How to make Electric Universe style running lead synths
Electric Universe is a legend in the scene and was hailed one of the top Psytrance projects of the 90s.
The Electric Universe sound can be characterized by high-energy bass and synth lines, and in the early days, when Rock guitar was a thing in Psytrance, their tracks featured a variety of guitar elements – from chunky power chord riffs to soaring leads. Now with the advent of much more powerful synthesizers and software, the ability to create more expressive sounds on a synth is much easier. The Electric Universe sound has changed a lot over the years, however the main lead riffs still have somewhat of an edgy guitar style character to them.
One of the techniques I usually use to achieve this sound is oscillator sync, the concept behind sync is forcing one oscillator to restart its cycle at the end of another oscillator’s cycle. The result is the same “base” frequency, with control over the timbre of the sound. This is perfect for emulating the characteristics of edgy guitars, but still maintaining the control you would usually have in a subtractive synth, like filters and effects.
So how do we apply these techniques?
In today’s production tutorial we tackle the Electric Universe style lead by applying the concept of oscillator sync. Automating the sync upwards over time is a great way of building up energy in your track, sync can get brutal when turned up high so it’s nice just before a powerful drop. It’s also more of a unique way of adding movement to your sound, rather than just throwing on a filter (we’re all guilty of that!)
We also discuss a couple of the post-processing basics that were used on the sound, some delay, reverb and widening. Furthermore, I used an expander, which is a nice tool for accentuating the gated effect of the lead. An expander is essentially the opposite of a compressor, it reduces gain in a signal that drops below a predefined threshold, a great way of increasing the dynamic range in-between the notes of the lead, to add more of an energetic feel.
Here’s the video walkthrough: