by FRANCIS PREVE
WHAT HATH ROLAND WROUGHT? BACK IN 1997, THE JP-8000 WAS A HUGELY SUCCESSFUL
SYNTH that solidified the age of analog modeling. Producers raved about its sound, but the big selling
point was the “Super Saw” waveform: a stack of seven detuned sawtooth waves that redefined the
word “massive.” It became the sound of trance leads for close to eight years.
In the past year or so, the Super Saw has made a startling comeback, largely due to the popularity
of reFX’s Nexus soft synth. Artists like Swedish House Mafia have brought the sound back into the
spotlight by their reliance on it for colossal chord stabs. Nexus isn’t the only synth that can recreate this
sound. In fact, it’s an absolute breeze to design a near-exact copy using Reason’s Thor. Here’s how.
First, make a simple two- or
four-bar sequence that plays
a basic chord riff , using syncopated
stabs. Th is way you
can let Reason loop while you
adjust the sound.
Next, initialize Thor to its default preset
and replace the analog oscillator with the
“Multi Osc” option. Leave it in sawtooth
mode and increase the detune amount
until you hear “that” sound—usually
around ten or 11 o’clock.
For the filter, it couldn’t be easier. Begin
by eliminating all envelope modulation
of the cutoff frequency, then turn the
cutoff to maximum. If you’re feeling really
cheeky, just eliminate the filter entirely,
because it really isn’t filtering much of
anything in this patch.
The amplitude (volume)
envelope is equally
simple. Attack should
be instant, sustain at
maximum, and release near zero—but not exactly
zero, as instant releases sometimes introduce
unwanted clicks. At this point, when you play
the riff , the results should sound like the online
For extra credit, add a bit of automation to the
amplitude envelope’s release time to emphasize
breakdowns and transitions.
And there you have it. Now go make the next progressive house
hit on Beatport!