MusicTech 198: Explore the synth universe

Meet artists and makers who are pushing the boundaries of modern synthesis – plus, learn all about synth emulation and the synths that made dance music.

musictech magazine issue 198 synth special

It’s probably not all that contentious to say that everybody, at some stage in their music-making journey, needs a synth. Whether you’re working on deep, intricate soundscapes, creating pounding dance music or concocting chart-climbing pop hits, taking advantage of the myriad textures, pads and leads that the synthesizer provides is a no-brainer.

This month, we celebrate this beloved instrument with a series of linked features, highlighting the history, science and ongoing development of the synth. We speak to Georgia, an artist who wowed Glastonbury with her retro synth-pop stylings; take a trip to Bristol to visit UDO and look at the making of the Super 6, a synthesizer that merges the very best of old and new technology; while Andy Jones delves into the synth’s pivotal role in shaping dance music. We also continue Adam Crute’s Sound Synthesis Masterclass series, this time exploring the science and mechanics of sampling and synthesis.

Aside from our synth focus, we also have a fantastic interview with The Prodigy engineer and co-producer Neil Mclellan, who tells the inside story of the making of their classic record Music For The Jilted Generation. We also speak to MPG Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year 2019 Dani Bennett Spragg about her incredible career to date and her best-practice advice. Later, we experience the mind- (and ear-) blowing wall of sound that is James Murphy and Soulwax’s Despacio sound system.

Our review section this month continues the synthy vibe that runs through this issue, as we get hands-on with Native’s latest iteration of Massive X, have some fun with Modal’s CRAFTsynth 2 and explore the scope of Softube’s Volume 3. I hope you enjoy the issue.

MusicTech 198 includes:

  • The 10 Synths That Made Dance Music – The innovative hardware and software creations that have filled dancefloors for the last three decades
  • UDO Synths – George Hearn of UDO Synths explains the inner workings of the new Super 6
  • Sound Synthesis Masterclass: Part 3 (True Emulation) – The quest for creating super-accurate acoustic instrument emulations
  • Interviews – Behind the scenes with Despacio, possibly the world’s greatest dance soundsystem; synth-pop juggernaut Georgia on gear, production and being born in the studio; and Dani Bennett Spragg, the MPG Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year 2019 Award winner, on her process
  • Tutorials – How to sidechain in Logic Pro X; using MIDI keyboards with Ableton Live; mobile-music making possibilities using Reason Compact; using Retrologue 2 in Cubase; and voice comping in Pro Tools
  • Reviews – We get hands-on with the Native Instruments Massive X, Spitfire Audio Kepler Orchestra, Pioneer DJ DDJ-800, Focal Clear Professional, Tascam Series 102i, and more
  • DVD – 3GB of video tutorials, workshops, software plug-ins and samples including Equinox Sounds Uplifting Trance MIDI Kits (samples), AudioThing Valves (demo), accSone crusher-X 8 (demo), and Native Instruments Massive X (promo)

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