Pads add atmosphere and texture to a track. Here is a collection of 30 Youtube videos that showcase how to create pad patches, how they sound, and how they can be played.
Pads are what first attracted me to synthesizers. This was back in 1982 when synths were mono-timbral and generally had six voices of polyphony. I was shopping for my first keyboard, and when a talented salesman named Tim demoed the Roland Juno 6, and I was sold. He played a rich strings patch which he whipped up on the spot - Juno 6's had no memory, just sliders - and improvised some of the most beautiful music I'd ever heard.
Recently I've grown tired of my favorite pad sounds, and have been in search of something different. I was sick earlier in the week, and spent half a day in bed surfing YouTube in search of new synth pad sounds. This is what I found.
It's a crazy collection that focuses sometimes on hardware, sometimes on software; some are performances, others product reviews. But they all have amazing pad sounds, and often it is the way they are played that is just as important as the sound itself.
1. Ableton Tutorial #3 - Pads
A useful Live tutorial.
2. How to Make Nice Pad with Synapse Toxic
A Toxic pad-creating tutorial. This one has no speech or explanation. But it's fun to watch.
3. Roland JV-2080 playing around with pads #1
Those old synths had warm and interesting pad sounds. Here's a Roland JV-2080.
4. Relaxing Roland JP 8000 pads
And some Roland Jupiter pads.
5. Synthesizer Dreams 1 - Collussus Pad on East West Goliath
A great pad performance by Andrew with a helpful onscreen view of the Goliath and keyboard.
6. Synth pad creation demo (using Daichi Synth1, a 100% freeware VSTi !)
A screencast of someone creating a pad patch from scratch on a freeware synth. You just get to watch and listen. There is no talking and no explanation.
7. How to make a gated Synth Pad à la Timbaland & Danja with FL Studio
Another tut with no talking. But there are written explanations as you go along.
8. Modular synthesizer pad tutorial
A useful tutorial about how to create pad patches with a modular synth, using FM and subtractive techniques.
9. Best service TITAN Sound-Show 11 Pads 1 "Analog Classics & Vintage Strings Synths"
A product review with a deep-voiced intro, but you get to hear lots of great pad sounds.
10. Roland V Synth XT Video 3: Pad
You get to watch a guy playing lots of cool pad patches from his bedroom studio.
11. Here Come The Big Strings (Synth Solo)
An interesting performance featuring pads produced by a computer running softsynths with Vstack.
12. Ked - Beat #14 - A Synth Riff with A High Piano, Synth Pad and Guitar Sound
Another performance featuring pads, showing Reason playing the track.
13. Luftrum 2 - 69 Ambient Patches for Thor
An audio demo of Luftrum 2, with Thor displayed onscreen.
14. Roland JD-800 Synthesizer by RetroSound (audio part1)
A nice calming pad performance on an old Roland JD-800 keyboard. Those sounds bring back memories.
15. Hartmann Neuron - audio demo - textures and pads
Another keyboard demo featuring pad sounds.
16. Luftrum 3 - Ambient ReFill for Reason
And here's the Luftrum 3 patch for Thor sounding very Vangelisy.
17. Hartmann Neuron programming a pad
Here's a pad sound being programmed on a Hartmann. It's fun watching those knobs get twiddled.
18. Pads and leads improvisation with accompaniment
Another bedroom performance featuring pads. I love the thumbs up at the beginning.
19. Keybdwizrd - MachFive 2 Demo (Pads #1)
The sounds of Motu. A lot of variety here.
20. Alesis Fusion 6HD Pad Presets
This guy got out of the bedroom and into the music store. A great pad performance.
21. Native Instruments Pro 53 Tutorial - Bright Pad
Starting with a simple sine wave, it's amazing where this sound ends up.
22. Personality (Instrumental)
Boring video. Great sound.
23. Kurzweil PC3x - Pads 1 (by request)
Another bedroom performance. I love those soft pads.
24. Korg X3 - Pads and Ambient Sounds
These machines have some great pad sounds.
25. Zebra 2 VST AutoStrokes
This video has some big sounds.
26. Beautiful Prophet VS Pad
Prophets have been making great pad sounds for decades. Very warm. Very fat.
27. Sylenth1 Trance Pad
A gorgeous sounding VST plugin.
28. Roland JX-8P Analog Synthesizer
I remember when these were new. They were a little revolutionary at the time.
29. PROJECT PRESET - QL Goliath - Synth Pads
And this last one is for you if you really love hearing pad sounds. This guy plays through what seems like hundreds of sounds, but the sounds are great, and the way he plays them is interesting.
30. Blade Runner Synth Jam
I couldn't resist finishing with some Blade Runner on retro synths.
Which video did you find most helpful or inspiring? Do you have any interesting thoughts about pads to share with us?