1_filter_b

Amplifier

By itself, the amplifier module will only adjust the level of the sound, but if used in conjunction with envelopes or LFOs the amplification can be manipulated for various effects (more on this later).

Dune

Massive

Omnisphere

Sylenth 1

Envelope

The next module is the envelope. Envelopes can affect parameters such as the filter or amplifier by applying an ADSR (attack time, decay time, sustain level and release time) envelope to the sound.

As with the other modules, each synthesiser will have the same or similar parameters to each other.

Dune
Massive

Omnisphere

Sylenth 1
LFO

The LFO is the last of the modules on the list. LFOs do not create any sounds by themselves, but instead can be used to control and manipulate other parameters to affect the sound. Examples are controlling the panning to make the sound travel between the left and right speakers, controlling the pitch to add a vibrato effect or controlling the volume to add a tremolo effect.

Again, there are similarities between the parameters of each synthesiser such as the type of waveform and rate.

Dune

Massive

Omnisphere

Sylenth 1

Reflection

This assignment turned out to be a lot tougher than I was expecting, and I have probably found this week of the course to be the most difficult.

Whilst writing this assignment, I found trying to find out where some of the parameters were in the four synthesisers quite difficult. Things like the oscillators I found were well labelled, but some other parameters were sometimes not so well labelled or hidden behind other menus so that I had to hunt about for them.

Creating sounds from scratch is still very much of a dark art for me, but I am hoping that this will be the first step, and that with more time and practice I will be able to produce sounds of my own in the future that sound a bit better than just a distorted sawtooth waveform.

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Homepage of Francis G. Loch's various projects

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