How to create a crazy synth from a single sine wave using delay

null

SYNTH WEEK: When we think of delay, we usually think of echoes - sonic repeats that make a sound deeper and more involved. However, over the last decade and a half, delay plugins have become far more comprehensive processors than they were in the days of hardware, effectively serving as near-limitless multi-effects.

In this tutorial, we’ll use a variety of powerful delay plugins to turn a plain sine wave into an exciting synth tone.

Step 1: To explore the creative possibilities of echo-driven sound design, we’re going to pile up several delay plugins over a plain synth signal. We’re starting with Ableton Live’s Operator, outputting a basic sine oscillator. These techniques aren’t specific to Live, of course - you can follow along with any raw sine patch.

Step 2: First up, we throw an instance of FabFilter’s Timeless 2 over our simple synth signal. In Timeless 2’s Modulation section, we play around with the Frequency of LFO 1 (which is modulating Timeless 2’s filter) and push it into audio-rate territory for buzzy, distortion-like echoes. The left and right channels are slightly out of sync for a wide stereo effect.

Step 3: Shifting the pitch of delay signals is a tried-and-tested sound design tactic, so the next device in our chain is the creative ValhallaFreqEcho, a free delay plugin with a built-in frequency shifter. A slight positive Shift of 3.80Hz, a 145ms Delay and around 50% Feedback completely washes our synth signal out with shimmering repeats.

Step 4: It’s time for a third delay plugin: the insane Sandman Pro from Unfiltered Audio. This one creates a range of delayed overtones, making the sound appear crystalline and dreamy. The extended feedback makes the echoes drift out.

Step 5: Next, FXpansion Bloom irons out the jagged edges a little, and makes each note in our melodic sequence melt into the next, nearly completing the floating effect started by Sandman Pro.

Step 6: To finish, we recruit the weird ’n’ wonderful DDLY from iZotope to complete our washed-out ambience. A feedback-heavy, unsynced 20.5ms Delay setting provides a metallic, pitched timbre. We dial in a touch of Trash and Widen the echoes to engulf the listener in a dreamy soup of melody.

Synth Week is brought to you in association with Novation. For more tutorials, tips and features, check out the Synth Week hub page.

Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects…
…with the latest issue of Computer Music magazine