NI Massive Knowledge Bank Series: High Pitch Police Siren
Welcome back to another installment of the Knowledge Bank Series, where I pick a question posed in the MassiveSynth Knowledge Bank Forum that has yet to be answered and provide an in-depth look as to how you can go about making the sound, fixing the problem or whatever else the post has to do with. Today we take a look at the question of how to make a high pitch police siren squelch sound in NI Massive. It’s actually quite easy and can be made in just a minute or two once you know exactly which parts of the synth make up the primary sounds.
First, you need to select a wavetable that will best fit the type of siren you are trying to emulate. Since police sirens vary greatly, as do any kind of emergency vehicles’ sirens, so we will be focusing on a New York City traffic police car because it is what is specifically mentioned in the question posed by user CAOGPURPS in their post “How To Make: Police Horn”. After flipping through a few sounds, I came to decide on Roughmath II. I then added two more oscillators, both with Roughmath II selected as well. This is because the sound needs to be big, almost overwhelming. It also needs to be high-pitched ans lightly spread out, so I adjusted the pitch on all thee OSC panels and found a good starting point for the mix of sounds to begin creating this siren.
Next is to bring an LFO controller into play. It isn’t a siren without motion, and this sound in particular is moving at a very fast rate. So I went with the 5LFO tab and added it to each of the three OSC panels as a controller on the Pitch value. I moved the waveform over a bit so it had a better starting point in the wave cycle and turned up the Rate knob until it was close to the siren sound we are trying to emulate here.
Next was a small adjustment to the main envelope of the synth. So to the 4Env tab we go! As you can see the Decay Level was turned all the way up and the Attack was turned down. I applied this to the Intensity and Amp knobs of the OSC 1 panel, for a slight touch of extra emphasis and motion, which is one of the subtle elements of a siren that we don’t really take notice of but can make a big difference in creating a more realistic sounding reproduction.
Now for some filters. For FILTER 1 I added Highpass 2 and on FILTER 2 I added Scream. Both were pretty choices for this kind of sound. Take notice of the sliders as well as the knobs in this area, as well as the OSC 1 panel. It is rather essential for a more real sounding siren.
This sound still needs a big boost, so we need to add some FX and EQ. I added a Brauner Tube Amp to FX1, a Dimension Expander to FX2 and turned on the EQ and made some adjustments to help emphasize the more shrill elements of the sound.
A little bit of Noise and Feedback provide a little more reality to the overall sound. I used the Hi-Metallic noise setting and left the feedback in it’s default routing position in the signal flow.
It’s still sounding a little too digital and synthetic, so I added a couple on inserts. I selected Sine Wave Shaper to the INSERT 1 tab and a Bitcrusher to the INSERT 2 tab.
One last touch and then we should be about done. I added just a hair of Phasing from the MODULATION OSC panel.
Now if you listen to the sound of the police car in the video and compare it to the sound that we just created in Massive, you can hear that it’s pretty close. Not perfect, but close. The rest of what needs to happen to it will take place in the DAW when the rest of your project is being arranged and mixed. A touch of atmosphere, a bit of distortion, the right amount of reverb and a good mix with the rest of the sounds being played around it and you should be good to go!
As Always, if you have a question you haven’t been able to get a good answer to, you just might want to consider dropping by the Knowledge Bank and posting it there. We have a great community that continues to grow and share with each other. And you never know, maybe your question will be the next one selected for this tutorial series!