Can it all be in the box (ITB)?

I am curious,

The background is that I want to produce trance/orchestral trance etc. In the perfect world, everything would (for me) her in the box, instantly loading Cubase projects, unlimited channels all running unlimited plugins based on virtual synths/samples and the VST performance bar saying ‘come on then, challenge me’ rather than ‘oh no, not you again’. And, back in the room… we all know that isn’t going to happen (yet).

Whilst I would like it all in the box, and I am even looking looking at setting up VEP Pro for the orchestra part, I have learnt through my short time at MMWA that if you dont have the proper tools, you will get close, but not 100%. So, finally, on to the crux of the question. I have seen a load of tutorials on creating JP8000 or Virus style supersaws but will they ever produce the goods? Or if I want that full on supersaw sound, should I just be giving in and getting say a Virus (even if just a snow)?

I would much prefer Serum, Massive or Spire to handle it, so the question is can they do it or am I pushing water up hill? The source of the question comes from seeing the post on summing mixers. If this cant be done ITB then maybe neither can recreating the fullness of some synth sounds?

If nothing else, I am sure this post could lead to some strong debate from both sides of the camp as across the web, there are many views on this…

From what I’ve read, the answer is what you would expect it to be.

“No, you don’t NEED a Virus, although the super saw is perhaps its strongest reputational area of performance for a reason.”

You can import TI Hypersaw waveform into Serum and unison, detune, etc. - stacking MIDI octaves, adjusting velocity of each layer, etc. - other synths have their own idiosyncratic strengths and viable super saws as well.

Personal anecdote: I bought a snow after becoming enamored with its reputation and reading many inflationary claims of its unparalleled quality on forums. Listening to preset bank demos during its shipment transit I thought to myself “this is it. This is clearly a starkly superior sounding synth, this must be the secret to attaining such high definition sounding leads.”

When it came, I was disappointed and had to admit that many of the posts whose content and admonishments I had repressed in my singular obsession with acquiring a virus and the idealized salvation that would ensue thereafter were right. Severely disappointed.

However, I am now very happy to have it primarily because of the supersaw and sound signature that is ubiquitous in my genre of choice, Rawstyle. Most of the pros use it, almost all afaik.

That being said, I definitely have a problem with searching for exogenous cures to an endogenous problem - always looking for the answer in more tools & plug-ins instead of doing the deep work necessary to produce quality music.

So yeah, ofc no binary answer but the more trance I listen to, the mixing is incredibly impressive, the fluidity and movement/modulation, it’s magical. Many of the synth sounds are secondary in this respect to the primacy of the mixing and arranging and I’m sure most of them could be identically achieved with Rapid, Sylenth, Serum, Omnisphere, Diva, Dune 2, etc

I would say follow your heart and your research while trying to maintain sobriety and not hallucinating a mirage of some miraculous key which instantly unlocks the music of your dreams and upgrades your production exponentially although if you do find one please let me know, I’ll pay you! Lol

You could always used snow with a return policy and test it out, resale value is pretty consistent, so the risk isn’t too fatal.

other than that I think what separates us from pros is just experience and intangibles , etc

This is where my head is at at the moment. Especially the last comment around what separates us from the pros. What I didn’t want was to do either of the following; push water up the hill without the right tools or buy he ‘Magic bullet’ to find it isn’t a magic bullet at all!

The answer seems clear, it is as much the processing as the raw sound. I have a Serum pack that has the TI wavetables in. Maybe I need to just ‘play’ more…

There’s this too: 7Skies

Seen the other but not this one. Will give this a try too. In the end, I don’t want an exact copy, just a ‘signature saw’ that can go between pluck and [paddy stab] with real power for those stabs. I think the rest then is as much about composition and the mixing/automation…

Hmmm, I own a lot of analogue gear and I am selling it all (synth wise). I still prefer the analogue filter but I think Diva sounds great, nearly as good. My thought process for this is, I prefer using software to work, instant recall, greater feature set, takes up alot of space and energy etc. However, the one for me was automation, it never played nicely with analogue synths and I have tried in a few DAWs.
Have you tried Diva hyper-saw? I sold my JP-8080 and Virus TI2 Whit Out after demoing Diva. A couple more years and software will be on par with analogue, if it is not already.
Try running your sessions at a higher sample rate or upsample your synths if possible, this will make a difference.

