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Exploring Analog Synthesis with Behringer Poly-D

Tutorial | Mar 11, 2024

In this video, I discuss my experience with the Poly-D analog synthesizer and how it sparked my interest in analog synthesis. I explain the basics of the synthesizer, including its tuning issues, oscillator options, and use of filters and effects. I demonstrate how I use the synthesizer to create chord progressions and incorporate it into my music production process.

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In this tutorial, the focus is on the Behringer Poly D, an entry-level analog synthesizer that ignited the presenter's passion for analog synthesis. The Poly D, a more affordable alternative to the Mini Moog, offers a raw and unfiltered synthesis experience, devoid of menus, displays, or presets. Here's a summary of key points and how the Poly D is utilized:

This tutorial is particularly beneficial for those new to analog synthesis, offering insights into both the practical use of the Behringer Poly D and the broader appeal of working with analog synthesizers.

Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

How did I become interested in analog synthesis?

I became interested in analog synthesis when I purchased the Poly-D synthesizer as an entry-level synthesizer. I found that I really enjoyed the raw sound and the lack of menus, presets, and driver updates that come with digital synths.

How do I use the Poly-D in my music production?

I primarily use the Poly-D for creating ambient songs and sound design. I play around on the keyboard to create different sounds, then sample them into my computer to use in Bitwig, either in the sampler or on an audio track. I don't use MIDI or sequencing with the Poly-D.

What are the challenges with using an analog synthesizer like the Poly-D?

One of the main challenges with the Poly-D is that it is constantly out of tune and the pitch changes over time. This requires regular tuning adjustments and octave tuning for different keys. Additionally, the Poly-D doesn't offer a wide range of sounds, mostly focused on bass sounds and lead sounds.

What are some tips and tricks for using the Poly-D?

One tip is to use the detunable fourth oscillator as a fixed pedal tone to create interesting chord progressions. Additionally, using the modulation options, such as frequency modulation of the filter cutoff, can add more variety to the sounds. It's also important to be aware that the envelopes on the Poly-D are not very fast, so it's not ideal for creating percussion sounds.


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00:00] Okay, I guess we do some kind of hardware tutorial today and I want to talk about the
[00:00:04] Behriner of Poly-D. And it's not about the name here Poly polarity and D, D sharp minor,
[00:00:11] right? That's not why I bought it. I bought it because I wanted to see if analog synthesis
[00:00:16] is actually something I like. And it turns out I really like analog synthesis. And after
[00:00:22] I bought this because it was very cheap, it was my entry level synthesizer, I bought,
[00:00:27] you can see this here on the right side, all the Morgue synthesizers, the DFAM and the M32
[00:00:33] and the Subharmonicon. So this one actually brought me into analog synthesis. And what
[00:00:39] I like most about it, about analog synthesis in general is that, of course, the sound,
[00:00:46] it sounds pretty raw. Everything is tuned all the time. There are no displays on it.
[00:00:54] There are no menus you have to dive in. There are no driver updates. No presets, nothing
[00:01:01] really. It's pretty raw. And also this synthesizer is modeled after the Mini Morgue. And this
[00:01:08] one costs around 500 bucks and the Mini Morgue costs around 5K. So this thing here is 10
[00:01:14] times cheaper. And I thought, well, let's give it a go and see if it's actually something
[00:01:20] right up my alley. And it is. Okay. So I don't use this all the time. But when I fiddle around
[00:01:28] at home and play some nice ambient songs, or maybe some, I want to make some sound design
[00:01:34] and need some raw sounds, this is here where I use this. And I use this in a way where I
[00:01:39] just play around on the keyboard here. And then I sample it into the computer and put
[00:01:46] it into the sampler or maybe on an audio track. It's not like I want to sequence this, right?
[00:01:51] And I fiddle around with MIDI. I don't like this at all. I just play around with this,
[00:01:56] create some sounds, sample these sounds, and then I use it in Bitwig in the sampler or
[00:02:00] in the audio tracks. So pretty straightforward, pretty easy. So yeah, let's talk about how
[00:02:08] I use this sometimes. So first you have to know if you never use an analog synthesizer
[00:02:14] or an old analog synthesizer. This thing is out of tune all the time. So if you switch
[00:02:21] it on in the morning, it has a different tuning than two hours later or the evening before.
[00:02:27] It's always constantly out of tune and it also constantly changes in pitch for some reason.
[00:02:35] So the longer you use it, the more out of tune you get. And also some of these octaves
[00:02:40] here are out of tune. So in the back of the synthesizer is actually some kind of small
[00:02:45] panel where you can change different tunings for different octaves. So you don't have to
[00:02:52] do this all the time, but most of the times you have to use this main global tuning knob
[00:02:58] all the time just to make it fit the key. If you want to make it fit the key. So at the
[00:03:06] moment here, I have only one oscillator enabled. The first one here and I want to give you
[00:03:13] a quick rundown. I don't want to make a tutorial about this. I guess most of you already know
[00:03:17] how in Subjective Synthesizer works. We have here an LFO to modulate things, right? You
[00:03:23] have a mod wheel to change the modulation amount. We have an LFO here also. We can switch
[00:03:29] here the mod sources so we can mix and match with noise and LFO and you know, oscillator
[00:03:34] 4 as in source and so on. We can switch here from monophonic to uni to polyphonic. So this
[00:03:42] is interesting and normally you can just play one note at a time. And if you switch this
[00:03:49] here to polyphonic, if you play this, you can see only one oscillator is active. When
[00:03:54] I play multiple notes like this and this, you can see the second note uses the second
[00:04:00] oscillator. If I play another key and hold down three keys, we use then three oscillators.
[00:04:06] We use for every key you press another or a new oscillator. So that's kind of interesting,
[00:04:12] but most of the time I'm using it here in monophonic mode. So then we have here, like
[00:04:17] I said, global tuning. We have four oscillators here, three you can tune and the first one
[00:04:23] is reacting to the global tune and all the other oscillators are also detuned with the
[00:04:28] global detuning knob. Right. So that's important to know. Then we have here a mixer section.
[00:04:35] We can change the volume of each of these oscillators. We can also switch them on or
[00:04:40] off. We have an external signal here we can use. So an external audio source maybe then
[00:04:46] we have your noise. We can turn up the noise, turn up the noise. We have white noise. We
[00:04:52] have pink noise. Then we have here on top a filter that's like cutoff frequency, Q and
[00:04:59] modulation amount. And you can switch the filter from low pass to high pass, Jennifer
[00:05:04] Lopez, high pass. And then we have here an envelope for the filter. And we have an envelope
[00:05:12] attack decay and sustain for the amplitude. We have here down some sequencer stuff also
[00:05:19] an Arpeggiator. And we have then here at the end FX distortion and chorus and then own
[00:05:29] volume and normal volume and power switch. So that's it. It's pretty basic actually.
