Because the sounds of real instruments are heavily influenced by temperature, humidity, and many other factors, they often sound more appealing than their digital counterparts. This causes minor variations in tuning, which our ears then interpret as timbre. Keeping this in mind, in the following tutorial, I’ll show you how to design your Kalimba sound using a digital soft synth.

As an illustration, I have prepared a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW, which contains most instruments of the entire mix, including a vocal. Let’s listen to it

This is a screenshot of my mix taken before I design the Kalimba sound.

~Full Mix – Without Kalimba

In this case, I’ll use Vital by Vital audio to make the Kalimba sound. I’ll load a new Vital instance onto a MIDI track in SoundBridge: DAW and initialize the sound.

Start With a Soft Synth Using a Sine Waveform

First, I’ll begin adjusting the OSC 1 settings within Vital. A simple Sine waveform would be appropriate for this type of sound, and after selecting it from the waveform menu, I will set the level of the OSC 1 to 0.250 and the phase randomization to 0%. Moving to the envelope section on the right from the OSC 1, I’ll set the decay to around 2.5 seconds, the sustain to 0, and the release time to about 1.7 seconds. Let’s see what we have with initial OSC 1, envelope settings, and a  simple melody. I’m planning for the final Kalimba sound.

This is a screenshot of my mix Vital interface with its OSC 1 and Envelope settings used to design the Kalimba sound.

~Kalimba – OSC 1 & Envelope 1 Settings

Layer a Realistic Sample to Design a More Authentic Kalimba Sound

Because I want this kalimba sound to be realistic, I’ll use Vital’s sample layer and load a concise sample from a real kalimba. This will significantly increase the attack of the overall sound and, as a result, introduce an organic feel. You can record your own or try to find a short Kalimba sample via LoopCloud. You can then load it into the Vital sample layer.

I must activate filter 1 for this sample layer to be glued to the OSC 1 sound. In this case, I’ll set the resonance to its maximum and the cutoff value to around 36. I’ll then activate envelope four and set short decay and sustain times before modulating the filter mix with it.

This is a screenshot of my mix, the Vital interface with its Sample layer and the Filter settings used to make the Kalimba sound.

~Kalimba – Sample Layer & Filter 1 Settings

Beautify Your Sound With Appropriate Effects

When I am satisfied with the sound’s base and harmonics, I will proceed to the effects page to complete the sound. As shown in the image below, I used chorus, delay, reverb, and EQ. Finally, let us hear how our final kalimba sounds both solo and in the context of the entire mix.

This is a screenshot of my mix Vital interface with its effects settings used to make the Kalimba sound.

~Kalimba – Final Sound (Solo)

~Full Mix – With Kalimba

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