Dirty Dubstep tutorial Day 5: Making a saw pad, stringy pad + prog housey synth
Hi, I’m Dave from boyinaband.com and welcome to day 5 of the 7 day song on Dirty Dubstep. Yesterday in day 4, we filled out the high end with some leads. Today, we’re completing the frequency spectrum with some mid-range goodness.
We’ll be making a huge trancey saw pad, a more strings-esque pad to compliment it and a kind of prog house-y punchy synth that will open up as the track gets closer to the drop. Let’s start with that Saw pad.
Combinator, name it Supersaw Pad, since adding the buzzword “super” means you’ll subliminally think it’s even better than it actually is, and add a 6:2 mixer followed by Thor.
I’ll add in some notes now.
Okay, we have a nice little progression, let’s start building the patch. Init, open up and add two multi oscillators to start with. Run them through, bring both down an octave and we’re going to thicken it up as much as possible without losing the defined pitch. We’ll do it in two ways.
First, move the AMT knob slightly up on both, changing the second to “Random 2” mode. These slightly different detune modes will provide a thicker tone.
Secondly, move the tune knob a notch either side of the central point on each oscillator – this slight detuning of the sounds is how the detune modes work in the first place, so by detuning the detuned saws, it’s thickening the thickened saws. This results in a seriously powerful sound.
However, a pad isn’t this punchy, so widen the attack and release up about 4 notches each in the amp envelope and bring the sustain to full – I like having pads that don’t lose volume over time unless you tell them to do so. If you aren’t as much of a control freak, feel free to let your pads roam wild and free, perhaps marketing them as “organic” pads so people will buy your music over non-organic music where the pads have been battery farmed.
So the pads are starting to sound more like pads, however there’s a lot of high end missing – remove the filter and that’ll open it up nicely. Still could do with some high end – fortunately, there’s a little trick I know to do this.
Turn osc 3 to a noise osc. Run it through filter 2 this time. Press the other arrow to let it into the amp envelope. It’s much too loud at the moment, so firstly add a state variable filter on high pass, bringing the freq to just below ¾, then in Thor’s mixer, bring osc 3 right down to about -20dB. Listen with and without. This just adds that airy top-end do the sound.
That’s Thor taken care of, we’ll run it through an EQ with a 1.5Q boost on 5.5khz with 7dB to really bring up the higher end, since the mids are already very prominent.
Lastly, add an RV7000 to the mixer on SpaceEcho 1 mode, Bring the decay down slightly and dial it in by about half. this will just add another echoey reverb to the sound, which makes it even bigger sounding.
There, that’s our first pad created, let’s move on to part 2 for some string-y goodness!
Now for that aformentioned string-y goodness. We’re gonna use a combinator, mixer 6:2 and some serious malstromage, since malstrom has a really nice wavetable for a gorgeous resonant overtone.
So for the forst malstrom instance, make two sawtooth*16 and detune them ever so slightly with the cent knob. Bring attack and release up to around 80 for each and run them through into filter B on band pass mode, with freq at ¼, with envelope on and the filter envelope, bring all the parameters up to match the decay, like a nice little slider reunion.
This means it takes a while for the filter to kick in, resulting in a swooshy kind of sound.
Now, we’ll make a duplicate of that instance of reason, this time to really widen the sound with some resonant noise. So we need a wavetable that has that kind of a tone… ah, ResonantNoise, that’s horrendously convenient.
Run one into filter A and one to Filter B, both on band pass, then turn the spread to full – this pans the different filters to either side of the stereo spectrum.
Make sure the second filter is on band pass mode and a similar freq too.
Now, let’s tie it all together – Run the mixer into Stereo Imager, solo the hi band to remove excess low end, then into an RV7000 advanced reverb, then we’ll init and make our own awesome reverb.
Algorithm to hall, size at 40m so it’s nice abdn big, diffusion at 127 so it’s smooth, then just bring up the decay and hi eq slightly to make it bigger and brighter. Dragging the dry/wet down to ¾ will result in a nice reverby wash to the sound which brings the whole patch together.
Sweet! One more to go, this time a prog-house-y punchy synth!
Let’s make this quick because all these pretty sounds are distracting me from the whole point of dirty dubstep and I feel the need to get back to destroying speakers.
Combinator, name it “Proggy Synth” and make Thor with 3 multi oscs 3 octaves apart all run through.
I’ll add in some notes…
Then let’s bring the env to 0 and the filter freq to about a quarter. Link it to rotary one and we can modulate it – sweet!
Bring the release up a tad, then Add a compressor with ¾ input gain for volume, threshold down to ? and ratio at around 16:1 so there’s a nice big compression. leave the attack and bring the release right down to 0 so the tail is nice and loud, but there’s still a punchy start.
Lastly, bring up the output gain as loud as you can without it clipping.
This is a very simple synth and we’re just using it for one note to build some tension, I’ll talk about the notes more tomorrow, but see what else you can do with it – adding some light distortion can be quite effective with this synth too, but I wanted to keep it clean for a cool contrast from this synth to the drop.
And there we have it! A saw pad bigger than Kanye West’s Id, a string pad more stringy than a badly cooked steak, and a simple synth more simple and effective than those people who insist on leaving the word “first” as their first comment in order to ensure people know it’s the first comment.
Join me tomorrow for day 6, where I’ll explore some FX, talk about arranging the song, then explain the theory and thinking behind my choices of notes and rhythms. See you then, my homeslices!