Designing a Killer Electro Didgeridoo Lead Synth with FM8

This sweet tutorial will show you how to design your own electro didgeridoo lead synth with FM8 to spice up your music and add something that will catch the attention of your fans.

We are all on the hunt for original and unique sounds that we can use in our music productions. This lesson is aimed at breaking away from the normal approach to designing a lead synth with FM8 and showing you how to take advantage of some of the features FM8 offers to bring out some characteristics that otherwise go unnoticed. I have shared how to make some pretty crazy sounds in the past, and this one may rank up near the top of synths that you will work around to make it fit. The didgeridoo has long been used in countless genres of music to add an ethnic or even surreal element to songs ranging from ambient to heavy club bangers. Let’s jump into the tutorial and see how to do it!

First, we begin with the FM Matrix. As you can see in the image below, it is a combination of both clever routing and pitch programming that help us achieve the harmonics and resonance needed to pull this sound off.

FM8 Electro Didgeridoo Lead Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 1

I have also used the Expert Env window’s Link feature to make sure all of the envelopes are shaped exactly the same. This way, the sound is delivered and develops the same way from each of the operators.

FM8 Electro Didgeridoo Lead Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 2

The next step is to set up the Master window. Here the number of voices is increased to a total of six. This allows us to take advantage of the Detune, Pan, Analog and Digital paramaters. Each of these add more character to the sounds while bringing out elements that were unheard before.

FM8 Electro Didgeridoo Lead Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 3

Now a visit to the Easy/Morph window. This is the step that really adds the didgeridoo sound to the synth. Every last little adjustment made to each of the paramaters affects the sound, so if you are wanting to recreate the sound I have exactly, pay close attention to each of the settings in the image below.

FM8 Electro Didgeridoo Lead Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 4

Now to add a total of four effects to the mix. The Shelving EQ is used to accent both highs and lows in the sound. The Peak EQ is used to removed some of the resonance that was unpleasant. The Reverb and Chorus/Delay provide more space and depth to the sound.

FM8 Electro Didgeridoo Lead Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 5

The last part to this process is using the Arpeggiator to automate a sequence. I simply used a preset for this example to help speed things up a bit. As you can see in the image below I chose “Let The Frog ROT!”. You can obviously just program your own midi or arpeggiated sequence and find plenty of cool ways to make this sound work for you. The audio sample below is the synth playing alongside some drums so you can get an idea of how it may work in a mix. No processing has been done outside of what was shown here in the walkthrough while making this lead synth with FM8.

FM8 Electro Didgeridoo Lead Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 6

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Category: FM8 Tutorials
  • Rowan

    I’ve been trying to follow this tutorial for solid hours, getting everything as close as I can to what is shown; however, I get a very different sound, with a lot of noise and none of the real power of the soundbite shown here.

    • OhmLab

      Hi Rowan,

      Without seeing your set up, it is tough to say what could be causing you to have such a different sound. If you are gettign a lot of noise in your sound, it could be the Brightness parameter on the Timbre panel in the Easy/Morph window. It could also be an accumulation of small differences in settings both in this window and the Master window. Make sure you have the Velocity value turned up on the Easy/Morph window and take another look at the settings at the top of the Apreggiator window. You will find that the Note Length, Velocity and Accent all affect the sound greatly.

      I hope this helps you out!


  • Owein

    I agree with Rowan, I followed the instructions to the letter and there’s a lot of noise and not half the amount of punch as the audio clip. I turned the brightness down to about -76 from your pictured -11 and the envelope amount up to 45 and it was closer. I then tried messing with the arpeggiator mods which gave it a touch more punch but it’s still not as close as I would like.

    • OhmLab

      Well, it sounds like with the changes you’ve made you will actually be further away from the sound once you figure out which parameter is not matched up with the tutorial images. Are your Temp and Expressions parameters set up the same on the Easy/Morph window? There should be very little in the way of ‘noise’ in this patch. And there is no processing in play outside of FM8 on this one. My suggestion is to start again and just make sure that you click on the images to enlarge them so you can see the details.