Camel Audio’s Alchemy, NI’s Absynth and Propellerhead’s Malstrom
Additive Synthesis: breaks sound down into its harmonics, creating timbre by adding sine waves together
Granular Synthesis: creating sounds by playing waveforms and/or samples through a synthesis engine that operates like a sampler on the microsound time scale
So, what can you achieve by running some sounds through these types of engines? Veritably everything from composing a hit record to losing days on end creating mind blowing new soundscapes- and here’s how to get your self into this twisted little gem, 3 leading synths and their basic run downs to get you up and running fast!
Alchemy by Camel Audio
Founded in 2000 in Edinburg, UK, Camel Audio took 4 years, 6 programmers, and 25 sound designers to create Alchemy, a hybrid synth capable of additive, granular, resynthesis, and supports importing your own samples. Get the fattest sounds you can imagine with a possible 600 simultaneous voices that can then be run through unison mode! TWO different gui’s are available, simple and advanced. Simple let’s you find sweet presets quickly, tweak them easily, and even quickly save your own new presets. Advanced let’s you really get deep in into the controls of intricate sound design. Each gui is divided into three sections from top to bottom: the top strip has your sound sources/oscillators (4 of them, completely interchangeable in synth engine type!), morph section, main filters and master volume. The middle strip houses the modulation controls such as LFOs, AHDSR and MSEG filters, X/Y pad, step sequencer and modulation map. The bottom strip will show either your MIDI performance controls, or the arpeggiator, or the effects section according to your selection.
Absynth by Native Instruments
Originally developed by Rhizomatic Software in 2000, Absynth is now a part of the NI family that touts powerful sound design using another hybrid architecture capable of subtractive, FM, wavetable, ring modulation, granular sampling, and sampling with waveform. It also boasts bold new features such as Mutator, Aetherizor, Cloud filter, and more! In stand alone mode it is capable of recording up to 3 minutes of audio for capturing ideas and playback into the synth. What’s really cool is that one of your sound sources/oscillators is an actual input for external audio input! The gui is a little less intuitive than other synths but it basically goes like this. Start with 3 sound sources/oscillators, these are followed by 2 filter/mod sections each, 2 master filters, and the effects section. There is also a real time waveform editor that can modulate your oscillators, LFOs, and mods. 3 LFOs can be used to modulate just about anything as well. Like the quality effects? You can use this synth and its audio input as an effect plugin on another audio track! NI seems to be really proud of the Mutator function, and with good reason too- be sure to check out how it works!
Malstrom by Propellerhead
If you happen to be new to this concept, and own a copy of Reason, Malstrom has got you covered. It is a “Graintable” synth, invented by Propellerhead to capture the best of both granular and wavetable synthesis, based on “granular resynthesis.” Malstrom offers real time waveform stretching, spectral modulation, and wavetable sweeping. Unfortunately, samples for use with Malstrom require pre processing so importing your own sounds is not an option at this point in time. However it is a VERY good synth for beginners, even though it is a very powerful competitor in the industry today! You get two oscillators each with their own modulation sections, a global filter envelope, 2 filters, a shaper, and master volume out with spread knob. Don’t forget the ability to flip the rack around and reroute your cv cables to really get into expanding you options, and why stick with just one Malstrom? Pull up like 20 of them, go crazy with your routings and see what happens!
As fun as these synths are to “play” with, it would be to your advantage to look into ways of effectively using the features of these synths because it leads to mind blowing inspirations and ideas- more so than just “playing” with it. Free demos available online so go get busy today!