The importance of designer presets in libre synths

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by Largos »

To me, the problem is you don't need a synth if you only want to use presets. You need a rompler. I don't mean this in a snobby way, I think commercial decisions (the industry of selling presets) have led to some norm of combining two use cases into one piece of software. It seems crazy to me that people are using resource heavy synths, full of unneeded functionality when they could be using something simpler.

At the same time, preset libraries on synths are made for browsing pre-made libraries when they should be made for the functionality of storing presets that the synth user themselves made. The only one I've found that is good for this is the library view in Yoshimi/Zyn.

SFZ is a pretty much an open source rompler format, so if there is a lack of resources for people who just want a nice set of presets to play with, that's IMO the way to go. You could have presets made with many different synths, available in a single format usable in simple players.

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by nils »

Largos wrote: Mon May 29, 2023 11:31 am

To me, the problem is you don't need a synth if you only want to use presets. You need a rompler. I don't mean this in a snobby way, I think commercial decisions (the industry of selling presets) have led to some norm of combining two use cases into one piece of software. It seems crazy to me that people are using resource heavy synths, full of unneeded functionality when they could be using something simpler.

At the same time, preset libraries on synths are made for browsing pre-made libraries when they should be made for the functionality of storing presets that the synth user themselves made. The only one I've found that is good for this is the library view in Yoshimi/Zyn.

SFZ is a pretty much an open source rompler format, so if there is a lack of resources for people who just want a nice set of presets to play with, that's IMO the way to go. You could have presets made with many different synths, available in a single format usable in simple players.

Give me a chance to change your opinion.

A synthesizer, in principle, is generating all aspects of the sound live in realtime. Be it in software or hardware. You know that of course.
However, that includes everything, be it the LFOs, Filters, modulations etc.

This is the very core "unique selling point" of a synthesizer compared to acoustic instruments. Sure, you can press a violin bow harder and that is very much a valid comparison, but a synth has many more of these options, more fine-tunable and also you can cross-wire all these parameters and let them trigger each other in varying degrees.

Long story short: To record all these variations and combinations is not possible, shown by simple math. A synthesizer preset includes these settings. Like linking velocity with LFO speed and filter resonance cutoff point at the same time.

What you get in the end is an instrument, that has a slightly different playstyle compared to the other settings. A synth setup is not only in sound but also must consider playability.

So, you need a) a synthesizer engine to create the sounds in realtime and b) somebody who actually understands all these parameters and the user-player-experience and can combine them in a meaningful way. This is not possible for normal musicians, such as you can maybe finetune your own acoustic instrument a bit but you don't drill holes in the wood to add new strings, without knowing what you are doing. Becoming a synthesizer expert is akin to an instrument builder, not akin to becoming a pianist.

And that is why we need presets, by those experts. They cannot be romplers or samplers, because they are too static, and you cannot expect to get the really good synth sounds from the musicians themselves.

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by tavasti »

Gps wrote: Sat May 27, 2023 10:02 pm

About my previous post, mentioning synth1, I too late realized something.
Synth 1 is 100% legally free, but its not a libre synth as far as I know.
The source code is not available. oops.

Is there linux native version of Synth1? I've tried windows-version, but UI was bit problematic (don't remember accurately what was problem, but anyway usability was bad). It might relate to my window manager or not.

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by Gps »

Opensuse tumbleweed these days, but synth1 was already working fine on Leap.

You did run the installer with wine ?

Kde desktop but I am not sure that is related to synth1 through wine.

In LMMS I can even automate all. (the 32 bit version)

There seems to be a newer 64 bit version, but 64 bit vst don't work in LMMS anyway.
Not sure is that is an wine issue or an LMMS issue.

If I recall right on windows, 64bit vst do work in LMMS, so I think its wine related.

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by tavasti »

Gps wrote: Tue May 30, 2023 12:49 am

You did run the installer with wine ?

Kde desktop but I am not sure that is related to synth1 through wine.

In LMMS I can even automate all. (the 32 bit version)

There seems to be a newer 64 bit version, but 64 bit vst don't work in LMMS anyway.
Not sure is that is an wine issue or an LMMS issue.

