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Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming: The Ultimate Reference for Sound Design Book/CD-ROM Paperback – 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books; PAP/CDR edition (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879307730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879307738
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming is a handy reference resource for musicians who want to learn about the ins-and-outs of sound synthesis. While most of the information in the book can be obtained online and in music magazines, it's very convenient to have it all in one well organized, well written book.

Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming explains the processes behind all the major (and not-so-major) forms of synthesis, including subtractive, additive, granular, and wavetable. You get chapters on oscillators, filters, LFOs, envelopes, modulators, etc. The included audio CD gives handy examples of the phenomena being described (such as oscillator beating, aliasing, filter sweeps, etc.).

Although every chapter has one or two exercises at the end, it should be stated that this book is not a patch recipe book or primer in synthesis technique (despite the subtitle "The Ultimate Reference for Sound Design"--surely a subtitle contributed by the publisher's marketing department). The concepts and technology are explained in detail, but there is very little here by way of "tips and tricks."

Hopefully, Mr. Aikin will publish a sequel to this title that gives some hands-on instruction on how to produce specific types of sounds. There are literally hundreds of practical sound design questions that such a sequel could answer: How can I create a patch emulating the dynamics of a wind instrument? How can I make string patches sound more alive? How can I make really biting lead sounds? How are different drum and percussion sounds synthesized? I think a book that answered these and similar questions would sell very well indeed.
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Format: Paperback
I would really give this a 3 1/2 stars, but that's not an option.

This book is great for getting an overview of how general synth functions work. If you're interested in getting a general overview without actually applying it, then get this book. Better yet, get this book as a compliment to your manual or some other book. Sure it has projects in the back of each chapter, but they're more like 'suggested experimentations' IMO. Given that there seems to be little written on the subject, it might still be worthwhile. I also got Welch's Cookbook and enjoyed the hands on approach with that book, though I must admit that Power Tools covers a wider set of synth possiblities...that is, it covers an area like LFO's and then discusses every different type of LFO one might encounter given the fact that the synths on the market vary so much for one synth to the next.

After reading this book I wondered how much of the information really 'stuck' with me, as I didn't actually apply it as I went through the material. Given the abstract nature of this topic I think that this would have been helpful. Like I stated before, Welch's Cookbook did give me that in the first several chapters (the later chapters are basically synth recipes); for example, you learn how to look at a sound through an FFT analyzer and see the partials in the sound (you don't get this type of hands on with Power Tools).

There was definitely a part of me that questioned whether the $25 outlay was worth it. I decided that it was to have a sort of generalized reference on my bookshelf. But I definitely agree with the other reviewer that fealt that there needed to be more examples. Obviously, the author knows a great deal about synths.
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Format: Paperback
I was really impressed by this book. It gives a very good background on synths/audio/nature of sound etc etc. It covers many issues. It will help newbies grasp the synth "language" very easy and quick

I have used synths for more than 10 years and i learned new stuff from this book. It is a "must" for beginners !!!

I wish that Mr Aiken will write a "ADVANCED" book on this...but as in really advanced in synthesizer programming

I can recommend this book to anyone interested in Synthesizers from beginners to advanced users.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are new to synthesizers, and would like to learn the nuts and bolts on how they work, I do NOT recommend this book.

Seriously, it boggles my mind how any editor could have allowed this book to hit the printing press without a complete and total overhaul. Aikin seems to know his stuff when it comes to synths, and the idea to include audio samples was a good one (and a reason I bought the book). What neither Aikin (nor his editors) know how to do is to organize and present this information in a meaningful, understandable how-to book. The book is divided into chapters that look in detail at the various components that make up a synth. A big problem rears its head with the very first component he discusses: he refers extensively to components that are introduced in later chapters. How can any novice reading about oscillators in Chapter 4 understand all the discussion of how LFOs effect them when that component isn't introduced until Chapter 6? Throughout this book, Aikin insists on discussing, IN DETAIL, synth components that he hasn't introduced or even discussed, nor has he said what they do or what they are. He's taking his own knowledge for granted, a novice error when it comes to teaching others.

On top of this, even when he gets around to defining terms he does it in an awkward and almost backassward way. Just for one example, when he introduces Oscillator Sync, he goes off on a slew of unrelated tangents as to what synths had them, whether it was "true," and what NOT to confuse it with for almost two long paragraphs before he finally gets around to actually defining what the term means. None of the verbiage that comes before the definition makes much sense to the beginner, because, hey, they have no idea what Aikin is talking about yet.
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