Skip to main content

The 40 greatest synth sounds of all time, No 13: Gary Numan - Are 'Friends' Electric?

We fully expected you lot to vote the infamous Vox Humana Polymoog patch from Cars in the upper echelons of our list, so were pleasantly surprised to find it bested by the powerful Minimoog riff from Are ‘Friends’ Electric?. It just to goes show how perceptive you are.

Sure, the Polymoog sound is identified with Numan, but it was his breakthrough 1979 single that set the trajectory of modern music for the years that followed.

In point of fact, Numan never intended to get involved with synths, only discovering what they could do for him when a Minimoog was left in a studio where he’d intended to make a punk album.

When it came time to record Are ‘Friends’ Electric?, he rented both a Minimoog and a Polymoog. Needless to say, once the single was released, he’d be able to afford his own...

Gary Numan Synth Sounds

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: Fire up LinPlug’s AlphaCM. Go to the patch browser and click the right window to access the presets in the bank. Load the Z_Init patch. Go to Osc 1 and select the Square1 wave. Turn the Wave knob to A. Set its Octave to -1. Do the same for Osc 2, using Square2 as the waveform.

Gary Numan Synth Sounds

(Image credit: Future)

Step 2: Set Osc 1’s Detune knob to just under 10 o’clock, the Filter’s Cutoff to just past 12 and Res to just past 9 o’clock. Select the 24+ mode. Set Drive to 2 oc, the Filter Envelope’s Decay, Release to just above 10 oc and Depth to 3 o’clock. Set the Amp Decay and Release at 10 o’clock.

Gary Numan Synth Sounds

(Image credit: Future)

Step 3: Switch Glide to ON. Just give the time knob the slightest nudge. Finally, though the Minimoog didn’t have a chorus, we’re going to use ours to thicken the sound to make up for the lack of a third osc. Set its Wet knob to 11 o’clock or so, and push the Rate up to nearly 3 o’clock.

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