I’m Learnding – How a Modular Synth Works

Ever open up a synth VSTi and wonder wtf all those knobs are for? Or have you been curious as to what those “decay” and “sustain” parameters even do? And what’s a modular synth anyway?


Firstly, as far as I can tell, all analogue synthesizers were destroyed in a large fire sometime in the 80s, when a neon sign malfunctioned at a Tangerine Dream concert.  All we have left are soft-synths, recreated from historical records. But, even with this virtual version, science is yet to uncover what all those knobs actually do. Many leading experts believe that synthesizers work with the same kind of black magic as compressors.

However, Red Bull Music Academy may have cracked the code. They’ve used the magic synth seer stones, transcribed the parameter-hieroglyphs and are sharing their findings with us. It’s like the moment in Stargate when they first figure out the portal combination.

Modular Synth Parts

But really though, check it out. There’s a super cool, interactive 3D model of an analogue synth and its parts. They also visually break down the main wave forms and the attack/decay/sustain/release envelope. It makes it all pretty easy to wrap your head around.

Click over and check out the inside of a synthesizer. Even if you know your way around one, those 3D models are pretty cool to play with.

Ralph Learning About Synths

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Demigod Zeke studies marketing & economics and produces his friends’ disgusting slam bands.