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 Post subject: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:42 pm 
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Supersacrifice

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I‘ve been trying to make some more pad-centric tracks lately. I‘m really impressed by people like Dozzy that can carry a whole track with a really simple, smooth pad. Mine always sound too wash-y or too harsh/agressive. Do you guys have a usual process for pad? What kind of source sounds, how much processing etc. ? What be cool to hear if you guys have any cool tricks/techniques.

Something I‘ve only realized recently is how important fx placement is for atmospheric sounds. A reverb before filtering creates a much snoother sound than the other way around. Also I‘ve been putting stereo delays after reverbs to create really nice and wide stereo images. I‘ve been playing around a bit more with time stretching and resampling (used to basically never do it) definitely something I need to look into more.


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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:16 pm 
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Opposite

Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:10 pm
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One thing I do a lot is to use something like a pitch-shifter on a single or two notes instead of a full chord from a synth. This gives a special character/texture. I use mostly Crystallizer by Soundtoys for that.


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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:18 pm 
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Opposite

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Anoher thing: don't use static reverb settings. Usually I run the pad sound through my Eventide Space and play with the knobs while recording it. Or you could automate the settings of a plug-in. Slowly changing the "size" setting can create a chorus-like effect as it results in detuning.


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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:12 am 
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Usually use Chromaphone through an arpeggiator and then through distortion & a long 100% wet reverb for a basic pad. The arp through the verb gives the pad movement especially if it's set to move through octaves.


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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:08 pm 
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Wastedddd

Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:05 am
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I always find myself making and recording pads. It really changes up with each one as it depends on it's context within a track or if it's the main part of a track.

Depending on the type of pad and getting it to sound softer, here's a few things I try to think about.

- Try to use the right kind of filter. Have a session when you try yours out and see what kind of filter smooths things out the best. For example I sometimes use cytomic the drop which can just make a pad sit better in the mix, just have to try and see as a good filter can make a big difference.

- I make pads out of everything, one thing I'm enjoying at the moment is using tal sampler, and using wave files of old synths osc's like the esq80 and kawai waves. I usually use quite a lot of modulation to give them subtle movement, sometimes not subtle at all, this can help it sit better as well as moments when say, upper mids become more prominent aren't sustained for the whole duration of the sound.

- More of a mixing tip, but I find one you've been making something like a pad for a while, have a break or listen to something else for a bit then go back and Eq anything away that needs it. I often find I need to take out a bit of the upper mids and that can make the whole thing sound more natural. Having a break it's often easy to pick out a delay feedback that's ringing quite a bit that you just get used to after a while, at least I do.

- Using delays/echos and reverbs are going to stack up and build on each other, I usually dip a bit of eq after feedbacks to get them to sit nicer if there's any nasty build ups in recordings.

- Harshness/aggressiveness. Everything in a pad or fx chain could contribute to that, it could be as simple as turning it down, taking out some of the mid range or top end. Or just using a different sound source or playing a different octave. In essence I think I'm saying just look through your chain and experiment everywhere trying to get it to sit softer.

- Chorusing effects vary a lot and sometimes a something like a nice ensemble chorus can make something sit and feel completely different so it's good to know which ones you have contribute towards a softer sound.

- Saturation, I find especially tape saturation can help in de-harshing the mids. Recently I've been applying this quite early on with a sound and if recorded through a tape emu, sometimes a sound needs less eq as it's been tamed in a nice pleasing way. This varies though and for some sounds it works and some it doesn't. I'd say most of my pads have some saturation on them though.

- Too washy is probably a symptom of too much reverb and or delay. Hard to say without hearing what your describing but I imagine balance of the frequencies, combined with dialling back your effects will help get rid of some of that wash.

I'm no expert, but I love making pads and spend a lot of time making them. These are just a few things that spring to mind with getting rid of harshness/aggressiveness, some might be a bit basic but all good things to have in mind, hope that helps.


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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:09 pm 
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Play fucking complex chords. That's the most important thing.

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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:54 pm 
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Gnasher
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rktic wrote:
Play fucking complex chords. That's the most important thing.


This! Play around with your chords. The same pad sound can end very different when changing the notes. And check chord changes, they also do a lot about how pads and your track take effect.

One basic thing is to detune the osc so your pads starts to float. Chorus can be nice, reverb as said, filter envelopes, lfo modulation, ... layering can be a trick, too. Use a warm and unspectacular pad for the lower part and something with more movement and things going on in the higher register.

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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:02 pm 
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dubdub wrote:
I‘ve been trying to make some more pad-centric tracks lately. I‘m really impressed by people like Dozzy that can carry a whole track with a really simple, smooth pad. Mine always sound too wash-y or too harsh/agressive. Do you guys have a usual process for pad? What kind of source sounds, how much processing etc. ? What be cool to hear if you guys have any cool tricks/techniques.