[00:05:36] There's nothing much to it. And the biggest problem of the synthesizers probably that
[00:05:42] you can't get a lot of variety out of your sounds. It's always sounds, you know, it's
[00:05:47] in the same same area, same ballpark. So bass sounds lead sounds that's basically it. So
[00:05:55] if you want to create some percussion, it's probably possible, but the the envelopes are
[00:06:01] not that fast, right? Okay, so I want to give you here a quick idea how I work with this.
[00:06:10] So let's start here with the first oscillator. And there are some switches here where you
[00:06:15] can change the octave, right? And that's a very low one. It's pretty. Yeah, it's pretty
[00:06:26] low. It's actually LFO like. And the first thing you have to do in the morning or every
[00:06:34] time is actually to check the tuning. So we use here an an M tuner by Melda. Let's play
[00:06:44] a C here. You can see it's a bit off. So we use here the tuning knob. Okay, so now we
[00:07:02] have C here. It's correct. Can also play now all the other keys. But you can see the lower
[00:07:10] we go, right? This one is a bit more of it's maybe the tuner, but most of the times across
[00:07:17] the keyboard here, you get different tunings, different, you know, yeah, different tuning.
[00:07:24] So it's out of tune most of the time in different areas. So you have to notice if you never
[00:07:29] use an analog synthesizer, this is like completely normal. But I really like it. Actually, it
[00:07:35] makes a great sound. That's why you buy this type of stuff, right? So now that we play
[00:07:42] up the first oscillator here to write key, you can actually switch on the second oscillator
[00:07:48] here. And it's also a bit out of tune. So let's switch the first oscillator off. This
[00:07:55] one is tuned, right? And with the second oscillator, I want to play now the minor third. So I
[00:08:03] go three semitones higher, right? So here I press the sharp. So I want to play basically
[00:08:09] F sharp. So this one. Okay, so now when we press the sharp, we get F sharp. So we play
[00:08:21] basically the minor third. When we switch the first oscillator on, we have some kind
[00:08:27] of chord already. And then we do the same thing here with the third oscillator and go
[00:08:33] for the fifth, which is a sharp in this case. And you don't need to use a tuner for that.
[00:08:45] You can also completely do this by ear if you want to. You also don't need to create
[00:08:52] a really nice chord. You can also go for something that's completely dissonant. Sometimes it's
[00:08:57] nice for sound effects. But I want to give you a basic idea how to create a chord with
[00:09:04] this. And then we pull down here the low pass filter. So you can create nice, housey or
[00:09:29] dubby chords with this. What you also can do is you can use your this octave switch,
[00:09:35] right? To create some kind of chord inversions. So you can put the minor third one octa fire
[00:09:43] just by switching this one up. Okay, so you can play on the goal as you play it, you can
[00:09:58] switch around these octave switches and create nice little different chord sounds with this.
[00:10:15] And let's put actually here some kind of delay on that. Maybe a bit of reverb.
[00:10:39] So, and this is something I would record maybe then into a track and play along with my
[00:11:05] already kick drum or drum bass loop or whatever and just sample it, right? And then you get
[00:11:12] a nice analog sound. You have an analog filter in here. So you get a lot of grit and wipe
[00:11:22] for free basically. So yeah, let's turn out here the reverb a bit down and the delay back.
[00:11:32] We have also your chorus. We have two different chorus versions one and two or you can mix
[00:11:44] one and two if you want to actually you can see it. These two knobs here, right? Or a
[00:11:58] bit of distortion. So we have tone distortion tone and level. So that's something you can
[00:12:15] do also with these chord progressions here. Sometimes I go for the last oscillator oscillator
[00:12:26] four and this one is a bit special because you can use it first for modulation as a modulation
[00:12:34] source and you can say you want to detach it from the keyboard. So let's switch this
[00:12:41] on here and only listen to the last oscillator here. So this one is also detuned. So we have
[00:12:53] to tune it. So I want to go here maybe for also for the for the fifth right. So I put
[00:13:00] the seven semitones up. So I go for a sharp. So and now when I play multiple different
[00:13:13] keys, right? It changes key. But when I switch this off here, this this little button, it's
[00:13:24] detached from the key tracking. So now it only plays one pitch at C5. So I have to tune
[00:13:30] it again. It's very sensitive. Okay, so now that we have this key, we can change and see
[00:13:51] when we play on the keyboard, different keys, it never changes actually the frequency. It
[00:13:58] stays on this note on this sharp note. But then all the other change, we can switch this
[00:14:05] on here or the other oscillators on, which gives you also some kind of interesting chord
[00:14:13] and you can create some interesting chord progressions. Maybe switch this one Octave higher.
[00:14:31] So sometimes this is cool. Maybe we switch to the minor third off. This sounds nice.
[00:14:46] So let's use your mix. So because we removed the minor third here, the gender of the chord
[00:14:55] is actually not defined. It's basically only root fifth and the fifth of the root of the
[00:15:03] key off the scale. Let's make this long. Maybe not so much reverb.
[00:15:33] So this fixed oscillator here gives you some kind of pedal tone actually. And you can't
[00:15:53] change the frequency of this and put it on a different key. So in my case, you have it
[00:15:58] on the fifth of the root key I'm using. And you also can put this maybe on the same notes
[00:16:05] on the root key. So use the root key as a pedal tone, or maybe also use the seventh of
[00:16:14] this key or of the scale I'm using. And if you want to use a different key, of course,
[00:16:19] you have to detune it again. But most of the times you want to stay in one key in most
[00:16:25] of your tracks, right? And maybe we use the first oscillator and put it one octave lower
[00:16:46] so it's more like a bass. And use the chorus.
[00:17:16] So this is how you can do it. We can also, this is how we do it. Then we can use your
[00:17:24] maybe polyphonic mode, or maybe uni mode. Just in arp.
[00:17:41] So now we press basically here three keys. And because it's in arp mode, and because
[00:17:48] I switched this here to poly mode, we now cycle through the oscillators, right? And
[00:18:00] then I use here the button called hold. And then it holds all these three keys for my,
[00:18:05] instead of you know, pressing this all the time, you just switch on hold and then it
[00:18:09] holds this key. Then you can play around.
[00:18:16] Let's put this on hold.
[00:18:42] And this is sometimes how I play this in a live context when I do these videos on my
[00:18:53] other channel. I have basically a drone running in the background in Bitwig place, in this
[00:19:00] drone place, just the root note or the root key, emphasizing basically the scale of the
[00:19:07] song. And then I have this here running and I bring in the volume and I know it's on
[00:19:13] the right, in the right key. And then I can switch here to a different note. And because
[00:19:19] hold is on and arp is on, it plays basically exactly in sync with my song. And it does
[00:19:27] it as long as I'm switching off hold or I switch to a different key.
[00:19:52] So the third, yeah, the minor third is not really helpful. But I want to show you basically
[00:20:06] how you can create nice interesting chord progressions or some nice ideas just with an
[00:20:13] analog monophonic synthesizer just by abusing some of these oscillators here. Play different
[00:20:20] keys, use a tuner on the PC basically and check which tuning is which oscillator and
[00:20:30] then play different keys with that. And you get so many different ideas with this just
[00:20:38] by using the simple trick. It's actually not the trick, it's basically how you use it.
[00:20:44] And then I haven't even used here modulation for something. So we can do also, maybe I
[00:20:53] show you this quickly here. So let's switch all the oscillators off here. Make the sound
[00:21:01] a bit longer. Okay, so we can use oscillator four as an oscillator source. So we can say
[00:21:24] here, we have an LFO here, but we also can say oscillator four as a source here on the
[00:21:30] left side as a switch oscillator four and filter envelope. So we use oscillator four.
[00:21:36] And then we have a knob here for the modulation mix so we can mix between noise and LFO and
[00:21:41] oscillator four and filter envelope. So we can mix between this knob and this knob. So
[00:21:46] we put this on this side, right? Want to use oscillator four here. And then we can use
[00:21:51] here filter modulation on the filter. Okay. And now this cutoff frequency here is modulated
[00:22:01] by oscillator four. And all we have to do now is to increase the modulation amount.
[00:22:28] When I increase here the resonance, you can hear it better. It's basically frequency modulation
[00:22:41] of the cutoff knob. And you get a bit more variety out of this synth with this FM. You
[00:22:48] can create more like interesting percussion sounds with this. But like I said, the filters
[00:22:52] here are not very fast. So maybe I show you this. So pull everything down. Attack is super
[00:23:03] short. Right. This is the shortest, shortest CK time here already. Then it becomes quickly
[00:23:20] very long. So this is not really made for percussion sounds. So you have to be aware
[00:23:26] of that. So yeah, I think that's basically it. So this is how I use it sometimes. I have
[00:23:33] maybe some more tips and tricks how I use this. Maybe if you're interested, let me know in
[00:23:39] the comments. Then I do more of these videos. I also have of course some more analog synthesizers
[00:23:46] or synthesizers in general here. Maybe you are interested in this. I have no idea because
[00:23:51] this is mostly a Bitwig channel. So yeah, like I said, this was basically my entry level
[00:23:57] analog synthesizer. I really like to play around with this. It's not like sitting in
[00:24:04] front of a PC, just having a few knobs and then you play around and you get so many interesting
[00:24:09] soundscapes out of it. And all you have to do is basically to sample it and use it then
[00:24:14] in your tracks in a sampler. So pretty straightforward. Okay, that's it. Leave a like if you liked
[00:24:19] the video, subscribe to the channel. It's very important and ask me questions in the
[00:24:24] comments down below. Thanks for watching and bye.