Having trouble designing a synth string patch (with examples)

  • With the Virus more than any other synth, I have trouble getting my patches to sound exactly like they sound in my head.

    But I’m trying to become more adept with the Virus and I’m really stumped trying to get a synth string patch that I’m happy with. I’ve managed to get strings done in other synths that had a certain amount of brilliance and life in them that I just can’t seem to coax out of the Virus. I’m pretty sure it’s my fault, but I’m kind of running into a brick wall at the moment.

    I just posted a video that demonstrates the kind of sound I’m looking for; it’s a patch from the Sonic Academy ANA synth that kind of glistens without sounding plastic. It’s somewhere between a real and synthetic. The patch is called “Real Strings” and it’s kind of weird; it’s only made up from two oscillators playing sampled waveforms. One’s a real quiet, quick attack (which I can’t even hear most of the time) and the other is the chromatic string component. The patch has no filtering or modulation other than a little bit of pitch LFO, so it hasn’t given me much to go on in terms of designing my own sound.


    In the video I also show my current Virus synth string patch, which really lacks the high end action of the ANA patch, even though it has the same general EQ signature. I don’t know what I can do to make the higher frequencies of my sound more interesting. I step through all the relevant Virus Control tabs in the video to show my parameters.

    The video ends with both my Virus patch and the ANA patch playing together, panned to opposite sides.

    Anyway- any tips on how I can bring my own Virus patch more in line with something like that ANA sound?

  • The biggest difference between the two is that the ANA plays two adjacent octaves at the same time. You can test by copying the notes in the Virus clip 12 semitones down.
    Other thumb rules for strings: detuned oscillators, keyboard tracking high pass filters to attenuate the lower harmonics, noticeable attack and release times (=not zero, but actual amount depends on the sound). Vibrato and tremolo to taste.
    E.g. you can get detune+octaves by using two hypersaw oscillators and set semitone=-12 for one of them.

  • Thanks FB. My patch was using two octaves as well, but the OSC mix was different.

    Last night I tried changing the lower OSC to a pulse and modulating the PW, which had a nice result.

    But I also found that changing the lower OSC to a hypersaw instead and cranking up the detune really did the trick.

    The ANA patch, it turns out, was playng a short (under 2-second) looped sample rather than a typical Virus-type waveform, which lent to its more active character.