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Old 2010-09-25, 21:28
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'Lounge' Combinator Set

Downloadable from this post: Kronsteen's Lounge Set.

Six combinators for all your lounge lizard needs. If you want to just download and play, go ahead. If you'd like an explanation, read on.

It started with my experiments with the Karplus-Strong algorithm. This was a way to generate plucked string samples by filling a delay line with white noise, with the length of delay being the wavelength of the pitch you want to make. Let the delay loop the burst of noise, while progressively closing a lowpass filter, and the result is a surprisingly realistic plucked string.

Well, I made 85 very short noise burst samples, with the lengths corresponding to the wavelengths of the notes C1 to C8, arranged them in an NN-19 and the result...didn't sound much like a plucked string. But it did have a gritty, tube-amp quality, so I put them in six combis - all variations on a theme, with the amplitude and/or filter envelopes controlled from a single Rotary.

Each of the six is based on one commonly used type of envelope. That statement will make more sense if I describe the six.

Lounge Keys - An electric piano.

Rotary 2 controls the Low Filter - the brightness of the piano after the initial stab. Rotary 3 controls the High Filter - the brightness of that initial stab. Rotary 4 controls the resonance. Most of the combis in the set have these controls.

Rotary 1 is the clever one, controlling the decay, sustain and release of both the amplitude and the filter envelopes. That might sound over-restrictive, but try different settings and you'll get a good range of piano-like envelopes.

There's also four buttons common to all combis in the set, for switching between a 12dB and a 24dB lowpass rolloff, compression, reverb and tape effect.

This combi tends to sound good with a little filter wobble from the LFO.

Lounge Stab - What I'm calling a 'stab' is probably the most common kind of envelope setting on a synthesiser in pop music: a closing lowpass filter with zero amplitude release.

Rotary 1 controls that envelope, and the other combi controls are the same as for the Keys.

Lounge Brass - Synth brass is simply a lowpass filter which rapidly opens from the Low to the High point...and stays there till you release the note.

A long 'brass' envelope is the first half of a classic synth sweep, and can be useful in itself.

Lounge Sweep - A single full sweep, from the Low Filter point to the High Filter, then back down again. For a repeating sweep, use the Pad combi with the LFO modulating the filter frequency.

Lounge Pad - For strings that fade in, hold, and fade out.

There's only one filter setting here, so Rotary 3 controls a Unison unit for added thickness to the sound, which I think it needs.

Lounge Ping - The most basic synth envelope of all, an unchanging filter level and an amplitude fade. I've kept the Unison unit, so you can use this for a different kind of electric piano to the Keys.

A word of warning - small changes to the rotary settings can make a big difference to the sound, and it can get quite loud. A lot of the sounds you can make with this kit are more like abrasive FM pianos and basses, and not loungy at all.
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