I use Logic Pro X, but I'm sure sound design uses the same principals no matter which DAW or synth you use. I heard this song the other day and they have this futuristic sound when the beat drops. I know this is a specific sound, but I was wondering what the general principles would be when creating this specific sound or sounds like this (the sound is at 2:33-2:34...it's a downward driving sound).


I'll try to sum up in short + add something to get you going.

  • The technique: the sound is done by generating any kind of texture or sound, and then (1) pitching it downwards (2) applying an LFO to a cutoff of a lowpass filter, then gradually slowing down that LFO — that gives you the "rolling" effect. It can be done in numerous ways, you can even ditch LFO and draw the whole filter rolling yourself if you want to get precise or creative. For a sound source, you can use a vocal sample, a synth source, a recorded noise — pretty much anything that you can pitch and filter for long enough. Results would be very different, of course.
  • Improving upon: adding movement to the sound, like with aforementioned phaser, usually helps, but a lot of times it would sound more subtle if applied over time, or just to a part of your sample. Using a sample that evolves and trying different pitches are also good ideas. Any movement could be a gamechanger: volume, pan, frequency content, detune — nothing is prohibited. Ice the cake with multiband compression, I'm pretty sure it was used here; you can get an OTT plugin for that for free.
  • Tools of the trade: this technique per se does not require any special plugins (can be done with just your equalizer and sampler), though modern synths like Serum and Dune2 usually symplify dealing with LFOs and envelopes a great deal. Massive is actually a bit inferior for two reasons: (1) you can't load your own waveforms/sounds without hacking your way in (2) its oscillators do struggle with aliasing problem, which gets high frequencies overclouded, and thus Massive's not particularly good in the upper range. More reading on the subject could be found by keywords like aliasing, antialiasing, bandlimited oscillator.

Best of luck!

  • That was perfect man 😊 Sorry for the long long delay in accepting this answer. – 02fentym Mar 2 '17 at 23:10

I would try using something like Massive NI to get that sound, but you could probably use a vast host of VI's. To get that effect I would automate a pitch bend from positive 1 octave to negative one octave. I would then automate a wobble (frequency modulation) across the pitch bend so that it starts at several modulation per second then winds down to 1 rps. Hope that makes sense.

  • Yes, that makes sense. Logic has a couple advanced synths that are similar to massive (Alchemy and ES2). What is rps? Is that repetitions per second? – 02fentym Dec 23 '15 at 22:15
  • I think it might be rate per second - same thing though I guess. – Stormy Dec 24 '15 at 2:37
  • It is unlikely that you have to use an add-on instrument in Logic, because the main feature of Logic is it comes with a full suite of instruments and effects built-in. – Simon White Feb 21 '16 at 23:35

Spent a little time with this sound and heres what I came up with. I think there are 3 major components to the sound:

1) pitch drop - as mentioned the pitch bends down several octaves (though its stationary for the first ~200ms)

2) phasing - theres large steaks cut out of the sounds spectral profile indicating phase cancellation of some kind. Its mostly due to a phaser but theres probably some unison too. The speed on the phaser is set pretty fast so that it sweeps all the way down several times.

3) amplitude modulation - theres an lfo (with an almost square shape) modulating either a low pass filter's frequency or just the sound's volume. The rate starts out fast but then slows down as the sound's pitch drops (gives the sound that unwinding feeling)

I started with a saw wave in IL harmor and added these things up but it didnt give the exact sound. The harmonics of the sound you posted arent as crisp and and well defined as a plain saw wave. This could be noise, frequency modulation, or some other kind of phasing. Hope this helps. If I return to this sound and get any closer I'll post an update. let me know if you have further questions.


Agreed with other answers. I use Massive for these types of sounds. You can create an envelope and assign it to the pitch of your oscillators. On trigger, the pitch will then descend. As previously stated, there is definitely phasing happening. In Massive you can use the performer to create the shape of the amplitude/filter modulation.

  • I don't use Massive much anymore, but now that I understand synthesis a bit better, that could certainly work. Thank you for the answer. – 02fentym Mar 2 '17 at 23:11

You have to listen very closely to realise that this effect has been created by resampling and a sync'd oscillator. The reason I say this is resampling is, as the pitch of the sound moves up the grains become closer together and when the sound modulates down in pitch the grains become further apart.

Now for the actual sound beef itself, I'd grab a copy of Xfer Records - Serum synth, there's a wavetable warp mode called Sync 1/2, I've played about with modulating that get basis of the future robot metal sound:


I've used that sample inside Logic's EXS24, the further tweaks are just pitch bend modulation, with the pb range: +12 and -24


At the moment the line that modulates the pitch is a straight diagonal line going from highest pitch to lowest over a bar, you could play about with different gradients to displace the pitch to try and get the song specific articulation, although in the song it seems the pitch mod may have been done with portomento/glide to get the specific articulation. Which is also easily done in EXS24, just make sure the sample is spread across the key range in the Edit tab at the top right, and that it's in mono/legato if you want to use the glide mode.

In Serum try experimenting with different wavetable osc's, my sound starts with a triangle under basic shapes, you can get more exotic and "footure" tone's experimenting with differnet starting osc's and maybe some FM for the squelch!

Hope that helps!!

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