Sweeping synthesizers can be seen in all forms of electronic music. They can also be used for many different purposes. Most of the time you will find them in transitional elements of a song (breakdowns and build-ups).
One way to create a sweeping synth is to route an LFO to a filter cut-off. Today we learn how to utilize this technique in Massive.
Here’s an audio snippet of the sound we’re going to create:
Let’s get started.
Step 1 – Set Up Your Oscillators
I chose 3 Saw waves and slightly detuned each of them, but essentially you can choose whatever waveforms you like and tune them however you want.
Here is what my pad sounds like as-is:
Step 2 – Set Up Your Amp Envelope
By default, your Amp envelope is always envelope 4. Setup this envelope with a moderate Attack, long Decay, and long Release as shown in the image above. You can come back and tweak this to your liking later on.
Step 3 – Setup your Filter
Choose a low-pass filter to create that classic sweeping effect we’re after. Trying other filter types can yield some interesting results as well. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Set your Cut-off to about 12 o’clock and leave your Resonance off for now.
Step 4 – Setup your LFO.
The Ratio refers to the rate at which your LFO modulates your sound. Increasing your ratio or rate speeds up your LFO mod and vice versa. Ratio allows you to control the speed of your sweep, which is vital in creating intense breakdowns and build-ups.
Choosing Sync just below your Ratio will allow you to synchronize your LFO modulation with the master tempo of your arrangement.
I chose a Triangle waveform, but Sine waves work well too.
Make sure your Xfade Curve is pushed all the way up so that you’re only using 1 waveform.
Step 5 – Route your LFO to your Filter Cut-off
Click on the target next to the LFO 5 tab (it’s in the lower right hand corner in the image above) and drag it up to your Cut-off control as I have done. Next, you’ll want to set your cut-off range by clicking, holding down and dragging up on that number.
If done correctly you will see a green bar start to wrap around your Cut-off control. This is the frequency range your LFO will modulate within.
By modulating the cut-off of our Low-pass filter we can constantly change what frequencies are aloud to pass through the filter unaffected and what frequencies are to get cut off. This is what creates that iconic ‘sweeping’ sound.
Play back your pad now. It should sound something like this:
If we increase our LFO rate we get something more like this:
Experiment with everything. Try different filter types, different waveforms, different modulation rates, and more. You might be surprised at the results.
You can modulate more than just the frequency cut-off of a sound. Try modulating volume, panning, dry/wet mixes, different envelope parameters and create a truly unique sound that suites your style of production.
Looking for free Massive presets? Be sure to check out PlatinumLoops’ Facebook page.
You can download over 50 presets here: