A Guide to Analog Synths: For the modern EDM enthusiast.

Understand how to make create the sounds famous in Trance and EDM, by understanding the core components of Sound Design.
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Instructed by Sam Gill Music / Instruments
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  • Lectures 37
  • Length 3.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 4/2016 English

Course Description

A secret is uncommon information. In this course you will learn from my 20+ years experience working with analog synths, all of the ins and outs of using analog synths and begin Sound Designing today. I say sound designing, as the components you will learn about are the fundamental components of this course, and are critical and essential for sound design. 

Have you ever sat there and said, man! I wish that sound lasted a bit longer, or I wish it did not start so harsh, or it did this or that. If you have asked that question, than you are in the right place, because that is what this course was designed to teach.

I made this course to serve you the knowledge and understanding that it takes to really reveal and expose the power of synths, especially analog based synths. It does not matter if it is analog modeled or an actual analog synth, the same principles apply. 

I am going to take you through analog synthesizers one step at a time, and break down a complex interacting device into smaller and more manageable pieces. First we will start with the overview, and then section by section. After that we start work on the interactions, the most fun part about analog synths. The interactions is what makes the analog highly desired and sought after, and its essentially the fundamental components used in many places. The fact is filters and envelopes are used in a massive array of technology, and in this course you will start to understand the wide universe of applications as you listen and hear sounds, now you will have some new understanding of how those sounds or made or how that EDM or Trance track is created. You will be equipped to use off-the-shelf synthesizers and quickly be able to wow sounds out of them, you will become the synth master. 

I have owned many analog synths and now they are more readily available than ever. With micro keyboards, to software synth, and craigslist as well as ebay, there are so many ways to own analog synths. Not only that, but even the digital synths work the same, they have the same basic components and filters and envelopes. 

I show you the fun and excitement of tweaking analog synths, just like you were in my own lab and studio, and of course feel free to ask questions, and let me know if you are missing something, I want to help you understand and get comfortable with analog synths. I have amassed this knowledge and I want to pass it on to you, so you can go and do all the fun and exciting things with analog synths. I made this course to take out those frustrating trial and error steps, and bring you right to the choice cut meat. 

If you want to hear analog synths in music, I'll be happy to point you to my free to listen videos on youtube, with my band name Onitod, featured as onitodmusic, and you can hear analog synths at work. Enroll now, and let's get started enjoying and learning all about analog synths.

 


What are the requirements?

  • Couse uses Roland SH-101 for demonstration purposes, you can use any analog synth or software synth of your choosing.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Learn the controls of analog synths.
  • Understand the interactions between component sections.
  • Define and decsribe the different parts and sections.
  • Have the fundamental knowledge to utilize any vintage, or modern synth.
  • Have the knoweldge required to adjust sounds, and begin sound design.

What is the target audience?

  • Analog Enthusiasts
  • Sound Designers
  • Looking for Advanced Software Synth Knowledge

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: Beginning to Learning about Analog Secrets.
03:32

In this introduction I will go over briefly all that I will talk about. Essentially we will cover all the parts of an analog synth. We will be using the Roland SH-101 as our unit to look at, since it is relatively easy to understand and grasp. The only key differences between a Roland SH-101 and a Moog or Korg is some of the names of the buttons and controls change, and on bigger synths there are more controls of the same type, such as 3 VCO sections or 2 LFO sections. Once you understand the basics however, you can much more easily understand the other varieties of synths that are available. 

03:27

The biggest reason why it is called analog is the fundamental circuitry, as I'll explain in more detail in this video.

Section 2: Controls Of An Analog Synthesizer
05:05

As I mentioned, the controls of the Roland SH-101 contain all the basic fundamental building blocks for all analog synths. We start to review them in this video, and throughout this section you will go more in depth with your knowledge and understanding.

01:05

In this video I cover some more controls, that will we look at later.

01:12

I briefly explain the interactive concept here, but we will go over it in much more detail in the next section. After all the most fun and interesting thing about the analog synths was this interactive feature.

07:54

Here you will learn more about the LFO, or the Low Frequency Oscillator.This part impacts the modulation or what is commonly referred to as the Tempo-Sync, or BPM of the sound. 

03:08

In this video you will learn about the Voltage Controller Oscillator. This is a primary source of sound generation.

03:53

The Source Mixer combines the input sources that are fed into the VCF.

08:22

The VCF or Voltage Controller Filter, allows you to control many sound shaping aspects of the tone, which most commonly are the frequency and resonance. 

