SOPHIE's sound design (Digitone or Monomachine?)


#1

Really trying to go study SOPHIE’S style. Not just what sounds she makes (I know it’s the monomachine) but also the sonic level of her sound is what really intrigues me. It’s very glassy and high polished frequencies.

So I’m curious, would a FM machine such as the digitone have the capability of making these rubbery, plasticky, fizz, bubbly, shrieky sounds sophie uses for both her rythm & melodies?

What do you think she does to her mixes to get such a hyper high end sound?

Or would you recommend the monomachine? Eventually I was going to purchase one or the other, but I’m researching before I make a final decision.


Lets talk: sophie like sound design on the MnM
Kick & Snare, Sounds Design (insight needed)
Metal banging sound + slappy snare
Annoying screech sound from sophie - l.o.v.e
#2

Make your own music. :wink:
Someone having DN and MnM recommended me DN…simplier, more instant pleasure.
I’d like both, but I think I already have too much gear. MnM is rarer, so if you have an opportunity to try / buy it…


#3

I’ve tried to replicate her sounds on the Monomachine but it’s difficult. She’s definitely a seasoned sound designer. The closest I’ve come to getting sounds like hers was actually on the Nord Lead, it’s very good for the bubbling/pop sounds that she uses a lot.

That said, I think the Digitone could do it, but in a different way. Quite a few of her sounds use the Monomachine’s signature reverb, which I haven’t actually tried to replicate on the Digitone yet.

As for the mixes, who knows. I’m pretty sure she does extensive post-processing and arrangement in Ableton though. She’d have to be either a genius or completely insane to program all of those little changes on the Monomachine alone. I’d say she’d probably record loops from Monomachine as stems and mess with/arrange them in Ableton, but I could be completely wrong.

It’s good to study though. The journey to replicating someone else’s sounds often results in new sounds emerging.


#4

While I couldn’t tell you if the end result is straight out of the Monomachine or processed and arranged after, there are definitely a few things I hear that are very Monomachine in the sounds. I think the higher pitches stuff is a result of the following characteristics of the mono

The monomachines reverb
Usage of Very short delay times
The Monomachine keytracking filter

If the digitone can emulate these things it can be a good alternative as a lot of the individual sounds Sophie uses sound like fm stuff.


#5

I don’t have insight into the Monomachine, but I’ve made very “SOPHIE-like” sounds on the Machinedrum by putting an LFO on the pitch of a FM bass drum track and letting it get a little loose, crazy, and high-pitched at times. Also, experimenting with CTRL-all. She’s got a seriously fun approach to sound design.

(As an aside, kudos on getting her pronouns right! I remember hardly anyone in the music press did when she first came on the scene, hopefully things have changed for the better there)


#6

There was a photo of SOPHIE with Rihanna using a Monomachine… so that could be a clue. To me the digitone does not sound too plasticky, it sounds closer to a subtractive synth with FM capabilities than like a straight up DX 7


#7

As mentioned in the interview Elektron did, I think her sound design is basically Monomachine + software. Some sounds are more obviously from the Monomachine than others but it’s hard to tell what the proportion is. And how heavily processed the MM sounds are. She plays live with a pair of CDJs and a Monomachine so the raw sound is clearly a significant part of a lot of her music.

The most distinctively MM stuff uses parameter slides a lot. I love the sounds you can get with that. There’s an awful lot of stuff you can do on the MM that you could never replicate on the Digitone.


#8

Relatively recent interview with SOPHIE https://crackmagazine.net/article/long-reads/sophie-earthly-pleasures/ Monomachine/Logic and a love of Autechre are mentioned.


#9

The Monomachine has this ‘dated’ early 2000s digital sound that the digitone doesn’t have. It’s that digital rawness that sets it apart from many other synths. It’s kind of lo-fi and ‘bad in a good way’.

