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Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook: Synthesizer Programming, Sound Analysis, and Universal Patch Book Paperback – 2006

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Editorial Reviews

This book covers ground that is often left untouched by other synthesizer books and was written to fulfill the wishes voiced by synth programmers. Section one explains the parts of an analog synth in detail using harmonic and waveform analysis to make clear exactly what each synth parameter does. Section two is probably the most important section added to the new edition and it explains through examples how to use freely available harmonic and waveform analysis software to analyze and recreate patches from other synths, sounds found in songs, and the synthesis of acoustic instruments. Section three contains all 102 of the original 1st and 2nd edition universal patches for ALL dual-oscillator analog synths. The acoustic patches are based on harmonic analysis and are exceedingly close to the real instruments. An included CD contains the new SCB VSTi softsynth and audio samples for synthesizer calibration as well as a full album of electronica. For more info and to view a sample of the book please visit http://www.synthesizer-cookbook.com Also be sure to check out Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook Vol 2: Harmonic Catalog

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Fred Welsh; 3d edition (2006)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000ERHA4S
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book opens with a section on the components of a synthesiser. More advanced users will no doubt skip this, but it provides a clear explanation on oscillators, filters, envelopes and LFOs, detailing how each contributes to the final sound.

This 3rd Edition add a section on harmonic analysis. Using freely available tools, the techniques used to produce the patches are dissected. This goes on to show how to analyse an existing sound, including one sitting in a mix, and produce a similar patch.

The main meat of the book is taken up with the patch settings. The patches themselves sound great. A large number sound entirely authentic within the limitations of subtractive synthesis; others retain the flavour of the instrument they try to emulate, but wouldn't be mistaken for genuine acoustic instruments. Your mileage depends upon the synthesiser itself; this book has settings for both 12db and 24db lowpass filters, and assumes the synthesiser has 2 detunable oscillators, 2 ADSR envelopes, a routable LFO and noise source. If a synthesiser offers more features, you can usually tweak the patches into even more usuable sounds.

The patches cover a wide range of instruments: strings, woodwinds, brass, tuned and untuned percussions, bass, pads, and sound effects to name but a few. The sound effects seem an odd choice. Even though they only occupy a few pages, I'd rather have they pages taken up with usuable instruments, basses or pads. They are all well organised so it's easy to find a specific patch.

The accompanying CD seems a missed opportunity however. I'd have liked to have seen .wav files of the patches so we'd have an idea of what the patches would sound like.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By B. Thrash on July 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
The service was impecable. Shipment was prompt. Communication excellent.

I have read many synthesizer theory books and manuals. I will say this one takes the cake. Not only are the sound fomulas fun and accurate, the course on analog synthesiser basics and essentials is phenominal. It is simple and concise, accessible to those of us who do not have a PHD in the subject matter. This book gives a great synopsis of what all of the different parts of the signal path do in the process of sculpting a sound on an analog synthesizer. Helps those of us who used to twiddled knobs until something sounded good, now we can twiddle with a bit more knowledge and focus. Thanks Fred
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By P. Banks on August 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've had this book for three hours and two things stand out in my mind:

(1) the book was shipped from the author himself and signed. I don't know if this will happen for you but I thought it was a nice touch.

I read the section on harmonic analysis though haven't tried it yet, but I'm familiar with the concept because I use the spectrum analyzer in Cubase all the time; plus I work in electronics and I'm a firm believer that a spectrum analyzer is by far the most versatile piece of test equipment, at least in my lab but all this is a diversion.

(2) I just programmed the acoustic guitar patch. For this book I'm using Reason's Subtractor, which has a "unique" way of implementing Pulse Width Modulation and Oscillator Syncing. I sequenced a short line and pulled out my acoustic guitar to compare - and as mentioned in another review - within the limits of subtractive synthesis the settings are dead on! I am absolutely blown away.

Granted my observations are hasty and casual so far, but I'm pretty convinced that with some serious study I will understand why things sound the way they do a lot better and will become a much more proficient sound designer. I recommend you stop reading and pick it up now!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By York Brun Luethje on February 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
As other reviewers have stated this is an excellent workbook for substractive synthesis. There are other works out there that describe the building blocks of a synthesizer in more detail but the approach Welsh takes, namely the use of harmonic analysis, is unique in a general purpose book.

The patches in the book are based on a classic two-oscillator design, which makes sense given that substractive synthesis is the most popular form out there. However, if you feel adventurous the 'Cookbook' will be of tremendous help getting good patches out of an additive synthesizer such as the Kawai K-series or the Cameleon 5000. It helped me to finally abandon my hit-and-miss approach and get great results with these synths.

For the absolute beginner I would still suggest something that covers components more in-depth to complement the 'Cookbook'. 'Analog Synthesizers' by Mark Jenkins is good or you can try and find 'Electronic Music' by Allen Strange. And of course there's the excellent (and free) 'Synth Secret' series over at Sound on Sound.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Simon on August 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book covers most of the stuff you get up to a 400 level electronic music course (helped me get through one) without the tedious (and often painful to listen to) history of (mostly bad) early electronic music.

All the basic info on what all those knobs on your VST's and FL Studio and (insert softsynth) do is here. Patches are useful and great for training your ear to identify the basic waveforms so when you hear a synth you go "oh, a detuned sawtooth lead. Sounds like a little portamento and delay". If that's the kind of thing you want to be able to do then get the book.

If your thinking about getting it because you think that the presets are going to be the holy grail of synth sounds, well, get it anyway. After your initial disapointment, eventually curiosity will creep up on you and you'll read (the very digestable) early sections in small bites to learn some theory, then you'll try some of the presets and you'll get hooked on making the sounds you hear, but "better" (at least to you).

I think that's kind of the point to this book. Getting you close enough to the sounds you hear in songs you like that you go "is that all that is?" or "is that what you call that?"

To be honest I haven't tried the sound analysis technique yet, looks interesting but I got a lot to work on in just from the first section (theory of programming and effects etc.) and the last section on patches.
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