Welcome to a new series of articles in which we look at Live’s fabulous Analog synth and explore techniques and tips aimed at patch creation and enhancing your workflow. We will look at each section of the synth and explore the majority of its features. It is expected through the series that you have a basic understanding of synthesis and you are familiar with the basic layout of Analog. We start today with the Oscillator section and during our journey we will make some classic patches.
The oscillator section of any synth provides the raw harmonics that shape your sound. Analog gives us many options and offers a great deal of flexibility. Let’s begin by setting up routing within the Quick Routing options found inside the Global Section:
The bottom left hand corner button allows you to configure a classic mono synth architecture. This routing feeds both Oscillators into Filter 1 and Amp 1, disabling Filter 2 and Amp 2 and mimics the architecture that can be found on many popular mono synths such as the Roland SH 5 and the Moog MiniMoog Model D.
Next, lets spice up Oscillator 2 and make a classic saw bass sound. By default, both Oscillators should be set to a sawtooth wave – a great choice for bass sounds. Select Oscillator 2 and the display showcases the Pitch Mod and Pitch Env parameters. The first trick is to adjust the Detune parameter of Oscillator 2 as this helps create a sense of width. A setting somewhere between 20 – 30 cents sounds good. Next, adding a small amount of pitch modulation via the Pitch Env Initial parameter gives us a more interesting timbre. Try small amounts – some where between 30 -40% sound good. Disabling Oscillator 2 (via the yellow button marked Osc1) helps you to hear the pitch modulation more clearly. When your done don’t forget to re-enable Oscillator 1!
By now you should have a raspy bass sound. To make it more suitable for a bass line let’s tweak the Filter. As we are using the classic mono synth architecture that feeds both Oscillators into Filter 1, we only need to adjust the cutoff frequency of Filter 1. We will explore filters in much more detail in a future episode, but for now leave the Filter set to LP24 (a Low-pass 24dB/oct response) and the Reso (Resonance) control set to 0%. The Freq control adjusts the filters cutoff frequency and represents the position in Hz of the filters slope. Try a setting of 100 Hz. You now have the classic saw bass sound heard on countless House records, often made using the famous Roland SH 101 synth:
This patch sounds cool but it could have a bit more bite to help it poke through in a mix. Click on the Global section (on the far right hand side) to show their parameters in the display. To mimic a true mono synth adjust the Voices parameter (inside the Keyboard section of the display) to Mono. Analog will no longer play chords. The Gli switch turns the glide effect on or off. This makes the pitch slide between notes, an effect also known as portamento. Enable Gli and set somewhere between 30-40%. In true synth pop style, try playing an octave bass line and you should hear the notes slide up and down in pitch. For extra girth, enable Unison mode via the Uni switch and set somewhere between 30 – 40%. This stacks multiple voices together each with a tuning variation. Within the Keyboard section of the display, the Voices chooser allows you to select between 2 or 4 stacked voices. Set to taste but 4 may be too rich! You should now have a detuned unison sound with glide, reminiscent of a classic bass patch from the Roland Juno 106 as heard on many 90’s Techno tracks by the likes of Joey Beltram:
Finally adjust the Volume parameter within the Global section to increase the signal set to Live’s mixer. This should help in balancing the bass patch against other elements in a mix. Somewhere around 4dB should help with headroom.
￼We will explore some more oscillator modulation tips and create a lead patch.
Many oscillators offer a myriad of wave-shapes and Analog is no exception. Last time we used the sawtooth wave-shape to create a bass patch. Analog also offers a rectangular wave-shape (also known as square or pulse) and this can be used to create another classic synthesis technique known as pulse width modulation that’s great for leads:
Set Osc 1 and Osc 2’s shape chooser to rectangular.
- Lets transpose Osc 1 down an octave by setting its Octave setting to -1.
We have an independent volume control of each oscillator available via the
slider on the left hand side. Let’s lower the volume of Osc 2 to around -8.0 dB. This now gives us a better mix between the two oscillators.
Lets now tweak the properties of the rectangular wave-shapes:
- Click anywhere inside Osc 1 to select Osc 1 and in the parameter display we can see that the Pulse Width parameter is enabled. This allows you to change the pulse width of the waveform.
- Set Osc 1’s Pulse Width to 10%.
6. Click anywhere inside Osc 2 to select Osc 2.
7. Adjust its Pulse Width parameter to 90%. These parameters adjust the
symmetry of the rectangular wave-shape (also known as duty cycle) and we are using values that are at opposite settings deliberately.
Adapting the duty cycle of the rectangular wave-shapes can be used to create some rich harmonics – a technique known as pulse width modulation. In the picture below you can see how adapting the duty cycle actually changes the symmetry of the pulse wave within the oscillator. It gets even more spicy if we modulate this parameter!
To enable the modulation, we need to setup both of Analog’s two LFOs and route them to each of the oscillator’s pulse width:
- Select the LFO section on the far right hand side.
- Enable LFO 1 via its switch.
- Enable LFO 2 via its switch.
- Set the rate of LFO 1 to 0.5 Hz.
- Set the rate of LFO 2 to 1.0 Hz. Using values that are not the same will create an interesting sweep.
There’s a lot more we can do to the LFO settings to create interesting modulations, but more on that in another episode!
The next step is to route each of the LFO’s outputs into the Pulse Width of the rectangular waves in each oscillator to create the actual modulation:
13. Click anywhere inside Osc 1 to select Osc 1.
14. In the parameter display set the LFO 1 amount to 1.00.
Let’s setup Osc 2’s modulation:
- Click anywhere inside Osc 2 to select Osc 2.
- In the parameter display set the LFO 2 amount to -1.00.
Note we are again using values that are at opposite settings deliberately as this should create an interesting timbre:
Trigger your patch and you should hear a sound that has some harmonic movement provided by our Pulse Width Modulation. Try setting both the Pulse Width LFO amounts to 0 to hear the difference. Don’t forget to switch them back!
The final part of the puzzle is to add another classic synth technique known as Oscillator Sync. This is great to create cutting leads and can be heard on many famous tracks. Vince Clarke was a fan of this technique and used it to good measure on many of the early Depeche Mode and Erasure songs via his Sequential Circuits Pro One monosynth.
- Click anywhere inside Osc 1 to select Osc 1.
- In the parameter display set Mode to Sync. This enables Hard Sync –the oscillator’s waveform is restarted by an internal oscillator whose frequency is set by the Ratio slider.
- Set the Ratio for Osc 1 to 30%:
Time to set oscillator 2:
20. Click anywhere inside Osc 2 to select Osc 2. 21. In the parameter display set Mode to Sync.
22. Set the Ratio for Osc 2 to 30%.
This means both oscillators will start their cycles in phase, which produces a more cutting sound. About 30% on each sounds good but feel free to experiment with each oscillator’s ratio and set to taste.
You should now have a classic cutting sync lead patch that features pulse width modulation!
In our next instalment we explore Analog’s filter section to create a set of unique synth sounds. Enjoy.