P12 sound design tricks thread

The Dave Smith Instruments Prophet-12 Analogue Synthesizer

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silvain
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P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by silvain » Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:34 pm

Hey everyone, I thought this might be a good idea. I've discovered the occasional trick and I've tried to copy tricks from others. why not share techniques here in detail?
I've already mentioned the sync-like effect by frequency modulation a delay line by an oscillator. changing the waveform of the oscillator changes the characteristic: sawtooth -> sync-like, sine -> FM-like. The aliasing isn't that strong with this technique, but as the delay sits behind the filter, you are stuck with that. :)_
I'll think of another find for a new post. :) Meanwhile I'd be fascinated to hear of your favourite effective, obscure or mind-bogglingly rediculous techniques for designing interesting sounds.

Rozzer
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by Rozzer » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:13 pm

I was going to post this in a new thread but then I noticed this one, so it can live here instead :)

Having done factory patches and the Boxed Ear P12 bank, I feel I know this synth pretty well now. Here's my top tips for getting good sounds from the Prophet 12:

Keep an eye on the gain structure.

DSI synths sometimes get a reputation for sounding a little harsh at the top end. I've found that reducing the gain at key stages in the signal flow helps to create a warmer sound with less of these harsh overtones. The areas to watch out for in particular are:
- Oscillator level: If you're using all 4 oscillators, reduce the individual oscillator levels to about 30-40. Don't have them all slammed at 127.
- Character section: Go easy on the Drive. The sweet spot seems to be between 0-20.
- VCA Envelope Amount: Make sure your Amount and Vel>Amt aren't maxed out. If you add the two amounts together, try to make sure they only add up to around 100.
- Layer Volume: Hit the Edit Layer B button to check both Layer volumes. I aim for a value of about 100 here, less if both Layers are stacked.
- Distortion: If you want warm analog type sounds, leave it off.

You'll find that by following these guidelines, your overall patch volumes are lower than a lot of the factory presets, but that's what mixers, soundcards and amplifiers are for. Turn the volume up there instead :)

Stereo baby

The Prophet 12, unlike the Evolver series, has a largely mono signal path so getting super wide patches isn't massively intuitive. Here's my favourite method:

- Copy Layer A to Layer B
- Make some subtle adjustments to Layer B. Could be detuning, different LFO speeds, different oscillator waveforms etc.
- Go to the Layer B modulation matrix and assign DC to Pan with a value of +127.
- Go to the Layer A modulation matrix and do the same, but with a value of -127.
- Enable the Stack A+B button.

Voila. Huge stereo sound. Obviously this reduces the voice count of the patch to 6 voices, but many patches play just fine, and the sound is totally worth it. I never make pads anymore without using this method.

[Would love to see Pym break this pan control out to somewhere it can be used directly, rather than having to access through the mod matrix.]

Key note volume adjustment

I find the volume of the P12 tapers off a bit towards the low end. I've found that on certain patches, assigning Note Number to VCA or Amp Env Amount with a negative value helps to address the balance.

Injecting some vintage vibe

- When using patches with multiple oscillators, assign aftertouch to oscillator slop. It gives a nice subtle way to add a bit of timed warble to your playing.
- Using an LFO on Random waveform, with a slow frequency and the Slew Rate increased is a great way of introducing an unpredictable modulation to any patch.
- Don't just use noise as an oscillator audio source. Use it as a modulation source. Send it to the filter frequency, oscillator frequencies (my favourite), delay times… anything really. They'll all give you different "flavours" of noise in the patch and will often "glue" to the sound better than just adding noise as another audio signal.
- If you *really* like noise, use Layer B as a background hiss layer. Filter some noise until you get a nice steady hiss sound (go mad and add LFOs and delays if you want that dub techno treated tape hiss sound) and then in the mod matrix assign DC to VCA with a positive value. This will get the layer to be permanently "on". Turn the Amp Env amount and Vel>Env amount to zero, set the layer to play only 1 voice and make sure the Filter Key Amount is set to zero. This way you'll get a nice steady noise source that doesn't react in any way to the keyboard. Now you can play with Layer A.

