was wondering which tools, tips and tricks we have at our disposal nowadays to avoid the "machine gun" effect, when creating sampled instruments but! also when designing sounds that we want to "behave" like an acoustic instrument (not sound but behave)

so far I've found and use:

  • modulating the sample start with a randomizer
  • creating round robin sets
  • adding an LFO that's modulated by the velocity (the quieter the darker and viceversa)

I use these with Kontakt (when dealing with samples) and with Absynth and Omnisphere when dealing with synthesis

again, the focus here is the beginning of the sound..

anything else you might suggest, share?

2 Answers 2


Some possibilities…
Some of these are old old tricks & may not be necessary with modern equipment & space to sample huge numbers of layers/velocities

  • Randomisation - of anything, so long as it's subtle
  • Velocity to pitch - louder is higher [very slight, of course]
  • velocity to filter - was always an old favourite, but we have more chance to have samples to match velocities these days, so I'd say less important.
  • velocity to envelope attack - slightly hiding a transient at low velocity.
  • samples layered with low & high overtone variants [or fundamental + overtone layers], crossfading with velocity. There was a lot of work done in the 90s to separate fundamental from individual overtones, quite successfully, but I'm not sure again with modern sample sizes it's as necessary. Physical modelling almost puts paid to the idea entirely.
  • Initial separation of close-mic [even if synthesised] from ambient, allowing variable mix with pitch & velocity.


Before I used TouchOSC & Embertone myself, & still for most other 'orchestral' sample controls - where often you can access 'hardness of playing' only by either velocity or expression but not both together - I would always map mod wheel to expression [I don't have a separate expression controller] then map velocity slightly to expression too, so I could have overall control using both at once. I then mapped aftertouch to mod-wheel, for vibrato.

  • Welcome - I just thought of some more, really for 'after the fact' i.e., once the sample-set or synth patch is already made. Control structures rather than generation structures.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 6, 2015 at 10:55

I usually randomize velocity itself a tad bit. The sampler does it's work. Apart from sample start which can be a pretty dramatic effect, filter, pitch, pitch of a doubled voice, verb send level, and volume itself can be randomized if the velocity is not helping. You can figure out the mechanics to attaching some sort of randomization to these things. But I've never seen another software imitate the "drunk" object from max/PD. Imagine the graph of the displacement of a drunk person's walk as they stray from the straight line they are trying to walk. A little to the left.....a little to the right....a lot to the right...etc. A brilliant effect on so many properties. Ah Max.

  • thanks for your insights: can you tell me a bit more about this "drunk" thing? does it happen in max? is it a feature or simply your way to describe randomization? lol
    – coroneddu
    Jan 6, 2015 at 10:48
  • It's an object in every version of Max and also in PD (Pure Data), in other words a feature yes that can be attached to modulate any property within those environments...or you could write a patch to send midi information to your DAW for example. It's not your average number generator, as it creates random lines with random wiggles. Jan 9, 2015 at 7:47
  • got it thanks he... are you a Max expert by any "chance"?
    – coroneddu
    Jan 9, 2015 at 20:51
  • Not exactly, just an on and off user/enthusiast. Jan 12, 2015 at 4:12

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