VS 23: Combining Two Approaches

Hello everyone. Today, I’ll try to demonstrate how combining two simple approaches can easily create a more refined or sophisticated output. This is something I’ve noticed over time: Trying too hard inside a certain workflow can be counter-productive after some point and sometimes it’s much easier and effective to mix things up a little. The two elements I’m talking about here are the standard sampler options in Renoise and a couple simple CDP processes. So, let’s get started.

Download all samples of this post here.

The beginning sample is a short percussion sound out of a BHK samplepack. I’m a fan of working with percussive sounds as they have this neutral feel which you can somewhat preserve and influence according to your needs. Tonal stuff can be more restrictive at times. So I’m a big fan basing sounds on cymbals, bongos, snares etc. Anyways, here it is:

First step is easy. Just transposing it down an octave. This makes the sound a bit thicker:

Now it’s time to add some sustain. What I do here is setting a ping-pong loop in the sampler, playing a C4 note and manually moving the end marker so that the loop length increases over time. Unfortunately you can’t automate this in Renoise but in this case just recording what we hear is sufficient (using “Record New Sample” inside Renoise). To be able to record what you hear, you either need to have an audio interface that has a “loopback” function or you need to setup JACK (which can be quite a mission indeed). I recently got a Steinberg UR-44 that does this beautifully with a single click and I’m in love with this function for easy resampling. Here’s what the loop length automation sounds like:

To add quick flavour and movement let’s add some highpass filter and pitch automation. It won’t seem like a big deal here but it will influence the end result quite a bit. In the end I actually wasn’t a fan of the pitch movement I added but I didn’t want to redo the whole thing, besides it illustrates this well: Even small changes can take the sounds to directions that you might not always expect.

Simple enough. Normally at this point you can try doing more and more in sampler but the idea of this tutorial comes next. Switching up our guns and that means CDP time.

Blur” is a simple process that never gets old for me so it comes first. A cool trick when using it is reversing samples before you process them. This way you avoid the weird stuttery artifacts it can sometimes create when processing sounds with strong transients. Just remember to reverse the result again if you want the original composition of the input. That’s what I did here.

To keep things straightforward again, it’s time for another easy favourite: Fastconv. Fastconv is CDP convolution and you can get very fancy combining different samples at different pitches (I have a couple of those tutorials) but combining a sound with itself is often a simple and effective trick that can produce a “deeper” variant of the input sample. And it’s what happens here. But before this process I maximize the sample. The reason for that is simple: Sometimes fastconv will generate a silent output if the input sound is somewhat low in volume. Maximizing in the sample editor takes care of that problem.

Now the sound we have is pretty useable. And it’s quite different compared to the percussion in the beginning but still has that “neutral” feel I’ve talked about. I’d probably be satisfied with it normally but for the sake of the tutorial let’s take this a few steps further.

First some filtering inside CDP. This is an LFO modulated bandpass filter and I’m controlling the LFO frequency using the breakpoint editor. The breakpoint editor works with pairs. The first number is the duration and the second is the LFO rate and there are 6 rows of parameters creating the envelope in this example.

For the final step we use “repitch-transpose” which is a pitch shifting algorithm. The settings I’m using transpose the sound down an octave (transpose 0.5) without changing it’s duration and large points setting (8k) create the smooth reverb like effect.

There we go. You can do tons of different things with this sound at this moment and I just picked some random idea and went with it. The final example is cropped much shorter, reversed, transposed up a few semitones, also eq’ed, compressed and reverbed lightly:

The final step could be a bit more exciting I guess but this is an odd situation I sometimes run into for these blog posts: Lack of context. Normally when you have a track or project going on it’s much easier to evaluate sounds and pick interesting bits, but tutorials just don’t work that way. Nevertheless, I hope they manage to inspire and entertain a little bit!

All right so that’s it for this tutorial, make sure to subscribe & hit me up if you like these posts. See you around!

-Emre.

(Background image by Renaud Leon.)