Noise Sculpture: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions that people often ask me (along with a few observations). Please take a moment or two to look through them before hitting the Contact button.

General Questions

Questions about Cakewalk Synthesizers: from Presets to Power User

Questions about eBooks

Questions about the Choice of Book

Questions about the How to Make a Noise Patches

General Questions

I've got a question about the synthesizer book.

I'm happy to answer any questions, but could you let me know which synthesizer book are we talking about? There's more than one...

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I've got a question about the downloads.

I'm happy to answer any questions about the downloads. Which downloads are we talking about?

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Where can I get the downloads?

You can get the downloads here:

  • The downloads for Cakewalk Synthesizers: From Presets to Power User, second edition are available from the Cakewalk Synthesizers download page. You can get hold of the SFZ Tools (which are mentioned in the book) from the SFZ Tools page.
  • The link pages for How to Make a Noise (including a link to the free downloadable version of the book) are accessible by going to the appropriate pages linked from the How to Make a Noise page.
  • The Becoming a Synthesizer Wizard downloads are available from the SynthWiz download page.
  • The Project5 downloads are available from the Project5 Power! page.

The downloads for Sample This! third edition, are accessible by mailing a copy of the form at the back of the book to the publisher. A download link will then be emailed to you.

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Where's your privacy policy?

Here.

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Questions about Cakewalk Synthesizers: from Presets to Power User

Wasn't there an update for Cakewalk Synthesizers: from Presets to Power User?

Yup. There's been an update to the most recent version to cover Z3TA+2. You can find it on the Cakewalk Synthesizers page.

If you're still using the first edition of the book was published in 2006 there have been a number of changes to the featured synthesizers and there is an (PDF) update to the book that is available for download. Click here to get Cakewalk Synthesizers: From Presets to Power - Update#2, September 2007. However, this update doesn't cover all of the changes that are featured in the second edition of the book, so you should check out the new edition.

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I've got the Cakewalk Synthesizers download. When I try to load the patches I get an error message.

Unzip the whole package and look closely at the file names. Compare the file names/folder names with the synthesizer in which you are trying to open the files.

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What is covered in the​ second edition of Cakewalk Synthesizers that isn't covered in the first?

Since the first edition of Cakewalk Synthesizers: From Presets to Power User was published there have been a number of changes to the featured synthesizers and the Cakewalk line. This new edition includes four new synthesizers:

  • Session Drummer 3
  • Beatscape
  • Dimension LE, and
  • Rapture LE.

In addition, this new book reflects the significant updates since the first edition was published which have been made to:

  • Z3TA+
  • Dimension Pro, and
  • Rapture.

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Questions about eBooks

I've got the free download/paperback edition of How to Make a Noise: a Comprehensive Guide to Synthesizer Programming. Is the content in the ebooks in the How to Make a Noise series (Analog Synthesis, Frequency Modulation Synthesis, Sample-Based Synthesis, and iPad Synthesizers Edition) already covered or do these books have new material?

There is a lot of new material in the ebooks, but the basic principles of synthesis remain unchanged.

Before I talk about the new material, it's probably worth pointing out some of the less obvious advantages of these new books beyond simply the content:

  • These books have been optimized for ebook readers (such as the Kindle, nook, and iPad). You won't be fighting with a PDF--you will be reading something designed for your reading devices.
  • The books all have color illustrations (which, again, have been optimized for the medium).
  • Since they are in electronic format, these books can be searched, annotated, and bookmarked, and those annotations and bookmarks can be synchronized across all your devices.

There's more, but I'm sure you get the point that you're getting more than just the content if you buy these new books.

These new books are also not synthesizer-specific. Sure, there are synthesizers mentioned in the book--but these are there only to show you how the principles can be applied in the real world. You don't lose anything by not owning any of these synthesizers.

As for the new material:

  • How to Make a Noise: Analog Synthesis has the most overlap with the existing book.
  • There is a a fair amount of new material in How to Make a Noise: Frequency Modulation Synthesis. Perhaps the most significant change is that the approach taken in explaining the topic is different--there's a lot more focus on building from the ground up.
  • There is a lot of new material in How to Make a Noise: Sample-Based Synthesis since this topic wasn't covered with much depth in the earlier book (and approaches to sampling have moved on since 2004).
  • How to Make a Noise: iPad Synthesizers Edition covers the techniques covered by the other books--but in less detail--and instead focuses on specific synthesizers that are available for the iPad.

