Using Eden to synthesize electronic drum sounds for use with TRG - A guide

17 replies [Last post]
Joined: 07/22/2010

I got the idea to do this from seeing shannong's newbie guide. I didn't want to clutter/hijack their thread with such a huge post, so I made this one instead.

The purpose of this guide is to show you ways to synthesize various percussive sounds to resample with TRG, using the Eden synth in NanoStudio. It does assume you have a fairly basic knowledge of how NanoStudio works.

Some might not be aware, but the Eden is quite capable of producing some nice drum sounds. Using anywhere from just one to all four together, you can pretty much create anything you want. For most percussive sounds you want your amp ADSR to be set to low Sustain and Release, and a fast Attack and Decay. Once you get a sound you like, resample it to a TRG pad (on the TRG Home screen, touch Edit, select your pad, then select Resample). When programming drum sounds I think of NanoStudio as a whole synthesizer. Each Eden is like an individual oscillator. Either start a new Project, or even save one called DrumSynth or something like I have. There's no reason to rely on samples if you don't want/have to, though there are some nice 16-bit libraries out there for sure. I have Wave Alchemy's Drum Tools 01 in the Samples folder of NanoStudio =)

Let's begin.

Synthesizing Drum Sounds

Arguably the most important drum in electronic music, the simplest kick is just a low-pitched sine wave. I typically use three Edens to make a single kick sound, but two iwll often suffice. Feel free to do these in whatever order you're most comfortable with. Eden1 - The Transient. Typically a noise or a high pitched sine (triangles and squares work, too, or even a high hat or snare sample), amp envelope set to short Attack and Delay, and 0 Sustain and Release. High pass filter it, cutoff high, and you'll have a razor sharp initial click for your kick in no time. Eden2 - The Thud. Use a tried and true low-pitched sine wave, amp ADSR set to short a Attack and Decay, 0 Sustain and add some Release to make it boom. Here's the catch, though, bump the Attack up to make it take longer. Let the transient you made do it's thing! Adjust to taste, of course. Sometimes this kick is great for all sorts of genres, from hip-hop to minimal techno. If you need more midrange punch, though (say, for trance, house, etc.), then move on to... Eden3 - The Body. Similar to your Thud, but pitch it up higher and low-pass filter it some. Your Thud handles the low end, this one is to add mid-range punch to your kick. Adjust the Attack of the amp envelope so it's not interfering with your Transient. Feel free to add some grit to it with the Waveshaper effect. I usually resample two versions, one with all three parts, and one with two parts missing. Usually it's either the Thud or the Body, but sometimes I use the Transient if it has a bit of body to it. Useful for "effect" passages like cutting out most of the drums and having a solo kick for a measure, etc. It gets noticed and just sounds cool ;) It should also be said that you can map an LFO to the pitch of the Thud and/or Body oscillator(s) to modulate pitch. I go for a key-sync'd down saw (Saw Dn), adjust Amount and Rate to taste. Generally pretty quick, start both at 12 o'clock and make small adjustments from there in either direction.

You can do a snare with just one Eden. Set Osc A to a sine or triangle wave, and B to noise, mix to taste and try transposing the sine up to get the initial transient about where you want it. Alternatively, you can use two Edens, and load a kick drum into the first one (and pitch it up 24 steps) and the second as the noise. This way you have more control over both components of the sound. Use a low pass filter with the cutoff set pretty high to sculpt the sound further, make the hit more pronounced, etc. Adjust the Delay on your Amp ADSR to give it more ring, or cut it back to make it sharper/tighter. You can also just use noise for your snare sounds, a different filter, etc.

Similar to making a snare sound above, but use a high pass filter this time to make things more metallic sounding. The simplest closed hat sound can be synthesized just with noise and a very short Delay setting on the amp envelope. Or you can play with adding differentwave forms such as saw or square to add some interesting grit. Again, as with the snare, two Edens give you more flexibility. Lengthening the Delay can be used for an open hat sound.

More on CYMBALS:
Setup two square waves a couple octaves apart, some detuning, and use ring modulation (RM1/RM2). Typical ADSR settings, use the high pass filter judiciously, and play with the filter envelope's Attack some to get more of a cymbal-like hit. I usually leave the filter env's Sustain and Release pretty high, but you can lower than for some wacky stuff. You can also add another Eden for a noise oscillator and mix it to taste to get something more "crashy" sounding.

