Sound Design Techniques

Can anyone give me a good indication of the types sound design techniques that may be used to create the sounds on the example tracks below, particularly the percussive sounds. The production quality is amazing and the sounds are so brutally digital I love it, but I can never get anywhere near this level of sound design. Each sound is so clear and concise. When I try create sounds they lack the punch and crisp harshness.

Vaexth - Unfolding Mechanism

Vaexth - Cuntpressor

Richard Devine - Plonked Spectral

I’m assuming there’s a good degree of ring modulation, lofi mat, distortion, karplus strong, compression, maybe wavetable synthesis being used. But if anyone can clarify some solid techniques that are being used and how to achieve these kind of crisp digital sounds I’d much appreciate it.

Or if anyone knows of any good reading material that I could study in the production of these sounds that’d be a help as well.



I’d say any elaborate multi-fx with modulation (complex renoise chains of native devices or Inear Display/ Glitchmashines vst plugins, for example) and proper dose of good old resampling in between - should get You there with the texture of the sound itself. The key point here is, You have to experiment a lot - just to figure out what combinations of effects/parameter modulations work out in the end.

Same would probably go for overall procesing a sound with standard tools like eq/dist/compression - if You want better over the top processing and ‘crisper’ or whatever result, go with processing the sound with a more subtle chain of various devices, but more than once.

As for the starting sound, I would try with really simple sources, like waveshapes or unprocessed 808 drums.

Did you see the notes on the Bandcamp page for Libet Tones? There are some good observations about each track:

Unfolding mechanism:

This track started with an FM synthesis experiment where each note randomized the operators, resulting in these weird bursts of atonal frequencies and harmonics. I built the first section around this. I then introduced a melodic glaze, originally written to soften the edges of the harsher sounds. This melody started as a tool almost, but as I developed it I realized that it deserved more focus, enough in fact to later give it a solo. Before this, I wanted another breather as a temporary retreat from the intensity. To emphasize this I tried something with my binaural mics: with them in, I recorded the harsher section playing while the quieter section played throughsome isolating headphones. The idea was that if I recorded putting on the headphones and taking them off again, I would effectively be transplanting the mind elsewhere for a while. It didn’t quite work, but sounded pretty sweet anyway so I wasn’t too bothered.
The whole thing is peppered with binaural recordings in fact, for example the sound of the waves in the melodic solo was recorded in Pembrokeshire, sitting the sea with the water almost up to my ears. They add a recognizable natural edge to some of the more abstract sounds, and makes them more tangible I think. The contrast of having both the artificial and the natural playing together makes me appreciate how complex seemingly simple natural sounds actually are.
The final section was an experiment into what would happen if you tried to brutally force one time signature onto another. Obviously they each needed their own space or it would have quickly gotten messy as fuck (and still did), so I put on a highpass filter side-chained against the invading rhythm, which creates that swooshing effect. Luckily the new time signature was my favorite of all (3/4), so the rest of the track was just playing around with increasingly small divisions of thirds, and tying off the strange rhythms with a simple straight hi-hat rhythm to give them a reference point. It’s all about the reference points.

So it looks more like max and binaurall recordings, thats cool ^_^. Just for fun, I took a shot at making the mentioned cuntpressor vst as a simple doofer by boosting a stupid amount of gain into maximizer.


I think, as not mentioned yet: try heavy “upwards” compression (what is suggested here to be replaced with heavy boosting into a limiter, but only a real upward compressor will make it sound this clean) and carefully saturating/distorting pre/post compressor of very digital sounding pluck sounds fed thru various ambience type effects (delays, reverbs, or comb filters, …) that are panned with narrow width so they become sound body instead of ambience. The transients are most probably layered or processed seperately/parallel to keep them very sharp and intact, with a slight post-attack body that blends into the upward compressed tail.

I didn’t know that artist, he/she drove that special technique to real mastership, it is very hard to keep it sounding this synthetic and clear/clean, not having it drift into organically sounding but blurred muddish timbres.

I was thinking a lot of this stuff may well have been done in Max or Reaktor for surebecause I know Richard Devine actually uses both, as well as a lot of modular gear. Vaetxh is somewhat of a mystery to me though. I know very little about his processes, however the notes that Ulrikkold just found on Libet Tones will probably reveal a good bit of info thankfully.

Thanks for the advice guys, some good ideas in here now to experiment with. The next hard part is being able to compose something from the results.

Great find on the Libet Tones notes by the way Ulrikkold

Heres video of Richard using a GAIA synth to make complex sounds using simple built in fx chains. Pretty fun little watch, nice to see a quick and easy way of creating complex sounds from not so complex hardware.

I think, as not mentioned yet: try heavy “upwards” compression (what is suggested here to be replaced with heavy boosting into a limiter, but only a real upward compressor will make it sound this clean) …

Or you could do with upward compression, yeah - there is no native solution for upward compression in renoise so You have to pick 3rd party vst - I’d recommend either the one from melda free bundle (mcompressor) or tb red phatt pro and do something like this (process x2 or more to bring up more floor):

Glitchmachines Fracture & Hysteresis are both free to download.

Both are nice little tools. Only got to play with them for an hour or two this evening but the results were quite good.

Inear Display’s Amalgame is a great plugin,I actually bought it a few weeks back but hadn’t explored beyond the presets really up until today.

I’ve attached three files below of what I got from a quick 2 hour session of messing about with Fracture and Amalgame:

File 1: A one bar loop of four 808 drum samples (kick, snare, hat, crash) run completely wet through Fracture

File 2: The same one bar loop run through the same Fracture settings and with an instance of Amalgame

File 3: An old beat I made and the 808 loop being randomly selected and ran through Fracture and Amalgame

Not too bad as a starting point I reckon.

Getting some good stuff from using Glitchmachines free Fracture plugin. Set a load of LFOs to randomly automate all the parameters of Fracture, then rendered, chopped, and re-organised the results while using that Stupid Sustain doofer Jackie made based on Vaexth’s Cuntpresser vst.

Visuals were made with this

there are various techniques and approaches to sound design, recently I found an article that is sharing some unique tips, not all of them are unique, but some of them are really helpful

they also made a list of sound design plugins

Distortion on the peak of a transient