When I started my DJ career five years ago, I didn’t know how to make a synth pad. There was limited information online on how to create a synth pad from scratch.
It was through costly trials and errors until I figured it out. Synth pads help to build an ambient atmosphere of a track. This sonic backdrop might not be clear in a dense mix.
But creating synth pads can be both an exciting and daunting experience. It is a task that requires an individual to be mindful of several parameters.
If you are a beginner looking to start ambient synth textures, you have come to the right page. This article explains how to make synth pads from scratch.
What Is a Synth Pad?
It is a sustained chord or tone extracted by a synthesizer. It is utilized to bring forth background harmony and an incredible atmosphere.
The synth pads are ideal for making orchestra music and film scores. The soft synth pads help to pad out the track or a section of instrumentations.
Keep in mind that synth pad definition usually varies from genre to genre, instrument to instrument, and singer to singer. Giving the exact meaning can be challenging to some extent.
But the pads provide a range of soft ambient background hum to conventional chord progression to permit track keys. It is a technique to be mastered through regular practice.
The synth pads have features that allow fitting it with songs to pad out. The ambient background harmony helps to improve the mood and eliminate the harsh elements generated by the synth lead.
If you want to have an in-depth understanding of how synth pads work, study the string section of the orchestra in every music type.
The synth pad usually counterbalances where a specific instrument is fixed in a mix. It becomes difficult to extract the pad sound of the melody in the track. But this is possible with a synth lead.
How to Create Synth Pad from Scratch?
Below are tips to create a synth pad from scratch:
Step 1: Study the Amp Envelope
The AMP envelope functionalities are responsible for creating pad sounds. But this usually depends on the synth pad brand chosen.
Learn how to increase the attack and sustain the sound period. If you have excellent sound, consider playing with ADSR. But pads are quite easy to use.
Step 2: Examine the Waves
Wavetable synths are massive regardless of the brand. The large surface area makes it easier to examine the triangle waves and square waves.
Try selecting triangle waves in oscillator one and square waves in oscillator two. Note the sound change and manipulate it to suit your preferences.
Add detunes and use the low pass to filter the signal for darker sounds. Keep tweaking the amp and filter envelops to attain soft attack with extended release.
Step 3: Balance Resonance, Filter Cut-Off, and Envelop Settings
The balance is achieved by adding an air-sounding PCM or digital wave. Use the amp envelope functionalities (ADSR) to add an incredible press release that flatter the analog layer.
Try to tweak the volume between the analog and digital layers until it suits your taste. If you want a gritty texture, consider adding white noise.
Step 4: Use Low Pass Filter to Adjust Frequency
A rich wavefront usually sounds a little bit harsh with the filter wide open regardless of having an incredible and gradual envelope.
The low pass filter is ideal for sculping the frequency balance and create a pretty pad sound. The cut-off frequency brings down the pad’s high-end content and creates a warmer sound.
But the resonance control allows an individual to add emphasis around the cut-off frequency. If you want to create a distinctive peak, consider high resonance settings.
Step 5: Create Modulation Using LFOs
The above steps are enough to make a nice warm synth pad using the envelope settings. But without modulation, the sound can be boring.
Modulation helps to create movement and interest in a synth patch. LFO technique work like an extra third hand for turning the knobs back and forth at a normal rate.
Assign LIFO to any parameters to separate waveform that oscillates at a lower frequency than the audio oscillators to make basic waves in your synth patch.
The technique requires more creativity to bring out the best synth effect. The modulation matrix is excellent for adding intrigue, development, and action on the synth pads.
Step 6: Add Reverb Across the Pad
The main purpose of adding a reverb across the pad is to provide space and depth. The adjustment helps to strike a balance for the sound to suit your preferences.
Add some delays and note the sound change. Consider a reverb with a long and warm tail as part of the sound. It also prevents the sound from sitting on its top.
Step 7: Add Extra Ambience Effect
The addition of a subtle chorus effect across the synth pad will provide extra three-dimension depth, width, and movement. Remember to experiment with the whole sound by panning every layer.
The two brightest layers panned on both sides will help to maintain the darkest sound low between the middle of the mix.
The delay repeats and reverb tail help to prolong the duration of every chord. It also smears the chords slightly to create a swirling effect.
The time-base effects require a modulation matrix to create light pitch modulation in the delay repeats or reverb tail to add a three-dimension sound.
Step 8: Keep Tweaking and Massaging Sound
Several adjustments will help you achieve the desires of your heart. Choose your music genre and save it for experiment by use of mapping controllers.
The mapping controllers help to manipulate the LIFO rate, fading layers, effect levels, and more. Creating a synth pad is easy to learn as long as you can master the technique.
Pads are some of the crucial types of synth patches. These pads contain basic features that every producer needs to learn how to create a synth pad.
Keep in mind that the synth pad can fit in any song. It helps to fill in gaps to improve the mood and eliminate harsh elements. It is also ideal for making the track key.