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  1. Music & Audio
  2. Sound Design
Music

Making Sounds With Ragnarök

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

About the Synth

Ragnarök is a VST synth if a custom made synthesizer from the eighties. The code is written in C++ code for high performance. The plugin is a collaboration between Hans Peter, for concept, graphics, user manual, and Björn Arlt for programming.

Ragnarok VST
Overview of the Ragnarök synth

The synth features:

  • 64 voices polyphony with portamento
  • band-limited oscillator bank with multiple voices
  • white noise generator
  • multi-pole filter
  • 2 envelopes
  • LFO
  • overdrive
  • graphic equalizer
  • double precision processing
  • MIDI control
  • customizable skins
  • 32 and 64 bits versions for Windows

Project Settings

I set the tempo to 90 BPM, with 4/4 rhythm signature. I'm using C-minor scale.

Project Workflow

I started with programming the bass notes and synth, then created the mid range sound, then fx and finally the drums.

Using the Synth

I started each sound with the Initialize preset, then set up the oscillators, filters and envelopes. Finally I programmed overdrive and EQ.

Basses

For the first bass sound I used the notes F0, G#0, A#0, C0, D#1.

Bass C1 synth
Bass C1 patch

Settings:

  • oscillator square, 8 + 4 + 2
  • cutoff 50%
  • filter LP 24 dB
  • filter envelope zero for each
  • volume envelope zero for each and 100% sustain
  • overdrive 27% 

Notes for the second bass is C0 with eight notes.

Settings:

  • oscillator square, 4
  • cutoff 55%
  • filter LP 24 dB
  • filter envelope zero for each
  • volume envelope zero for each and 20% decay
  • overdrive 100%

Lead C3

I programmed the notes C, D# and D.

Lead C3 synth
I used a Pulse 8 wave for the main lead

Settings:

  • oscillator pulse, 8
  • cutoff 100%
  • filter LP 24 dB
  • filter envelope zero for each
  • volume envelope zero for each and 100% sustain

Effects:

  • Ping Pong Delay, 1.5 kHz frequency, 2.89 bandwidth, 50% feedback, 50% dry wet
  • EQ Eight, 200 Hz low cut, 2.2 kHz +3 dB shelving boost

Lead C5

I'm using the notes C5, C6 for this lead.

Settings:

  • oscillator pulse, 8
  • cutoff 100%
  • filter LP 24 dB
  • filter envelope zero for each
  • volume envelope zero for each and 100% sustain
  • portamento 33% for bending the pitch

Effects:

  • Saturator, 15 dB drive, Hard curve, 10 base, 1 kHz frequency, 61% width, -4.5 depth, -17 dB out, 100% dry wet, color on
  • Overdrive, 2.6 kHz frequency, 3.4 bandwith, 85% drive, 78% tone, 50% dynamics, 49% dry wet
  • Ping Pong Delay, 1.9 kHz frequency, 3.4 bandwidth, 75% feedback, 37% dry wet 
  • Utility, -3.8 dB volume

Pad C3

For the pad I used the notes F3, D#3, D3, C3, A#3, G#3 and G3.

I also used a Chord midi plugin with an added voice -12 semitones apart from the source.

Settings:

  • oscillator pulse, 4
  • cutoff 50%
  • filter LP 18 dB
  • filter envelope 40% attack, 50% decay, 35% sustain, 55% release
  • volume envelope 50% attack, 50% decay, 100% sustain, 50% release
  • overdrive 17%

Effects:

  • Flanger, 24% dry wet, 1 ms delay time, 0.6 feedback, 100 Hz high pass
  • Simple Delay, 4 left sync, 6 right sync, 24% feedback, 50% dry wet
  • Compressor, -28 dB threshold, 2:1 ratio, attack default, release default
  • Reverb, 100 size, 2.1 sec decay time, 2 dB reflect, 2 dB diffuse, 44% dry wet, high quality 

Tiny C3

I programmed the last mid synth sound with a square oscillator.

Settings:

  • oscillator square, 2
  • cutoff 55%
  • filter LP 24 dB
  • filter envelope zero for all
  • volume envelope zero for all, except for 30% decay
  • overdrive 100%

 Effects:

  • Utility, +5 dB boost
  • Reverb, 2.5 size, 2.8 sec decay time, 3.6 dB reflect, 2.7 dB diffuse, 33% dry wet, high quality 

Fx

This is a white noise with a tonal part.

Fx synth
The Fx sound has white noise and tonal part as well

Settings:

  • oscillator noise and square 8, pulse, 16 and 8
  • interval 16 and 8
  • multi voice 16
  • cutoff 25%
  • filter LP 18 dB
  • filter envelope zero for all, except for 50% decay and release
  • volume envelope 0% attack, 0% decay, 100% sustain, 40% release
  • overdrive 90%

Effects:

  • Resonators, 50% dry wet
  • Reverb, 1.4 size, 1.2 sec decay time, 2.1 dB reflect, 2.2 dB diffuse, 49% dry wet, high quality
  • Overdrive, default settings, except for 11% dry wet

Drums

I used a kick loop for kicks and three top loops. For the top loops I removed the low end with EQ Three (the bass kill switch button).

Mixing

I created four groups for each category type. On the drums I put a Limiter to catch peaks. For bass I used sidechain Compression fed from the kick and cut the kick frequency with EQ. For mids and fx I removed the low end.

 Groups:

  • drums: Limiter
  • bass: Compressor, EQ Eight
  • mids: EQ Eight
  • fx: EQ Eight

Mastering

For finalising the track I checked mono compatibility with the Utility width set to 0% then changed back to 100%. After that I made a low cut at 40 Hz in the mids and a 250 Hz low cut in the sides (mid-side mode), then used a default Limiter to catch peaks.

Mastering chain
For mastering I used mainly EQ and Limiter with some subtle settings

I already mixed with high volume levels so I didn't need to boost with the Limiter input level.

 Effects chain:

  • Utility
  • EQ Eight
  • Limiter

Export

I used these setting for rendering the music:

  • WAV file type
  • 44100 Hz sample rate
  • 24 bits bit depth
  • Triangular dithering
  • Normalize turned Off
Export window
Basic settings for exporting the master track

Summary

In this tutorial I showed you how to create a song using only the Ragnarök VST plugin. I demonstrated the creation of several groups of instruments starting with bass and ending with drums. I recorded the MIDI notes using my two octave MIDI keyboard. I progressed step by step one layer at a time.

Ragnarök isn't the most versatile synth, but it has a unique sound and you can use it quickly for everyday synth sounds like leads and basses.

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