Spencer Zahn is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and composer who’s based in New York.
His sparse but emotive arrangements delicately intertwine live instrumentation with synth-based sound design.
Above, Zahn sat down with us to discuss five sound design tips that he applies in his own music when using Arturia’s V Collection. See the video for his in-depth insights and read highlights below.
1. Explore your synthesizer panels
“My first V Collection sound design tip is all about the functionality of the instruments themselves and getting to know the instruments a bit,” Zahn tells us. “You can use the panels to create your own sounds and find your voice with each instrument… Something that I think is important in developing your own sound is understanding some of the basic parameters rather than just choosing presets. You can build on each preset infinitely.”
Go to 0:57 in the video to hear more on this tip and watch Zahn explore the power of manipulating specific parameters in the CS-80 V.
2. Add depth and motion with the CS-80 V
“If we want to give the listener something new to draw their attention, we can use the CS-80 V,” Zahn shares. “The CS-80 V feels as if you’re playing the real CS-80—you can do all of the things that you could do on the hardware synth.”
Go to 3:42 in the video to hear more on this tip and watch Zahn achieve depth and motion using layered performances.
3. Create tension with the new Augmented Strings
“I’m going to show you how I add tension and dynamics using the new Augmented Strings in V Collection,” Zahn says. “One of the things that I like to do is add an LFO to control the Motion parameter on the instrument. As I add depth to the LFO, you can see and hear how the motion changes, and from there you can change the rate of the LFO.”
“What I love is that the Augmented Strings have the hint of an acoustic instrument being played, but they’re really their own thing. They’re kind of in the background as if there’s a string section, while still letting the piano be the lead instrument.”
Go to 5:58 in the video to hear more on this tip and watch Zahn modulate parameters in the Augmented Strings to create a subtle sense of tension.
4. Use synths to create unique drums
“The synth engine of V Collection is great for creating kicks, snares, and hi-hats,” Zahn tells us. “I find that using the engine, drawing in some quick MIDI, and then adding effects like the Arpeggiator to change up the subdivisions is a really quick and inspiring way to get a cool drum track going.”
Go to 7:33 in the video to hear more on this tip and watch Zahn design a hi-hat groove using the Prophet-VS V.
5. Experiment with the unexpected
“I like to take an instrument and find a use for it that may be surprising to me,” Zahn shares. “This adds something to a song that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.”
Go to 9:46 in the video to hear more on this tip and watch Zahn use the SQ80 V to create a unique percussive effect.
5 sound design tips for V Collection: Conclusion
Hopefully this tutorial gave you some new ideas for using Arturia’s esteemed instruments. Have you used V Collection in your own productions before? What was your favorite sound design tip covered in the video? Let us know in the comments, and subscribe to the Splice YouTube channel for more artist-led tips, tutorials, and insights.
Try V Collection 9 for free, and then rent-to-own the collection until you own it outright:
November 13, 2023