Start your synth patch from scratch

It is entirely fine to take a professionally engineered synth patch that you like and dissect it in order to learn how experienced designers accomplished its sound quality. When creating your own synth patch, however, it is better to start from scratch. This will help you understand how one section of the synth affects another and save you from being stuck in someone else’s sound design labyrinth. This can seem intimidating at first, but with patience and effort, you will gain the necessary knowledge.

Dive into wavetables

Wavetable synthesizers are different from subtractive, additive, and FM/AM synthesizers. Waveforms in wavetable synthesis are stored in an index as single cycles that can be accessed by the instrument at random. By sustaining the sound, wavetable synthesizers can be used to produce drones and pads that change in complex ways. You can also make percussive sounds by using angular waveforms with a shorter envelope. Take the time to explore the inner world of your synth to get a sense of how each wavetable affects the sound and how it can be manipulated. These source ingredients were not tossed in at random. They should all be useful and by experimenting with them you can get some fantastic results.

Know where you want to go

A rough idea of the kind of sound you want to make is a good place to start. It can be either a smooth and “subby” bass, a screeching EDM synth lead, a layered pad sound, or whatever your vision is. With something as a starting point, you have a goal to aim for. Don’t be concerned if you get distracted somewhere along the way. That is what synth patch design is all about. If you stray and realize you just made something different (and awesome!), consider it a bonus. When you’ve saved your “accident,” you can still go back on track to the original concept.

Keep performance in mind

Compose MIDI parts with care so that you adapt to the characteristics of each synth patch. If you don’t have any MIDI patterns for it yet, check out how the notes and rhythms better showcase its character. There should be at least one sweet spot. Use the key track, a.k.a. “key follow”, modulation source to expand the spectrum of notes on which the patch sounds good when creating patches.

Don’t forget to save your synth patch

Imagine you’ve spent three or four hours making a synth patch and are quite pleased with the result. We strongly advise you to save it at this point, as the DAW or soft synth on which you are working may crash for numerous reasons. Nothing is more aggravating than re-opening a project to discover that the wrong synth patch is playing over your carefully crafted beat. Soft synths may have glitches and struggle to read patch data from a song file as well. Again, even if you don’t think you need to, save!