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Synth Secrets is a series of programming tutorials in which we show how to make a range of classic and new synth sounds using plugins such as Massive, Sylenth and Predator.
In this walkthrough we’ll look at how to create a classic uplifting supersaw patch in Sylenth. Although any poly synth (soft or hard) will be capable of this type of sound, Sylenth really has an edge here due to its per-oscillator voice stacking, detune and panning capabilities.
Here’s the MIDI we’ve used. It’s important you play chords with this type of sound to get that uplifting vibe, so make sure you don’t attempt this with a mono synth.
Open up an instance of Sylenth and select Init Preset from the drop-down menu in the centre section so we have a blank slate to work with. Oscillator A1 is set to a sawtooth by default, which is perfect for our needs. Click and drag up on the box next to Voices, bringing it all the way up to 8, and then take the detune control to just before half way, as shown. This detunes the pitch of the voices, creating a thick chorus-like effect. Also click on the box next to Retrig to turn off oscillator re-triggering – this means the sound is slightly less consistent but is also bigger, which is an adequate trade off.
In the top right of the Oscillator A1 section you’ll see C and P buttons, which allow us to copy and paste oscillator settings. Click on C, then over on Oscillator A2 click P to paste the settings from Oscillator A1 into Oscillator A2.
Keeping our focus on Oscillator A2, click and drag up on the box next to Wave to change it to the Saw setting. Tune this oscillator up an octave by clicking and dragging up in the box next to Octave until it displays +1. This makes the sound a bit sharper and brighter. Finally, drag the pan of this oscillator to the right slightly and turn the Fine control of the oscillator tuning to 0.09. Now, reverse these effects on Oscillator A1, by panning the oscillator to the left slightly and bringing down the Fine control down to -0.09. The panning adds width and the subtle pitch detuning adds more warmth and thickness.
Now let’s maximise Sylenth’s other oscillators to get the biggest sound we can. Copy the oscillator settings from Oscillator A2, then click on Part B up at the top of the window. Use the P buttons to paste the oscillator settings onto oscillators B1 and B2. Bring Oscillator B1 down two octaves to -1, and bring the fine pitch to -0.09 and pan it to the left slightly. Bring Oscillator B2 down one octave to 0 and change the wave from the Saw setting to Pulse, which adds a bit more body. Now in the envelope section (Amp Env B), take the attack up slightly to 0.98 and bring up the release to 3.80, then copy and paste these envelope settings for the envelope in Part A (Amp Env A).
To fully max out the available voices in Sylenth we need to change the polyphony. In the top right corner of the synth you’ll see two boxes: Polyphony and Voices. In the voices box it should read 96/96 when we play our hook, which means all possible 96 voices are being utilised. We can increase the maximum number of voices by bringing up the Polyphony sitting. Click and drag up all the way until it reads 16. Now you should get a read out of 320/512 when the hook plays back. To hear the the difference this is making, adjust the Polyphony setting while listening back to the MIDI pattern. You can hear how much thicker and warmer the sound gets as we increase the polyphony.
Now let’s turn our attention to the filters. In Filter A click and drag up on the Filter Type box and select a low-pass filter. Take the cutoff all the way up and take the Drive control up to about a third of the way round, then copy and paste these filter settings to Filter B in Part B. Although we’re not filtering the sound here, using the drive control at the filter stage adds warmth and weight. Bring up the resonance of the master filter (titled Filter Control) to a quarter of the way round. This adds a nice touch of brightness.
Now time for some effects. In the centre panel of Sylenth, check the box next to EQ to turn on the EQ section, and click on the EQ text so we can edit the settings. Keep the Bass and Bassfreq controls as they are, but let’s push up the Treble control to three quarters of the way round, and bring down the Treblefrequency to a quarter of the way round, boosting a portion of the higher mids.
Now turn on the Reverb and Compr (compressor) effects. On the compressor, bring the attack down all the way to 0.10ms, and on the Reverb bring the Size setting down to half way. The rest of the settings for both of these effects can stay as they are. The reverb adds nice space and drama while the compression makes the sound tighter. Adjust the Main Volume slider in the mixer section until the levels are peaking at 0 to -3.
Finally, to add some brightness, we’ve added an iZotope Ozone exciter. We’ve also taken away some low frequency in the sound to allow room for the kick and bass. This is an optional step and the overall sound you’re looking for here will depend on what else you’re trying to fit into the mix. You can experiment at this stage with EQs, exciters, sidechain compression and more to get the sound you’re after.
If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.
Synth Secrets is sponsored by
u-he are makers of award-winning software synthesisers and effects including Diva, Repro-1, Zebra2, Hive, Bazille, Presswerk and Satin.
Download the demos and try them for yourself at www.u-he.com