How to Make an Atmospheric Downtempo Lead Synth with FM8
Making an atmospheric downtempo lead synth with FM8 is a simple process, and one that can often surprise you with just how many amazing stoping points there are along the way. This tutorial will show you how to do it!
Layering atmospheric and harmonic elements is made easy with FM8′s FM Matrix!
To begin with, it is usually best to have a vague idea of the sound you are going to make, so you have a direction that is easy to pick when it comes to the many decisions that go into a sound like this one. Designing an atmospheric downtempo lead synth with FM8 is rather intuitive once you’ve done it a few times, but that doesn’t mean that the experimentation and fun should stop. Having more than a vague idea of the sound before starting is helpful, but can also hinder the creative flow if you focus too much on trying to achieve a specific sound at every turn. So keeping an open mind is one of the big keys to this genre of music, in my opinion.
Let’s begin with looking at the FM Matrix window. You can see that the routing is a bit complex, so I’ll try to explain the thoughts behind it rather than going through every setting, in hopes that it will make more sense and be less confusing. Operators A, B and C are highlight elements, each giving their own bit of flavor and character to the sound. While Operators D, E and F are all creating the atmospheric portion of the sound, with some help from the Noise and Saturation oscillators in Operator X and the Filters in Operator Z. As you can see, there is plenty of feedback and modulation used to enhance the pitch differences between the Operators D, E and F.
The next step is to set up the Master window. The number of unison voices is increased to a total of eight. The Detune, Pan, Analog and Digital sliders are all turned up.
Now the Easy/Morph window is set up. Just a few small tweaks to the two envelopes, as well as the Timbre and Output parameters and the core sound is basically complete.
Finally, it’s time to add the effects that really bring this synth to life. One the Effects window, I have added a total of six effects. The overdrive adds a small edge and begins to introduce more of the atmospheric fee we need. The Shelving EQ and Peak EQ both help to shape and accentuate the frequencies most desirable in this sound. The Tremolo adds the motion in the sound that helps to develop the layered characteristic that fits so well with the downtempo genre. The Reverb adds more space for the sounds to develop. And the Chorus/Delay adds width and the ast of the movement we need for this synth to work.
As you can hear in the audio sample below, it really is a simple task to make an atmospheric downtempo lead synth with FM8. No processing has taken place outside of FM8 and what was shown here. It is used alongside some simple drums so you can get a better idea of how it may be used in a mix.
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