Electronic Sound Creation

with Saul Stokes

I'm getting married and I'm trying to convince my fiancˇe that Manny's music shop in New York is the place to register for our bridal gifts. Get those aunts and uncles to hook me up with some new equipment. Anyway this years starting out sort of funky with tons of new equipment coming out that I can't even come close to touching. I go into the only music store close by and all the employees are wearing fake back stage passes and silk-screened sweat outfits with American Music scribbled all over them, I guess to try and make them look like roadies. I have to deal with this to check out the new stuff and then they don't even have any thing worth looking at. So I come home to try and spend a peaceful night with my lady and about midnight this whole rotting town goes up in gunfire for about a half an hour. Yes I live by Hilltop in the stinking, stinking, literally stinking city of Tacoma.

Anyway from one source or another I've heard about some pretty cool and pretty stupid pieces of equipment I'll briefly tell you about. Sony has just released an effects processor (DPS-S7 dynamic filter) with a hip little drum synthesizer that's supposed to make some pretty good electronic drum sounds (probably TX-81Zish).

Digidisign is supposedly putting out some modular synths that connect together to make some monster machine but I haven't came across any factual data on this.

Keyboard's February issue talks about a new form of synthesis that can recreate acoustical instruments better than samplers but we won't go into such trashy reasons for a company to create a new form of synthesis.

Alas for you ADAT owners. If you want a basic workstation with all the regular crap included, with a most commendable 64 note polyphony, check out the ALESIS Quadra synth with a special digital link to your ADAT. Built in everything except good tweakable oscillators.

On the stupid side, we have KORG putting out the i3 workstation which supposedly creates entire songs from a few lousy notes you enter in (sort of like those home jobbies they sell at The BON or Radioshack where you just touch a key and a rock or reggae sequence jingles out). I think the i stands for the idiot who coughs up two thousand dollars for this piece of plastic to try and make them think they've created a piece of music. Come to my house and give me two grand and I'll make a bunch of cheesy sequences for you. Sorry for being so negative.

Last months article was part 1 on some cheap keyboard tricks that might have helped you get a little more out of your equipment. It was sort of hidden in last months issue so it might of slipped by your keen little eyes. This months article is part 2 with truncation techniques, sample rate conversion, and stereo outs. Lets go!!!


For those of you who have just recently entered the electronic world of music with a sampler, it's time to truncate. Truncating is just cutting off the extra amount of recorded data that exist before or after the sound you have sampled. To conserve space this data needs to be chopped off your sound and disposed of. The problem is that lots of people don't truncate very well. The main reason for this is that they're probably not wearing headphones. This is a bad idea if you want to make sure you're making clean samples, but that's another article. What I want to stress is that truncating without headphones will probably still leave you with extra data hanging on your sound. I've brought home factory made drum samples that take up mass K on my board and after a good headphone scan have retrieved a good 30% of sample space due to poor truncating by the maker. This could mean everything to you if running out of memory on a song or can't do some function because you don't have enough memory. If you want to chop a sound down grouped with a bunch of other wavesamples (like a drum set) and your sound doesn't seem to be truncating, you might want to look through the set of samples and see if there's a copy of the sample your truncating. If this is the case you're going to have to set the start and end of the sample's copy to exactly that of the original, then both should truncate smoothly just like sippin' Night Train.

Sample Rate Conversion

Most samplers are set to sample at around 40 Khz which is loosely around a CD's audio clarity. one cool feature in most current samplers is in their ability to change the rate of the sample or the signal to a much lower Khz thus allowing more sample time and lower K sounds. If your not so worried about super perfect audio clarity you can pick out certain sounds which don't necessarily need high sample rates. Take a good look at the sample your trying to make. Is it a clear bass sound or a rough grindy sort of sound? If it's distorted and rough you might want to try cutting the sample rate to around 20khz to hear what it sounds like. It might even sound better and save you a nice amount of memory. Sometimes pulling the sample rate down to a really low level creates some good "radio" speaker effects on voice samples and drum sounds too. DIG DEEP !!!

Stereo Outs

A true cheap trick for all you Cheap Trick fans who don't have built in effects but want to tinker with certain sounds through different effects your answer lies in monophying your stereo outs. Just route your sampler or synthesizers left output through your effects processor and into a unpanned mixer channel and your right output straight (or through another effects box) into a second unpanned channel. Now the sounds you pan left will be effected by the processor and the sounds you pan right will go directly into the mixer uneffected. This is great for low budget music making when you're tired of either having totally dry sounds or all your sounds running through the same effect.

Well I'm out of tricks and definitely leaving this months article a little thin, but I promise next months issue will overwhelm you as I unleash the powers of Fender's Chroma Polaris, a totally butt kickin' acid, techno, bass in your back, music machine you're going to want to own. By the way, if you're out and about this month and you come across SECT's CD entitled Telekinetic and you've got an extra fifteen bucks, pick it up because it's really got a sleek and original sound to it and it's electronic as hell. ADIOS!

Saul Stokes

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Matthew Corwine, Online Editor