ARTICLE: Designing Sound with Hardware Synths & Effects
Updated: May 25
Here at 344 Audio HQ, we like to design sound effects with a variety of tools. We decided to create some synthesised Sci-Fi effects without the use of software processing.
Korg Volca Keys
This 3 voice miniature analogue synthesizer has a built in sequencer, which is ideal for playing back melodic loops for Sci-Fi processing.
Korg Mini Kaoss Pad 2
This miniature effects processor has a built in X-Y pad for tweaking and plenty of on board effects to shape the basic analogue sounds that we create.
1. We started off by setting up a patch on the Volca Keys. The 'Unison Ring' setting allows the use of three detuned square wave oscillators, which adds some movement. A short attack, medium decay and full sustain helped create a 'gated' effect. The filter was left open with some resonance to boost the high frequencies. We then played notes until we found a discordant interval:
2. Next it was time to add interest to the loop, and create some futuristic sounds. We started up the Mini KP2 and went over to the 'loop' section of effects and set the tempo to maximum. First experimenting with the 'Pitch Looper', we were able to loop and pitch the Volca Keys sound. Holding a finger on the X-Y pad then resulted in repeated waveform cycles akin to computer processing sounds:
3. This is where the hands-on magic of hardware comes into use, small swipes across the XY pad add movement to the effect:
4. Even more interest can be added through exploring different directions of swiping:
5. Cycling through other effects on the Mini KP2 garnered instantly usable alarm sounds:
6. While stopping the Volca sequencer and processing it's amplifier noise with the Decimator setting on the Mini KP2 created some harsh digital malfunction effects:
Even the most minimal hardware setups can offer a different type of control than software, which for creating huge variations of effects, can be much faster. The results of 'playing' the effects with knobs, controllers and X-Y pads add to the experience. We thought it would useful to share the results of our audio exploration here:
If you enjoyed this article please check out our ultimate guide to audio post- production: https://www.344audio.com/post/the-ultimate-guide-to-audio-post-production-sound-design