How to make a Synthwave track
Hey guys its time to go back to the 80s, why you ask? because here at Synth Ctrl we love Synthwave, we just can't get enough of it and we want everyone to learn the genre.
Let's start by saying that this is not a full track is just a 16 bar loop I create it for educational purposes, the tempo it's in 90 BPM and it's inspired by Kavinski, M83 and The Midnight, also if you like the track we made it with the presets from our Synthwave, Outrun and Retrowave packs they all have a 20% off discount with the code: SW01
Let's be clear the drums must come from samples of analog drum machines, we use some samples from a LinnDrum, the drum pattern it's way easy to make, in the downbeat we use a snare with a little reverb, the hats are playing a rhythmic sixteen note with different velocities so it feels a little groovy and the toms are the most important part of the drum because they are the transition to a new section, they are also filled with reverb.
You just have to have an arp in Synthwave is something emblematic of the genre, if you have ever seen Stranger Things or listening to The Midnight you have noticed the repetitive melody throughout the song, that's the arp and in this example the arp its playing our chord progression, the arpeggiator it going up every sixteen note and there its a filter that is opening slowly as the chord progression keeps moving, if you like this style of chord progression it came from our Justice and Daft Punk inspired free pack.
The bass it's playing the root note of our chord progression, but the most interesting part about our bass is the sound design, we try to recreate the sound of classic synthesizers like the Minimoog or the DX7, we create the sound in Serum and we use a Squarewave and a Sawtooth detune them a little and the most important part we added an envelope to the filter and resonance so they close every time a note is playing, this Serum preset its the one we use in our Synthwave Ableton Template.
The lead is strong in this one, we also use Serum, we use two Sawtooths with the filter way open and an LFO modulating the detune knob, each oscillator has six voices, we cut off the low end around 300 Hz so it doesn't compete with the bass and the arp and we add a chorus effect to make it wider.
We again use Serum in this one (we gotta be honest we make everything in Serum), the trick to get a beautiful synthwavy bell sound is in the reverb and delay, just drench the sound in effects, in this preset, we use the Juno wavetable from Serum.
Check out our Synthwave Breakdown tutorial on artists such as The Midnight, Timecop, Miami Nights and The Weeknd