Tag Archives: FLStudio

Your hi-hats suck. Can you say machine gun?

Your hi-hats suck. Why?

One word: Variation. That’s something that can often be lacking in programmed/sequenced drums. And not just the hi-hats… but particularly those, and we are going to use them for an example of how to add more natural sound variations to your hi-hats (or other drums, anything repetitive and sample based.)

First choose a medium to long hi-hat or cymbal sound. Now we will be cloning this multiple times, and changing each clone slightly so no two instances are the same. As in the video, with each clone you make, turn the OUT knob on the sampler further to the right. (Fading out the sample and making it shorter.)

After you’ve made all your clone channels, we add a layer channel and set all the hi-hats and child channels. We need to set the layer channel to RANDOM next, so they don’t all play at once, just random ones individually.

Now we have some variations, we will edit the CUT group on all the samplers to a common group number. This will make each new hi-hat note played CUT off the end off any others that are already still playing. Stops them all blurring together and overlaying over each-other.

Set Channels To Same Cut Group

So now we have many variations on the same hi-hat. Program yourself a pattern in the layer channel’s step-sequencer or piano-roll and you are good to go.

That’s a good start… However let’s take it further now. Velocities are very important. Make each hit louder and softer. ‘Real’ drummers can’t ever play the exact same sound evenly twice. Our ears soon becoming bored by the same sound and texture, in the same rhythm, at the same volume. This is what’s sometimes known as ‘The machine gun effect’.

Add variation to the note velocities

Rather than just randomly tweak volumes or velocities of individual notes, try giving it a groove. Accent the more important hits by making them loudest, and all the in between and off beats in your rhythm can be quieter.

Cutoff, Res(Q) and Fine pitch.

You can add even more subtle variations to your patterns by doing the same for other note properties. Try for example, the CUTOFF, the RES(Q), and the FINE PITCH. Though it’s probably better to be very subtle with any pitch variation. Let your ears be the judge as always.

You can download the example project here:

Your Hi-Hats Suck

Learn to use Sytrus (The Image-Line Synthesizer plugin)

Learn to use Sytrus.

Sytrus main screen image.

So you want to learn to use Sytrus… (by Image-Line.) It can be a daunting synthesizer to learn, especially for people who are completely new to sound synthesis. It is a very powerful synth with seemingly endless features and capabilities.


  • 6 independent oscillators/operators, with standard waveforms (saw, sine, square, etc.) and the ability to import waveforms or create custom ones internally.
  • FM, RM, additive, subtractive, and ‘plucked string’ synthesis.
  • Multi-point automatable envelopes
  • Fully controllable & automatable unison
  • FX: 13 filter types, 3 band Parametric EQ, Phaser, Chorus, Wave-shaping, Delay, Reverb.
  • X/Y modulation control.
  • Up to 64x oversampling, HQ envelopes, band-limiting, center waveform, remove Gibbs, and other sound quality features.

Well firstly, the obligatory link to the official Image-Line manual can be found here: http://www.image-line.com/support/FLHelp/html/plugins/Sytrus.htm

And an official tutorial here: http://www.image-line.com/support/FLHelp/html/plugins/Sytrus_tutorial.htm (By Eric Mitchell)

There is a brilliant ‘un-official’ Sytrus manual available here in .PDF format: http://www.jens.malmgren.nl/Sytrus.pdf

That was converted into .pdf format by Jens Malmgren, the information is from the original series of tutorial info-graphics by Erik McClure (Blackhole12) here: http://blackhole12.deviantart.com/art/Sytrus-Synth-Creation-Part-1-75704794 )
(A huge thanks to both of you if you ever happen to read this!)

Some YouTube links:

Sytrus introduction

Deeper into Sytrus

FL Studio – FM Synthesis (Sytrus) Explained Visually – Justin Brown

And the user I recommend to check-out the most would have to be Seamless: (His username on YouTube is SeamlessR)

Last thing I will add is a link to a Sytrus Skin I created specifically to help learn to use Sytrus; Get it here: IC Sytrus Skin Mod.

Once you are beginning to create your own presets from scratch there is some ways to optimize the patch for lowest CPU use. some great tips can be found here: Recommendations for patch authoring.

Sytrus can have a steep learning curve but is one of the most capable soft-synths on the market, very little out there surpasses it’s capabilities actually. Master it and you’ll never be stuck for new sounds again.