Will post more if and when I can think of them :)
Last edited by Rozzer on Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Fuseball
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by Fuseball » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:03 pm

Excellent tips there, Rozzer. I've tried some of those on my own sounds. Love the idea of using noise like that on layer B. Hadn't thought of that!
Prophet'08 PE #3591 | Tetr4 #2088 | MEK PE #1180 | Jupiter 6 | Juno 60 | Moog Sub Phatty | MS-20 mini | random digital stuff

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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by Tomavatars » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:35 pm

These are greats tips Rozzer ! Thank you very much !

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Mr Kay
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by Mr Kay » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:01 am

Yep, the random slewed LFO to modulate the "slop" parameter (30-40) or the cutoff (1-5) is a trick I also use, as I put the osc level to ~50 when I use a lot of osc (all the four, unisson mode), ~100 by default.

thanks for the other tips :)

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silvain
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by silvain » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:06 pm

Stereo width:
Simplest idea use two delay lines and pan one hard left the other hard right. Turn down the delay times quite a lot, but be sure to have different tmes on the two delays. I think around 10-50ms is OK.
For nice pads, it's even better to add a chorus before the stereo delays. A typica setup for me:
delay1: mid stereo position, quite short delay time, modulated by a slow LFO of VERY low amount.
delay2: short delay time, but different to delay1 and panned hard left
delay3: short delay time, different from delay1 and delay2, panned hard right
Another idea, thanks to Razmo, for improving the stereo width: in the mod matrix set one oscillator as mod source and pan position as mod destination. Don't turn the amount up all the way, since then you will have a clear artefact of the modulation. Experiment with osc waveshapes and pitch to find your favourite. Sine is very smooth, the wavetables and noise leave more artefacts.
Getting a phaser like sound:
like with a chorus, modulate a delay time by a slow triangular LFO, but raise the delay feedback. Be sure to turn down the delay mix, unless you love uncontrolled mayham. :)_
Adding more acoustic feel to a sound:
you can use slop, but you can also modulate one or more of the oscillators pitch(es) by the random source. It will vary the pitch by voice, but not while a note is playing. Especially with different amounts on the oscillators or different amounts on two stacked layers you geta nice ensemble sound.
More ensemble: A thing I discovered recently: vary pitch by slop or the above method.
In the mod matrix assign note number to pan and DC to pan to achieve centre stereo positin for a middle note.
Then use delays of different times and different pan positions to spread the sound even more.
Use the auxiliary envs with the delay phase (page three on the env display). Setup two different delay times and assign the mod envs to one or more osc volume levels.
If you stack two layers, you may use the delay phase of the global volume env on the second layer.
Combine that with Rozzers tips for achieving fat and moving sounds with two layers and youget a very lively and acoustic ensemble sound.
I hope these help, even if vague as to specific values.

garynotgary
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by garynotgary » Tue Aug 05, 2014 6:18 am

Here's some things I like.

1. Make an Aux envelope with a slow attack with "Slop" as a destination. This will make your note always start exact and drift out of tune from there.

2. For Stereo space add a LFO that is slow and subtle set to Pan Spread to give your sound a little movement. Make the LFO a sawtooth and sync it to the beat (I like 4 bars) to give your pads more rhythmic character.

3. Use an OSC as a modulation source with a delay line's volume or time as a destination in order to create an FM or AM delay. (A delay where your initial sound is repeated with AM or FM applied to it.)

4. When using heavy distortion, you can hear the oscillators when they aren't being played. To prevent this, turn all your oscillators to zero and use the VCA Envelope as a mod with the OSC volume as the destination. Repeat for all the oscillators you are using in your patch.

