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I'm gauging the "lay of the land" as for as sound synthesis goes, for the purpose of designing new tech-based computer sound textures (think Matrix computer textures only in the bare-bones principal of how they're organic and evolve, but I want to develop something very different than that - going for something more smoother organic, sexy, and musical - maybe a little gritty but not much). Not just to design computer sounds, but servers/computers, tech drones, etc.

I'm not asking for advice on how to process hard drives etc or what sound library to buy. Frankly, the sound I need to achieve is one which no sold library will really touch (or it has the risk of also sounding canned by using library elements). Soundmorph's beep library is in the right direction but not nearly what I'm after, although I surely am investing in as one my toolsets to also get the beep generator. This is strictly a question about sound synthesis tools to investigate - creation from the ground up.

I have a very particular sound signature in my head already, I'm just seeking what fresh and inspirational methods may be out there to look into to venture beyond the "standard" beep and computer library sounds as far as source-material synthesis goes. Something to give an exciting creative spark, that kind of spark you have when you're got a new sound toy to play with and see what wild things it can do. I love to have a fresh perspective on these sorts of things. Also I do have a MIDI keyboard setup too so I definitely plan on taking a hands on approach with this.

In gauging what's out there, there seems to be a few things which float to the surface for this type of "job": Omnisphere, Komplete, GRM Tools or Iris (okay, more DSP than synthesis in the case of Iris and GRM). They all seems very inspiring, but if you had to pick only one for the type of job I described that you could actually invest in, what would your personal opinion be?

Any recommendations from your own experiences as to what may be well-suited for this type of source material synthesis (again, to generate inspirational raw source material from which the final sounds will actually be hand-designed in PT), or what to stay away from? Or in the spirit of the Komplete toolset if you do recommend that, any specific add-on packs (through NI or third parties) worth investigating along the lines of these needs I'm after?

Really seeking input from others who may know these toolsets in-depth to gauage what may be a wise investment as far as the best bang for the buck, and contrarily, which ones may not be all to useful for what I'm after.

Open to any and all ideas! Thanks so much!

  • Thanks for the feedback/suggestions everyone! I ended up going with the Komplete toolset. Absynth, at least in my first go-around, was definitely promising but a little too tonal and atmospheric for my needs (will need to spend more time with it). I did definitely have some good results playing with Reaktor/Razor - SkannerXT seems promising too, yet need to spend more time with it to wrap my head around how it gets some of the crazy sounds. – Stavrosound Nov 27 '13 at 5:24
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S-Layer (and Reaktor) (http://twistedtools.com/shop/reaktor/s-layer/)

Metaphysical Function, Skanner (also for Reaktor)

GRM Tools

SoundMagic Spectral

Metasynth

Camel Audio Alchemy ("the best sampler there is")

Perhaps even NI FM8 or Sytrus.

Too many ways to approach "computer sounds".

  • Thanks for the input. I am aware there are many ways to approah computer sounds. I'm interested in feedback from what tools have inspired others and how so, what gravitated them toward any of these tools. Or what just wasn't useful for this type of synthesis. Essentially seeking more than a list. Thanks for those you mentioned though, I'll check them out. Have wanted to use metasynth but unfortunately I'm PC right now so its a no-go – Stavrosound Sep 15 '13 at 1:15
  • Looking for more avant-garde inspiration than the computer/tech I've been designing over the years. – Stavrosound Sep 15 '13 at 1:24
  • @Stavrosound All of them do. Endorsed/used by e.g. Richard Devine (well-known for his "hi-tech" sound, soundcloud.com/twistedtools/richard-devine-s-layer-demos/…). They're all just slightly different and not straightforwardly comparable. – 0.5piRC Sep 15 '13 at 12:52
  • S-Layer might be a good investment given that out of the mentioned it's probably the most feasible for total randomization and "lucky accidents". Affordable at only $69 (though you also need Reaktor, although that gives you access to the entire NI Reaktor Ensemble database as well). Very easy to use also. – 0.5piRC Sep 15 '13 at 14:01
  • Following the Devine/Twisted Tools theme, have you checked out the Reaktor instrument "Graincube"? It is a collaboration between DevSnd, Rachmiel, Twisted Tools and Antonio Blanca and can be found in the library section of devinesound.net. Much like Metaphysical Function, it has an electro-acoustic output with plenty of randomisation parameters. After a few hours of playing I found the sounds can be generally quite harsh which is not necessarily a bad thing for tech sounds, and you might also want to turn off the reverb. Overall great for experimentation and happy accidents...and free! – Squidlick Oct 9 '13 at 13:36
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  • Ableton Live's M4L granular ensembles
  • MOTU MachFive has a granular module too
  • iZotope Iris, if you can stand the interface

For all three, press Record and start exploring.

Also, it's always a good time to challenge preconceptions of what "computer/tech sound" is.

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Synths can be great for this stuff, although depending on which program is used, I have at times had difficulty getting the sound to not feel "synthy". I think I mentioned this in a thread a while back, but I'm a pretty big fan of taking other recorded sounds and processing them with different plugins like GRM and Sound Toys to get the results I want. Often all that's needed is a little snippet of a recording, like maybe 4-6 frames of a seagull cry with little fades on either end. The sounds of dropping a lot of small metal objects like bullet casings, chains or coins can also be some really nice sources.

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I've used Absynth in the past for these types of sounds. Especially if you're looking for the musical/ evolving textures.

While probably too "standard" for what you're looking to achieve, I also really enjoy using Varun Nair's SigGen to create interesting telemetry elements

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If you're after something original then perhaps the obvious tools like synths and processors should take a back seat? Try recording electromagnetic interference by hooking up a guitar pick up to a preamp and waving it (briefly and carefully) over all of the millions of electronic gizmos we all own. Makes some great sounds and won't damage anything if you're sensible. Maybe get hold of some old computers and record bleeps and bloops from the system speaker?

Another process I love to get really whacky digital sounds is creating digital feedback loops either inside a DAW or using multiple interfaces and computers (be REALLY careful with your speakers on this one!). You can try feeding 1 track into the next, into the next, each with sends to one aux that feeds back into itself, then try sticking plugins on the tracks, the auxes, the master... anywhere there's a slot. map it to a midi controller and perform- you'll get some useable madness I assure you!

Once you have some unique source material then crack out the run of the mill processors and you're sure to get something with a distinct flavour but a polished edge.

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