Discover your sound.

Subtractive Synthesis Introduction

We finally tackle the big one, subtractive synthesis. In many ways subtractive isn’t the best descriptor for this category of instruments. We’ve already seen in the first 3 sections that by inserting a filter into the signal flow (regardless of the primary synthesis method) we are in fact utilizing a subtractive technique. Instead what we'll really doing this week is breaking down the different types of software synthesizers that follow what I call the "common signal flow."

This signal flow is oscillator into filter into amplifier. Probably 85% of the synthesizers on the market today follow that signal flow. So this week we'll try to break down what makes one subtractive synth sound different to another one by going deep into the oscillator sections, the filter sections, the sound engines, etc of a variety of instruments. By following this method you should be able to compare any synthesizers (not just the ones I'm showing). While we will review some basic technique on how to program these instruments that won't be the focus (as it was last week). Instead we'll be talking a little more theoretically about why there are so many different subtractive synths and how you can determine the appropriate ones to use for your preferred genre of music/sound.