How To Create Chill Out And Ambient Sounds Part 1: Lush Pad

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How To Create Chill Out And Ambient Sounds Part 1: Lush Pad

In this series of tutorials, I will show you how you can create sounds and soundscapes common in Chill Out and Ambient music using FL Studio.


First sound will be a lush pad. Listen to the example below:

[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/Lush-Pad-Example-Full.mp3]

I created this sound using three instances of 3xOsc’s which I then layered together and I’m going to show you the exact settings I used to create this sound. Remember that you’re free to experiment with the settings to develop your own original sounds.

Let’s begin!

First, set the project tempo to something slow – 100bpm for example. This is because many of the plugin features used in this example sync with the tempo and slower tempo is preferred for creating that relaxed feel which is characteristic for chill/ambient style music:

Lush Pad Project Tempo

Next, load the first instance of 3xOsc to the project. It will be used for creating a “soft pluck type” sound with the arpeggio.

So, assign it to a free mixer track, select sine as the oscillator shape for each three oscillators (selected by default) and set the Coarse tune to 0 Semitones for each oscillator (Osc 1 is 0 by default). Also, set the root key to C6 (now even though setting the root key is not necessary for replicating this exact sound, it might come useful if you use a small MIDI keyboard which has only few keys or computer keyboard and you want to play low octave notes. The higher you set the root key, the lower the pitch for the key you press):

3xOsc Settings For Pluck Sound

Head to the INS -tab and from there to VOLΒ  -tab and enable the volume envelope and tweak the AHDSR controls as follows:

3xOsc AHDSR Settings For Pluck Sound

Short Attack and Release time is the key for a pluck sound.

Now, for arpeggiating the sound, go to the FUNC -tab and set the Arpeggio direction to up-down, Arpeggio range to 3 octaves and Arpeggio time to 4:00:

3xOsc Arpeggiator Settings

Open the Mixer, and drop Fruity Delay 2 to the 3xOsc’s effect slot.Β It’s needed for making the pluck sound ‘etheric’ and widening the stereo atmosphere. Set it like this:

Fruity Delay 2 Settings For Pluck Sound

Setting the signal delay time (TIME) to 5:00 gives a little more ‘odd’ – and not too four-to-the-floor – feel for the echoes. Decreasing the cutoff frequency (CUT), smooth out the echoes nicely.

Add Fruity Reeverb next to the effect chain. The reverb needs to sound big so set it like this: Decay to 12.0 seconds, Reverb signal level to 48%, Color to Warmer and RoomSize to 84. Leave the other parameters as is:

Fruity Reeverb Settings For Pluck Sound

Ok, the first sound is now ready and here’s how it sounds:

[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/Arpeggiated-Pluck-Sound-Example.mp3]

Next, load another instance of 3xOsc to the project. This is going to be a saw wave pad sound.

Start by assigning it to a free mixer track, select saw wave as the oscillator shape for each three oscillators, set Osc 1 & Osc 2 coarse tune to 0 semitones and Osc 3 to -12 semitones, Osc 1 fine tune to -20 cents and Osc 2 fine tune to +17 cents and Osc 1 stereo detune to +10 cents for widening the stereo image. Set the root key to C6:

3xOsc For First Pad Sound Settings

With these settings, we get a wide, detuned saw sound.

Now, go to the INS and VOL -tabs, enable the volume envelope and edit the envelope curve as follows to give the sound a character of a pad sound:

Volume Envelope Settings For The First Pad Sound

Slow Attack and Release time is the key for a pad -like sound.

Next, smooth out the sound a bit by decreasing the Filter cutoff amount:

Filter Settings For The First Pad Sound

Next, we are going to use the LFO to modulate the filter cutoff frequency to make the pad sweep so head to the CUT -tab and under the LFO, click on TB to make the LFO Delay, Attack and Speed tempo based, turn on the Global -mode to apply the LFO settings globally instead of making them restart in the beginning of each note (this gives a more ‘free’ feel to the modulation), turn the Attack all the way to left to let the LFO modulation kick in right away, turn the Amount knob slightly to left for a delicate and not so radical modulation effect and make the modulation slow by decreasing the LFO speed value (right click on Speed knob to choose from pre-defined tempo-based lengths – select ‘128 steps’):

Filter Cutoff LFO Modulation Settings For The First Pad Sound

Here’s how it sounds:

[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/First-Pad-Sound-Example.mp3]

Now, open the Mixer and drop a Fruity Chorus to the 3xOsc #2 effect slot. Chorus is here to thicken the pad and making it sound a little ‘warmer’. Set the Chorus like this: Depth to 2.4, Stereo to 119, LFO 1 Freq to 0.5, LFO 2 Freq 2.4, LFO 3 Freq to 1.9. Leave the other parameters to their default settings:

Fruity Chorus Settings For First Pad Sound

Next, add Fruity Phaser to the effect slot. Phaser is here for an additional sweeping effect. Set it like this: Sweep Freq to 0.2 (that’s for slow sweep), Min depth to 0, Max depth to 0.7, Freq. range to small, Stereo to 1.0, Nr. stages to 11, Feedback to 0.2, Dry-wet level 90% wet, Out gain to 0dB:

Fruity Phaser Settings For First Pad Sound

These kinds of settings add a slow and subtle sweep to the sound.

For some dense, drop Fruity Delay 2 to the effect chain, tweak as follows (and in the Mixer, drop the delay mix level a bit):

Fruity Delay 2 Settings For First Pad Sound

Delay Mix Level Settings For First Pad

Next, add Fruity Reeverb and program it like this: Decay to 8.7 seconds, HighDamping to OFF, Color to Warmer, HighCut to OFF, LowCut to OFF and Reverb signal level to 14%.

Fruity Reeverb Settings For First Pad Sound

This is a kind of big reverb as well. Turning LowCut and HighCut off ensures that no frequencies won’t be attenuated from the input signal (as that kind of cutting isn’t needed in this case) and disabling HighDamping disables the damping of the high frequencies in the reverb signal (yeah, I actually want those high-frequency reverb signals to existing in this sound example).

And finally, drop another instance of Fruity Phaser to the end of the effect chain. Idea is to try to reduce those slightly metallic tones (caused mostly by Reverb) with a fast (but subtle) phasing effect – almost like vibrato. Set the Phaser like this: Sweep freq. to 0.9 (that’s fast), Min depth to 0.03, Max dept to 0.4, Freq Range to Large, Stereo to 0.5, Nr.stages to 12, Feedback to 0, Dry-wet level to 95% wet, Output gain to 1.0dB:

Another Fruity Phaser For The First Pad Sound

Ok. Sound #2 is ready and this is how it sounds:

[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/First-Pad-Sound-Ready-Example.mp3]

Now, the final sound. This is going to be a pad sound as well. So, load a third instance of 3xOsc, assign it to a free mixer track, choose rounded saw as the oscillator shape for Osc 1, triangle for Osc 2, and rounded saw for Osc 3, set coarse tune to 0 semitones for each oscillator, root key to C6, Osc 1 fine tune to -14 cents, Osc 2 fine tune to +22 cents, Osc 3 fine tune to -10 cents and increase the Osc 3 volume a bit (all the way to 54%):

3xOsc Settings For Second Pad Sound

Enable the volume envelope by going to the INS and VOL -tabs and tweak the AHDSR controls like this:

Volume Envelope And Filter Settings For Second Pad Sound

Next, LFO modulate the pitch to add some vibrato (for adding more color to the sound) so head to PITCH -tab, and under the LFO, enable tempo-based time, set the Global -mode on, drop the Attack to zero, increase the LFO speed to make it sound like a slow’ish vibrato and turn the LFO Amount subtly to right:

Pitch Modulation Settings For The Second Pad Sound

Modulate the stereo panning via LFO as well (for making the stereo image sound bit more interesting) so go to PAN -tab, enable the tempo based time and tweak the Amount like shown in the pic:

Pan Modulation Settings For The Second Pan Sound

This’ll make the sound pan from left-to-right. Listen to this:

[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/Second-Pad-Sound-Example.mp3]

Now, open the Mixer, Drop Fruity Delay 2 to the 3xOsc #3 fx slot and tweak it like this:

Fruity Delay 2 Settings For The Second Pad Sound

Next, load Fruity Reeverb to the effect slot and set it like this: Deacy to 12.5 seconds, Predelay to 100 ms, HighDamping to OFF, RoomSize to 88, Reverb signal level to 14%:

Fruity Reeverb Settings For Second Pad Sound

And finally, drop Fruity Parametric EQ 2 to the effect chain and set it like this: choose filter type as High Pass for any of the bands (most likely for token number 1 like I’m using in the picture), set the Filter Slope to Gentle 8, Bandwidth to near 90% and frequency to 180-200Hz:

Fruity Paramateric EQ 2 Settings For The Second Pad Sound

This kind of EQ settings cuts frequencies below 200Hz and make the instrument sound thin which – in this case – makes it sit better with the first pad sound – and also damps some of the ‘ringing’ frequencies which might get annoying. Listen to the end results:

[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/Second-Pad-Sound-Example-Ready.mp3]

Now, layer all the three sounds together: add a Layer channel to the project and in the Step Sequencer, right-click on the 3xOsc channel selectors to select them all and click on ‘Set children’ in the Layer channel settings:

Layer All The Sounds Using Layer Channel

Open the Mixer and set the volume levels between the sounds in balance. Use the following volume settings: 3xOsc to -8.3dB, 3xOsc #2 to -2.7dB and 3xOsc #3 to -1.7dB:

Volume Level Settings For Lush Pad

Also, it might be a good idea to route all the 3xOsc mixer tracks to one insert track. This way you can control their volume level as a group via one fader:

Routing For Easier Volume Controlling

And we are done! Here is the end result:

[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/Lush-Pad-Ready.mp3]

This is the end of part one. Stay tuned for more Chill/Ambient sounds on part two!

Watch the video below and download the lush pad sound FL Studio 10 project file:

Download Lush Pad Sound FL Studio 10 Project File

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52 Comments

  1. Another awesome tutorial, I can’t wait to get home and try it out. FYI though, the last sound clip says”File not found” when I tried to pay it. I imagine it is identical to the very first sound clip though, so no big deal really.

      • brian nyaga on

        hey, im a producer and i got to say that this site has really helped me a lot in my electro productions the only thing i would want to know is how to structure and master an electro song…can u help me..

  2. Petri, thank you for sharing this with us. I’ve had such a long time looking for ways to create sounds like this from scratch.

    You’re building a legacy!

  3. This is great! I was looking to make a nice pad…well, right on time! Thanks a lot. πŸ™‚

  4. Joe Norero (La Dubstar) on

    I wanted to thank you so mush for the hard work you have put into the creation of the tutorials. I found them to be complete and inspiring.

  5. You learn from these tutorials 100 times better than just watching something out of youtube. Okay the interactivity is present there too, but in these tutorial you REALLY understand how things work and when you create lots of different beats & sounds from different genres, you really improve as a novice/wannabe/starting producer! Thanks Petri ever so much for these tutorials and keep posting cause you’re doing an amazing work for the electronic music lovers.

  6. Thankyou so much for these tutorials. I’d never have guessed the humble 3xOsc could produce such a beautiful sounding Pad. πŸ™‚

  7. I’m very excited to see this tutorial as the ambient/chillout genre is what I create so seeing how this is done makes me happy to create some other sounds and not relying on VST’s to do that for me.

  8. Awesome tutorial. I just love your work Petri. It took only about an hour to get all done.
    Including breaks I had. When might the second part come up πŸ˜›
    I am anxious to get further.

  9. You are a legend ,,,, so much info … I mean that is amazing …

    do you have a soundcloud page would love to listen to your tracks…

    Also would love to see a tutorial in swedish house…. as of now .. the swedish house sounds are rocking the world ……

    Cheers!

  10. Petri, your tutorials are amazing, I learn from these more than on youtube, thanks so much for spending your time putting these together. One question I have though, is what plugins to use to make Roger Shah-like balearic trance music, which I’ve had some trouble with. Any help is appreciated, and again, Thanks!!

  11. Max Golovanov on

    It’s a big sounding pad, for sure!

    I think there are not so many producers in EDM with ability to tweak & process 3xOcs in such an genius way!

    My vote goes for Petri as a 3xOcs Global Master! πŸ™‚

  12. I’ve been stalking your website for weeks now and just wanted to say thanks for all the tutorials! How did you learn all this?!

  13. Just listening to the preview and i have to say, this absolutely perfect and what I’ve been looking for for a long a time. I just love your tutorials so much its unbelievable!! πŸ˜€ i get so much inspiration! and i’m just wondering if you could make a tutorial for an avicii/basto! style song, or maybe just some tips. I know the basis of how to put it together and ive got the many different songs for it, but I do not know how to create the sounds.
    Example songs are:
    Basto! – Gregorys Theme
    Tim Berg – Seek Bromance (Avicii Remix)

    Petri, any advice is welcome and thanks again for these tutorials, i love them!!
    Thank you
    Chris

  14. Nicholas on

    I can’t seem to get the second pad right, and my older version of FL studio won’t open the FLP file :/
    Is is possible that you can export the pads/mixers as FST files so I may use them?

  15. thanks mate, although mine doesnt sound much like yours still sound good ( I guess il get there with practise)

  16. Thank you so much for putting up these tutorials.

    They have helped me out immensely with FL Studio.

    I have created a new song with this pad, and it sounds quite good. I am still an ameteur, and just hoping I can get better from here. Please tell me what you think! It’s called “cloudwatching”.
    http://soundcloud.com/kylegb/cloudwatching

  17. Zorathan on

    Hi, this is a great tutorial but I’m stuck.
    I’m trying to do the first sound detailed in this tutorial but it doesn’t sound anything like the sound you made. For some reason mine likes to keep on playing the “pluck” sound constantly, very fast. I don’t know how to fix this, I’ve gone through and double checked everything and it’s all set to how you made it. Please help~

  18. Great tutorial man. I may have done something wrong beacuse I got a lot of buzzing coming from osc #3. I changed the osc’s to square triangle and sine respectively while keeping the same settings. I got a more subtler ambient sound and the buzzing went away. Just thought I’d share.

  19. Virusling on

    Heya! Brilliant tutorial! Love it. But I have a little problem. Once I make the first Plucked sound with 3xOsc it ain’t sounding like yours, mine goes up higher and the notes start screaching my ears once I hold the note. I don’t know what I did wrong… been remaking the sound atleast 4 times now. Help! D:

    • Hey Virusling,

      When do you hear the screaching? Is it before or after turning on the Arpeggio? Maybe you’re setting the Arpeggio Range too high?

  20. Hi Petri,

    Thanks a million for your tutorials!

    Image line have a tutorial about making pad sounds from mono song:

    http://www.image-line.com/documents/news.php?entry_id=1294644864

    Since I don’t have such singing recorded anywhere I used your method as you described here as input in edison as image line suggests and using blur as they described. That worked nice. Also by doing so I can use this “lush pad” regardless of BPM. If I want to start a faster track with a lush nice pad melody and then continue with regular EDM in a faster tempo then it can be done without automating the tempo.

    πŸ™‚

    Regards,
    Jens

    • Hey Jens,

      Thanks for checking the tuts! 😎

      Yeah, the blur tool works great for pads. It can be used to make etheric pads/soundscapes on pretty much any material you feed into it.

      cheers!

  21. He Petri,
    Thank you so much for this awesome tutorial and sound! def going to use it in some new tracks!
    Cheers πŸ™‚
    Quentin

  22. Jared Smith on

    Hey Petri, these tutorial have been amazing. I sincerely can’t thank you enough.
    What I followed the steps in this tutorial, but then I put it in a minor key, sped up the tempo to 140 BPM, and added a drum loop, a violin, and a piano. But I’m feeling a bit stuck. I feel like I have a good project going here, but I’m sort of having EDM writer’s block. I want to layer in a lead synth somewhere, as well as a bass line, but it seems like they just don’t fit in. Any suggestions?
    Thanks again! πŸ˜€

  23. Hallo. Thanks for the tutorial. I was just wondering what chords you used in this specific tutorial.
    I followed the directions and maybe a singular note doesn’t bring out the higher notes (the pingpong sounding ones), so was just wondering if the rebounding high notes are only brought out during chords.

    • Hi Petri. Do you thimk I can reply your result with LMMS software? I’m just trying now but sems its not so easy …

  24. I followed this guide exactly but for some reason the actual sound of the pad for me is different, I use FL Studio 10. All the effects and what not work but the 3xoscs sound different….=( Other then that great guide.

  25. I realise this is quite an old tutorial, but this is my first time using Fruity Loops and I’ve succeeded in following your tutorial, however I’m not sure how to create the notes you have in your final sounclip? Could you please inform me on how I can achieve this, as I need to create a similar sound for a college project. Thanx a lot in advance.

  26. Whatever happened to the download link? I’ve wanted to examine it more closely, but it doesn’t take me to the file at all.

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