How to Achieve the Classic Poly Funk Synth Sound with NI Massive
This tutorial is a response to a question posed in our forums (forum no longer exists) about recreating a classic poly funky synth in NI Massive. Similar to synthesizing horns, this lesson will share a few tips to help you achieve this classic sound!
From time-to-time I single out a request in our forums that I think will help a lot of people figure out not only how to make a certain type of sound, but also learn more about working with NI Massive in the process. This time around I take on the challenge of showing how to recreate a sound similar to the poly funk synth heard at the beginning of this song. The request was made by user DrunkenMaster2 in this thread on the ADSR forum. This is obviously quite similar to a several different types of horns that can quickly be synthesized by NI Massive. But since it is chorded and carries forward many synth characteristics, we have many ways to recreate it! One of the great things about NI Massive is that the oscillator panels offer up so many options and an abundance of flexibility in how you can interact with the wavetables available. I probably could have gone about this a dozen different ways, easily, but the approach I share in this lesson will hopefully help people outside of this specific sound as well.
Starting out, you need to select some wavetables that will best work with the music you have in mind for it to be used in. Since the original request was to get close to a specific sound, I went with a Chrome wavetable on OSC1, running in Spectrum mode and with the pitch raised up two octaves. Next I loaded a Frozen wavetable into OSC2, running in Bend+ mode and the pitch raised 3 semi-tones. Lastly, I went with a Sine_Square wavetable loaded into OSC3, running in Bend+ mode and the pitch raised up 7 semi-tones. It’s incredibly easy to make a chorded sound like this in NI Massive. as you can see.
Now to get the horn-like delivery we are after there will need to be some modulation envelopes set up, but first I’d like to get the filters squared away. Here a Lowpass4 filter is loaded into Filter1 and an Acid filter is loaded into Filter2. Notice that the routing from the oscillators to the filter panels is slightly biased towards Filter1 (image above).
Now let’s set up some envelopes. There will be a few modulation envelopes used in addition to the main Amp Envelope (4Env).
Here you can see how the first two modulation envelopes have been assigned to the three main oscillators and both filters. These modulation assignments are very intuitive and easy to adjust in NI Massive because of their visual nature.
Pro Tip: A touch of subtle pitch modulation in a sound like this can make it even more expressive and dynamic.
Now we need to add some noise. Ideally, the noise will ramp up relative to the changes in the oscillators’ intensity, so the same modulation envelope should be used. I have chosen to use the Bright preset rather than the typical white noise option so it does not overpower the rest of the sound.
No we can set up the last modulation envelope, which will be used to control one of the insert effects added at this point in the process. This step has a few images for you to take note of, each one is important to the sound coming out right. Since we are adding insert effects, we need to decide where they will placed in the routing schematic so they actually do what we want them to do. The HP LP Filter helps take out some of the highs and lows, while the Frequency Shifter is used to add a little more punch to the initial delivery heard when a note is played. This happens quickly and is controlled by the third modulation envelope. It’s nice that NI Massive has so many modulation controllers to use, as it really makes designing this type of sound easy, no matter how you decide to approach it.
Pro Tip: Routing is incredibly important in many sounds. The placement of Insert 2 in this sound is a perfect example. See if you can figure out why?
A quick visit to the OSC tab gives us a chance to incorporate the Vibrato that was missing. A short and subtle delay is added by way of the AD Internal Envelope modulation controller assigned to the Depth parameter.
Pro Tip: Gain more control over your Vibrato and LFO settings in NI Massive by using the Internal Envelope assignment capabilities!
So all that is left at this point is to add some Chorus for depth and movement, as well as a Delay unit to extend the sound a bit. The EQ unit is also turned on and used to finish shaping the sound. Although the effects found in NI Massive may not be the very best, they can be absolutely essential to a sound being designed properly and successfully. Below, you will also find the setting for the main Amp Envelope.
Pro Tip: Programming a slight difference in delay in your stereo channels can result in a much larger sound!
Here is a small audio sample of this synth in action. No processing of any kind has been applied outside of NI Massive.[audio:https://www.massivesynth.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Poly-Funk-Synth.mp3|titles=Poly Funk Synth]
Again, if you’d like to check out the original ADSR forum post that sparked this tutorial you can do so right here!
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