Trance Music Mastery recently caught up with Adam Szabo to get his thoughts on sound design. Adam has established himself in recent years as an expert sound designer developing soundsets for various synthesizers including Zebra2, Nexus2, Sylenth1, Massive, and many others.
In Part 1, Adam revealed his “go-to” synths and shares his thoughts on the most challenging aspects about sound design.
In this final part of the interview, Adam discusses some common myths and misconceptions that he feels people have about sound design and offers some tips for aspiring producers!
Adam: It really depends. I mostly make my own from scratch. I want some sounds to be new and unique, but sometimes you also need those classic elements that are timeless, and then I tweak existing classic sounds. There are rare moments when I find a patch that sounds very close to what I had in mind, and then I simply use that.
Adam: It’s not specifically about designing sounds, but synthesis in general. My favourite is the ever lasting analog vs. digital debate. It is always fun to argue about the sound quality of analog and digital synths. This is only my opinion, but this whole myth about digital synths not sounding as good as analog synths is useless. Instead of looking at it from the start, that is the source of the sound, I tend to look at it from the other side. The end product, the final music. When one listens to the music, he or she won’t say: “I am not listening to this because its all made with digital synths!” If the music is well made, regardless of which synth is used, the listener will always enjoy the music, and thats what counts! For example, in the early days of synthesizers, when there were no powerful computers to host VSTs, if anyone wanted a synth they had to get an analog synthesizer. They had no choice. If a song was made using one of these synths, and the song became a classic, everyone suddenly thought, the song is so good because of the synth used. But what would have happend if in 1970 the musicians had access to the VSTs we have now? Perhaps they would have used them back then, and the songs would be equally popular. The analog vs. digital debate would be meaningless. I think, we are extremely close, if not already there to getting that “warm analog sound” everyone is talking about. You just have to know what you are doing when using a synth. 30 years ago, who would have thought that we would have powerful synthesizers running inside our computers, and they sound good, or even better than some hardware synthesizers. I think we are all spoiled by all this technology, and we should be happy that we have access to it in this lifetime!
Adam: I think the most important skill is to deeply understand what is going inside the synth. Try to visualise what the synth is doing when you tweak something. It is important to learn to identify different waveforms and how they sound. The basics are important, like recognising a saw, square, triangle and sine waveforms. What different filters sound like, and what effects do to sound.
Adam: The best suggestion I can give is don’t listen to others! Don’t care what people say, just do what YOU want. Don’t let people influence you. Let them inspire you, but never blindly believe anything people say, because there are some that don’t know any better. Don’t say: “My friend’s brother’s cousin read on the net that some pro said that FL Studio sounds bad, so I will not use it either!” If it suits you, use it. If it does not, do not use it. You should be the judge, and not your friends or some random “pro” on the internet. I made the same mistake, and it just confused me and made everything much harder.
Adam: If there is one thing I would suggest, is practice, practice, and don’t give up! Also, a very important thing to do is to learn ONE synth first. With millions of synths to choose from, it feels
like being a kid in a candy store. We want all the candy at once. Most synths are very similar in many ways, even if they seem totally different. There are some rules that apply to all. Learn the rules, and you will be able to use all of them with ease. Instead of having a hundred different synths, choose one that you will learn well, and once you know how to use that, understanding the others will be very easy, and you can start designing your own sounds right away.
Adam is an accomplished trance music producer with several tracks published by various labels. After reading this interview, check out some of Adam’s recent sound design work and his tracks, such as “Serano (Original Mix)” on Always Alive Recordings.