Adamdyent
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by Adamdyent » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:44 pm

Anyone got input on some raw leads?

markwalkerjr
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by markwalkerjr » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:10 pm

Rozzer wrote:I was going to post this in a new thread but then I noticed this one, so it can live here instead :)

Having done factory patches and the Boxed Ear P12 bank, I feel I know this synth pretty well now. Here's my top tips for getting good sounds from the Prophet 12:

Keep an eye on the gain structure.

DSI synths sometimes get a reputation for sounding a little harsh at the top end. I've found that reducing the gain at key stages in the signal flow helps to create a warmer sound with less of these harsh overtones. The areas to watch out for in particular are:
- Oscillator level: If you're using all 4 oscillators, reduce the individual oscillator levels to about 30-40. Don't have them all slammed at 127.
- Character section: Go easy on the Drive. The sweet spot seems to be between 0-20.
- VCA Envelope Amount: Make sure your Amount and Vel>Amt aren't maxed out. If you add the two amounts together, try to make sure they only add up to around 100.
- Layer Volume: Hit the Edit Layer B button to check both Layer volumes. I aim for a value of about 100 here, less if both Layers are stacked.
- Distortion: If you want warm analog type sounds, leave it off.

You'll find that by following these guidelines, your overall patch volumes are lower than a lot of the factory presets, but that's what mixers, soundcards and amplifiers are for. Turn the volume up there instead :)

Stereo baby

The Prophet 12, unlike the Evolver series, has a largely mono signal path so getting super wide patches isn't massively intuitive. Here's my favourite method:

- Copy Layer A to Layer B
- Make some subtle adjustments to Layer B. Could be detuning, different LFO speeds, different oscillator waveforms etc.
- Go to the Layer B modulation matrix and assign DC to Pan with a value of +127.
- Go to the Layer A modulation matrix and do the same, but with a value of -127.
- Enable the Stack A+B button.

Voila. Huge stereo sound. Obviously this reduces the voice count of the patch to 6 voices, but many patches play just fine, and the sound is totally worth it. I never make pads anymore without using this method.

[Would love to see Pym break this pan control out to somewhere it can be used directly, rather than having to access through the mod matrix.]

Key note volume adjustment

I find the volume of the P12 tapers off a bit towards the low end. I've found that on certain patches, assigning Note Number to VCA or Amp Env Amount with a negative value helps to address the balance.

Injecting some vintage vibe

- When using patches with multiple oscillators, assign aftertouch to oscillator slop. It gives a nice subtle way to add a bit of timed warble to your playing.
- Using an LFO on Random waveform, with a slow frequency and the Slew Rate increased is a great way of introducing an unpredictable modulation to any patch.
- Don't just use noise as an oscillator audio source. Use it as a modulation source. Send it to the filter frequency, oscillator frequencies (my favourite), delay times… anything really. They'll all give you different "flavours" of noise in the patch and will often "glue" to the sound better than just adding noise as another audio signal.
- If you *really* like noise, use Layer B as a background hiss layer. Filter some noise until you get a nice steady hiss sound (go mad and add LFOs and delays if you want that dub techno treated tape hiss sound) and then in the mod matrix assign DC to VCA with a positive value. This will get the layer to be permanently "on". Turn the Amp Env amount and Vel>Env amount to zero, set the layer to play only 1 voice and make sure the Filter Key Amount is set to zero. This way you'll get a nice steady noise source that doesn't react in any way to the keyboard. Now you can play with Layer A.

Will post more if and when I can think of them :)
Roz,

Huge fan of your work and I am a soundset owner. As an FYI, I was getting crackling and artifacts on a handful of your patches and patches from other users banks (and some factory stuff). This included one of my all time favorite patches. The first patch in your sound bank the epic pad one. Working with Carson, he helped me figure out that the oscillator volume and delay amount needed to be turned down even more than you had them on the patch. The crackling was worst when I held full two handed chords with lots of low end notes and let them ring out by holding the chords. Once I adjusted the oscillator levels in the patch, the crackling went away. I thought my Prophet 12 had issues, but it was just the gain staging in the patches. Just thought you might like to know what I found and if any other users of yours and other sound banks hear it, this is how you fix it. There are so many places gain staging can create overloads in this synth it is useful to know a couple places to look.

