Soft synths have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering a wide range of creative possibilities for music production. However, many producers still struggle to make their soft synths sound like vintage analog gear. The goal of this article is to provide a comprehensive guide on how to make soft synths sound more analog.
Understanding Analog Sound
To make soft synths sound more analog, it’s important to understand what makes analog gear sound different from digital gear. Analog gear is often associated with warm, smooth, and fat sounds, while digital gear is perceived as being cold, sharp, and sterile.
Analog gear produces sound by generating electrical signals that change continuously, resulting in a smooth and natural sound. On the other hand, digital gear uses discrete values to represent sound, which results in a more artificial sound.
Using Analog Emulation Plugins
One of the easiest ways to make soft synths sound more analog is to use analog emulation plugins. These plugins simulate the sound of analog gear by using algorithms that mimic the behavior of analog circuits. Some popular analog emulation plugins include u-he Diva, Arturia Analog Lab, and Native Instruments Monark.
When using analog emulation plugins, it’s important to adjust the parameters correctly to achieve the desired sound. Some of the key parameters to adjust include oscillator waveform, filter cutoff and resonance, and envelope settings.
Using Sampling Techniques
Another way to make soft synths sound more analog is to use sampling techniques. This involves recording the sound of analog gear and using it as a source for your soft synths. For example, you can sample the sound of a classic analog synth and use it as a wavetable for your soft synth.
Using Modulation and Distortion
Modulation and distortion are key elements in achieving an analog sound with soft synths. Modulation can be achieved by using LFOs (low frequency oscillators), envelopes, and step sequencers. For example, using an LFO to modulate the filter cutoff can give the sound a classic analog wobble.
Distortion can be added by using saturation and overdrive plugins, or by using the built-in distortion functions of your soft synth. When using distortion, it’s important to adjust the parameters carefully to avoid over-saturating the sound.
Using Unison and Stereo Widening
Unison is a technique that involves using multiple voices to create a thick and rich sound. This can be achieved by using the unison function of your soft synth, or by using unison plugins.
Stereo widening can also help make your soft synths sound more analog by adding width and depth to the sound. This can be achieved by using stereo widener plugins, or by using the built-in stereo widener function of your soft synth.
Experimenting with Different Settings
Experimentation is key when it comes to making soft synths sound more analog. Every synth and every setting is different, so it’s important to try out different combinations of settings to find the perfect sound for your music.
One way to experiment is to use presets as a starting point. Many soft synths come with a range of presets that can serve as a great starting point for your own sound design. From there, you can make subtle tweaks to the parameters to find the perfect sound.
Another way to experiment is to use effects processing to add extra character to your sound. Effects such as delay, reverb, and chorus can be used to enhance the analog character of your sound.
Adding Humanization to Your Sound
One of the defining characteristics of analog gear is its natural and organic sound. To achieve this sound with soft synths, it’s important to add a sense of humanization to your sound.
Humanization can be achieved by using randomization functions, such as random pitch and velocity variations. This helps to create a more natural and organic sound, as opposed to a perfectly quantized and robotic sound.
In conclusion, making soft synths sound more analog requires a combination of different techniques and tools. By using analog emulation plugins, sampling techniques, modulation and distortion, unison and stereo widening, and experimenting with different settings, you can achieve a wide range of analog-like sounds with your soft synths. The key is to experiment with different techniques and find the ones that work best for your music production. With the right approach and a little bit of patience, you can make your soft synths sound like classic analog gear.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are soft synths and how do they differ from analog synths?
Soft synths are digital synthesizers that are programmed to mimic the sound and behavior of analog synthesizers. They can be run on a computer or other digital device and offer a range of features and capabilities that may not be available with analog synths. The main difference between soft synths and analog synths is that soft synths are digital, while analog synths are analog and produce sound through electronic circuits.
What are some common techniques for making soft synths sound more analog?
There are several techniques for making soft synths sound more analog, including using analog emulation plugins, sampling techniques, modulation and distortion, unison and stereo widening, and experimenting with different settings. Additionally, adding humanization to your sound can also help to achieve a more organic and natural sound.
What are the benefits of using soft synths over analog synths?
There are several benefits to using soft synths over analog synths, including cost savings, increased versatility and flexibility, and a wide range of available features and capabilities. Soft synths are also easier to use and require less maintenance than analog synths, making them a popular choice for many musicians and producers.
Can soft synths ever truly sound like analog synths?
Soft synths can get very close to the sound of analog synths, but they can never truly replicate the sound of analog gear. This is because analog gear produces sound through electronic circuits and has a unique sound that is not possible to fully recreate with digital software. However, with the right approach and techniques, soft synths can produce a wide range of analog-like sounds that are suitable for many music productions.