Sylenth1 is a subtractive software synthesizer developed by LennarDigital. It’s currently one of the most popular production tools on Splice, and is used by countless top-notch producers like Skrillex, Steve Aoki, and Laidback Luke.
Sylenth1 allows you to create great sounding patches quickly and with ease, an approach that lends itself well to enhancing creativity and streamlining workflow. Its interface balances a clean and simple functionality with amazing sound quality, combined with a well-designed preset library that plays to all of its strengths. Here we’ll take a look at the components of LennarDigital’s Sylenth1, provide an overview of its features, and give you a sense of its capabilities. You can also sign up for Splice and explore tons of full DAW sessions that use Sylenth1.
The Top Panel is a logical place to get started – it’s where among other things you can determine the POLYPHONIC MODE of Sylenth1, which corresponds to the number of voices it will be able to produce simultaneously relative to incoming MIDI information. For creating bass or lead patches, it’s preferable to choose a monophonic setting by entering a value of 1. Polyphonic modes (values greater than 1) are better suited to synthesizing chordal or harmonic timbres such as keys or pads – the VOICES dialog at right tells you how many of the total allowable voices are currently being used.
Sylenth1’s main sound-producing components are uniquely arranged in to two separate pairs of oscillators that each have their own independent filter modules, PART A and PART B. This architecture is essentially like having two synths in one, which is perfect for creating complex and multi-layered sounds that occupy the entire frequency spectrum. The PART SELECT switches on the top panel toggle the interface back and forth between these two sections, and have an optional SOLO switch that allows you to work on each section independently for further control. The SYNC switch at right forces several of Sylenth1’s timed modulation and effects parameters such as LFO rates and delay times to be synchronized with the host tempo as opposed to running free. The MIDI LEARN switch allows you to map many of Sylenth1’s parameters to a physical control surface which is great for playing in automation or adjusting parameters on the fly.
At the heart of LennarDigital’s Sylenth1 are its oscillators, each of which can generate one of eight available waveforms that are modeled on classic analog shapes such as Sine, Saw, Triangle, Pulse, and Noise, as well as additional modified waveforms such as HPulse, QPulse, and TriSaw. Five rotary knobs comprise the bulk of the oscillator panels: VOLUME, which sets the overall output volume of the individual oscillator; PHASE, which allows you to adjust the starting point of the selected waveform if the RETRIG switch is enabled; DETUNE, which adjusts the degree of pitch variation present around the oscillator’s tonal center; STEREO, which sets the level of stereo separation between the individual voices; and PAN, which determines the overall placement of the oscillator’s output signal within the stereo field.
At left of each oscillator module are pitch controls that allow you to fine-tune its pitch characteristics, and an INVERT switch that’s useful for flipping the waveform on axis and reversing its phase. Each oscillator also has a COPY/PASTE function at top right which is useful for matching settings between oscillators and sections. The AMP ENVELOPE panel at top center determines the envelope shape for each pair of oscillators and follows standard ADSR (attack, decay, sustain, release) protocols. Sylenth1’s main mixer panel allows you to tactfully blend the output signals of parts A and B while also controlling the overall output level of the instrument via the MAIN VOLUME control.
Each pair of Sylenth1’s oscillators has a dedicated filter module that’s comprised of three rotary knobs: CUTOFF, which controls the operating frequency of the currently selected filter type; RESONANCE, which adjusts the amount of resonance that’s applied to the signal during the filtering process.; and DRIVE, which overdrives the internal filter stages and adds higher harmonics to the input signal, making the filter sound warmer and fuller. It’s here that you can also choose to route either one or both groups of oscillators to the specified filter.
LennarDigital’s Sylenth1 allows you to choose from three available filter types which can be applied in either 12db/octave or 24db/octave modes: HIGHPASS, which attenuates all frequencies below the cutoff frequency and leaves the higher frequencies unchanged; LOWPASS, which attenuates all frequencies above the cutoff frequency and lets the lower frequencies pass unchanged; and BANDPASS, which attenuates frequencies above and below the cutoff frequency but allows only a small band of frequencies to pass unchanged.
You also have the option of circumventing the filter module entirely by selecting BYPASS. Sylenth1 provides a FILTER CONTROL module at bottom which can adjust the parameters of both of Sylenth1’s filters simultaneously, which can be useful for creating dramatic sweeps and other filter gestures. It also contains a variable KEYTRACK function which will cause the filter action to respond differently based on changing note values.
Sylenth1 provides two internal envelopes and two internal LFO (low frequency oscillator) units that can be freely assigned to nearly any parameter that you wish, as well as two user-definable modulation devices for even greater control. This makes it a breeze to select a modulation source and up to two destinations for each, then dial in the degree to which the modulation source will have an effect using the black AMOUNT knobs just to the left of each PARAMETER SELECTOR. At the bottommost right of Sylenth1’s interface are PORTAMENTO controls for instantiating glide modes and determining the degree to which notes slide and flow in to one another.
At lower values, the portamento effect is less noticable and quicker, whereas higher values result in longer and more exaggerated slides between notes. The MONO LEGATO switch ensures that the portamento behavior effects only one note at a time and plays back notes in a very connected and natural way.
Sylenth1 comes with a built-in sequencing and effects section that ties the entire package together and allows you to fine-tune your sonic creations. The built-in arpeggiator offers you the means to quickly create interesting sequences of notes and expiriment with different combinations. The centralized front panel delivers up-front and clear menus that contain every effect available in the order that processing occurs so that you can easily choose the effects that you’d like to apply and get to work tweaking them to your heart’s content. This ensures that your creativy remains front and center, allowing you to concentrate on designing your sound and shaping your tone rather than digging through complicated submenus or searching for external plugins.
With its mild learning curve, powerful synthesis engine, and impeccable sound quality, Sylenth1 from LennarDigital remains one of the most powerful and popular instruments available for producing electronic music. Head over to LennarDigital’s website here to purchase Sylenth1 or download a free demo version, then check out the many featured projects on Splice that make use of Sylenth1’s sound-sculpting capabilities.
March 9, 2015