That being said, thanks so much for your work and each and every users contributions to this thread. One of the most useful things I have ever seen on this forum.

Mark

kisielk
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by kisielk » Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:08 am

markwalkerjr wrote:
Rozzer wrote:I was going to post this in a new thread but then I noticed this one, so it can live here instead :)

Having done factory patches and the Boxed Ear P12 bank, I feel I know this synth pretty well now. Here's my top tips for getting good sounds from the Prophet 12:

Keep an eye on the gain structure.

DSI synths sometimes get a reputation for sounding a little harsh at the top end. I've found that reducing the gain at key stages in the signal flow helps to create a warmer sound with less of these harsh overtones. The areas to watch out for in particular are:
- Oscillator level: If you're using all 4 oscillators, reduce the individual oscillator levels to about 30-40. Don't have them all slammed at 127.
- Character section: Go easy on the Drive. The sweet spot seems to be between 0-20.
- VCA Envelope Amount: Make sure your Amount and Vel>Amt aren't maxed out. If you add the two amounts together, try to make sure they only add up to around 100.
- Layer Volume: Hit the Edit Layer B button to check both Layer volumes. I aim for a value of about 100 here, less if both Layers are stacked.
- Distortion: If you want warm analog type sounds, leave it off.

You'll find that by following these guidelines, your overall patch volumes are lower than a lot of the factory presets, but that's what mixers, soundcards and amplifiers are for. Turn the volume up there instead :)

Stereo baby

The Prophet 12, unlike the Evolver series, has a largely mono signal path so getting super wide patches isn't massively intuitive. Here's my favourite method:

- Copy Layer A to Layer B
- Make some subtle adjustments to Layer B. Could be detuning, different LFO speeds, different oscillator waveforms etc.
- Go to the Layer B modulation matrix and assign DC to Pan with a value of +127.
- Go to the Layer A modulation matrix and do the same, but with a value of -127.
- Enable the Stack A+B button.

Voila. Huge stereo sound. Obviously this reduces the voice count of the patch to 6 voices, but many patches play just fine, and the sound is totally worth it. I never make pads anymore without using this method.

[Would love to see Pym break this pan control out to somewhere it can be used directly, rather than having to access through the mod matrix.]

Key note volume adjustment

I find the volume of the P12 tapers off a bit towards the low end. I've found that on certain patches, assigning Note Number to VCA or Amp Env Amount with a negative value helps to address the balance.

Injecting some vintage vibe

- When using patches with multiple oscillators, assign aftertouch to oscillator slop. It gives a nice subtle way to add a bit of timed warble to your playing.
- Using an LFO on Random waveform, with a slow frequency and the Slew Rate increased is a great way of introducing an unpredictable modulation to any patch.
- Don't just use noise as an oscillator audio source. Use it as a modulation source. Send it to the filter frequency, oscillator frequencies (my favourite), delay times… anything really. They'll all give you different "flavours" of noise in the patch and will often "glue" to the sound better than just adding noise as another audio signal.
- If you *really* like noise, use Layer B as a background hiss layer. Filter some noise until you get a nice steady hiss sound (go mad and add LFOs and delays if you want that dub techno treated tape hiss sound) and then in the mod matrix assign DC to VCA with a positive value. This will get the layer to be permanently "on". Turn the Amp Env amount and Vel>Env amount to zero, set the layer to play only 1 voice and make sure the Filter Key Amount is set to zero. This way you'll get a nice steady noise source that doesn't react in any way to the keyboard. Now you can play with Layer A.

