Beginnner/Intermediate with a few questions

I’ve got a few questions that have been nagging me for a while now so hoping someone can help me out.

  1. Sampler vs Synthesizer

So far I have been doing all of my sound design inside of the sampler using the stock waveforms. The other day I installed Vital synth and I couldn’t help but notice the difference in sound quality compared to synthesis in the sampler. In Vital everything sounded huge and rich whereas in the sampler, synths sound kind of thin and ‘wispy’.

Is this to be expected, and a limitation of using samplers for synthesis, or am I just not using the sampler to its full potential? Can anyone explain what is going on below the surface and the difference between the two.

It’s hard to put this question into words as I don’t know too much about synthesis but the way I see it is something like analog vs digital, with hardware synths supposedly sounding better than software synths, having a distinct ‘analog sound’, ‘sounding warm’ etc.

Is this the same when it comes to using the sampler compared to a vst for synthesis?

  1. Master track and Volume

What effects do you put on your master? and do you use those same effects for every track you make?
How about the gainer and maximizer, in what circumstance would you use these effects? Also there seems like a lot of ways to change the volume of instruments, tracks etc. I’m just wondering how you manage your volume and whether there is any benefit to the way you do it?

  1. Tuner

Can anyone recommend a good Tuner that is compatible with Linux?

  1. Different approaches to sound design in general

Finally I just wanted to know how you guys approach sound design. Whether you use Hardware, the sampler or vst’s?

There is a video on the Renoise YT page called ‘Using Plugins - Render To Samples’. This feature looks amazing and I might go down this route for sound design so I can use soft synths and use little CPU. Does anyone here do this?

Tried to keep this post as short as possible. I know there is a lot of questions so please just answer whatever you can. Thanks! :slight_smile:

Vital is a dope synth and it’s easy to make thick sounds with lots of movement and complex, evolving harmonic content using it. In all honesty, there are things that vital can do that not much else can (some of the spectral warping modes, specifically). That said, the renoise instrument editor is incredibly powerful and can emulate a lot of different kinds of sounds, but often takes more work, because it’s not geared towards synthesis by default. If you’re just using a single-cycle waveform, good luck emulating the timbral richness and variability of a soft synth like vital or serum or massive. BUT, if you spend some time with it, you can make some very out-of this world sounds entirely within renoise. It just takes a lot of time, knowledge, understanding of what your trying to achieve, and sometimes more patience, and plain old dumb luck/serendipity. I almost exclusively use renoise for sound design because I find that the limitations force me to be more creative to craft decent sounds, and then the results don’t really sound like anyone else.
To each their own, though. vital is great, and a lot of fun and every time I make a dope sound in it (or serum, or whatever) a part of me immediately thinks, “I wonder if/how I could do this in renoise?” Sometimes you can’t, but sometimes you can. Either way, at the end of the day, your creative process should be geared around whatever you enjoy most that stimulates your creativity. There are no rules in music, just guidelines… so, whatever floats your goat!

Master track for me has some utilities (monoizer, mastering chain), but I don’t often use overt sound fx on it.

Not sure if Melda stuff available for linux, but Mtuner is good, and free

Plugin grabber is dope. resampling in general is super powerful, well-integrated in renoise and often under utilized (it seems to me). Resample everything :upside_down_face:


Zensphere is making some great points here, I completely agree. I really love taking powerful VSTs into renoise sampling and mangling with the editor using pattern commands. You can get the best of both worlds, great VST synthesis and the sample effecting capabilities of Renoise. However there are people on this site and with older trackers who can make amazing stuff with just samples. You can also use a good filter and gain effect to fatten up your samples. I resample with effects sometimes as well haha so like Zen said “Resample everything :upside_down_face:

PadSynth- a tool for Renoise- will help making some bigger sounds. This tool makes perfect looped samples of some massive waveforms. Not just for pads. Also, spending time with the sliders, randomizing various parameters, will get unexpected results.

Not a full solution, but a “wow, can’t believe this is in Renoise” tool.


The first obvious thing will be the unison in Vital that will instant thicken your sound. To do this in renoise you need to duplicate the waveform many times and manually detune each of them… in vital it’s just a knob.
There are many other examples of things that are maybe possible to do in renoise natively, but will be much more tedious to achieve.

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Yes, always the same effects in the master in this order: Monoizer, Mixer EQ, LP Filter, Clipper, Maximizer
Volume: First step adjust the volume of your single instruments (mixing), second step increase volume of everything by using “Boost” of the Maximizer (part of the mastering, increase volume according to the threshold). The benefit of doing it that way is to get a clean mix first and afterwards being able to optimize your whole song in general. I would use the maximizer only in the master track, because it’s a kind of hard limiter and I don’t want to destroy my mix by using it in instrument tracks. It’s important to get your mix straight first, without any limiters. That’s the foundation, everything else is “finetuning”.


Do you put these on your master track as soon as you start a new project, or wait until you have finished a track?

What do you do to stop clipping?

It seems like as soon as I compress my drums a little bit and get the sound and volume that I want, my track starts to clip. I don’t know much about mastering, so I don’t bother putting anything on my master track. I do know how to EQ, use filters and compression, these are the only real ‘audio engineering’ things I know how to do.

What should I be leaving on my master from the get go? I ask because there seems like a lot of ways to tackle this. You know, things like auto gain, soft clipping, maximizer etc.

Yeah, this is a great tool, completely forgot about it.

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Monoizer, Mixer EQ and LP Filter are active from the beginning, Clipper and Maximizer are deactivated until I finished the main part of my composition and the main part of the mix.

To prevent clipping? I put a VU meter on my kick track and I male sure that the kick isn’t louder than 0 VU, after that I adjust the volume of everything else according to the kick. And of course I use a clipper and the Maximizer in the master track after finishing the composition and the mix.

I assume your volume is too loud at this point. Reduce the global volume. You can increase it again as soon as you’re doing your mix and master.

Monoizer and deactivated Stereo Expander (adjusted to mono). Through the monoizer you can make sure that only your low ends are in mono without any unwanted signals, and if you activate the Stereo Expander (which is adjusted to mono) in between times you can listen to your song in mono to get a good mix right away. Everything else is not important at this point. But you should focus on your composition first, so actually you can also leave your master track completely empty at the beginning.

In this order:

  1. Composition
  2. Mix (adjust the volume of every single instrument and kill unnecessary/unwanted frequencies in every single track primarily by filters, secondarily by EQ)
  3. Mastering (Mixer EQ, Clipper, Maximizer and/or more/else)
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In short: experience. It’s the skills of the user that makes the difference.

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Record and mix at a low volume haha.

But I also have Airwindows ClipOnly on my master out just in case. I have a few Airwindows plugs permanently on my master out actually, namely curve, Monitoring and ClipOnly but sometimes some colouring like Channel9 or so. I see you’re on Linux too so might be worth checking them out, they’re very very good plugs.

As for a tuner, if you’re talking about an instrument tuner then Guitarix has an ok tuner. For correction and autotune you could try GSnap (all the GVST plugs are free and native Linux and most of them are very good).

Others have already given good answers re: sound design and stock effect use etc so I’ll just leave it at that.