If I could make two other points:

  • First, there is some overlap between the books, for instance, they all talk about envelopes. However, by breaking the books down to look at specific aspects the books have been able to focus on how the common elements are used in different ways in different situations.
  • Second, the books only cost US$2.99 each (subject to local currency fluctuations and any additional sales taxes) and you can download a free extract. You can't go that far wrong spending under $3, and if you like the first, you can always the get the second, third, or fourth.

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I don't own a Kindle/iPad/other book reading device. Will your ebook-only books in the How to Make a Noise series be available in PDF format?

No.

And they never will be.

The PDF format is great for certain things, but awful for others. It is great for laying out a book that is going to be printed. It is awful for presenting a book that is going to be read on a screen of unknown size, so for instance, PDFs cannot sensibly be read on phone-sized screens and if you zoom in to increase the font size on a PDF, then your text will fall off the edge of the screen.

Beyond PDF being a really inconvenient format (in my opinion) for electronic reading, there are major advantages (again in my opinion) to the new designed-for-electronic-reading formats (in other words, the formats that allow you to read your books on a Kindle, iPad, and so on).

As I see it, the main advantages of these formats are:

  • You can choose a font/font size that suits your eyes (you're not stuck with something that works for me). Equally, you can set the line spacing and the margins to suit your taste.
  • You can read the book on any screen size.
  • The text is reflowable (in other words, lines won't fall off the end of the screen.
  • Text is fully searchable (with PDFs, since you're dealing with a page layout device, there can be problems when search terms break over lines (as one example).
  • Extracts are shareable.
  • Most ebook services will share your books across many devices and synchronize your page position, bookmarks, annotations, and so on.

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Questi​ons about the Choice of Book

Which one of your synthesizer books should I get?

Well, that really depends on what you're trying to achieve...

How to Make a Noise: a Comprehensive Guide to Synthesizer Programming is available for free download, so you've got nothing to lose by downloading that book.

When you've looked at the free book, then perhaps the next step is to consider the specific techniques that interest you (so for instance, if you want to create frequency modulation sounds, then How to Make a Noise: Frequency Modulation Synthesis is for you).

After that I would suggest you look at which synthesizers you have available. If one book closely mirrors your arsenal (or at least your main "go to" synths) then get that book.

Another point to consider is how you want to read the book and if color graphics matter to you. If you want color, then you need to get the electronic editions (which usually means one or more of the How to Make a Noise series). Equally, if you want to read on an ereading device (such as a Kindle/Kindle Fire, nook/nook color, iPad, iPhone/Android/BlackBerry), then you'll need to get a book in electronic format.

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I'm a Mac/ProTools/non-Windows VSTi user. Should I still get the book?

Yes.

How to Make a Noise: Analog Synthesis, How to Make a Noise: Frequency Modulation Synthesis, and How to Make a Noise: Sample-Based Synthesis all demonstrate techniques that are applicable to a wide range of synthesizers and are illustrated with cross-platform synths.

As for the other books, well... that really depends on your expectations.

Some of the synths used in Becoming a Synthesizer Wizard are Windows-only/not available in Mac/ProTools/non-Windows VSTi format, etc. I wrote the book with the expectation that readers would have maybe one of the featured synths--perhaps only SynthEdit (as it's free) or a demo version of one of the others. I certainly did not (and still do not) expect a reader to have all of the synths. Indeed, I think it is detrimental to learning and understanding to have too many choices—I think someone should pick one synth and learn how to use that really well rather than have a range of synthesizers which they only partly understand.

This approach means that the potential reader needs to understand that there will be parts of the books that will not be relevant to them. Let me elaborate: most of the content of the book is directly applicable to all of the synthesizers, however, some is applicable to specific synthesizers. For instance, some of the synths have modules that do not have a comparable module in the other synthesizers. Equally, some of the sounds are created with a specific synthesizer. These sounds can (generally) be created with any of the other synths—I did not create EACH sound with EACH synthesizer because that would have made a really dull (not to say really long) book.

That being said, the synthesizer that gets most exposure is Zebra 2 (since it's a great synthesizer and it is available in the widest range of formats, including Mac formats).

So, back to the question... should you still get the book if you don't have all the synthesizers or if some of the synths aren't available in your format? In my opinion, yes. However, that is just my opinion. If you want/expect EVERY SINGLE WORD to be applicable to you, then you will be unhappy. In reality, if you only have one synthesizer, then probably 90% to 95% of the book will be applicable.

If you're still not sure, then why not browse through the book on Amazon and make sure that it is what you want.

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Questions about the How to Make a Noise Patches

I bought the patches to accompany How to Make a Noise, but have lost them/didn't download the update, etc... Can you send them to me again?

No need! The patches are now included in the free download. Grab that and your problems will be sorted.

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