Synthesizing Classic Pads

Has anyone managed to use OP-1 to synthesize something that sounds similar to classing soft pads? I fiddled with all of the engines but haven’t coaxed anything even close. Most of my attempts have too much grit or have that brass-like quality. Any tips?

Check out cluster. It’s a bit weak because with certain settings, the engine itself decays much faster than the audio produced by it in the release phase. You can work around this by sampling if you want, or throw some delay or CWO on it to hide the awkward tails. I think the green knob controls some kind of filter envelope on cluster. Another tip that works with cluster or any engine to thicken things up is to record the same sound panned on two tracks. I used to advocate subtle differences in programming or effects values on each of the panned tracks, and lately have added detune to the mix since a recent OS update. Record one take on your left channel, then hold shift while pressing the metronome button to find the detune. Dial things down a few cents and record the same part on the opposite panned track. This will give a nice chorused pad sound on any engine, assuming the sound is not too bright.

I will add that I like to use endless to record these same phrases when not playing by hand. If you record an endless sequence with either 8th or 16th notes, you will be able to change the shuffle amount to further separate left and right channel audio. It may be worth it to tap in a few more tied notes even if your pads are just quarter notes for access to the shuffle. For those unfamiliar, you can keep shift and a note or notes held while extending their gate time by pressing the right arrow as many steps as you want the sound held.

yea! cluster for sure. pulse works too

Digital grit/artifacting is just hard to get rid of on the OP-1. I will say that you can get close with Dr. Wave, too, if you use the Orange knob to slow the speed so it’s nice and gentle, use Blue to adjust the fineness/resolution of the wave so it’s as detailed as possible, not stepping and stuttering as it aliases along, and use Nitro, Punch is just too aggressive for this sort of sound.

Hey @Lymtronics I was wondering, if you dedicate two tracks to pads, are you then limited to just two more audio tracks, or do you mix down more complex stuff first and add pads last?

I tend to use FM, Cluster, Pulse, Digital and DR Wave for pad sounds, I will often use Nitro to remove a lot of the top end, and of course have a very slow attack on the envelope. Here is an album I made using just the OP1 which contains lots of soft pads

I love the OP1 for pads!

@Tribrix I’ll add more than just the pads to those two tracks. I usually have track one panned left, track two panned right, and three and four centered. I usually put drums on their own channel (or sometimes put the bass on the drum channel). You can detune things against each other with a panned and a centered track as well. You can move things around the mix between hard panning by balancing a centered track with one of the panned ones. I just woke up, so this feels like it isn’t too helpful.

So, as you are building, do you always leave one track free (for mixdown) or do you use album for mixdowns? Is there a way to perfectly synchronize album and tape starts? One of the things I always admire in your tracks is the depth of texture, so I’m curious about how you get it, within all the limitations of the system. I know how I would solve these problems, but my solution seems lacking when I listen to your tracks. Also, I’m starting to do much more complex stuff (making an album of acid/house music) now and so these issues are plaguing me. lol

The way I think @Lymtronics is doing it is that he overdubs the tracks with more and more layers. No mixdown or merging (then you wouldnt get the stereoeffect). Thats how I´ve done it (after learning it from Lymtronics at ohpeewon). A destructive way to work, although u can of course lift and drop before overdubbing :slight_smile:

Actually, kind of like mixing down, or, at least, could be done that way, to avoid a major cluster$#@?. Using ear to dub the one track over the other. Using lift only works if the song is short (or the part is). The thing I’m doing now in the OP-1 is my most complex OP-1 track yet. It’s on the verge of coming unglued too. This is the third time I’ve tried to do it. Each time it falls apart and I have to start from scratch. Fingers crossed for this one.

@Tribrix , yeah @Slomen pretty much nailed it. I haven’t messed around with bouncing from album in a very long time mainly because of the loss of stereo spacing. I’ve occasionally been intrigued by using the ear function to record the master eq settings, but I don’t have a lot of experience with it and usually do something stupid like record the drive settings or forget to turn ear off (wish it would turn itself off between screens like the microphone or line in).
The textures are usually multiple synths layered up. Sometimes I think of synth patches as single oscillators and use the tape to combine them into a bigger sound with the panning and detuning with shift plus the metronome. I’ll record the same musical phrase multiple times on different tracks with different parameter and effects settings to add depth and complexity to what is basically a single sound. If you’re using a sequence, you can also turn the tape speed up or down and transpose the sequence by the same number of steps on the keyboard to alter effects and envelope settings without messing up your patch. You can also turn the tape speed up or down and transpose the master tune by as many steps and play your same phrase by hand. Of course you could also figure out the notes in the new key, but this is a handy time saver.

Thanks for all the suggestions @lymtronics it’s really good to hear how you do it. I’m gong town ploy some of that in the track I’m doing now.

Thank you all for ideas. The biggest challenge for me is to make the pad “shimmer”. Most engines make interesting pads, but turn too brassy or violin-like without some serious filtering. The shimmer, however, lives in higher frequencies. I think I got the closest to my goal with Dr. Wave.

, really cool tracks there

have you tried sampling some noise, high pass filtering it with Nitro and maybe an LFO for a little motion, and mix that with a Dr Wave pad and resample it all into Sampler? or overdub the track with filtered noise?

I’m not sure if it’s the right sort of shimmer, but you could try using Punch’s wet/dry mix (Orange parameter) to add a bit of high frequency movement; I find that setting it to 90 or 95 can often add a bit of interesting shimmer.

Typically I think one would have used chorus to get this effect. Since CWO is the main modulation effect on the OP-1 I’ve tried to use it, with LFO to get that shimmer but so far no luck. If anyone cracks this I will be very happy to hear.

Chorus is usually a detune and pan effect. This can be achieved with pairs of tape tracks.

I’ve used Phone as a sort of chorus (it’s a bit weird, but you can get some doubling/detuning sounds).

Load the default Phone, then shift+turn Blue 3-4 clicks clockwise; this should get it approximately in tune (tune to taste). Then set Green to 99, White to 0, and Orange to taste (50ish, so there’s a mix of wet and dry).

If you use this on master with some panned sounds, you can get some pretty great stereo fx; just play with Green/White/Orange.

Re shimmer… I sometimes do this on drums, but I can imagine it might also have a shimmer effect on some pads. It basically adds some spring reverb on just the high frequencies.

Take some existing audio. Then arm the white ear, cancel out the lows and mids in the master eq and add some spring master effect (shimmery settings :wink: ). Then make a recording of your audio on another bit of spare track - this is the shimmer. Then mix that back into the original (bounce if you like).

A bit faffy, and sometimes I end up ditching it, but it sometimes delivers the shimmery goods!