Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roll Your Own Lead Sounds: The Hoover

There are some synth sounds that transcend mere coolness and enter the realm of the iconic - sounds so instantly recognizable that they almost become integral to the genre that spawned them. The Hoover is one such sound. The gnarly, detuned lead/bass sound started life as a preset called "What The?" on the Roland Alpha Juno, and after it made an appearance on a track by the band Human Resource, it went on to become one of the most popular types of sounds in the rave and new beat movements. Even today, these types of sounds frequently pop up in drum n' bass, electro, and even dubstep tracks. So today, I'll show you how to make your very own hoover utilizing TAL's recently released freebie instrument NoizeMaker.

1. Fire up your DAW of choice and initiate an instance of NoizeMaker.

2. In the OSC 1 section, change the waveform to the pulse/square wave.

3. On LFO 1 change the DEST 1 to PW to modulate the pulse width of that pulse wave. This will give us a nice, fat detuned sound out of a single oscillator. Set the DEST 1 knob most of the way to the right (at about .3732 in the DISPLAY) and the RATE to about 50%. You can hear the pulse width being modulated, but it's doing so in a bit of a disruptive way. Fix this by turning the PW of OSC 1 all the way to the left.

4. In the MASTER section, turn up the OSC 2 level so it is equal with OSC 1. (You'll note that OSC 2 is a sawtooth wave tuned an octave above OSC 1.) The SUB oscillator should already be up, but if it isn't, dial that up so it is equal as well. Turn PORTA to ON and set the PORTA knob (the rate of portamento) about halfway up. This is what gives us those sliding notes, so you may want to adjust it to taste.

5. In the filter section, drop the CUTOFF back to about 90%.

6. Finally (and this is optional), you turn on the CHORUS 1 button to thicken the sound up a little further with some chorus.

If you've done everything correctly, you should have something that sounds a bit like this: