Synth hack: How to make your synth bi-timbral – shown using Peak from Novation

Many synths are mono-timbral, meaning they’re designed to play only one kind of sound at a time. Whether they’re polyphonic or monophonic, and no matter how many parameters and knobs you tweak, the end result is a sound, or timbre, that plays relatively similarly no matter where you play on the keyboard. Synths that can pull off keyboard splits where each split plays a different sound are called bi-timbral, or multi-timbral synths. 

If your synth is mono-timbral and you want a little bi-timbral action, this video is for you. This “trick” or “hack” won’t work on all mono-timbral synths, but if you’re lucky and the right set of controls align in its mod matrix and panel, it just might work. 

In this video I use Novation’s Peak as a case study for playing bi-timbral presets and creating keyboard splits on what is a mono-timbral synth.


The trick is to create virtual splits by modulating the level of each of a synth’s oscillators with the widely available “keyboard” mod matrix source parameter, with various depth polarities, and then applying different modulation and timbre control to each of these oscillator “splits” to create completely different timbres. That’s a mouthful, but it’s actually quite simple and the video walks you through it. 

The video also shows how to deal with some of the issues that arise when using this method, like noise in certain areas of the keyboards, transpositions, envelope controls and alternatives to filters for creating timbral variance.

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