Beautiful, lush, warm, authentic, vintage, creamy… There are a lot of adjectives one can use to describe that wonderful, sought-after analog tone we all love. Fortunately for you, there are ways to make that happen without having to break the bank on a Moog.
This week, Fabio from Noize takes us through the steps of how to get analog synth sounds using free plug ins. You can find a list of these plugins (with links) down at the bottom.
And also, don’t forget about our monthly giveaway! You could win $500 worth of studio equipment just by commenting down below with what your favorite free plugin is and what you use it on.
First, we’d like to mention that there’s a link to the project in the video description, along with all the plugins Fabio will be using, so if you want to get your hands on it, you know where to go.
But for now, let’s let Fabio show us how it’s done.
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Valhalla Supermassive – How to Get Analog Synth Sounds
The first plugin we’ll play with is a reverb/delay. It’s kind of funky and weird, and it adds a lot of character to your sounds. Here it’s being used a little more as reverb versus delay, and the setting being used is called “massive vocal” in “reverbs medium,” and you’ll make any adjustments as needed.
Here the mix is at about 50%, and we’re also going to bring down the low filter, which cuts out some of the lows without cutting them too much, same as with the high frequencies.
Chow Tape Model
Next, we’re using this tape emulation plugin by Chow Tape Model. So, we know it may not be the best-looking plugin out there, but it sounds pretty amazing for two simple reasons: “Flutter” and “Wow.” Two key components in how to get analog synth sounds into your mix.
Both of these add a sort-of random pitch modulation. What’s cool about pitch modulation is that it emulates what old oscillators used to do due to inconsistent voltage, making the pitch go ever-so-slightly in and out of tune. Overdo it just a tad, and it’ll give you that fun, wonky sound.
Origin Vintage, by Cymatics
Now to get a bit of a warmer sound. The Origin Vintage plugin filter does quite a lot here. It’s got saturation, a reel-to-reel tape hiss simulator, chorus, and a movement dial which is like a panning flanger phaser. It also has a high pass filter, but we’re turning it off to remove some of the brittleness of the higher frequencies. Also, try adding in a little saturation.
You’ll lose a little bit of volume and high frequencies, and there’s a little bit of low end that’s been added through the saturation, so we’re going to want to remove that and then boost the high frequencies ever so slightly, plus the overall gain of the channel.
The bassline here was created with the stock synth from Logic, the Retro Synth. We took the anti-matter synth preset and edited it just a bit. We brought the cutoff down, changed the filter envelope, and added a bit more of the envelope generator. It’s already a great sound, but it needs to be a little thicker, fatter, warmer.
We start with the compressor to control the dynamics a bit, essentially to control the punch, fast attack, medium release, and a ratio of eight. Basically, you can apply these settings to pretty much any bass line and they’ll sound great. Just bring the threshold down and look for a little bit of compression (but not too much). This will help control the punch and add some sustain.
Kolin, by Analog Obsession
Want to add a little character? Look no further than Kolin, another great, free plugin at your disposal. We’ll drive this compressor to try and get some tube saturation out of it. Adjust the output level, and then dial back the wet mix so we can have some of the dry plus the newly-affected sound.
You can definitely hear that bit of grit that the tube saturation is adding, along with a tone that is a little squelchy. That warmth is a critical element in how to get analog synth sounds in your mix.
The Saturator, by Bedroom Producers Blog
This is a tube and tape saturator in one, with a high-pass filter and a low-pass filter. This is pretty much everything you’ll need to add in some tasty distortion. After all, saturation is essentially distortion.
As you can surely hear, it’s added a lot of grit and high frequencies, but you can always utilize the low-pass filter to bring some of that out. As you’ll notice, it now sounds a lot warmer, denser, and a lot more interesting.
For the finishing touches, we’ve added some linear phase EQ to roll off a bit of the low end and to boost one of the lower, more “subby” notes, as well as a compressor which is side-chaining to the kick.
Now, let’s talk pads. Starting off again, we’re using the Origin Plugin by Cymatics, and shaving off some of those high frequencies, adding a bit of saturation. This gives it a nice, warmer tone.
OTT, by Xfer
It’s likely that many of you are already aware of this one, and we’re using it here for the upward compression to increase the sustain of the sound and to add a few of the higher frequencies that Origin took away.
If you love synthesizers (nod “yes”), then you’re likely familiar with the Juno-106. This is a great, vintage 80s synth that was pretty famous, especially for its chorus. And fortunately, TAL has created a plugin version where you can select not one, but both of the choruses individually or at the same time.
This plugin gives us a beautiful, lush, vintage-y sound. And to finish it off, we’ve side-chained it to the kick.