Return of the Super Saw
Thu, 4 Oct 2012


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.

Step 1Step 1.

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.


Step 2

Step 2.

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.

Step 3.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

Step 4.

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 audio example.


Step 5Step 5.

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!

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