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4. Synthesising an old-school rave pad using Arturia DX7 V
1 The complex nature of FM synthesis makes it a winner for creating dense, rich sounds, such as a classic rave-esque pad. Let’s see how it’s done using Arturia’s DX7 V, a faithful software recreation of the classic Yamaha DX7. Start by importing the
Tutorial Files into a blank 160bpm project, then add DX7 V to the Rave Pad MIDI track.
2 Reset DX7 V to its default settings by opening the Preset menu (top left) and selecting Init from the Template folder. Change the waveform of Operator 1 to
Rounded Saw to introduce extra harmonics compared to the default sine wave. Turning up Operator 2’s Output level to 80 adds a sine wave to the sound, increasing its complexity.
3 Setting Operator 2’s Coarse Tuning to
2 pitches it up an octave, helping to fill the higher frequencies; while changing the waveform to Additive 3 gives the sound a less shrill, more gritty tone. We also change the Filter type to Bandpass with Cutoff at around 2-3kHz and 20% resonance – we can modulate this later on to add interest.
4 We can use Operator 1’s DADSR envelope to give our pad a more authentic sound. Click the Envelopes tab (top centre), and push the Attack amount to around 2 to give it a slower attack. Setting the Peak level to roughly 0.7 will embellish this further, and increasing the
Release will make the chords merge into one another.
5 DX7 V’s Mod Matrix is ideal for adding texture. Set Amount 1’ s source to
LFO1 and destination to Op 2 Detune, then Amount 2 to Op 2 Cutoff. Adjust the modulation amounts to -0.10 and +0.10 respectively – the LFO now modulates Operator 2’s detuning and band-pass filter. LFO1’s Speed and Delay dials offer extra control over the modulation speed.
6 To give the pad a less abrasive sound, let’s modulate Operator 1’s Filter. Start by fully assigning Mod Env 1 to Op 1
Filter in the Mod Matrix, then pull Operator 1’s Filter Cutoff down to 3kHz. Now, open Mod Env 1 in the DADSR, and dial in a long Attack and medium Sustain, so that the filter gradually opens out during each chord.