I need someone to teach me how to replicate sounds I hear in songs.
June 19, 2014 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Where could I find this person online? Using a DAW, what sound settings produce that type of sound? What instrument is it, etc.

Using both a DAW or hardware....how to replicate the sounds I hear in songs using both a DAW and actual hardware. I often wonder what instrument they're using or what software and sound settings are used to produce a certain sound & riff.

I use Ableton live so I will be posting on their forums, but I'm wondering if there might be other good resources out there that you guys know of.

posted by amsterdam63 to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I imagine you're referring to synth patches here? (If you're treating recorded sounds, that'll require a different approach.) What is your knowledge of synthesis like? It might seem too basic but if you haven't already I'd recommend getting acquainted with subtractive synthesis and basic waveforms - e.g. square waves sound hollow or reedy, sawtooth or ramp waves buzzy, etc. - lots of free resources for that. I'm sure there's a simple Ableton synth that offers a couple oscillators, a simple envelope generator, LFOs for modulation (tempo-sync this to volume or filter for rhythmic patches), and a filter; if you can get most of the way towards a convincing emulation there, you're likely to be able to polish it off with some effects - distortion for grit, chorus to thicken and blend, ring-modulation for "analog" minimoog-type leads, delay for space, etc. Theory then play is my suggestion.

Once you're confident with subtractive, granular, wavetable, additive, physical modeling, and more await. Have fun and good luck!
posted by alexandermatheson at 9:12 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dive into the settings for presets.
posted by rhizome at 10:53 AM on June 19, 2014

I often wonder what instrument they're using or what software and sound settings are used to produce a certain sound & riff.

The catch here, I think, is that (as the U.S. saying goes), "there's more than one way to skin a cat." Especially these days, with software emulators and DAW plug-ins, there are a ton of different ways to get the "same" sound. So it might be difficult to find someone to give you specific settings for a specific DAW to get specific sounds.

I'd suggest basically training your own ear & brain to sort of analyze and "disassemble" certain sounds that you're looking for, and I think one way you could do that is by watching a lot of "gear review" videos on YouTube. There are a ton of them out there, some pro ones from the manufacturers, a lot from talented amateurs, a lot from pro websites or magazines - people playing different guitars and guitar pedals and guitar amps, people putting various pieces of keyboard or studio hardware or software through the paces, demonstrating the different things a piece of equipment is capable of.

Then, hopefully, through repetition and familiarity, your ear will start to recognize, "Ah! That riff sounds like a guitar through a Big Muff distortion pedal" and you can experiment with the settings of the software and hardware you own to produce something that sounds similar.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:38 PM on June 19, 2014

Are there specific sounds you are looking to replicate?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:09 PM on June 19, 2014

If you're looking to replicate certain sounds (i.e., the lead synth) in electronic music that is at least somewhat popular, search YouTube for that artist/song. "How to make Porter Robinson lead in Spitfire," with Porter Robinson being the artist and Spitfire being the song.
posted by kuanes at 5:03 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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