sound design

Creating a Techno riff from a sine wave

Creating a Techno riff from a sine wave

Audiotent Tip #433 // Creating a techno riff from a sine wave

Techno is all about experimentation and sound design. The goal of this exercise is to create a minimalistic melody riff, using the sine wave as the sound source. We will then process the result with multiple plugins to achieve a hypnotic atmosphere.
Our choice of synthesiser for the task is Lennar Digital Sylenth1. Let’s load a sine wave into the oscillator A1 and engage the arpeggiator. One MIDI note is stretched over 4 bars to trigger the Sylenth1 arp.
Next, experiment with the transpose and velocity values inside the arp until you come up with something catchy. Here are the settings of the sound we settled with:

Once the basic riff is ready, we can start applying the processing. First in the chain is
FabFilter’s Saturn. It adds extra grit and distortion to otherwise very clean sine wave.
The sine wave riff, processed with Saturn:
FabFilter Saturn

Next, Logic’s stock EQ is applied to emphasise some of the harmonics in the midrange. Low cut removes any undesired low end rumble.

SoundToys EchoBoy does an amazing job to add hypnotic feel to the riff.

Ring Shifter is inserted to completely transform the texture of the riff. Frequency is the main parameter getting adjusted, experiment to find what works best for your sound. In this example, we settled around 300Hz.
Logic Ringshifter

Reverb is the last plugin in the processing chain. Our choice was Eos 2 by Audio Damage, it give a nice hall space to the sound.
Audio Damage Eos

Once again, this is how the initial, unprocessed riff sounded:

Here is the processed riff within a mix:

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