In this tutorial we’ll create a huge club-worthy synth lead
used in many popular hip hop and dance tracks. This is an essential, useful
sound that can be the basis for other lead synth sounds as well. I’m using Massive in this tutorial but you can
achieve this sound by following along and layering a lot of detuned sawtooth
waves from any combination of synths. Check out the audio file and hear it for yourself:
Step 1 Setup
Let’s start with one saw wave. From Massive’s default sound, I kept Oscillator 1 exactly where it is, except I turned the Wavetable-position all the way to the right to make it pure saw. If I turned it to the left, it would have been a square wave, and if I left it where it is, it would have been a mixture of saw and square.
Step 2 More Saws
Next, we could set the other oscillators to match exactly, or we could layer different types of sawtooth waves for character. I set Oscillator 2 to Square-Saw II, with the Wavetable turned all the way right. I also set Oscillator 3 to Additiv I, with the Wavetable-position at about 2 o’ clock. Feel free to try out different types of oscillators, but use any knobs you have to find a saw-like setting.
Step 3 Detune
We’ll get a huge step closer to our sound by detuning the oscillators. I usually leave one oscillator in tune, but then I tune the second oscillator up and the third oscillator down. You also may want to add a low-pass filter to remove some of the harshness in the sound. If you’re using Massive, be sure to route the oscillators to just the first filter.
Step 4 Unison
Next, we’ll double our saw waves by entering “2” in the Unisono feature on the Voice tab. Activate the Pitch Spread feature, and move the slider to taste. If you’re using a synth without a Unison feature, just copy the entire synth and detune the two copies differently. Turn up the white noise oscillator to make the sound more blistering, but send that noise to the lowpass filter so it blends in better with the rest of the sound.
Step 5 Vibrato
To make the synth sound emotional and desperate, link an LFO to the pitch of Oscillator 1 (or any oscillator). I went with a depth of 0.50, and set the LFO speed to a very fast rate.
Step 6 Chorus and Reverb
Lastly, to give the sound even more modulation, put on any chorus effect at roughly a 60-40 dry/wet mix. Finish off with a medium-sized reverb to give the sound space.
Author Bio: Sean Duncan is an electronic music producer and freelance writer from Seattle, WA.
banner image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/studioroosegaarde/2922364796/