Synthesists are notorious for their tapestries of bleeps, bloops, burps, and farts. From those original Moog modulators to the current craze in analog, it’s been a dogged critique of synthesists — that as non-instrumentalists, all they’re good for is making fart noises on your techno tracks.
Oh, who are we kidding? We kinda do love creating things to do our farting for us. But we’re here to prove that you can be classy even when your synth is being gassy!
After helping thousands of you out there make laser noises and blow up intergalactic vessels, we set out to see how to replicate one of the most hilarious sound-design effects we could think of.
This tutorial is going to show you how to turn your Massive VST (you have Massive, right?) into the sputtering, splashy low-end you’ve always wanted. If you’re just getting into synthesizers and want to know more about how they work, we’ve got an entire series of free courses on just that topic!
To get started, set your instance of Massive to the Init setting. It should look something like this. (*note: In case yours looks different, Massive may open with different initial patches if you open the program in a DAW versus in standalone mode, the below instruction was done in a DAW.)
Next, you’ll want to get your OSC waveforms just right. Set OSC 1 to “Vulgar,” with the Wt-position fully clockwise, Intensity set to about 9:00, and Amp turned all the way up. Also, set the F1-F2 slider all the way to F1, and change Spectrum to “Bend+.” We’ll come back to that in a minute. For OSC 2, simply change the waveform to “Sin-Tri” and turn the Amp all the way up here as well.
Your synth should now look and sound like this:
Next, we’ll move onto the filter settings. You’ll want to changes a few things here. First, change F2 to “Series.” Then, change Filter 1 to “Comb,” leave Feedback as is, and set Pitch and Damping to about 4:00. Filter 2 should be set to “Bandpass” with Cutoff and Resonance both set to about 12:45.
So, your filter section should now look and sound like this:
Now, you’re going to be like, wait that doesn’t sound very different. I promise you, I’m not crazy. We’ll use this subtle difference to our advantage in a bit!
Next, we’re going to move to FX 1. This will be quick: Switch to “T Tube,” and set Dry/Wet to 9:00 and Drive to 12:00, like so:
Onto the inserts, where the fun really starts! On Insert 1, navigate to “Sine Shaper” and set Dry/Wet to 3:00 and drive to 11:30. Then, on Insert 2, navigate to “Clip,” set Dry/Wet to 3:00 and Drive to 9:00. You’ll also want to turn your Feedback Amp up to about 11:00.
Now, you should see and hear this:
The last, and most important, piece is the role of the envelope routing. If you’ve used Massive before, you will be intimately aware that you can route any envelope or LFO to anything, just by dragging and dropping. It’s an immensely simple, yet powerful, way to create any sound you can imagine.
For our purposes, navigate to ENV 1, and set the controls like so:
After we apply the envelope to various elements, feel free to adjust to your preferred taste.
+ Learn more on Soundfly: Turn any sound into a musical instrument with our free found-sound sampling course series, Any Sound Will Do.
Next, we’ll want to set the Pitch of OSC 1 and 2 all the way down to -32 to get a nice, low rumble going. Now, the filters will begin to come into play as they shape the overtones created by the rumbling. If your digestive system was a synthesizer, this is probably exactly what it would be doing at this point.
You should now hear something like this:
The final step in getting the timbre just right is to apply our newly created envelope to the pitch of OSC 1 and 2. This is where subjectivity comes into play. Take my numbers here as a suggestion — no two farts sound alike, after all.
My preferred settings are as follows:
That’s 19 on OSC 1, and -40 on OSC 2. I find that gives just the right amount of sputter and rumble for my taste, but, of course, take mine as a suggestion, not the gospel. Now, what I have as my basic fart sound is as follows:
On listening, however, I wanted it a little bit more rumbly, so I shortened my Decay on ENV 1 just a bit.
Which resulted in a sound like this:
Because we’re in Synthland, farty noises aren’t very far away from a sci-fi spaceship engine starting up. Add a synced LFO to the Comb filter, like so:
And if you play your keyboard a few keys up, you should get something that sounds like this:
All kidding aside, practicing trying to find these weird, funny sounds is often the key to unlocking a deeper understanding of synthesis and the practice of experimenting with sound at large. We highly encourage you to use this as a jumping-off point for your own explorations.
At the very least, now you have an excuse to give your girlfriend when you accidentally let something slip out: It wasn’t me! It was my synth!
+ Learn more on Soundfly: Looking to deepen your understanding of how synthesizers work? Check out our free course series, Demystifying Synths.