Will post more if and when I can think of them :)
Roz,

Huge fan of your work and I am a soundset owner. As an FYI, I was getting crackling and artifacts on a handful of your patches and patches from other users banks (and some factory stuff). This included one of my all time favorite patches. The first patch in your sound bank the epic pad one. Working with Carson, he helped me figure out that the oscillator volume and delay amount needed to be turned down even more than you had them on the patch. The crackling was worst when I held full two handed chords with lots of low end notes and let them ring out by holding the chords. Once I adjusted the oscillator levels in the patch, the crackling went away. I thought my Prophet 12 had issues, but it was just the gain staging in the patches. Just thought you might like to know what I found and if any other users of yours and other sound banks hear it, this is how you fix it. There are so many places gain staging can create overloads in this synth it is useful to know a couple places to look.

That being said, thanks so much for your work and each and every users contributions to this thread. One of the most useful things I have ever seen on this forum.

Mark
I just got the boxed ear patchset today and have been experiencing a lot of the same crackling on some of the patches when playing chords. Fortunately it's easy to fix by just holding down one of the oscillator buttons so you can tweak all four of them at the same time on the display or by turning the level knob.

Rozzer
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by Rozzer » Thu Aug 07, 2014 8:27 am

I tend not to use large 5 or 6 note chords in my music so it's quite possible I missed some clipping issues there. It just goes to show my point about watching for gain structure, especially with very dynamic patches. When you have something capable of 12 voices, the dynamic range possibilities are huge when you start stacking voices. I shall make a note to better check these things in future, thanks for the headsup.

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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by silvain » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:49 am

Additive synthesis: you can guess all of that just by knowing what additive synthesis is supposed to do.
- change all oscillators to sine.
- use both layers stacked for maximum tonal quality.
- Choose oscillator 1's pitch one octave above another pitch you might need. that way you can have the sub oscillator as another useful "partial".
- Mind the volume: start with low levels on the oscillators, since you will end up with 8 or 10 oscillators stacked.
- Use LFOs and envelopes to shape the level of different oscillators.
- You can use the filter env as well, since you won't need it in cassic additive synthesis.
- If you need more partials in octaves, you can use the shape knob on the sine. That way you can only add some extra short env on top of a longer env for the tone one octave below. For example: set osc2 to a fifth above your base note, then you can turn the shape knob for osc2 (and control that via LFO or env). But since the basic level of osc2 is the maximum length you can get, you're limited there.
- You can use realte controllers (aftertouch, modwheel, sliders etc.) to control the volume or envelopes/LFOs to mainpulate different oscillators in different ways. That will change the tonal quality of the whole sound. Also try applying controls to pitch.
- Edit the VCA env for both layers simultaneously (press and hold layuer a/b). You can fine tune later (lengthen release on the layer with most lower pitches...).
- some LFO on pan and chorus (slow LFO on delay) can give your patch the final touch of life and movement.
You can add even more harmonics by leaving classic additive synthesis and experiment with FM and AM between the oscillators. Don't forget, that you can make use of the mod matrix to pair up your own FM/AM operands. It doesn't ave to be 2->1, 3->2...
Hope that helps.

markwalkerjr
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by markwalkerjr » Fri Aug 08, 2014 4:09 am

Rozzer wrote:I tend not to use large 5 or 6 note chords in my music so it's quite possible I missed some clipping issues there. It just goes to show my point about watching for gain structure, especially with very dynamic patches. When you have something capable of 12 voices, the dynamic range possibilities are huge when you start stacking voices. I shall make a note to better check these things in future, thanks for the headsup.
Anytime. Again, I absolutely love these sounds.

