How To Use Layering To Make Your Leads Sound Huge

How To Use Layering To Make Your Leads Sound HugeLayering is a quick and simple way to make your leads (and pretty much anything) sound huge and diverse. Basically, layering is a technique where you use two or more different sounds or instruments together to play the same melody or chord. Layering is much used in single drum sounds as well. Anything can be actually layered and if you add in a little bit of panning, eq, reverb and delay, you can make things sound really strong and full.

In this tutorial I will show you how you can use TAL-NoiseMaker (it’s a freeware VST synth), layering, routing and couple of FL Studio effects to achieve that wide and huge stereo lead sound you can hear on those professional EDM tracks, mostly in trance.

Let’s get started.

There’s actually two ways to layer and control your layered instruments: with MIDI out plugin and/or via Layer channels. I will show you both methods, but first I’m going to concentrate on the MIDI out plugin so load it first. It’s one of the native FL Studio plugins and does not make or contain any sound on its own. It just acts as a MIDI controller, sending standard MIDI messages (like note data) to other plugins or external hardware.

When you are using two or three units of VST synths playing the exact same notes and melody, it’s easier and faster to control their note data all at once using one MIDI out plugin than copying & pasting & editing the same melody  for each synth separately.

Also, you can play all the layered instruments together live via the MIDI out plugin by using your MIDI keyboard or the typing keyboard to piano keyboard -function in FL Studio – much like you would play just one instrument only you are using a layer of several instruments.

However, if you wan’t to play the melody on different octaves for each instrument, then it might be better idea to compose all the melodies separately for each instrument unit.

Okay. Open the MIDI out plugin. Leave the port number to 0. The port number defines into which port of the VST plugin MIDI out plugin sends the MIDI data.

MIDI Out PluginNext, open up the first unit of TAL-NoiseMaker, click on the Wrapping settings (little icon on the upper left corner of the plugin window) and under the MIDI section, set the Input port number to 0 (Matching with the MIDI out plugin port number). This is to make the plugin accept MIDI data from the MIDI out plugin.

Wrapping Settings For The TAL-NoiseMakerNow, exit from the TAL-NoiseMaker Wrapping settings and choose a preset titled “LD We Felt Digital TUC”. Open the Channel settings and assign this first unit of TAL-NoiseMaker to an empty mixer track.

Assign The TAL-NoiseMaker To Free Mixer TrackOpen the mixer and set the mixer track settings of the first unit of TAL-NoiseMaker like this: volume level to 0.0dB, panning to center. Add Fruity Parametric EQ 2 to the fx slot and use low shelf filter to boost the low and a little:

Mixer Track Settings Of The First Unit Of TAL-NoiseMaker

Fruity Parametric EQ 2 Settings Of The First Unit Of TAL-NoiseMakerNext, add an empty pattern to the Playlist view, open the Piano Roll view of the MIDI out plugin and create a lead run like shown below:

Lead MelodyThis is how it sounds so far:

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Ok. Add another unit of TAL-NoiseMaker. Again, open up the Wrapping settings and set the MIDI input port to 0. Load a preset called “KB Big Synth FN”. Also, via the Channel settings, assign this second unit of TAL-NoiseMaker to an empty mixer track as well.

Here are the mixer track settings for the second unit of TAL-NoiseMaker: volume level -2.8dB, panning 64% left.

Mixer Track Settings Of The Second Unit Of TAL-NoiseMakerThis is how it sounds now:

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Next, add a third unit of TAL-NoiseMaker. And again, open up the Wrapping settings and set the MIDI input port to 0. Load a preset “LD Breadbin Burble AS”. Assign this unit of TAL-NoiseMaker to an empty mixer track, and set the mixer track settings as follows: volum level -2.8dB, panning 56% right. Add Fruity Parametriq EQ 2 into the fx slot and use high pass filter to roll off the low frequencies from 145Hz and below:

Mixer Track Settings Of The Third Unit Of TAL-NoiseMaker

Fruity Parametric EQ 2 Settings Of The Third Unit Of TAL-NoiseMakerThis is how it sounds so far:

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Now, route all the mixer tracks to one empty mixer track. What the routing does is that it sends the audio output of the routed track to a specified mixer track and from there to master mixer track. This is particulary useful feature when you start to mix in other instruments as you can control the volume level of all the three layered instruments at once. Also, you can add compression, eq, reverb and other effects to the routing track and it will affect to all the instruments at once. Putting gentle compression or reverb to the routing track, for example, is a great way to “tie” all the layered sounds together.

Remember though, that you can still control the volume levels of all the individual mixer tracks, add fx etc. even if they are routed.

