VS 19: Padsynth

Hello. For the last couple of sound design posts I’ve been focusing away from CDP a bit and featuring other great Renoise tools, Morphsynth & Offline Filter. So keeping up with that trend, I figured this week would be a good time to introduce another fantastic Renoise instrument, Padsynth. (Check out the forum thread to update it for R3.) Padsynth is an additive sound generator that’s capable of making pad-like sustained sounds which flow smoothly. The sounds you can generate out of it work great in Renoise instruments where you can apply volume envelopes, filters and so forth.

So without further ado, here’s how my padsynth setup looks like. This is basically a couple of harmonics on top of fundamental frequency. The “spread” settings detune the harmonics a little to give the sound a smooth movement. You can also mess with the harmonic placement further using the “placement” parameters but I didn’t need to in this case. When trying to come up with sounds you can use “generate test note” which generates a shorter test sample quickly, and once you like what you hear you can go ahead and generate full samples using the “generate all samples” button. Anyhow, these settings generate a sound like this:

Nothing groundbreaking yet but it’s still pretty cool. Next I want to share another cool trick I’ve recently discovered, using phrases + note randomizer tool to generate chords. It works like this: I make a new phrase and add 4 notes consisting of one 3rd octave note, two 4th octave notes and a 5th octave note. It looks something like this. Notes are irrelevant but what this gives me is a simple voicing template to base the randomly generated chords on. Next I run the note randomizer tool with these settings. That randomizes the notes in the phrase but preserves their octaves. And I keep hitting randomize while listening to the phrase until I hear a harmony I like. For this example I ended up with this chord which sounds like this:

By the way this method also works pretty well for generating all sorts of chord progressions. All you need to do is making one note phrases for a few keys and randomizing them using the tool until they sound good in a progression/rhythm. Definitely give that a try!

Next, time to dress up our chord. This involves a volume envelope adding a smooth fade in & out. It then runs through a bandpass filter where I sweep the cutoff down slightly with an envelope. The biggest movement comes from resonance envelope however, which seems to work more like a bandwidth control in this case. As you can hear the sound gets brighter & fuller as the bandwidth goes up. There’s also some reverb & delay to make things more blurry.

Final step for the pad portion of the sound is rendering it down and playing it back as a 2-note chord (D#4-G4) This makes the harmony more complex and the reverb also gets transposed which always seems to sound nice.

This is a pretty ok pad sound in my opinion but I sometimes like layering something extra on top of it to give it a bit more interest. There are many ways for doing it but we need a sound first, obviously. I randomly picked this out of my library. It’s probably a CDP sound I’ve made earlier:

To get it into shape, I want to get some kind of a phrase out of it. And for that I’m using… phrases! Which looks like this. This kind of setup basically gives me a random ping pong-ish loop where I can set the speed or length using the LPB and the position by using a sliced note. (Notice how I use C#4 note. This way I can use the first slice marker in the sample editor to control the playback position of the loop.) So this configuration, played back 13 semitones higher, coupled with a basic volume envelope sounds like this:

Finally, all left to do is bringing 2 sounds together. I also needed to fade in a delay on the 2nd layer to smoothen the fade out a little:

There you go. I probably did a bit of EQ’ing and compression on the final sound but that’s minor stuff. This is pretty much it.

And that’s all. I hope you like this week’s sounds and ideas. Let me know what you think!


(Image by Nik Gaffney.)