Sci-Fi Aircraft Sound Design

I’ve been on a bit of a science fiction fix recently, after working on my latest sound redesign (find it here) I’ve been constantly thinking about designing sounds for use in sci-fi games and for post production purposes. I’ve also been getting well acquainted with Spark, an ensemble for Native Instruments Reaktor. It’s a powerful synth, and really well suited for sound design purposes too.

I wanted to create some alien aircraft / spaceship sounds that could be used for flybys and such so I opened a fresh Logic project and got cracking.

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Obviously working on science fiction sound elements means you can get a little extra creative with the sounds that might emanate from alien aircraft and this is always lots of fun. Spark offers lots of modulation possibilities and automating these along with more standard parameters such as pan, EQ and gain was the majority of the work in these sounds.

I created a patch which sounded a bit engine like and features lots of grumbly noises and used automation to move between this and a screamy noisey layer created using the ring mod / filter.

As well as Spark I loaded up my ‘DATACompiler’ tool that I created in Reaktor (read more here)

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DATACompiler is great for strange textures with a digital edge, I opted for the ‘Doom’ preset I’d created and used the cycles control to modulate some internal LFOs via some automation as you can see in the picture above. This gave the craft a bit of a ‘whirring’ character.

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Final touches included gain automation, convolution reverb and some pan automation to establish the aircraft’s location relative to the listener. Listen below!


DATACompiler (V.2)

After a rather long hiatus from work on DATACompiler I’ve finally got round to finishing version 2 and implementing some of the changes that folks had mentioned along with a few GUI tweaks. It will be available on the new downloads page soon.

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Version 2 Updates:

  • MIDI Input Modes (Pitch / Gate / Note / Velocity
  • Hi Pass output protection
  • Relabelling of some controls
  • 10 New Presets
  • Overall improvements in some of the control functionality and resolution.
  • PDF Manual

DS-250 | Reaktor WIP

I’ve been working on another Reaktor ensemble to compliment my other projects ‘DATACompiler’ and ‘Cyberdyne’ and this time I’ve been focussing on pulse oscillators in particular.. with some other more unusual additions sonically and limiting the synth to only 4 note polyphony. Mostly the DS-250 focusses on the use of modulation and some added FM synthesis which achieves some interesting, if slightly broken sounding textures and sonics.

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So basically we’re looking at three pulse / square wave oscillators with adjustable pulse width and an additional FM section (OSC+). Two of the pulse waves have fine tune (+/- 50 cent) and three have transposition of up to two octaves either way. The controls are a little fiddly for this but that makes it (in my opinion) a little more fun trying to get it in tune!! It may not be a go-to plugin for conventional songwriting however…
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I’ve started putting together a custom soundbank but the sound design is fairly straightforward – there is a simple AMP ENV in the form of attack, decay and release options and a full ADSR for filter envelope duties. The modulation section of the synth is where Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 13.51.14.pngthings get a little more interesting and as usual I’ve annotated the controls with rather vague labels for extra ‘fun’. There is also a useful oscilloscope with adjustable range and even a 5 segment LED meter for output level monitoring.

As with my previous projects, the DS-250 will be available to download for free so I’ll post it up soon with a demo video for those that are interested.


More Reaktor experiments have led me to build my first sample based instrument – and whilst small may be the only recreation of a Yamaha PSS-9 drum machine available for Reaktor at this time…

PSS-9 Drum Machine

The original PSS-9 features just 4 drum sounds – none of which are velocity mapped. I sampled each of the sounds through a Soundcraft Ghost LE – using a flat EQ. The Keyboard itself has some ‘noise’ present and this was also captured, adding to the (shall we say) character… it’s only slight but there none the less.

I also added a filter for a little extra interest which self-resonates quite satisfyingly at a certain point. Happily, you can also turn the unit off.
You’re probably saying that it’s a fairly useless creation, but it will be my first step into sample-based playback in Reaktor and a fun starting point.

DATACompiler 2000

DATACompiler 2000 is the first in a series of ‘lab machines’ that I’m currently making within Reaktor and is based on an FM synthesis engine. Below you’ll find a test run of some of the patches / snapshots included with the ‘synth’

DATACompiiler 2000 features an evolving FM synthesis design, which allows the user to create a large range of digital textures and sounds. I could explain what all the controls do but it will be much more fun for you to find out yourself…