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SYNTORIAL REVIEW: WORTH IT?
With almost 200 lessons, combining video demonstrations with interactive challenges, you’ll get hands on experience programming patches on a built-in soft synth, and learn everything you need to know to start making your own sounds with ease.
A program that could fill the void of both the Xbox I had just sold and the crippling lack of sound design knowledge that was eating away at my very existence, there was no reason not to give it a go.
In this review, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on
Who this software is tailored towards
The theory and practical side of Syntorial
The teaching and whether it’s worth the money
Whether Syntorial is indeed the best way to learn synthesis and sound design
Syntorial Review (My Verdict)
Syntorial is one of the best foundational courses for anyone looking to truly master synthesis. It breaks down complex tasks into a series of easy and fun steps, while combining theory, the learning and the practical side of synthesis. Above all, you’re given access to the tools you need to get your head around sound design.
Variety of Courses – 9/10
From the off, I should make it clear that this software is for beginners. If you already understand the fundamentals of a synthesizer and what parameters affect a sound then this software isn’t for you.
Syntorial will give you step by step lessons on oscillators, frequency modulation, Unison, along with 61 other parameters of a synth. The first lesson concentrates solely on saw and pulse waveforms, with every lesson bringing in a new parameter which makes the learning process of using a synth a lot less daunting.
This way you learn what each individual parameter inside a synth does to a sound and why it affects the sound in that particular way.
Along with this, the narrator who walks you through the program will define key terms for you throughout the process, making sense of a complicated subject one definition at a time.
At the time, 706 patches felt there more than excessive (especially when you’re only one turn off a cutoff knob from getting it correct), but in hindsight, it really did help train my ear to understand the fundamentals of a synth, which really is what this software does so well.
I would advise purchasing a MIDI keyboard along with Syntorial, as playing your own melody on the keyboard during the hidden patches is less tedious then constantly switching between it and the patch you’re recreating.
To add to the level of learning this software offers, at the end of every level, you will be given a relatively short multiple-choice quiz to build up your knowledge and technical terminology.
After 147 demos, 129 lessons, and 706 patches, you’d be forgiven for thinking the fun stops there. But no, additional lesson packs that come at no extra charge are made available to you.
They guide you in transferring what you’ve just learned over to synths such as Massive, Serum, Minimoog Voyager, Cakewalk Z3ta+ 2, and Sylenth1.
These lesson packs are less practical and are a series of video tutorials, which in short, explain how to apply what you’ve learned in Primer to which Synth you plan on using inside your DAW.
This transition from Syntorial to your synth of choice is one of my favorite aspects of the software, as it makes a lot more sense of how your own Synth works, as well as cementing the knowledge you have already learned during your time in Primer.
Quality of Content – 9/10
Now I know what you’re probably thinking, why spend my money on Syntorial when there are countless sound design tutorials on YouTube. It’s a good point, but I have one simple reason to give you as to why. Patches.
This is the content that (in my opinion) makes Syntorial worth the money. You can watch countless Youtube videos and pick up what they are doing within their synthesizer, but with Syntorial you are shown, and then have to recreate.
Listening to a hidden patch and then having to tweak your own patch bit by bit to replicate it really does show you what each parameter of a synth does to the overall sound.
It makes the process of learning sound design practical and drills the information into your head.
The lessons are detailed but not overcomplicated, and the slow introduction of different buttons and controls make the mammoth task of learning sound design a lot simpler than watching any sort of tutorial.
It’s the direct application of theory to practice within the four walls of one piece of software, accompanied by well-explained terminology that makes Syntorial so great for any beginner looking to gain a much better grasp of what to do within a synthesizer.
The Platform – 9.5/10
As I mentioned earlier, the synth that comes with the purchase of Syntorial is called ‘Primer’. As well as using these for your lessons, you can also use it outside of lessons as a plug-in instrument inside your DAW.
Although this is a training piece of kit, it’s by no means a sub-par synth. It has 2 oscillators accompanied by a sub-oscillator, low/high bandpass filters and FX such as chorus, reverb, delay, distortion, and a phaser.
However, as mentioned earlier, if you don’t want to use ‘Primer’ and want to move onto a synthesizer such as Serum or Massive, Syntorial has you covered.
The fact that this platform transitions you from it’s synth to your own synth, whilst still keeping up the same level of teaching and detail makes me move over so much easier.
Having knowledge is obviously the most important aspect of sound design, but as a beginner who may have only used ‘Primer’, applying that knowledge to a brand new interface is not an easy process. The additional lessons make the transition a much easier process.
Value for Money – 8.5/10
I’ve put down the price as one of the cons and that’s because £132 is a lot of money for most budding producers.
However, I believe that the practical aspect of applying your knowledge you learn directly into the software through the hidden patches makes it a much more valuable tool than any number of YouTube tutorials you choose to consume.
There are also ways around paying £132.
Firstly, you get two downloads of Syntorial, so if you can find someone to split the downloads with, it’s already half the price. They also offer student, teacher, and disability discounts.
However, even for the full price, I believe that Primer, along with all of the lessons, hidden patches, demonstrations, and quizzes is worth the money.