Noise: the sterility antidote (Analogue emulation with Massive)
In this article Rob talks about techniques to get rid of some of the sterility in Massive’s sound for a more analogue emulation!
Noise: the sterility antidote
by Rob Janssen
Various older analogs have inaccuracies, and any newer synth seeking to emulate the older ones needs to take these into account. Lots of (amateur and professional) research has gone into this, and several factors can be singled out as main causes for “warmer” or “richer” sound. Personally, these qualifiers are somewhat meaningless; you can’t even get people to agree about “fatness” of sound, let alone warmth.
The Alesis Ion was one of the first hardware VAs to tackle this issue; not only did it have various filter models based on vintage machines, as opposed to either textbook or homegrown algorithsm – it also had “analog drift”.
Simply put: the fine tune of each key you hit would be offset by a minor amount. So, instead of playing a C major in equal temperament, you’d play C(minus 1 cent), E(plus 2 cents), G(minus 3 cents), and next time you’d play the chord the offsets would be different again. This… sort of worked; the effect was enjoyable, but since then we’ve found a lot more causes.
Massive does not have such a typical modulator (DCAM Synth Squad has, but its modulation matrix requires you to think differently), but we can still introduce randomness in our oscillator’s tunings. The only issue is – the waveshapes for the LFO aren’t purely random, and we can not use the noise oscillator as a source. So, perhaps we can make them pseudo-random.
Lots of things going on in here, and something interesting – the LFO is modulating itself. The output blends between the curves above, giving a more chaotic curve than you’d usually get by choosing just one – and it also modulates its own rate. If you keep the values low, modulation won’t be extreme, and you’d get a pleasant, slow drift.
Modulate OSC1s pitch just a little bit and fine-tune the whole with the Amp knob on the LFO or the value in the pitch window; you don’t want the effect to be too noticeable. For better randomness, simply use two LFOs and set them up as above, choosing different waveforms – but now you let LFO5 modulate LFO6s parameters and vice-versa. Turn the amp knob and the oscillator modulation up to maximum and +12 semitones so you can hear what’s going on and if it’s random enough.
For two oscillators, duplicate the entire setup again; make 7 and 8 also LFOs, choose different waveforms again, and route them to OSC2’s pitch. Or choose to handle everything as in the example with just 2 self-modifying LFOs; as long as the oscillator’s modulations don’t mirror each other’s, it’ll be random enough.
Besides oscillator pitch – modulate filter cutoff and resonance in the same way. This causes the filter to behave less than perfect, and it gives a better analog-ish emulation.