Categorizing Synthesizers

Hey guys, I've been spinning my wheels a lot lately and was just hoping to get some good opinion/maybe some help. I'm sure I'm not the first to notice that the synthesizer world is just completely screwed up. It's pure chaos!

For example, If I say, think of a trumpet, or think of a violin, any person even slightly familiar with music will be able to imagine the sound in their head, but if I say, think of a "thug nasty", or an "Unlucky Women" synth, no one is going to know what I'm talking about in the slightest.

The reason this whole problem has became an issue for me is that a lot of times, I hear music in my head, and when I hear random synthesizers, I have no way of writing down a decent sound description which would help me to remember it next time I look at my paper.

So, what I've set out to do is try and figure out some way to begin to break down the different timbre's of synthesizers and try and label them in some way that I could get them into some sort of category or atleast a general instrumental family (made up of course since they wouldn't fit the concepts of brass or woodwind or the like). Anyways, im really wondering if anyone else ever met this problem, figured out a work around, is interested in figuring it out, has any opinions on it in general, or really has any input at all lol. I've managed to break down synths a little bit, ill write down some of what I think I've figured out below very briefly.

I'll start by saying I've found one of the primary tones of a synth to be how smooth or sharp the sound is. To anyone who knows synths at all, squares, triangles, and sine waves are all basically what I would call smooth. Sawtooths are more on the opposite side being of rough or sharp quality. It basically is a spectrum, like so

Smooth ----------Rough-----------Sharp

(I would place Sawtooth more at the rough side than the sharp).

Anyways! Sorry for the lengthy post, hope someone finds this interesting or maybe even has something to add! haha

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Replies

  • Ray,

    Hey man that Alchemy player is pretty cool, I'm definitely gonna take a look at that. But what I mean is, sure I haven't came across a synthesizer that doesn't have a system of organization on it. But the organization isn't very clear. I mean descriptions like pad, lead synth, or arp synth are useful in having a general sense in the usage of the synth, but its not very specific in terms of the sound. Among lead synths you could find square based synths, saw based synths, and all the multitudes of wave forms that exist. Just like you could make a pad synth based on strings, or on horns. They're both pads, but the sound is going to be drastically different. There must be some way to make the distinction between the sounds themselves clearer. Haha I know what im talking about seems pretty near impossible seeing as synths could potentially have an infinite number of tones, but I feel like it could be done

  • maybe it could. but is there any point to that? If you have patches for a synth you'll propably listen to all of them sometime anyway, you'll know what you have, you know where to look. 

    Plus, with a low pass filter, boom, the harsh sound became smooth. add the LFO options, the filter automations, fm modulation, any effects each has, and you've got a whole new chaos. The heart of a synth is a VCO, but there is so much more to it. 

    My opinion is that you should pick a synth, free or commercial, and start learning it. It's potentials, how to assign LFOs and envelopes, how each waveform and unique filter it may have sounds. And then go on creating the sound you need. Start simple, duplicate classic sounds (like the classic hardstyle/trancy lead, a bell, a bass and so on), and then move on to crafting the sound you have in your head. 

    I have been using massive for some time now and I find it very powerfull, even though it has some flaws, with incredible automation capabilities and many, many available waveforms. I remember using Zebra once, a speacial version free with a magasine or something, it also was very powerfull. You could, among others, route stuff anyway you want, and that's pretty cool. Also, a modular synth VST can also be great (there is a moog modular plug in out there), but rather hard to learn at first (yes, you connect cables on the vst window. pretty cool, huh).

    I have also used Vanguard quite a lot and I remember I liked it (and there are tons of libraries for it). Never got to making patches with it though.


    Vance Palacio said:

    Ray,

    Hey man that Alchemy player is pretty cool, I'm definitely gonna take a look at that. But what I mean is, sure I haven't came across a synthesizer that doesn't have a system of organization on it. But the organization isn't very clear. I mean descriptions like pad, lead synth, or arp synth are useful in having a general sense in the usage of the synth, but its not very specific in terms of the sound. Among lead synths you could find square based synths, saw based synths, and all the multitudes of wave forms that exist. Just like you could make a pad synth based on strings, or on horns. They're both pads, but the sound is going to be drastically different. There must be some way to make the distinction between the sounds themselves clearer. Haha I know what im talking about seems pretty near impossible seeing as synths could potentially have an infinite number of tones, but I feel like it could be done

    Categorizing Synthesizers
    Hey guys, I've been spinning my wheels a lot lately and was just hoping to get some good opinion/maybe some help. I'm sure I'm not the first to notic…
  • massive's library works like omnisphere's (with more options on the synthesis type and sound kind and not the gerne) and personally I like this method.

    But the "arp", "bass" and so on method somewhat obscures the fact that a patch can become an arp from a lead or a lead become a bass and so on, very easily. For me you just need to know your instruments and the rest come easily in most systems of categorisation.

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