The Digitone on the other hand sounds very very modern. I loved the workflow and intuitiveness of the FM engine. The sounds that came out of it were really good, but ultimately I didn’t think they sounded all that different from those I can get out of Sytrus. That doesn’t mean you can’t get interesting sounds out of it though. It’s sequencer and FX are much better than that on the MM too.

Bottomline is: No, the Digitone does not sound like the Monomachine. Most synths do not. It has that early 2000s digital sound to it that people seem to either love or hate. I don’t know about SOPHIE but when I play around on it I’m always reminded of The Knife (who also used it a lot). It’s why I kept mine when I had to sell most of my gear. I figured I could still get close to the same results from VSTs for the DN but not for the MM.


#10

Hey, you take that back, buddy!

I actually think the MM sequencer and (especially) the FX both have quite a bit going for them over the DN, e.g. song mode, SID mode on the MM arp, separate stereo delay per track and the way you can stack / bus / LFO / p-lock the FX. There’s a huge palette of sounds you can get out of FX routing and a load of effects that the DN doesn’t have, eg ring mod, phaser, etc etc.


#11

I don’t think she had identified as a woman in the beginning. I don’t think she had identified as anything (not nonbinary, just very private.)

I think this is key to PEARL. I can see her early stuff being straight out of the MM. But on this album the production work is heads and shoulders above the early stuff. I expect a lot was done still on the MM but with so much processing what’s used is less clear.

I think amateurs and hobbyists need to keep in mind the experience and time (and money) that goes in to the stuff theyre trying to emulate. Not that it should discourage them; just not to kill themselves going for it (a pep talk I’ve given myself so many times :wink: )

She’s wonderful.

EDIT: to answer OP, I don’t know the DN, but if you really want that sound, then go for the source: MM. From my impression the DN can’t go so far off-piste as the DN. But since it’s 2018 and I was looking for a wild FM digital pitch thing I would think there are better avenues. But I could also be wrong. The MM seems to still hold its own.


#12

Not ment as an insult towards the MM in the slightest :wink:. Take the built-in reverb for example. It’s short, metallic and nothing like the long smooth reverb possible on the DN.

Yet, the reverb on the MM is super unique and when used right can give you a lot of flavour. “bad” in the sense that the sound isn’t high fidelity like modern Elektron products, but good in the sense that it sounds fresh and original as a result. That’s my take on the MMs sound anyway.

I also agree that the MM actually has many really cool features in it’s sequencer and it’s FX are lovely. The DN however has a lot of ‘modern’ features such as preset locks, microtiming, copy/pasting multiple trigs, dynamic voice allocation, more modern sounding FX, that kind of thing.


#13

No offence taken. :pl:

I kind of get what you mean, but I don’t understand the bit about it not being high fidelity. It has very high fidelity to my ear. It has a certain character when you make it warp its waves around but it does it in a very smooth and clear way. It’s not like a crude/gritty granular sound. And it has excellent dynamics, very low noise floor, etc.


#14

This! She’s been at it for close to 20 years and works HARD.


#15

I’m probably using the wrong words to describe it. What I mean is that the synth engines aren’t as ‘polished’ sounding as modern digital synths. I’m describing the character as lo-fi but I can see that may be a misnomer.


#16

I find Julien Earle breaks it down quite well with software…

Check it out

How To Make Music Like SOPHIE [+SAMPLES]


#17

Not a bad effort with the bass but making a SOPHIE percussion sound by layering SOPHIE samples is defeating the point of the exercise somewhat…


#18

We all have to take shortcuts sometimes… hah ! Totally agree :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#19

Exactly. And one of the things that’s made the biggest impression on me is how she’s managed to make ONE.SINGLE. box her katana. My GAS vaporized when I saw that photo of her and Rihanna: the MM and a computer monitor. Done.


#20

I feel if you have a laptop running some daw and a synth or two and feel like you need one more gear to get ‘better’ you’re missing the point. Gear is a luxury.

What that picture of SOPHIE and the MM does not show is the countless hours she spent learning and mastering what she already has.