The key to working real size, density and motion into any synthesised pad sound lies in oscillator layering and modulation.
By stacking multiple source signals, the tonal range of a patch becomes expansive and frequency-rich, while getting those oscillators moving independently imbues the whole sound with movement and dynamism.
In this tutorial, we'll show you how to build a rich, evocative ambient texture using one of the most stackable synths around: VPS Avenger.
For many more power synth programming walkthroughs, get hold of the May edition of Future Music.
Step 1: Many modern synths let you pile up multiple oscillators, combine synthesis types and dial in uber-thick unison features. To demonstrate, we’ll create a complex ambient pad with Vengeance-Sound’s insanely powerful VPS Avenger. We start by triggering the synth with a basic C minor triad.
Step 2: Let’s set up the first oscillator as the core evolving element of the pad. After dialling in some ultra-thick five-voice unison detune, we audition the synth’s wavetable oscillators, settling on an organ-style wavetable. A free-running LFO is used to modulate the wavetable index for a constantly evolving timbre.
Step 3: Next, a contrasting wavetable type is called up as the second oscillator. A different free-running LFO - this time set to a more jagged curve shape - slowly modulates this oscillator’s wavetable index. The same LFO also modulates this oscillator’s level for more motion.
Step 4: A third, sine wave oscillator is then used to provide basic solidity and consistency in the low-mids. After that, we program a fourth wavetable oscillator via the synth’s tempo-synced step sequencer, to provide a rhythmic ‘blip’ pattern that rides above the floatier elements.
Step 5: Let’s add further movement. The jagged LFO from Step 3 is used to modulate the sequenced oscillator’s FM amount, which gently morphs the rhythmic blips in and out of a state of inharmonic noise for added high-end texture. The same LFO also subtly wobbles the overdriven low-pass filter cutoff.
Step 6: Finally, we call upon Avenger’s plentiful effects for a splash of character: the Vinylizer module mixes in vinyl crackle and noise; Chorus adds swimming width; a Bitcrusher fades in treble fuzz and grit; and some ping-pong Delay injects ambience and lush repeats.