Creating an FM Psy lead

I would love to see some insights on creating FM psy leads, that typical aggressive full-on’ish sound. I’ve made some such sounds with FM engines in Spire and Dune2 synths, but they don’t sound as granly and vicious as they are in “big guys” music. What are the important synthesis parameters, what kind of processing is used after the synth’s output, which synths would you recommend?

E. g. Depth Of Emotion by Dark Soho, the lead playing between 1:18 and 3:28. This is an FM sound, isn’t it? I’ve also heard similar sounds in many other darkpsy/full-on tracks.

Recursion Loop

You are right, that lead sounds like an FM to me. Also, you’re right that Spire is probably not the best choice for this job (can’t say much about Dune), I think synthesizers like U-He Zebra or Xfer Serum would do this better.

Speaking the truth, I’m not as good at sound design as I would like to be. So, to answer your question, I asked an expert to help — Tetarise. He is a music producer and sound designer who dedicated his time and efforts to creating professional sound banks.

Tetarise’s sound banks for Spire at Reveal Sound store

From there, Tetarise says:

This is quite simple and all about Pitch modulation. To achieve that sound, try to emulate FM synthesis using LFO modulation. Set the LFO rate at high speed and offset the starting point to reduce the modulation range. This method gives a pitch shift effect, most noticeable at lower notes.

Wave shape and oscillator settings aren’t making a big difference in this case, it can adjust the character of the sound just a little bit.

You can possibly make something similar in Spire as well, but it won’t sound as good as in Serum:

 1368   2015   Advice   Production   Sound design

Since 2015, I’ve run an advice section giving my experience and answering readers’ questions on music production, DJing, performing, marketing, management, and other aspects of the music industry. The purpose of the series is to spread knowledge and cultivate professionalism in the music industry. The advice series works simply: you send me your questions, and I answer them with a blog post when I have something relevant to say. Send me your questions via the form.

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