If I recall right on windows, 64bit vst do work in LMMS, so I think its wine related.

Yeah, synth1 was working ok, but UI had some clitches that usage was hard, and I do use many other windows synths. But ok, for me not a problem, I did not find sounds in synth1 to be so special.

LMMS vestige in linux can use only 32bit windows vst2. With carla you can use other formats also, including linux-native synths.

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by Largos »

nils wrote: Mon May 29, 2023 4:34 pm

Give me a chance to change your opinion.

A synthesizer, in principle, is generating all aspects of the sound live in realtime. Be it in software or hardware. You know that of course.
However, that includes everything, be it the LFOs, Filters, modulations etc.

This is the very core "unique selling point" of a synthesizer compared to acoustic instruments. Sure, you can press a violin bow harder and that is very much a valid comparison, but a synth has many more of these options, more fine-tunable and also you can cross-wire all these parameters and let them trigger each other in varying degrees.

Long story short: To record all these variations and combinations is not possible, shown by simple math. A synthesizer preset includes these settings. Like linking velocity with LFO speed and filter resonance cutoff point at the same time.

What you get in the end is an instrument, that has a slightly different playstyle compared to the other settings. A synth setup is not only in sound but also must consider playability.

So, you need a) a synthesizer engine to create the sounds in realtime and b) somebody who actually understands all these parameters and the user-player-experience and can combine them in a meaningful way. This is not possible for normal musicians, such as you can maybe finetune your own acoustic instrument a bit but you don't drill holes in the wood to add new strings, without knowing what you are doing. Becoming a synthesizer expert is akin to an instrument builder, not akin to becoming a pianist.

And that is why we need presets, by those experts. They cannot be romplers or samplers, because they are too static, and you cannot expect to get the really good synth sounds from the musicians themselves.

I don't understand why the need to compare acoustic instruments to a synth. LFO's and filters are not specific to synthesisers, neither is linking a velocity input to those things.

Why would you say that you can't get good sounds from romplers? Have you been spoilt by too many shitty kontakt instruments or something?

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by Gps »

tavasti wrote: Tue May 30, 2023 4:36 am
Gps wrote: Tue May 30, 2023 12:49 am

You did run the installer with wine ?

Kde desktop but I am not sure that is related to synth1 through wine.

In LMMS I can even automate all. (the 32 bit version)

There seems to be a newer 64 bit version, but 64 bit vst don't work in LMMS anyway.
Not sure is that is an wine issue or an LMMS issue.

If I recall right on windows, 64bit vst do work in LMMS, so I think its wine related.

Yeah, synth1 was working ok, but UI had some clitches that usage was hard, and I do use many other windows synths. But ok, for me not a problem, I did not find sounds in synth1 to be so special.

LMMS vestige in linux can use only 32bit windows vst2. With carla you can use other formats also, including linux-native synths.

Yes, I had Amsynth working in LMMS through Carla. Sadly no automation. The Carla dev is one of the LMMS devs, so I have high hopes.
(For over 2 years now :( )

Synth1 is not that special , but I wish I knew zasfx that good. But in LMMS not much to automate on zadsfx.

I do have extra soundbanks for zadsfx.

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by tavasti »

Gps wrote: Tue May 30, 2023 10:18 pm

Synth1 is not that special , but I wish I knew zasfx that good. But in LMMS not much to automate on zadsfx.

For LMMS users (Zyn with old UI), this is real killer tutorial:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... eJqxW4qJLH

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by AlkuK »

Nachei wrote: Sat May 27, 2023 7:10 pm

Interesting ...

I myself am perfectly happy when I find out of the box a preset I can use, because for me the fun is in composing. I only make incursions in sound design when I have to, scenarios like "gosh, I like that sound, but I'd need it to go peew instead of peeeeew". Perhaps this has to do with my musical upbringing in the 80s, where you had a synth with a certain number of presets, and buttons for "next" and "previous". I've only learned about the possibilities of sound design (and gotten comfortable with the growing complexity), a lot later.

