How To Create Rich PWM Pads in LPX
In recent years Logic Pro X has added the very powerful Retro synth to create all things well ‘Retroey’ and Alchemy, the swiss army knife of just about any sound and tone shaping goodness you can think of but Logic’s older but much loved ES2 is still a powerful Logic synth perfect for creating rich, warm and big sounding pads.
In this quick tips miL has a paddy with the ES2!
So join me as we explore this great plugin by Logic and discover how to create a rich, modulated pad that will fit perfectly with our dirty bass that we created in the last LPXQT.
If you’ve not seen the video yet check it out to learn how to create a dirty bass sounds in Logic.
Creating Your Basic Sound
For this lesson I’ve already created the synth sound in advance but I’m going to show you the basic principles of starting a vanilla patch that can quickly be tweaked into something all of your own.
So we’re going to create a big pad that has plenty of movement, width and overtones giving it a modern pad sound! We’re not going to create anything slow and meandering this is all about being big and bold without taking over the track.
Go For Vanilla First
Creating your own sounds is not just fun but is a great way of producing something that’s unique to you and your sound and I highly recommend you dive in and get creative but first I’m going to show you how to get started.
I’ve loaded a fresh version of the ES2 and I’m going to show you how to set up a vanilla patch.
Pads respond well to Sawtooth waves because they are harmonically rich and have lots of overtones so Sawtooths are a good starting point if you want to create a big pad and Logic’s Factory default automatically loads 3 Sawtooths.
Triangles and squares are great if you want a thinner sounding pad, which is perfect for a busy mix but for us we’re going to set up a Sawtooth pad
First off and this is all down to personal taste and the needs of the track, I like to use all three oscillators and set the pitches to different octaves. Osc 1 is left in its default pitch. Osc 2 is an octave down and three an octave up.
To modulate and thicken the sound slightly I would recommend setting the fine tuners anywhere from + or – 3-10cents this will add richness and beef up the sound.
As Sawtooths can have a lot of high frequency harmonics it’s always important to set the filter correctly so it doesn’t take up all the space in your mix but to get started I like to open the filter up completely and then tailor it once the basic sound is underway.
In this case I’m using Filter 1 in Lo Pass mode.
Once I’ve set the waves, pitch and the filter is open I add a touch more colour by increasing the Analog dial to taste and selecting the Unison button add instant biggness, it effectively doubles the number of oscillators.
Finally if I know I’m going to be playing chords with multiple voices I like to increase the Voices dialog from 4 to 16. This means all notes will play together without issue even I have set long decays blending into each other.
Ok so there’s our basic soundtrack following these steps yourself and see what you can create.
Good Pads are all in the timing.
The next thing to consider is how your pad will evolve over time, I want it to have movement but retain a degree of punchiness.
So how do I go about doing that?
I’m going to use the envelope generators 2 and 3 to add movement. 2 will shape the filter section and 3 will shape the attack and decay of the pad’s amplitude over time.
Starting with Env 3 all I’m going to do is increase the Attack stage very slightly to give a very subtle ramping up of the sound. The decay, sustain and release will be left roughly around the default position.
Remember I said the aim is to keep the pad punchy and not all ethereal if I set the Release too long the pad will lose it’s punch and become a bit of a mess.
Ok so now we get to the part where we can really shape the sound with filtering. I want it to move quickly over time so I’m going to the set Env 2 similar to Env 3, short attack and release but the big difference is the decay and sustain will be slightly longer to give more energy to the pad part.
So here’s what to do, set the Router that’s feeding the envelope to Cut Off 1+2 to full with the green triangle slider and then bring down the cut dial to taste followed by setting the envelope.
Make sure you do this playing along with the track so that you can hear how it fits with the music both in terms of frequency and timing.
Synthesise in Logic Pro X PWM Pad
So our Sawtooth pad isn’t sounding too bad but I want to take it one step further and create a Pulse Width Modulation Pad and I’m going to do that by tweaking Ocs 2.
Logic’s ES2 has two pulse width modulation options found in Ocs 2 and 3 they are perfect for shaping the sound of a patch by altering the width of the waveform. This is known as pulse width modulation.
What we’re going to do is modulate the pulse width modulation by setting up LFO 1 to modulate the Osc 2 wave. Got that?
To do this we need to set up the Router up in order to modulate Osc 2.
From the drop down menu in the Router section select Osc2Wave as the Target and LFO1 as the Source.
Next set the Router slider amount to full and finally hit playback and adjust the rate, wave type and the position of OSC2 to taste.
Why not try this out now and see what the affect is!
As you can hear from my track (see video) the pad now gently evolves and moves over time not just from the filter but from the pulse width modulation too it’s starting to take shape but I think we can do one last thing to out patch.
Pads need spread
Before we finish the patch and move onto plugins and automation, which I’ll cover later I want to spread the pad out to the left and right of the speakers so that any kicks, basses, vocals you name it can be easily heard.
I’m going to increase the Intensity dial of the FX area. Just a touch to push the pad out to the sides using ES2’s chorus effects. I’m going to widen the pad even further with delay later but I’ll get to that in a bit.
For now check out how adding chorus subtly widens a pad again try this out in your own music to see how chorus can spread the sound of a pad across the stereo field.
Thanks for taking the time to read/watch this article on creating a pulse width modulation pad in Logic Pro X using the ES1!
In Part 2 we’ll cover adding extra plugins, busses and automation to really push this patch to being something awsome and unique!
Happy mixing and mastering!
Watch Part Two How to create a PWM Pad and make it unique in Logic Pro X