In the world of EDM and electronic music, your lead synth can make or break your song. Making a lead sound convincing and not cheesy can become a huge feat of sound design. If you know how to use your tools and plugins, you can make your synth lead sound amazing.

how to make your synth lead sound amazing

Today I’ll show you how I made the lead hook on my song ‘A New Standard’ Featuring Jay Fresh. I took a vocal sample and turned it into this:

The song is featured on my debut album ‘All or Nothing’ which you can stream or download on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Youtube, or Soundcloud. Ok, enough shameless promoting, let’s get to it!

finding the right vocal sample

First of all, I used a vocal sample called “India” from the Vengeance Essential House Volume 4 Sample Pack. Here’s what the vocal sample sounds like completely dry:

I then loaded the sample into an instance of Logic Pro’s EXS24 sampler synth and recorded the following melody:

The melody is very simple, but I made very careful use of pitch bench and vibrato modulation. Below are 2 screenshots of the midi automation. PICTURE A shows the pitch bend automation and PICTURE B show the vibrato modulation automation.

signal chain as long as the nile

Finally, I processed my melody with a LOT of plugins. This is where the magic happens. Now I’m not saying you need a long ass signal chain to make a lead sound awesome, however that always seems to be the case for me. So maybe as I become a better producer I’ll be able to shorten the chain. Here is my signal chain:

  1. Stock Logic Gain trim

    • Reason for use: First of all, I knew I’d be spanking it to high hell with distortion so I needed the headroom
    • Settings: -7.1 dbmake your lead synth sound amazing
  2. Soundtoys Radiator

    • Reason for use: Great natural sounding preamp distortion
    • Settings: Max input, Max output, 100% wetMake Your Synth Lead Sound Amazing
  3. Waves S1 Stereo Imager

    • Reason for use: Make it sound very wide in the stereo field
    • Settings: Max widthMake Your Synth Lead Sound Amazing
  4. Waves SSL EQ

    • Reason for use: Tone shaping
    • Settings: -4db at 400hz, +3.5 db at 8khzMake Your Synth Lead Sound Amazing
  5. Stock Logic EQ

    • Reason for use: Remove unnecessary low end
    • Settings: Low shelf at 100hz, -6.5 dbMake Your Synth Lead Sound Amazing
  6. Logic’s Space Designer Reverb

    • Reason for use: Placing a subtle reverb before distortion plugins yields amazing effects!
    • Settings: “Big Plate” preset. 0.0 db dry, -40 db wet.Make Your Synth Lead Sound Amazing
  7. Soundtoys Radiator

    • Reason for use: Another instance to add more distortion, after reverb
    • Settings: Max input, Max output, 22% wet
  8. Soundtoys Decapitator

    • Reason for use: Also, a different flavor of distortion that boosts presence
    • Settings: 1 Drive on ‘A’ settingMake Your Synth Lead Sound Amazing
  9. Logic Stock Tape Delay

    • Reason for use: a great sound delay effect and also, delay sounds good, duh!
    • Settings: 1/8th dotted note delay, low cut at 520 hz, 57% feedback, 100% dry, 19% wetMake Your Synth Lead Sound Amazing
  10. Logic Stock Echo

    • Reason for use: this echo sounds very smooth and adds a lot depth to the tone
    • Settings: 1/8 dotted note, 64% feedback, 100% dry, 11% wetMake Your Synth Lead Sound Amazing
  11. Softube Tube-Tech PE 1C ‘Pultec’ EQ

    • Reason for use: Above all, to brighten up top end with a very smooth shelf. Check out my recent “Vocal EQ Trick” blog where I use this amazing plugin.
    • Settings: Boost 10khz +4.5Make Your Synth Lead Sound Amazing
  12. Logic’s Space Designer Reverb (via bus, -21 signal sent)

    • Reason for use: A final reverb to add that finishing sheen
    • Settings: “Big Plate” preset. MUTE dry, 0.0 db wet.

the final product

After 12 plugin instances, this is what the lead sounds like processed:

I hope you enjoy this tutorial and put it to good use to make your synth lead sound amazing. Above all, just keep producing!

For questions, feel free to shoot me an email by contacting me.

Pierre Andrews recording studio is located in Irving, TX and services the Dallas Forth Worth area and works remotely with clients all around the world via Soundbetter.