I'm working on a 16-bit game. I need to replicate with a synth this sword sound

How can I do?

  • why does it need to be done with a synth? and what have you already tried? this makes it easier to answer your kinda short question. – Arnoud Traa Nov 21 '13 at 17:19
  • I need a synthetic sound, not a real sound. I have tried with Sylenth, that's a synth vst. I would like to know the theoretical method to make a sword sound. Then I can replicate the procedure in my own synth. – Sigis Nov 21 '13 at 17:25

Metallic sounds are pretty much impossible with subtractive synth, unless it's subtractive that does analog style fm. Fm is definitely way to go if you want metallic sounds.

Not exactly what you are asking for, but sound of 16bit era can be easily replicated by using just very low quality samples or bitcrusher. Start from 11khz 8bit go lower from there. Amiga sound is about 8khz or 4khz. Not sure about game consoles, but if I remember correctly they often used low samplerate 4bit dpcm.

  • So in order to obtain a 16 bit sword effect, is it possible to take a real sword sound and process it through a bitcrusher? – Sigis Nov 21 '13 at 17:51
  • 1
    Yes. If result sounds too harsh try using a lowpass filter after it. If you feel it needs more high frequency content try mixing it with some very simple synthesis like basic square waves very slightly filtered. Here is a small test based on the sample you provided. Done in pseudo SNES style. Bitcrusher with 8bit and about 8khz settings, lowpass filter and slightly filtered squarewave. dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2513634/retro_sword_hit.wav – sauli Nov 21 '13 at 18:54
  • Great! What bitcrusher did you use? – Sigis Nov 21 '13 at 20:30
  • Renoise native one, but only reason for this was that I had Renoise already open. Wouldn't recommend a tracker for sound design anyway :) If you want to grab a good free one check TB Timemachine toneboosters.com/tb-timemachine . It has adjustable aliasing which is nice. – sauli Nov 21 '13 at 21:00

It's totally possible to synthesize this sound, and you don't need any complex techniques to do it. Andy Farnell wrote a book on this stuff, and you should definitely read it if you're interested. All you need for this are a white noise source, envelope, fixed filter bank of about 8 bands and another sine oscillator to add some ringmod. The key is the ringing sound that metals like this make, and that come from the resonant filters. Of course you can't do this with a regular synth, you will need a modular environment like PD, Max or Reaktor or a text language like Supercollider (or lots of others).

Read the book.

  • Well, the techniques aren't that good. As if to synthesize the sound that was posted. – mavavilj Nov 21 '13 at 22:35
  • Sorry, what exactly you do you mean? Are you saying the techniques don't work well? – Mark Durham Nov 21 '13 at 22:45
  • Well, if you check the sample that the OP posted. Synthesis just isn't THAT good. – mavavilj Nov 21 '13 at 22:57
  • I think it's possible to get quite close, or at least close enough that if they were synchronized visually with a sword hit, most people wouldn't question the authenticity of the sound. But let's also remember that the techniques in the book are designed to use very low amounts of processing, and were always meant to be developed. – Mark Durham Nov 22 '13 at 9:23

If you're going strictly synth I'd figure on an FM synth with a sort of pitched-up bell patch and a hint of reverb.

  • Is it possible to do with subtractive or addictive synthesis? – Sigis Nov 21 '13 at 17:32

I think it just might be too technical to expect to synthesize a real world sound (or if you do, I expect you to have a solid background in math and EE, because this topic is sort of "cutting-edge" in audio signal processing). The sample you provided is clearly not synthetic. Be serious about what you're trying to ask and do (it's simply not possible, there are no tools for synthesizing sword hits from scratch).

How about just buying a sound pack or recording some of your own sword clashes?

I would like to know the theoretical method to make a sword sound. Then I can replicate the procedure in my own synth.

There's no such thing as "theoretical method" other than the mathematical formalism(s) used to perform physical modelling synthesis of bells and metals. I don't expect that you're looking for that when asking for a "theoretical method" (which the involved mathematics specifically is). There are a few VSTs that do physical modelling synthesis however, like Ableton's Collision. But recording is heaps and bounds better for the use that you specify. Physical modelling synths are generally better suited to be used as percussion instruments.

  • I know for sure that every type of sound can be synthetized. I didn't expect the "exact formula", but just some suggestions to achieve a decent result, using the tools I got. – Sigis Nov 21 '13 at 20:28
  • "I know for sure that every type of sound can be synthetized.". If this is based on the notion that additive synthesis (which is theoretically function approximation as Joseph Fourier described it), then this is practically wrong, but theoretically right. There are no tools and not enough CPU power and no methods by which you could practically synthesize every possible sound. You could, iff you knew how to synthesize a certain sound, but we don't, other than by analyzing real-world sounds and doing resynthesis, which is technically not synthesis, it's analysis. – mavavilj Nov 21 '13 at 21:08
  • I didn't say "I know for sure that every type of sound can be synthetized with the additive synthesis". So your comment is out of point. However my original question was very simple. If you don't have a helpful answer, please don't comment. – Sigis Nov 21 '13 at 21:17
  • I gave you the facts about sound synthesis. – mavavilj Nov 21 '13 at 21:49
  • Sigis, i think 0.5pIRC is trying to be helpful, he is actually saying very interesting things. It's perhaps not the answer you're looking for, but he is trying to help you. Be grateful for that. – Arnoud Traa Nov 23 '13 at 9:36

Andy Farnell's Designing Sound is well worth a look if you're interested in procedural audio but to really understand it takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you're not mathematically inclined. In most cases the results won't often fool anyone into thinking they're hearing the real thing but that doesn't seem to be what you're after here.

If you're just trying to emulate the sounds of retro games I'd suggest that manipulating the audio recording would be the most simple option. Bit crush/ downsample, filter, maybe cut off the tail to give it an unnatural sound, maybe see how "bad" pitch/ time stretching changes the sound, all the general lo-fi techniques.

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