Then on the other side is people who enjoy the creativity of sound design. I remember an Unfa video where he started saying something like "in this video I'm not going to stop to tweak sounds, because I just want to show..." And then, a few minutes later, he had to laugh as he went "OK, whatever, let me stop and tweak this sound for a moment..." The guy couldn't help himself :P Some people don't have use for the presets, except possibly as a starting point, while others of us are kinda lost without them...

I'm guessing in open source projects it's easier to ask people to donate time rather than money. I'd maybe ask those users who are gifted with sound design talent to donate here and there some preset they are proud of, just like some people donate some piece of code (Isn't a suitable place in this forum where people could contribute that kind stuff? Maybe creating a sticky thread? )

Many Linux musicians are audiovisual professionals who can come up with excellent presets, I think getting the flashy producer of the moment to design them is just a commercial strategy, the Linux community is worldwide and for sure it includes lots of people of equal or superior talent to those celebrated names... Because the point here, I think, is motivating people to use libre synths because of the quality of their sounds, not luring them because the sounds are "designed by the-name-you-know"...

I also have to say that, from my layman perspective, I've always found very rich and usable the banks that ship with Zyn/Yoshimi. Although perhaps it's also true that there's some cheese in there... Maybe it would be a matter of organizing better what already exists, making it more user-friendly, rather than creating new stuff? I don't know, I'm just thinking aloud. In this regard, I think ZynFusion does a great work at organizing, with its text search and its columns-that-lead-to-subcolumns...

Excellent points.


Summing clearly named banks/pools for sounds is a job that shouldn't be overlooked in this age of virtually extending variety.

Last edited by AlkuK on Sat Jun 03, 2023 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by AlkuK »

Largos wrote: Tue May 30, 2023 3:24 pm

Why would you say that you can't get good sounds from romplers?

Not to take sides, but a widely-used rompler-y Linux plugin ((sfizz)) is lacking in solid tweakery.

LSP-plugins have the architecture in place to approach this daunting synth/rompler hybrid being discussed.

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by Largos »

AlkuK wrote: Sat Jun 03, 2023 1:01 pm
Largos wrote: Tue May 30, 2023 3:24 pm

Why would you say that you can't get good sounds from romplers?

Not to take sides, but a widely-used rompler-y Linux plugin ((sfizz)) is lacking in solid tweakery.

LSP-plugins have the architecture in place to approach this daunting synth/rompler hybrid being discussed.

Middle ground results when both hands interplay... ❤️

Tweakery? In sfizz you can adjust on the GUI cc parameters that the sfz allows. I don't think this is available in other sfz players on linux. Not sure whether that's what you meant.

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by tavasti »

Largos wrote: Sat Jun 03, 2023 3:14 pm

Tweakery? In sfizz you can adjust on the GUI cc parameters that the sfz allows. I don't think this is available in other sfz players on linux. Not sure whether that's what you meant.

... and sfz is text, so you can add own adjustable parameters if you want!

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by AlkuK »

Largos wrote: Sat Jun 03, 2023 3:14 pm
AlkuK wrote: Sat Jun 03, 2023 1:01 pm
Largos wrote: Tue May 30, 2023 3:24 pm

Why would you say that you can't get good sounds from romplers?

Not to take sides, but a widely-used rompler-y Linux plugin ((sfizz)) is lacking in solid tweakery.

Middle ground results when both hands interplay... ❤️

Tweakery? In sfizz you can adjust on the GUI cc parameters that the sfz allows. I don't think this is available in other sfz players on linux. Not sure whether that's what you meant.

Yes, and what "the 'sfz' allows" , in today's climate, translates to not much. (Compared to sfizz, Liquidsfz is unburdened by an excessively large, 'eye candy' GUI, at least.)

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Re: The importance of designer presets in libre synths

Post by Largos »

AlkuK wrote: Sun Jun 04, 2023 11:07 am

Yes, and what "the 'sfz' allows" , in today's climate, translates to not much. (Compared to sfizz, Liquidsfz is unburdened by an excessively large, 'eye candy' GUI, at least.)

If you have a specific complaint say it, I don't know what parameters you think sfz is missing. Just saying sfz lacks "tweakability" when you can change dozens of parameters seems odd. As does saying software that you can run headless is burdened by a GUI.

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