Ableton’s free Learning Synths website could be the easiest way to learn the basics of sound design

Ableton Learning Synths website running on phone
(Image credit: Ableton)

We do our best to explain how synthesizers work and to show you how to use them, but another teaching resource is always welcome, particularly when it’s as good as Ableton’s free Learning Synths website.

A partner for Ableton’s free web-based guide to making music, which was launched in 2017, this once again takes an interactive approach, inviting you to learn how a synth works by playing with a 2-oscillator monosynth in your browser.

You’ll start right at the beginning, tackling super-simple concepts such as amplitude and pitch, before dealing with the likes of envelopes, modulation, oscillators, LFOs and filters. Then it’s time to apply the techniques that you’ve learned to create specific sounds.

It’s all super-easy to follow, making this a great first port of call for someone who knows nothing whatsoever about synthesis. In fact, we can see Learning Synths being a great educational tool, potentially of use to educators who are helping kids to take their first steps into the world of music technology.

What’s more, if you do know a thing or two about synths, you can skip the lessons and dive straight into the Playground section. This enables you to fiddle with the synth to your heart’s content, and includes a range of preset sequences and sounds. Chrome users can even play it from a MIDI keyboard.

You can dive into the Ableton Learning Synths website right now.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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