For me, a pad sound is a chord, otherwise it's a drone or some sort of harmonic cluster. So really, you need to nail down the purpose of what you want and what role it is playing in your track. Big 2 handed pad chords are different than say, some resampled cluster made from a reverb freeze. Today, I threw a trashy snare loop into paul stretch so I could have a tail to play with and that ended up becoming a rich, pad like texture for something I am doing.

You should specify what you're going for, maybe ppl can be more specific. I'm not sure what pad-centric means. :)

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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:08 am 
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Gnasher
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discovered this only recently, but i guess most of you know already.
you can make pads easily out of a frozen reverb tail. as source a saw wave is nice, maybe add some modulation, subtle lfo movement. here you can really experiment with the synths you have, to get some nice harmonic source material
then reverb the shit out of it :D i lately tried to first automate the decay time to descend/ascend before freezing to get more movement. play a note you like, then freeze it.
resample/stretch and then cut with eq, maybe add something like crystalizer as someone already mentioned. whats also nice with pads is to do big polyrhythms or even triplets over a few bars.

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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:30 pm 
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I mentioned the reverb freeze above although when I've used it, I tend to try it on things that I couldn't make a pad out of. I've never considered using a standard waveform since I can already make a pad with that sound in a synth or sampler but I couldn't normally make a pad from the harmonics of a trashy snare for instance. I tried to tune it beforehand ( I used Paul Stretch which I guess gives similar results - at least to my ears ) I notched up a few frequencies that were musical to what I was doing and made 2 bars worth of 16th notes to bounce out into Paul Stretch. I dunno what it is but if I put a single hit into Paul Stretch, I get no sound returned. I have to make something like 2 bars? Odd.

Anyway, some further resampling and eq tweaks and it became quite an interesting pad. Kind of atonal but with tonal if that makes sense?

It's not normally how I use Paul Stretch, strangely, I'm normally in there for drum stuff, creating 'gated reverbs' and kick rumbles from the original source sounds.

Anyway, with traditional pad chords, you sometimes want a richer/complex chord but you don't want the thickness/muddiness of that sort of dense note cluster so you can get interesting stuff by breaking a chord down and using just a couple of notes from it.

I tend to avoid basic triads except for using them over the top of other more richer chords, that's just personal but I find I slip into that Dub techno sound when just using minor triads or something but a lot of people seem to stay clear of chords that contain the word 'major'. I think they associate that word with 'happy/polite/nice' etc but really, when you get above the triad, the major 7th chord for example has the potential to be quite spooky/tense when voiced in certain ways.

If you look at an FMaj7, it contains these notes: F/A/C/E. When played like that, it has quite a melancholic sound but when you start omitting notes or re-organizing ( inverting ) the chord, it can be quite jarring. The cool thing with Maj7ths ( and certain other chords ) is the semitone interval between the root and the major 7th, in this case the F and the E and when they're positioned in the same octave there's a tension as they're right next to each other. It takes on a completely different vibe if you omit notes. Like you could take your FMaj7 and just play something like E/F/A which is just the Maj7th, the root and the Maj3rd and leave other notes of the chord for other sounds, like playing a lot of 'D' notes in the bass or something. ( FMaj7 with a 'D' note under it is Dmin9 D/F/A/C/E ) So I guess there, you'd essentially doing a deconstructed Dm9 chord, shift your E/F/A up 5 semitones and you get A/Bb/D so you've just gone from FMaj7 to BbMaj7 albiet deconstructed and if you added a 'D' in the bass and a 'G', you could interpret that as Dm9 to Gm9 which is a I-IV progression in D minor.

Things can get really tense when you superimpose stuff like that too, playing those together you'd have E/F/A/Bb/D, dragging chords like that out for 6 or so minutes might be a bit disturbing for some ears but I quite like it myself but moving the intervals around for variations on the same chord/s can be an interesting way to add interest without making things sound like a song/chord progression. Sorry about the theory talk but it's hard to try and talk about something without it sometimes but yeah, for pad stuff it can be interesting and effective to 'think big' in terms of a chord and then deconstruct it. Big block chords obviously have their use as well but sometimes it's nice to be a bit more subtle and it leaves mix space too.


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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:03 pm 
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Supersacrifice

Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:49 pm
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Some nice ideas guys! Will try some of those out when I have some time.

Regarding chords, I've also have gotten better results by simplifying them, not trieds but like simple 7ths and 9ths seem to work well.


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 Post subject: Re: pad/atmospheric sound techniques
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:34 am 
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Great thread guys, helped me a lot!

I've experimented some stuff here like you guys said:

In one track I played a big ass 8 note chord on the Mini V and added some motion with LFO, long attack and stuff. Then added a really long reverb (Little Plate from soundtoys) with modulation on and got me some nice distortion and size. A stereo delay with some saturation and in the end added the crystalized (Thx for that tip btw) and sounded great!

The second experiment was a bit more interesting:

I sampled a choir from the internet and did all the process above and got a really good result with more notes flowing through time creating a lush melody/pad.

Thanks for the tips and I hope I could help anyone with my experience.

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