filters to enhance instruments
This tutorial was made using Cubase 5 and Kontakt 3
My name is Piotr Musia³ and I welcome You to my next tutorial!
time I promissed to you sell a couple of tricks you can use to help
working with patches that do not have many velocity layers, or how to
introduce crossfading to instruments, that do not have it. Simply,
how to get dynamics out of nothing or just enhance it.
tutorial is written with Kontakt 2/3 in mind. I'd love to include
same tips for PLAY Pro, which is supposed to offer similar
functionality, and with which, I'm sure the same stuff can be
achieved just as easily. It's not out yet, but by the time it is,
you'll already have an idea of what you can do. Some things are also
partially possible to do with Kompakt (especially the first part). If
you are still interested, keep reading.
filter and velocity
rare cases, or in older sample libraries, we may end up with some
instruments that do not have many velocity levels - which are pretty
much a standard today. In some cases we end up with a single sample,
that does not change in timbre whether we hit the key hard or soft.
I don't think we can recreate different velocity layers out of a
single sample. Currently, if a patch only has one velocity layer,
then velocity only triggers volume for the sample, and nothing else.
We can add to that a low-pass filter, that will add a bit of a change
in timbre, depending on the velocity with which we hit the key.
whatever sample you like to try this, I propose you to take a bright
sample first, to hear better what we are doing. I took a basso shout
patch from Symphonic Choirs and loaded into Kontakt 3 – you
may want to try it with this patch at first.
let's go to edit mode, group editor and set „Edit All Groups”.
This particular patch, only has one group, but this is just in case,
we wanted to edit more complex patches, we'll talk about later. By
not clicking on „Edit All Groups”, we'd only edit the one
that's selected in the window below – for example, only one of
4 round robin groups. This time, we want to edit all of them.
a Group InsertFx, let's add Filter -> 1-pole LP. If you press the
key now, you'll hear, that the sample became a bit dull, quieter and
a bit softer as well. This is generally, what we want, but we want to
make this effect more or less distinct depending on how we press the
the section below, related to „LP1Pole” let's click on
„Mod” button. This will scroll down another section
related to modulators. Modulators, are generally conditions that the
effect (in our case LP1) reacts to. Let's add a new modulator. Let it
be „Velocity”. Let's also set the selection on the right
to „cutoff frequency”.
the key softer and harder couple of times, can you hear the
can now calibrate the effect to fit the particular sample –
move the cutoff knob left and right, untill you are satisfied with
the way how much softer are the bottom dynamic level.
is simply a low-pass filter, which means, it gradually cuts all
frequency spectrum above the one that you set with the cutoff knob.
Also, after the modulator had been set, it started to change the
cutoff frequency as you play softer or harder.
can also experiment with some EQ effects to expand higher dynamics.
this – as a second group fx, add EQ -> 1-band EQ. Now, set
the bandwith to 1 octave, gain to 4 or 5dB and cutoff frequency to
150Hz. Then add a modulator. Set it to respond to velocity and
modulate the frequency of the EQ.
you hear how the sample becomes brighter when you press they key
harder? This is because, the harder you hit the key, the higher
frequency gets bumped by 5dB. At lower velocities, the LP1 filter
handles dampening the higher frequencies so they do not get bumped by
the EQ anyway.
we are doing here, is basically adding or taking from the sound the
frequencies that our ear recognizes as load or quiet. Ever heard of
Fletcher-Munson curve? We are either bumping the higher-mid, most
audible frequencies, or taking them out, to make it sound softer or
may sound a bit complicated in theory, but once you experience it in
practice and experiment fine tuning the settings, you'll soon know
what you are doing.
note – the dynamic effect
is artificial, therefore may sound bad when soloed, but in a complex
arrangement, hidden under a pallete of other instruments and not
overused – may really sound much more interesting, and could
save the composition. These 2 tricks work particually good with
percussive sounds and drums.
may also want to add a bit of reverb on the filtered patches, so that
the point where the filters got changed would not be so obvious,
therefore it would sound much more natural.
can have this effect (especially LP1) applied to different kind of
sounds. Because of the nature of percussion this trick works best
when the effects are triggered with velocity – after all, you
don't really need to change the dynamics of the sound once the drum
has already been hit.
what about those legato/sustain patches that don't really have DXF
versions with different layers, or just do not sound good enough when
only modified with expression (CC11) or volume (CC7)?
can pretty much use the same LP1 trick! And yes, this may really
sound good. I use it all the time for example with patches like Muted
Brass ensemble from Symphobia – it contains only 2 dynamic
layers, and does not have a DYN (DXF) version on it's own.
only different thing we do differently after adding the LP1 filter is
adding mod wheel (CC1) as a modulator, instead of velocity. Check
this out, for example on violin sordino patches in EWQLSO.
fine-tuning, proper distraction from the artificial effect (for
example with other instruments), and wise use of this trick is the
key to success. Feel free to experiment on your own, this is what
these tutorials are written for ;).
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