01:15

The VCA or Voltage Controlled Amplifier, is the stage in which the sound is amplified. One the SH-101 there is not much in the way of the VCA section itself, however the ENV section is usually combined with the VCA and typically contains an ADSR based filter.

01:32

The ENV section contains an ADSR type filter. The ADSR or Attack Decay Sustain Release, filter type is used in part at least once, and can also be found in several sections of the larger analog synths. It is typical to see the ADSR filter in the VCF and VCA sections, and may also be found elsewhere. 

03:19

The portamento or glide effect, is commonly used in monophonic synths, synths that are played one note at a time. In polyphonic or many-note synths, a mono mode can be enabled, upon which portamento may be activated. 

01:30

Transpose allows the notes to be shifted plus or minus one octave (12 note step) in one note steps. This is similar to a plus or minus octave control, but allows the finer note steps. You can use the range in the VCO to create octave jumps, and this transpose is most utilized in tandem with the sequencer. 

04:15

This is a standard Roland bender, with side to side, and forwards options. However, unlike modern benders, this one has the ability to modulate the VCF and/or VCO in the side to side motion, a very handy and useful feature of this bender design. 

16:25

Here you get a dose of the ARP (arpeggio) feature, and how you might use it. 

11:36

Working more closely, you can add variation with transpose and some other options.

04:11

The old analog synths did not employ tap tempo, but most of them can be synchronized externally with CV (control voltage) or in the case of this synth, an external clock, in which a bass drum for example works nicely. 

04:50

The ADSR is one of the most fundamental sections of the synth to understand, and only second to the VCF. In any given synth these controls will be found, even is named slightly differently on a Korg or other brand the same way of controlling the sound is possible. Understanding this part along with the VCF will allow you to manipulate and tweak to your heart's content almost any synth on the market, whether it is a physical or soft synth. 

15:14

Here again, let us spend some more time working on the arpeggio, and understand some more that you can do with it. In this video, I explore programming the arpeggio/sequencer.

4 questions

Test your knowledge of Analog synths. 

Section 3: Interactive Control Demonstration and Fundamental Concept as Hands-On Approach.
01:02

In this section you will now learn about the heart of analog synthesis, which is the interactions that are created around a seemingly basic set of components and controls. In some of these videos there are two on a given topic, you can feel free to skip the second video if you have it, or check out the second one if you are hungry for more. 

The first video is about the Pulsewidth square.

01:00

A second video on the pulsewidth. Why is it called that? It is because the width of the pulse wave can be varied.
Just like an even rectangle is a square, an even pulse is a square wave.

00:49

Now we take a look at the interactions between the LFO, and the VCO, using the MOD control. MOD stands for modulation.

00:33

Now we take a look at the interactions between the LFO and the VCF, using the MOD control. MOD stands for modulation.

01:17

Now we look at what happens when the LFO and MOD are used in conjunction with the bender control.

06:59

The Freq/Res or Frequency and Resonance controls are some of the most popular controls, that create some of the most common effects you hear in EDM, and trance. In this video you will start to learn how they work. 

03:16

Since the bender on the SH-101 has the ability to modulate the VCF, there is a special interaction that occurs between the VCF and the bender, when the bender is set to modulate the VCF.

06:49

Let's take another look at the relationship between the frequency and the resonance controls. 

08:04

This video has no video, it is audio-only, however give your mind a chance to hear the interactions that occur between the frequency and resonance controls.

11:58

Now let's take a look at some variations that can be achieved when working with frequency and resonance.

04:59

The VCF and ENV play an important role together. The ADSR is a critical component, along with the VCF. One of the most common things to happen is to have no sound output at all, and in many cases it is the settings of these two underlying sections that needs to be adjusted. See how they can be used creatively, and how to get the synth to make sounds. 

03:52

To further explore the VCF and ENV, lets add the Source Mixer to see how that sounds, and what changes it can help to facilitate. 

04:43

The LFO or Low Frequency Oscillator, is the main component which creates the drive of the sound. This is usually where the BPM, beats per minute or tempo come into play. The LFO usually has waveforms and allows the beat or drive of the sound to be set in that motion.

08:31

Here I take you on a tour through the sequencer, and show you how to modulate it with the LFO.

