Francis Preve

Sound designer. Producer. Professor. Journalist. Author.

Master Class: Novation Peak

The Novation Peak has generated a serious buzz in the synth community by combining its innovative Oxford oscillators that deliver analog-grade resolution with a fully analog signal path, as well as modulation options such as polyphonic aftertouch and a pair of Animate buttons capable of real-time patch morphing.

With a front panel packed full of familiar controls, Peak gives you direct access to these and many other important functions. But digging deeper into the synth unveils a world of functionality that sets it apart from many modern polysynths. In this tutorial, we’ll investigate those options.


Master Class: Physical Modeling

In honor of “Solids” - my new preset collection for AAS Chromaphone 2, available here - this Electronic Musician masterclass will cover the essentials for understanding Physical Modeling synthesis and some of the techniques I used in designing the collection.

Like FM, physical modeling (PM) is often perceived to be a complicated approach to synthesis. Fortunately, it’s much more friendly if you understand a bit about its history and familiarize yourself with the creative tools you may already be using.

For this article (link below) we'll explore the elements of PM synthesis, first, by looking at its origins and, then, comparing the different features in commonly used synths—Apple Structure, Ableton Collision, and AAS Chromaphone 2.

Master Class Link:

Purchase Solids at 50% off introductory price →

Master Class: The Minimoog Paradigm

Make no mistake, the Minimoog Model D was the synthesizer that kickstarted our industry. Its architecture has been the basis for countless analog monosynths to follow and its sound remains so distinctive that Moog recently reissued a circuit-perfect, limited-edition version for those with a devotion to authenticity.

But the modern era has brought us software and hardware versions of the Minimoog architecture that update the synth’s essential characteristics in ways that reflect the march of technology since 1971. For example, the Arturia Mini V has modulation amenities that would be impossible to do with analog hardware alone, whereas the Roland SE-02 offers far more flexibility than the original. And ApeSoft Mood, an iOS take on the Mini, approaches the original’s iconic filter behavior while adding sampling and FM to its array of Moogish oscillators. Consequently, if you’re in the mood for a Model D but can’t afford the real thing, these hardware and software interpretations can get you there, but with greater flexibility than the original and at a price that won’t break the bank.

Here’s how to get the most out of the unique features of each of these synths, as well as from the original model.


Master Class: Ableton Wavetable

Although Ableton Live 10 is packed with workflow enhancements and impressive new effects (such as Echo and Pedal), the biggest news for sound designers is Wavetable, an impressive new approach to wavetable-based synthesis, with an interface that lets you see nearly every design and modulation element on a single screen.

In this tutorial, we’ll examine Wavetable's features in depth, along with a few additional tips from Ableton’s Lead preset designer and soundteam member Huston Singletary.

[Full disclosure: I designed many of the wavetables that are included with this synth.]


Master Class: Reason Europa & Grain

Reason 10 introduced specialized instruments for a variety of organic and acoustic applications. Included are Klang Tuned Percussion, Pangea World Instruments, Humana Vocal Ensemble, and the Radical Piano, a hybrid of sampled and modeled acoustic pianos that is a knockout.

It also includes two new softsynths—Europa and Grain—that are genuinely remarkable. This month, I’ll show you how to approach their more advanced features so you can begin crafting your own sounds.