4 Tips and Tricks for Perfecting Your Sound Design
Sound design is the bass (pun intended) for music production. It is the rawest form of synthesis; and it allow people to create sounds that were not possible years ago. While it may seem tedious to learn all of the knobs, and methods, the overall concept is actually quite simple. The synth generates a sound, and it is essentially up to you how you let the sound be perceived (whether you give it a cutoff, or a lot of reverb, some distortion, etc). Here are some tips and tricks to boost your sound design:
Do it for fun
You’d be surprised how much you’ll learn when you treat sound design as practice or for fun. Sometimes, I sit down at my computer, pick two random wave forms, and try to make a sound out of them. Chances are, the sound probably won’t be used in any sort of production. But when you need a specific sound, you’ll have a better idea of how to make it. In this method, you are also self-teaching, which I consider one of the best ways to get better at music production because you are discovering everything yourself, leading to more original sounds.
Don’t limit yourself to presets
Percussion is just as important as synths. Another way to get better at sound design is to make samples like kicks and hats. You may think that creating percussion in Serum is difficult, but there are numerous tools in which aid you in just that concept. Creating synth and percussion samples also provides skill for careers besides being a music producer. You can earn money selling your samples online, or you can give them away to build PR and more of an audience. The only thing you need to be careful of before you begin creating samples is whether the virtual instrument you are using is can be used to create samples for monetization. Some synths and sound libraries (*cough* Native Instruments *cough*) prohibit creators from selling samples created with some of their instruments. But overall, creating samples can drastically change how you look at sound design.
Take advantage of Serum’s Render OSC function
Now we’re getting more detailed into Serum’s features. If you’ve been using it for a while, you may of seen this function before. Essentially, it renders a wavetable based on the warp settings – which means you can get some pretty crazy results from it. Serum’s warp knob alone is a powerful tool, so being able to (kind of) stack these together is amazing. In addition, it is a great way to get new inspiration for sounds. Sometimes, I use this feature to get new views on what I am working on and to overcome writer’s block. It is truly one of the most underrated features from Serum.
Create presets from samples
Yes, it is possible (and works surprisingly well)! From experimenting around, I’ve found that any short sample (like a oneshot) works considerably well. One feature you may of not known existed is that you can drag a sample onto either wavetable and it will be converted into a waveform depending on what mode you use. Here is how you can take advantage of this and make a organic pluck:
- Find your choice of pluck sample. This could be from another preset that you rendered, a sample you found online, or even from FL Studio’s Plucked! instrument. In this example, I am using a sample I found online.
- Drag the sample over to Serum’s Oscillator A and choose the mode you would like to use. Any one will technically work, but I found that import: constant framesize (pitch avg) worked the best.
- Now you need to modulate the WT POS knob so that the waveform plays through. There are a few ways to do this, but I simply made an envelope with no sustain and a small decay and dragged it over to the WT POS knob. Now the waveform plays through.
- Here’s where you can get creative – what you do next can all depend on what sound you want. In this case, I increased the voice count, lowered the detune, and added a slight cutoff connected to the envelope for the WT POS knob. I then duplicated OSC A to OSC B, and raised OSC B by an octave. I also gave the pluck a bit of reverb.
- The last thing you should do is to make the pluck sound more organic. To do this, I gave the first envelope a bit of decay (about 700 ms) and put the sustain at around -12 db. Then I also gave it a bit of release to finish it off.
Here’s a quick video of how I made it:
I hope these techniques help you as much as they helped me! If you have any questions, comment down below or send me a DM on discord (Snipet#2427). And as always, happy sound designing!