Section 4: Bonus: Special Demonstrations for listening pleasure, and more exploration.
07:30

In these bonus videos, I allow you to be able to see and hear what I am doing. These are literally performances with the Roland SH-101, and I made them to inspire you to tweak and explore on your own. I hope that you take what I started and go and simulate or do on your own. The beauty of analog synths, is not the limitation of technology, but the simplicity of the interactions of the fundamental electronics behind these synths, that allowed unlimited combinations to be produced and enjoyed. In these videos I hooked up to a line6 amp, and used delay or just ran it out clean. You can hear the differences between the different recordings, or just listen to them and relax. Enjoy.

07:52
In these bonus videos, I allow you to be able to see and hear what I am doing. These are literally performances with the Roland SH-101, and I made them to inspire you to tweak and explore on your own. I hope that you take what I started and go and simulate or do on your own. The beauty of analog synths, is not the limitation of technology, but the simplicity of the interactions of the fundamental electronics behind these synths, that allowed unlimited combinations to be produced and enjoyed. In these videos I hooked up to a line6 amp, and used delay or just ran it out clean. You can hear the differences between the different recordings, or just listen to them and relax. Enjoy.
15:07
In these bonus videos, I allow you to be able to see and hear what I am doing. These are literally performances with the Roland SH-101, and I made them to inspire you to tweak and explore on your own. I hope that you take what I started and go and simulate or do on your own. The beauty of analog synths, is not the limitation of technology, but the simplicity of the interactions of the fundamental electronics behind these synths, that allowed unlimited combinations to be produced and enjoyed. In these videos I hooked up to a line6 amp, and used delay or just ran it out clean. You can hear the differences between the different recordings, or just listen to them and relax. Enjoy.
03:37

In case you want to make your own videos, or record better, I have included a small tutorial on how to use a direct box/splitter.

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Instructor Biography

Sam Gill, Instructor, Sr. Consultant, Executive Director, Producer

I have been making music, since 1992. I have 3 labels, and 2 bands. I have programmed and written over 800 sequences, and when I have time, write about 80-100 songs a year. At one point I owned 19 keyboard synths, and 20+ synth rack modules. I used to record and arrange on a setup that consisted of a 24 channel Soundcraft, with 3 DA-88's and a Roland MC-50Mk2. I came to Logic and Apple in 2007, and picked up Ableton Live in 2009. I sold most of my hardware, and bought in to soft-synths, after I sampled my most used sounds, and was able to reliably use those. I continue to write to this day, and keep learning new techniques, and new ways to improve my music. Now that I have amassed such knowledge, I have found the joy of sharing what I know with others who can benefit from my years of experience.

Beside music, I have worked with electronics since 1990, and have built, repaired and fixed many things along the way. I got really sucked into electronics, when my synth passion ignited, and I found out that they need to be repaired frequently. I started repairing synths as early as 1998, learning about the ins and outs of the electronics that they were founded on.

I took an interest in programming keyboards, with my first programmable keyboard, which was a Kawai K11, which I bought in 1992. I did not know it then, but programming a keyboard, and programming a computer, are not very far off.

In 1994, I bought my one and only sequencer, a Roland MC50-Mk2, which I have to this day, and it writes in DD floppy drives. I have a collection of DD drives, since they are not easily found today. I composed over 800 sequences on that sequencer over a 10 year period. I learned how to arrange, and that arrangement method was directly transferrable to Ableton Live.

Since 1984 I also been an avid Photographer, and have invested in cameras, lenses, video equipment, and other sorts of gear, to not only share what I know, but how I think. Over time I have also developed a deeper spiritual sense, that has come to offer comfort, to those I hold dear, and has helped me to achieve peace within myself. I have published my photography works, and use my photography skills for a number of different uses. I also will have courses on photography and video techniques, to share, ones that I have learned over the years.

In 2007, I began to build up my contemplative skills, and began to think more about the world, and who I was. In 2011, I was forced to speed up this process, and went through a number of breakthroughs, and revelations. In 2013, and into 2014, I experienced spiritual awakening, in new and different ways, and had a lot of my beliefs turned upside down, or replaced, or expanded. As you may have guessed, I have now a lot to talk about on this issue, and I will be making courses for self-development, and personal development, along with helping you to understand some of the things that you may be going through, and how to cope or grow beyond them. Hope is always possible, in all situations, and a better outcome can always be pursued.

If you have a course that you would like me to teach, just send me a note, and I will add it to my list. I am always looking to help others, and mentor people, as I have the time. I hope that I have been able to help you, and grow your skills and talents, as you look for ways to express them.

I hope you enjoy watching and learning from these courses, as much as I enjoy teaching them. Be well, and take care my friend.

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