Native Instruments has released the Absynth 3 Tutorial DVD for its soft synth, Absynth 3. The tutorial is useful for the novice, and it's great for experienced
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The Native Instruments Absynth 3 Tutorial DVD offers a thorough investigation of every feature in Absynth 3.

Native Instruments has released the Absynth 3 Tutorial DVD for its soft synth, Absynth 3. The tutorial is useful for the novice, and it's great for experienced users who want to get the most out of the instrument. Narrated by Native Instruments' product specialist Brian Smith, the DVD covers every parameter and menu in Absynth 3, and does so in a logical order.

Peeking into Windows

Absynth 3 is an oddity among Native Instruments' collection of synths (for a review of Absynth 3, see Originally designed by Brian Clevinger and Rhizomatic Software, it has retained its single-window structure and blue green sci-fi graphics. A set of tabs at the top of every window lets you access the various component views: the Main window, the Patch window, the Waveform window, and the Effects, Envelope, LFO, and MIDI control windows. This inclusive structure creates a kind of flow chart for building sounds with Absynth, and it allows a straightforward and comprehensive method for teaching someone how to use the synthesizer.

After the DVD's introduction, it is divided into nine chapters, each describing and dissecting one of Absynth 3's seven windows, with an additional chapter on sampling and another on surround sound and panning. There are two sections on selected artists Jeff Rona and Junkie XL, and a larger section on Clevinger. The interviews offer brief introductions to the work and methods of the two artists, while the section on Clevinger is longer and allows him to discuss why he created Absynth and how he uses it.

Step by Step

Smith does a great job of guiding the viewer through the world of Absynth, and his enthusiasm is directed almost exclusively toward teaching. Starting with the Main window, he explains how the synthesizer is organized graphically and how that determines the course of the tutorial. Smith describes every button and menu item in detail, showing the viewer by example how everything works. For example, in describing the use of the Patch window, he dissects a complex patch module by module, showing which parts of the oscillators, filters, and modulators make up that particular sound.

The chapter on waveforms begins with an overview of waveform synthesis in the time and the frequency domains. Smith then shows viewers how they can be manipulated within the program. Likewise, the chapter on effects contains valuable lessons about using time-based effects for echo and resonance, including an explanation of the physical nature of comb filters and multitap echoes.

The chapters about the envelope and LFO windows are exhaustive and show Absynth 3's unique sonic capabilities. Many of the lessons are illustrated by patches from the factory banks, although some of the process involves manufacturing sounds from scratch to show the various workings of the synthesizer. The DVD also includes a special sound bank with tutorial patches that are used in the lessons.

There are a few basic synthesizer concepts that Smith assumes the viewer understands. For example, he doesn't explain what a lowpass filter does. But even for those viewers who don't know the term, its meaning is made obivous from the filter's usage in context.

Just the Facts

The Absynth 3 Tutorial DVD is long. Almost every chapter is more than a half hour in length, with frequent suggestions that you stop and work on the synthesizer components discussed to get the most out of the lesson. The primary aim of this tutorial is to get you to experiment and find new sounds for yourself, and it seems to be designed as much for sound designers as for musicians. All in all, the DVD offers a valuable set of lessons, whether you're an experienced Absynth user or a novice.

Overall Rating (1 through 5): 4
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