Tutorial Graphic

Tutorial: “I Want to Know You” Intro Synth

Recently I answered a request for the intro synth sound on “I Want to Know You” on the “Come Away” album by Jesus Culture. You can find it on YouTube here (sorry, no direct links to copyrighted content unless it is official). The particular riff we are working on starts the song but really comes out front about 15-20 seconds in. Take a listen, and then lets see if we can get something similar going in a few minutes in Omnisphere.

Omnisphere has taken the keyboard world by storm. It is an amazing sound creation tool but many times I think it has more horsepower than we need for a lot of our sound design needs in worship. It’s kind of like trying to mow that strip of grass out front with a combine instead of your trusty walking mower. That said if we try to keep from being lost in the weeds we can get a lot done in Omnisphere.

Know what you’re looking for

One of the keys to getting the most out of Omnisphere is having some idea of what kind of sound you want. With thousands of patches available it’s possible to spend hours listening through them and we usually don’t have that much time. When listening to this patch I hear a few things:

  • A bright airy synth
  • Lots of reverb
  • A slow attack and maybe some legato/glide

With that roadmap in mind we can dive in and see what Omnisphere has to offer.

Use the patch browser to your advantage

The patch browser definitely helps you find what you’re looking for faster. To keep your time here brief:

  1. Use keywords
  2. Use the attributes lists to narrow down your choices
  3. Have a midi loop playing a phrase so you can focus on flipping through the patches
Omnisphere patch browser

Use the patch browser to your advantage (Click for larger view)

Tweak the patch to your needs

I settled on patch “Fat Air JD Pad” since it sounded close enough to me. Often we will have to tweak a patch to get what we need out of it. In this case I made the following changes (change your knobs to match mine to hear the result or hit the YouTube walk-through)

  • Increased the cutoff for more high end
  • Increased the resonance for even more high end
  • Decreased the Attack Time for faster response in the Amplifier (AMP) envelope
  • Turned the level down a bit in the mixer (on the left)
  • Turned the layer volume up a bit (in the bottom right)
Tweak the patch

Tweak the patch for your needs (Click for larger view)

Sometimes you need something more

For this patch I felt like it needed a bit more fundamental, just some more pure tone since we are going to get that all messy with reverb in a minute. I went to Layer B and added a triangle wave to taste. Increase the amplifier attack time so it isn’t too “blippy.” Feel free to mess with the settings to your taste.

Add a triangle wave

Add a triangle wave to taste, or try another sample or waveform. (Click for larger view)

Time for the special sauce!

Reverb. It’s reverb. In fact I think the sound on this album is almost all reverb. If I was playing it live I would probably map a control to the reverb wet/dry and a control to the master Omni cutoff and play with those through the whole song as this base sound will be great for a pad as well. My preferred chain for big never-ending reverb is:

  • Chorus/Modulation >
  • Delay >
  • Reverb >
  • Compression

The chorus or modulation will keep our sound interesting and provide additional harmonics. The delay is the first step to keeping it going. As a matter of fact delay is a great poor man’s reverb as it often can produce a convincing emulation of space with the right delay tempo (fast) and repeats (lots) mixed in low. The reverb will give us our space for this sound, and the compression will keep our reverb tails LOUD and even out the sound.

Omnisphere effects rack

The magic to many of these sounds is in the effects chain. Try to mimicking my setup here. (Click to enlarge)

See it in action

Hopefully this has been a helpful look at a process for recreating this patches that you can try for yourself next time you are looking for a particular sound. If you would like to see my walk through for this tutorial it is below. You can also find a link to the completed Omnisphere patch below. Thanks!

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