By Jon Martin
In this post, you will learn about how the parameters in the ES P virtual instrument in Logic Pro X can be used to shape a synthesized sound.
Before beginning, confirm that your speakers or headphones are functioning and that the system volume level is set to a moderate level.
Launch program and create new document
- Launch the Logic Pro application, located in the Applications folder.
- Create a new Logic document by navigating to:
Loading ES P
We will now load the ES P plugin.
- Create a new track with the ES P virtual instrument loaded. You can load the instrument by creating a new virtual instrument track, selecting the “Instrument” plug in section, and choosing ES P (Polyphonic synth) from the menu.
- Press Cmd+K (Logic Pro X) or Caps Lock (Logic Pro 9) to make the keyboard appear.
- Take a few minutes and switch through the ten provided sound presets and make some sound with each using the Musical Typing Keyboard.
- You will notice how the parameters of the ES P interface change as you move between presets.
ES P Parameters
We will now investigate the plugin controls. We will be looking at three main sections of the plugin: the synthesis engine on the left side, the resonance/filter section in the middle, and the ADSR section on the right.
- The Oscillator section allows you to control the type of oscillators that make up the sound produced by the plugin. From left to right, you have the triangle, sawtooth, and rectangle waves. The next two faders are sub-octave generators, the first controlling the amount generated one octave below the sound from the first three faders, and the second dropping two octaves. The final fader controls the amount of white noise that introduced into the sound. To the left of the faders are three button labelled 4, 8, and 16, which determine which octave the sound produced resides in.
- The Filter section introduces a low-pass filter into the signal. It reduces the range of frequencies produced about the cutoff point (labelled as frequency). The 1/3, 2/3, and 3/3 control the octave range that is covered by the lowpass filter. 1/3 will cut off the least amount of signal, while 3/3 will cut off the most. The resonance control allows you to choose how much the signal is boosted at the cutoff frequency. Changing the amount of resonance will drastically change the synthesized sound.
- The Envelope section allows you to control the attack (A), decay (D), sustain (S), and release (R) characteristics of the sound produced. By using ADSR to shape the volume envelope of the sound, you can create familiar or completely new sounds.
- The remaining controls offer additional ways to change the sound produced, including distortion and chorus effects, a low frequency oscillator, and additional envelope parameters that will not be used I this tutorial.
Creating a sound
We will use the plugin parameters to create a basic synthesized sound.
- Use the Recall Default setting in the preset menu to reset the plugin the its default parameters.
- Begin by setting all of the oscillator values to zero, at their lowest position.
- Raise the triangle wave slider about halfway up. Use the Musical Typing Keyboard to produce a sound.
- Next, raise the noise slider to add sharper attack characteristics to the sound. While making sound, find a position that you like.
- Select the 8’ octave range.
- Next we will move to the Filter section. Raise both the Frequency and Resonance controls fully clockwise and play a sound. You may have to hold down the key to hear the complete sound.
- Now lower the frequency control until it is cutting off the signal at a position that is pleasing.
- The “laserbeam” like quality to the sound is caused by self-oscillation created by having the Resonance set very high. Reduce the Resonance control until it is positively contributing to the synthesized sound and not causing unwanted distraction. You may change or lower to octave range of the filter to lessen the overall effect.
- Now we move to the Envelope section. The A control sets how long it takes for a sound to reach its maximum amplitude. The D control sets how long it takes for the sound to go from its maximum to resting level. The S control sets how long the sound remains at its resting level. The R control sets how long the sound takes to return to silence after the key has been released.
- Starting with all ADSR controls at zero, beginning moving them from left to right to shape the envelope characteristics of the synthesized sound. Moving the slider up increases the time value.
You will notice that longer attack values will require a longer key press to allow the sound to become audible from silence. Shorter values may imply percussive sounds, while longer sounds may evoke legato strings.
- Modify the ADSR values until a satisfactory sound is being produced. Use this sounds to play a few simple melodies, making changes to the parameters as necessary to increase the sound quality and function of the instrument.
- Finally, use the two sub-oscillator sliders to add lower harmonics to the sound. You may need to use high quality speakers or headphones to hear the change occurring due to low frequency content not being played back on smaller speakers.
- Once a desired sound has been created, click on the preset menu and click Save As… to save the sound for later use.
- Go through this process several times until three contrasting and useful sounds have been created.
Closing the application
- Close the Logic application by selecting Logic Pro > Quit Logic Pro.