Treat it like a snare, but grab LFO1 and set it to modulate the filter cutoff, set it to a sine or saw (or triangle, or square... it's your clap, experiment!), and set it [i]fast.[/i] You'll need to experiment some, but eventually you'll work out that stuttering snap and it'll all be worth it. You can also trigger the sound with a burst of rising or falling MIDI. Tambourines are similar to produce, but start by creating a more cymbal-like timbre instead of a snare.

Treat these like a higher pitched kick. Or setup a bit of noise on a second Eden to fall away while the sine/triangle/square from the first rings out.

I've got a fevah:
And the only prescription... is more COWBELL! So make one with two square waves about 7 steps apart, throw on a filter of your choice (bandpass works nicely). Alternatively, use a square and triangle w/ a highpass for a little more sparkle on top. Experiment with ring modulation for more tasty metallic tones.

These are kinda tough here, but doable. Start with one Eden, and set the oscillator A to FM1 and detune it 12 steps. Maybe mix in a little noise from osc B, or more preferably another Eden so you have more control over it. On Eden 1, like with the kick, set an LFO to modulate the pitch of osc A with a downward saw, and adjust Amount and Rate to taste, starting from about 12 o'clock. Set your amp ADSR, as usual, with 0 Sustain, a smidge of Release, and short Attack/Decay times. Abuse the resulting sound with your filters and filter envelopes for cool bleeps and blips.

I hope this gets you well on your way to making drum sounds in NanoStudio =) As you can see, it's really just a bunch of sine, triangle, square, and noise waveforms with very similar ADSR settings, and a filter. With some experimentation you can do a lot more than what I've described here.

Using Samples for drums

This is going to be very similar to using three layers of Edens to synthesize a kick drum sound. You can even start with loading the same sample into each Eden, or you can pick and choose whatever you want. Eden 1 will be the Transient. Find a kick with a transient/click you like, or a closed hat, or snare, or whatever. Synth up a short noise chirp. Anything sharp/clicky will work here. You know the drill with ADSR, and keep Amp Decay as short as possible, and use a high-pass filter to remove the low-end. Eden 2 is going to be the Thud again. If you used a kick in the first Eden, you can use the same one, or either way find a kick that you like. Easiest way to go about it here is pitch it down a few semitones, and low-pass filter out it's transient. You may also want up the Amp Attack envelope some here; remember that small amounts work wonders. Just like synthesizing the Thud, use the low pass to sculpt it to your liking, use the Mixer to adjust the mixture, and maybe what you have is already what you need. Adjust Decay, and again you might want to try some LFO-modulated pitch-shifting. Experiment. Eden 3 will again be the Body, if you want some more mids. You can use the same kick as for Eden 2, or another you like better. It's all up to you. This time, though, pitch it up a bit, finding the sweet spot, and adjust Attack/Decay to taste. Depending on what part of the sound you want, experiment with different filters to see which freq range you can pull out of the sample. You can add some Waveshaper to taste, or not, it's up to you. Use the Mixer to adjust levels so they're all just right, and Resample it to TRG.

You can pretty much use similar techniques for any other drum sounds; get creative with layering, and try not to overwhelm yourself with a huge number of samples. A pool of 10-12 for each type of sound should be plenty to work with for creating hundreds of fresh new sounds.

Joined: 06/27/2010

Great guide! I'll link to this post from a section in my Newbie Guide too.

Joined: 07/22/2010

Thanks! On both counts.

Blip Interactive
Joined: 04/05/2010

Yep great guide - it's possible to learn loads about analogue style drum synthesis by closely studying 808 or 909 samples in the sample editor and then trying to emulate what you see with the synth.

So who's going to be the first to create an entire set of drum samples synthesized using Eden only?

Another tip : you can make surprisingly good drum sounds with a bit of beatboxing into the mic. 't' sounds for hi-hats, 'p's for bass - you get the idea.

