When our friends at Future Music magazine compiled a list of the 40 greatest synth sounds of all time in 2008, it was nothing if not controversial. Inevitably, some iconic tones failed to make the cut, but few would deny that the majority of the sounds that were included have attained classic status.
Now, for the first time, we can present the full list complete with analysis, audio and advice on how to go about replicating many of these sounds yourself. Read on, be inspired and then go and create a great patch of your own.First up: Goldfrapp's Mellotron classic, Utopia...
Our first sound is a much-loved preset. From the world’s first ‘sampler,’ no less. The Mellotron is all over rock classics from The Beatles to Bowie but we’ve selected a more recent (but definitely classic) airing to highlight one of the most used presets of all time.
Utopia features the Mellotron sound ‘Choir 3’ in the chorus section and outro of the song, and is a huge exciting feature of the track.
Listen: Goldfrapp - Utopia
How to get the sound
If you’re not in the mood for spending money, there are a few things you can try on your existing sample library to dirty them up, Mellotron style. Firstly, the Mellotron is a tinny yet powerful-sounding beast. EQ your choir parts to remove any frequencies below 200Hz and above 2kHz. Next, play your choir patch through a tape saturation plug-in, such as PSP’s VintageWarmer. Gently detune individual notes in your patch for that authentic (and awkward) mechanical sound.