“Swapping out modules to check how they affect the sound is fun, but what makes the difference between a mediocre preset and a killer one is the sum of many details. Here are a few examples of such tweaks…”
“Try using Poly2 more often. It's not just a CPU-saver – it also gives the voices a different character'…
“Load HS Ganymede from the 4 Dream Synth folder, hold a chord with your left hand and play a fairly slow melody over the top. After the initial slow attack, as long as you leave some space between notes, that melody will sound like a separate little monosynth. Now switch Mode (the selector immediately above Accuracy) to Poly and compare. The melody blends into the background now – it loses that solo character.
“By the way, the obvious way to save CPU is to set a lower Accuracy – it doesn't always have to be Divine – set it to Fast and play that Ganymede preset again. Honestly now – how much difference can you hear between Fast and Divine mode while playing this particular preset? Now try Draft mode.”
“Pressure, in Diva-speak, is a great source of expression, but the results can be too subtle or too radical, with very little ‘sweet spot' in between.
“Try slowing it down. Locate Lag in the Modifications panel and choose Pressure as source. Turn the Lag knob up to about
50, then use Lag as a modulation source – for the filter Cutoff, for example.
“The next trick doesn't affect the range but ensures that medium aftertouch stays fairly subtle: Choose Pressure for both Multiply sources, then use Multiply as your modulator. Think of it like this: Zero remains zero, half becomes a quarter, one remains one.”
“Use the StackIndex to create interesting rhythms. Load INIT Mongrel-2 from the 8 Templates folder. In the filter, drag Cutoff down to minimum, and Cutoff modulation from LFO2 up to maximum. Also set Envelope 1's Sustain to maximum so that sustained notes don't fade out. Hold a low note. You should hear a regular ‘wub'.
“In LFO2, choose StackIndex to modulate the rate (the selector below Polarity) and turn Rate Mod up to precisely 1.00. LFO2 is now twice as fast as it was before. Set Stack to 2 and hold that note again. The LFO2 in one of the voices is four times as fast as the other (doubled in voice 1, halved in voice 2).”
… AND THEN…
“Let's quickly turn this into a kind of ‘cinematic march' sound. In the oscillator, choose Noise and Sawtooth and set both
Volumes to 50. Turn the amount of LFO2 cutoff modulation down to about 50 and add reverb. Replace Env 2 in the filter with ModWheel and turn the amount up to about 30. Now play a low minor chord and ride the modulation wheel.”
“It's worth getting a feel for the ranges of parameters in the Trimmers page, as this is the ultimate source of all analogue ‘slop'.
“Load INIT Mongrel-2 again. All offsets in Oscillator Voice Detune are scaled by
Detune Amt, so you won't hear any voice detuning if this is set to zero. Turn it up to
maximum, play the same note repeatedly and listen for a while…
“Adjust the top row of Trimmers to extreme values and listen again. Turn
Detune Amt down to minimum and turn Voice Drift up instead. Hold a note and listen to how much the pitch wavers. Quite subtle. Similarly, check out what maximum Variance does to each parameter.”
“Don't delete primitive versions of your sounds because you feel that later versions are so much more sophisticated. Check your original ‘raw power' versions again – if one of them sounds great, keep it!”
Where better to learn how to master Diva than from one of the synth’s original sound designers? We hunted down Howard Scarr for his pro tips