Joined: 07/22/2010

You can also use a non-zero crossing as the basis for a kick =) Chop out the segment you want (starting someplace where the waveform is above or below 0, this gives you the click), pitch it down, etc. Abusing samples is something I'm still learning, though. I imagine you could mix the non-zero crossing click and yourself going "shhhh!" to make snares, hats, etc.

For the drum sounds guide using samples, I think I should primarily focus on manipulating NanoStudio's built-in samples. A lot of sample libraries I see are 24-bit and it will only do a max of 16-bit (hardware limit or was this a decision to save CPU/battery?) anyway, so the built-ins would just be more accessable to people.

Blip Interactive
Joined: 04/05/2010

The app did support 8 and 16 bit samples originally, but it was a bit of a pain having to support different bit depths, and as you say there were CPU implications (the hardware's 16 bit and it's handy to keep everything in this form).

In fact, NanoSync converts 8 bit samples to 16 bit before it uploads them. A bit wasteful of memory but it makes things simpler.

What I'm getting round to saying is that NanoSync needs to be extended to downsample 24 bit samples to 16 bits before it uploads.

Joined: 07/24/2010

Excellent info!
I know some of this from nanoloop and other chiptune programs, but your explanation is very thorough, as befits NanoStudio.

Joined: 10/07/2010

Nice guide, I'm gonna have a go at making some 808 style kicks as these can really make a subwoofer shake the house! :D

Joined: 10/13/2010

Great guide! Thanks!

Joined: 11/16/2010

Dude thanks i've had a sound so long in my head and cant make it with just the trg's. This is where it's at.

Joined: 09/08/2010

Great post KrisM but I seriously haven't got the patience to try that. It's too consuming for me but I understand the benefit of putting the work in.

Joined: 11/16/2010

ok im trying this and im a bit confused. i cant get any of the sounds hes Showing how to make and as far as i know im doing it right. is there a certain preset i should use? someone plz help!

Joined: 11/16/2010

KrisM can u help me out I can't get any of the sounds right. I don't know what i'm doing wrong. Can u give me a little more detail?

Joined: 12/17/2010

Great tutorial post. One suggestion to help those having trouble creating drum sounds using Edens is to post a link to folder contaning the finished samples or even better, the Eden synth presets as you had them set up before you re-sampled them.



Joined: 07/20/2011

yeah, some kind of picture could help to, like a screen shot or a direct link to the samples to compare and contrast, this is a lot of information to take in. however, it's a great deal of help i haven't even tried using resampling from EDEN to TRG, but i think my workflow could change significantly, especially when it comes down to having different effects, and loops and so forth... and then essentially rocking mute groups. Regardless thank you for the information. it is indeed very helpful.

Joined: 07/08/2011


Your Guide is pretty cool (ingenious, awesome.. blah, blah, blah :) )
& would really be useful in cutting down the hunt for drum kit sounds
(would also be cool if it could help with reproducing the sounds we hear in our heads).

i just a question (or 2) sir..

When (for the “Kick drum”) you instruct to “High pass filter it, cutoff high”
Would this be done on the page that says “Filter” on the top.?
Then just pressing the “HP” botton, & then raising that “Cutoff” knob to a high number (what would you suggest.??)

Then, also for creating “Snares” when you mention
“Use a low pass filter with the cutoff set pretty high”
Is this done by going to the same place, & going in the opposite direction.?

Most of the other things you outlined is in my vocabulary & knowhow but the things I mentioned above is a little bit out there for me.

Thank you in advance


Joined: 07/23/2011

Normally, it's much easier synthesizing a kickdrum - Link one envelope to Amp, and the other to Pitch, then adjust it so that the sound starts at a very high frequency and then very quickly goes into the bass range. That's how most analog kickdrums are synthesized.

Unfortunately, the granularity (time resolution) of Eden's Envelopes is not good enough to do this in a satisfactory fashion - you get a few distinct 'stair step' tones instead of a smooth pitch ramp.

But hey, we're on the iPhone ;)

Joined: 11/23/2012

Sorry if I'm missing something here, but the kick is just far too quiet, and doesn't like a kick to me. I need a play around I think, but creating drum sounds out of synths is something I honestly never considered and I've been using this app for a good 2 years now. Time to get stuck in!