Bodyrox breakthrough track ‘Yeah Yeah’ featured one of the coolest synth sounds ever.
Now the synth sound in the track is a multi layered affair with various octaves playing the same riff on different synths. In this quick tip, I’ll show you how to build the ‘main’ lead sound (or close to it) using a simple instance of Retro Synth in Logic Pro X.
The sound uses a Sync Osc tuned to a Major 3rd. This gives a nice tight buzzy sound that is unique to Sync Oscillators. I believe this was originally done on a Nord Lead 3.
Step 1: Reset!
Load up a Retro Synth and click on the Sync tab. You’ll need to reset some of the Modulation routings in the Settings page (Option-click to zero them). Zero out ‘Sync Modulation’ in the Oscillator section, and ‘Key Follow’ in the Filter section as well. Change the ‘Voices’ to Mono and the ‘Osc Mix’ to about 66. Take the ‘Sine’ level up to about halfway to add some low end.
First, you'll need to reset and modify these parameters.
Zero all the Mod routings on the LFO and Envelopes. Don’t forget Vibrato too! A big part of the sound is Glide. I’ve set mine to 190 ms.
Bring these three sliders all the way down.
You should have something like this.
Step 2: Set Up The Oscillator
Change ‘Shape 1’ to a Square wave. To dial in the Major 3rd interval, set the ‘Sync’ dial to 0.574 (you can click on the number and type in the exact value).
Use a Square wave for Shape 1 and set the Sync dial to 0.574.
Now you hear the sound.
Step 3: Shape The Envelope
Set the envelope times for both the Filter and Amp like in the picture below.
The Filter and Amp settings.
This is the closed up setting of the sound which is tight and punchy. We’ll control these to open in a minute.
That’s actually it for the sound really. Pretty simple stuff! The rest is all down to how you automate the envelopes. We’ll set up a nice simple way using Smart Controls.
Step 4: Set up your Smart Controls
Now there’s a hundred ways you could do this but I’m just going to show you a simple ‘one stop shop’ approach that maps all parameters to one knob.
Press the Smart Controls button in the Control Bar (or double-click the track's icon) to Open the Smart Controls for the Retro Synth. Open the Info panel and select any Knob. Click on a Parameter mapping and select ‘Delete All Patch Mappings’.
Start fresh by selecting ‘Delete All Patch Mappings’.
Select the first blank Knob and click in the Parameter mappings section where it says ‘Unmapped’. Choose ‘Amp Env Release’ from the selection menu.
Map the amp envelope release parameter to the first knob.
Set ‘Min’ to 360 and ‘Max’ to 2000. This will extend the release time of the Amp envelope to 2 seconds.
Change the Range Min and Max values.
Click in the Parameter Mapping area and choose ‘Add Mapping’. Assign the new mapping to ‘Amp Env Sustain’. Set ‘Min’ to 0 and ‘Max’ to 1.
Assign the new mapping to ‘Amp Env Sustain’.
Repeat the process but this time assign the Filter Cutoff. Set ‘Min’ to 0.36 and ‘Max’ to 1.
Do the same for Filter Cutoff.
You’ll find the Cutoff may behave strangely when turning the Smart Control. Click ‘Open’ next to ‘Scaling’ and change the curve of how the filter is controlled. Select the ‘Log’ curve.
Change the filter scaling curve.
Step 5: Assign Hardware and Automate
You can now just assign a hardware controller to it using the ‘External Assignment’ feature. Click ‘Learn’ and move a knob on your MIDI controller. Rename the Smart Control Knob.
Click on Learn and move a knob on your MIDI controller.
Choose the Smart Control in the Automation list on the track and write in some moves!!
Automate your sound!
You should get something like this.
You can add Compression and Reverb to polish and fatten up the sound.
So it’s a good start towards the actual sound. To get the full effect try doubling the part with a similar bass sound an octave below. Try playing with the Envelopes and Cutoff mapping to taste. It’s a simple sound but very effective!