Lesson 13: Subtractive Synthesis

By understanding the basics of subtractive synthesis, it is easy to see why computer-based sound production has become so powerful and versatile. This process involves taking a starting tone with a wide range of frequencies, then gradually removing some of those frequencies over time. This sequence allows for a variety of effects that could never be achieved if it were not for the use of powerful computer processors.

It is this foundational method that forms the basis for much of the analog and digital sounds produced by computers today. Synthesizers based around subtractive synthesis often offer an incredible level of detail in how certain elements are modified and changed, allowing users to craft intricate compositions with stunning results.

If you’re new to synthesizers, then this course is the perfect place to start learning the fundamentals. You’ll get up close and personal with oscillators, filters, amplifiers, envelopes, and LFOs – which you covered a bit in course one. With a solid understanding of each element, you’ll be ready for the advanced courses later on.

Additionally, you’ll learn everything you need to know about constructing Instrument Racks – making it easier than ever for anyone to build their own professional-sounding software instruments out of samples. For your homework, you are going to make a synth bass from scratch, then apply effects to make it pop, and then save it for later. As you’re following the instructions, try to make adjustments to see exactly how each step is changing the sound.