Rozzer
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by Rozzer » Wed Aug 13, 2014 7:46 am

silvain wrote: Another idea, thanks to Razmo, for improving the stereo width: in the mod matrix set one oscillator as mod source and pan position as mod destination. Don't turn the amount up all the way, since then you will have a clear artefact of the modulation. Experiment with osc waveshapes and pitch to find your favourite. Sine is very smooth, the wavetables and noise leave more artefacts.
Great tips silvain. This one especially. It's easy to overlook the Osc1-4 sources in the mod matrix. They can cause artifacts because they don't quite work at full audio rates, but there is still a world of interesting modulations to be had :)

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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by Tenskwatawa » Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:57 pm

what a thread!!

especially appreciate the DC offset AB stack stereo widening idea, you people are geniuses.

overthereinabox
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by overthereinabox » Mon Aug 03, 2015 9:22 pm

Agreed, a great thread, makes you realise what a great synth the P12 is and the sheer complexity of it will ensure it is never gonna become stale and boring. A real classic. Thanks for all your tips guys, keep 'em coming! :D

sapristico
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by sapristico » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:18 am

YES!,...this is THE THREAD, good for Silvain! and the rest

I think that all of us need a lot this kind of communication and ideas spreading with a synth like this and for the horizon open now...(well, at least I need it, for sure...like a vampire, because my talent as synth programmer compared with yours is trivial). And more of this spirit is necessary in the forum and maybe also in DSI.
I was considering to buy the Soundtower soft...mainly to manage the patches in a more affordable and good way, that allows me to free space for more of my own patches but conserving the best (or those more on my taste) from Silvain, Jonas, ...I guess that the basic version better than the VST that people told is not that pretty thing.

I don't have much to add here for the moment...but there is one basic point, that I don't remember if I have read here or not:

Assign the Filter Env Amount (also useful in other envelopes) as Mod source for the attack (or decay) of the filter...and play with + and - Mod values...it is "like" using fast or low non linear attacks in the ENV...a la ADSR exp. Play with a LFO assigned to the amount, and even more fun!

By the way, what I dont understand is why the LFO curve slew is not a MOD destination...

Thank you for the sharing of knowledge....and I'll be around!

sapristico
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by sapristico » Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:08 am

Oh...one thing else.

It would be interesting to add here some "basic" recipes of adjustments, or parameters' values for "standard" isolated aproaches for Delays configurations...(a la analog tape, a la Short Reverb, Huge Reverb, Double stereo Delay + Reverb...crazyness multidelay, eco ecoh ecohhh...and so). It would be great to construct some kind of notebook or booklet for these ones, in order to print and use it like support when you are constructing sounds a bit like in a modular way, mainly from the basic patch starting..."so, what I want in the end, is..."

The same maybe with LFOs config in some multrythmic, bouncing, wobbling, even phaser or rare chorus approaches?

The other day I thought one point that I haven't tried yet...use an LFO in part 1 to modulate the VCA level (maybe other parameters too...or a second LFo in similar way for Filter Env...). In part 2, use the same patch, with the same LFO config and time adjustment, but with a complete phase introduction (this will act as a real complete time phase?)...or maybe also different slew rate...and then use both parts with pan spread...and hear what happens...I hope to hear some kind of chorus sloping or pan modulation in some way...complementary very stereo chorus more or less touchable in other parameters....

Obviously with a best individual pan design would be more interesting...but you can extra Pan them into the DAW or desk.
It's a silly idea I guess...but with a lot of recipes in that potential booklet, maybe it will be easier for the community to add value and collab, and we can construct together a goooood tool. Maybe I have been a lot of time using and being memeber in Reaper universe....that virus in me...hehehe.

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elmquist
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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by elmquist » Fri Aug 21, 2015 2:37 pm

Nice track, Razmo. There are a few glitches but overall it sounds very good and not very non-analog. Well done on the sound design front!

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Re: P12 sound design tricks thread

Post by Tenskwatawa » Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:01 pm

sapristico wrote:Oh...one thing else.

It would be interesting to add here some "basic" recipes of adjustments, or parameters' values for "standard" isolated aproaches for Delays configurations...(a la analog tape, a la Short Reverb, Huge Reverb, Double stereo Delay + Reverb...crazyness multidelay, eco ecoh ecohhh...and so). It would be great to construct some kind of notebook or booklet for these ones, in order to print and use it like support when you are constructing sounds a bit like in a modular way, mainly from the basic patch starting..."so, what I want in the end, is..."

.

oh man, i would love this.

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