Thanks guys. I found a second hand Virus Snow on eBay so I grabbed it in the basis that I should be able to sell it for similar money. Also it is the Total Integration part and it not using the CPU that sawyer me (oh and Jean Michel Jarre using 2 on his live rig!). Haven’t tried Dune. Is it better than Serum?

I really do need to settle down now though and make the most of what I already have!! @Paul I drool over the photo’s of your synth collection! Although I do realise it would be as a collector rather than practicality…

I’m no pro but if i find that i use musical instruments like acoustic and electric guitar. Adding some organic instruments to the mix seems to even make soft synths like massive sound so much better! Then again I’ve never really looked into getting a real synth. I was once shadowing this producer who was making electronic music with a wall of twenty different analog synths and that sounded pretty incredible. But what do you do about quantizjng an “analog” performance. Isn’t it recorded to audio? Sorry for the newbie question.

Depends on the synth of course and there are lots of ways to control (midi to CV) even old kit. The Virus Ti works like a plugin so best of both worlds I am hoping!!

Oh cool!! Sounds awesome! I’ll check it out. Where can I hear more of your music. Thanks for all the great tips.

Hey no worries. My SoundCloud is currently all ‘pre-MMWA’ and when you hear it you will understand why the academy was so neccesary for me!!

You can get it with my name ‘eltonboocock’. I am using this year to learn and next year I want to put out an album I am really proud of… Rome was not built in a day, even though I have been trying!

I checked out one of your tracks “stand up” and really like the epic synths and harmonic progression.

Have you considered adding like a female vocal in some parts?

I’ll listen more when I get back to wireless service.

I went to Danny’s office hours last week and some I think more advanced students played their tracks and they sounded so good!

even these pre mmwa tracks you’re talking about sound very good.

One question I had was about side chaining.

It seems like I need to use a longer hold and lower threshold than Danny’s mixing foundations setting in order for the bass to steer clear of the kick and not sound congested. Do you or anyone find that to be true?

Also is soft tube’s free one knob saturation plug in good or garbage? I am guilty of using this partially because it is low on dsp and because it’s free. I guess at some point I guess I should buy decapitator.

Jacob M Friedman

Thanks Jacob.

I do plan to use a lot more vocals when I get on to my next stuff. Not sure how ‘lyrical’ it will be as opposed to just vocal fx yet?

In terms of using hold for the ducking. This is fine to do. Basically, you will hear what is right and there is no one rule for all other than I would say a hard knee to get the bass out of the way quickly and also it will usually be at least 6:1 ratio to get it out of the way enough normally. Remember to listen out for what Danny explains as the ‘tango’. This is where the kick and the bass are dancing and yo can feel the connection between the 2. If the rest of the track is hiding the kick. Also make sure you have enough top end on the kick to cut through.

I haven’t used the saturation knob. I do know that Softube is generally very good, but also free stuff is generally good enough to demonstrate ‘goodness’ but not ‘great enough’ to sell for any significant cost. Decapitator is definitely an excellent tool and if you haven’t got them already, the Soundtoys bundle will do you a lot of favours. I use them a lot.

Hey guys, I’m an intermediate producer (at best) but for what it’s worth…

My genre of choice is psytrance, which is famous for its use of outboard gear, until the last 5-6 years where ITB has taken over, much like all other genres. I’ve watched tons of courses and videos from major artists that i really respect and i’ve learnt one thing from all of them: it’s really not about the tools, its about the process and the experience you have as a producer.

One of my favourite current psy producers not only does all his sound design and mixing ITB, but he uses Ableton stock plugins for just about everything! This is a long way from outboard gear and yet he is producing professional results that cannot be distinguished from artists using tons of top of the line plugins/outboard gear. It’s all about his knowledge of the craft and his ability to wrangle his basic DAW tools to create magic. Other great examples are guys like Tom Cosm/Mr Bill. They also create incredible music with basically just their DAW and a handful of external VST’s

I know that MMWA pushes the specific tools and i dont disagree with them doing that, my mixes are certainly sounding better for it, but i can also acknowledge that the best producers can make magic without these tools My aim is to become good at the craft of sound design and mixing first and then use fancy tools to enhance what im capable of. But personally i dont believe a specific supersaw from a specific synth will ever be the “defining” thing that makes or breaks my sound (i hope not!)

It was mentioned already that modulation, automation and processing are where its at and at least for psytrance this is certainly true. The synth you use ends up giving you 20% of what that eventual modulated processed wonderful sound/sequence is so i dont fuss too much about the synth - its just a tool to lay down some basic sound.

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