I've been trying to recreate the synth sound used in the Calvin Harris remix of the track Eat. Sleep. Rave. Repeat.

If you are not familiar with it, it is here:

The sound is the the first sound that you hear, the acid house sounding synth stab.

Don't need exact settings, just suggestions on how you think it might have been created so I can emulate it. Subtractive or FM synth... type of wave. Type of modulators. Filters. Post synth effects... I have created a number of other acid sounds, but none of them have this synth stab with all the high end tones in it. Can't quite figure out how he does it. I'm using Ableton, and best luck I've had is with Analog (subtractive synth), but even that is pretty far off. Not sure if it's actually some sort of sampling and wave form editing rather than a synth sound.


4 Answers 4


The classical acid sound comes from the TB-303 Synthesizer. The effect is generated by using high amounts of resonance on its 4-pole 24 dB/Octave Filter. Then the filter gets modulated via an envelope. (Decaying motion in most parts)

The Acid sound you here in this intro is a combination of a minimoog like bass synth and a "acid" TB-303-like fx/melody synth. (Which is typical in acid)

I can't tell you exactly which waveform and synth it is, but I definitely hear some distortion (maybe in parallel)

One thing that comes in my mind when i hear the track is the Darude - sandstorm sound, which is nicely emulated by a silenth 1 preset. So maybe this could be a start for you to tweak.


The TB 303 obsentiably has a "square" and a "saw" wave, but neither one of them are particularly square or saw like--especially the square!. Your best bet is to find a sample of an original TB 303 (or one of the true clones) with the filter fully open and no resonance.

Play around with a 3 pole or 4 pole filter. The TB-303 has a very messed up 4 pole ladder filter, so there is a lot of dispute as to whether or not its a full 24 pole filter, or an 18 pole filter. Try both and see what you get. If you're using Ableton and the sampler, this is where you want to add the shaper to the filter. The range of the cutoff and resonance isn't that big.

Next up is the envelope. Luckily there doesn't seem to be any accented notes in that particular sequence, so you don't have to emulate that. An accented note is louder, has a bit of a filter and possibly resonance boost, also the decay of the note is set to the minimum decay). You'll need to set up a fast attack on your filter modulation, and then a decay time to taste down to zero. Also play around with the envelope amount.

FInally, you will want to add some kind of distortion in there for sure. Play around with the saturator. My suggestion is to listen to a clean TB 303, and get your synth sounding as close as you can, THEN add the distortion.

There is a lot to the TB-303, and the more you learn about it, the more you realize it's unique characteristics. That said this will at least get you started.


For anyone who wants to make this sound in MASSIVE it's pretty simple.

You only need one Oscillator on. Select Squ-Sw 1 and pull the WT-position all the way to the right so you only get a normal saw sound. Pull the F2 switch all the way up. At this point you wont hear any sound. On "filter 1" select Acid. Pull the resonance to the top. Take envelope 1 and drag/drop to the Cutoff. Hold it in and pull it up (you should start hearing sound) so it goest 180 degrees around the cutoff knob.

Go to envelope 1 and turn attack down to 0. Max out Level knob left of the attack knob. Decay knob about 180 degrees around the knob. Upp the level knob right of the decay knob just by about 1/5 of the knob total amount. And then 0 on the release knob.

On FX1 add a dimension expander. Lower the size a little bit and upp the dry/wet knob untill you think it sound good.Then down on Insert 1 put a sine-shaper pull the drive and wet knob up about 1/3. Then on Insert 2 add a Hard Clipper and pull the drive to maximum and add 1/5 of the wet knob. Then go to EQ and add some high frequencies.

The tempo of the track is 129 BPM. And the key is G. To get exactly as the song putt it on G3 in the piano roll.

Another good thing to get it a little bit more edgy and ravish is to add an EQ in the mixer and cutoff the lows to your own taste and increase with a quite wide Q setting around 1dB at 1000-3000khz to get more cripsy but still hollow sound. In my own opinion this sounds more authentic like sort of the stuff you hear in these rave songs.

You might have to play a little bit with the knobs i have given in the instructions if they aren't well balanced to get the results you want. Cheers!


303 w/ envelope on the filter cutoff + distortion. pretty straightforward.

  • Can you be a bit more descriptive. Thx.
    – JSmith
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 19:24

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