Allright. The routing is done as follows: in the mixer view, click on one of the mixer tracks where the TAL-NoiseMaker unit is assigned to. Hoover the mouse over an empty mixer track and right click the little arrow icon that is about a halfway of the volume slider bar and choose “Route to this track only” from the pop-up menu.

Do the same for all the TAL-NoiseMaker mixer tracks. Route them all to the same empty mixer track.

Route Mixer Tracks To An Empty Mixer TrackNow click on the mixer track you routed the other mixer tracks and set it as follows: volume level to 0.0dB, panning to center, stereo separation (that little knob below the pan controller, used for widening the stereo image) to 17% separated (turn it left):

Routing Mixer Track SettingsAlso, add Fruity Delay 2 to the fx slot. This will add ethereal atmosphere to the layered sound and as we are using Ping Pong delay and hard panning it also helps to widen the stereo image. Set the fx mix level to 42% and use the following settings:

Fruity Delay 2 Settings For The Routing Mixer TrackNext, add Fruity Reeverb 2 to the second fx slot. This is here to add sense of space, to make things sound even more huge. Set the mix level to 32% and use the following settings:

Fruity Reeverb 2 Settings For The Routing Mixer TrackAnd last but not least, add Soundgoodizer to the third fx slot for beefing up things a little. Use the following settings:

Soundgoodizer Settings For The Routing Mixer TrackOkay, we are all set and this is how the whole lead melody with layering and effects sounds:

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That’s pretty much it.

Now to the alternative layering method (this is actually easier to set up).

Instead of using MIDI out plugin for controlling all the VST instruments at once, you  can replace it with a Layer channel. Basically Layer channel does the same what MIDI out plugin:  it passes note data from its Piano roll and controller input to any number of other channels which are called child channels. So in this example, you can set all the three units of TAL-NoiseMakers to be as child channels for the Layer channel. After that, all the notes played on a Layer Channel are passed to all children channels of that Channel. And if you activate the Layer channel, you can play all your children channel instruments at once with your MIDI keyboard or by using your typing keyboard – just like you would do with the MIDI out plugin.

Here’s how you set the Layer channel and children channels. So instead of loading MIDI out plugin, add a Layer channel:

Add A Layer ChannelLoad the TAL-NoiseMakers:

Load TAL NoiserMakersSet the TAL-NoiseMakers as “children” for the Layer channel:

Set The TAL NoiseMakers As Children For The Layer ChannelOpen the Piano roll view of the Layer channel:

Open The Piano Roll View Of The Layer ChannelAnd start adding notes:

Start Adding Notes(Credit to TheSpanningTree for broughting up this Layer channel tip!)

That’s it.

So what we just did here we:

  • Layered three different instruments together by using three units of  TAL-NoiseMakers
  • Controlled the notes of all the instruments at once by using MIDI out plugin or Layer channel
  • Panned the sound of two different instruments to left and right for creating a nice, wide stereo image
  • Routed the audio output of all three TAL-NoiseMakers to one mixer track for easier control over the volume level, “tied” the sounds together and widened the stereo image even more with delay and reverb effects.

Finally, here’s the FL Studio project files of this tutorial for you to experiment with (TAL-NoiseMaker is required). I’m sharing project files for both layering methods: one with the MIDI out plugin and one with Layer channels.

Download The FL Studio Project File Using MIDI Out Plugin

Download The FL Studio Project File Using Layer Channel

About Petri Suhonen

Petri Suhonen is an electronic music hobbyist. He has been producing music with computers over a decade on such styles as trance, downtempo, ambient & experimental electronic using FL Studio.

Comments

  1. Okay, fixed the download link for the .flp project file sot it’s working now! :)

  2. I have a much simpler, but basically the same method. Goto channels>add one>layer click the layer channel then select the three tal noise makers and and on the layer press set children. now you can just use the layer as the main instrument and it will play all children at once.

    • Thanks for broughting this up, Seth, awesome tip! Yeah, it’s actually quicker to use layer channels for controlling several instruments/sounds at once. I think I’m going to add this to the tutorial… ;)

      • Okay, added it to the tutorial. Thanks again, Seth!

      • Sick of peoples lack of intelligence... says:

        broughting?

        Try “BRINGING” you friggin’ ape. Learn to speak English!

        • Thanks for your irrelevant and rude comment, dickhead. Feeling better person now? In case you’re too stupid to understand it (and based on your comment, you most likely are), your comment was disrespectful and indicates a complete lack of manners.

          I admit my grammar is far from perfect. English is not my native language so it’s very time consuming for me to write text in understandable english let alone create these tutorials which takes majority of my freetime btw, and idiots like you aren’t making it any easier.

          I think you’re probably one of those typical internet-age nitpicker deadbeats who’s either trying to be smart or boost low self esteem by sitting all day long in front of computer, hiding behind nicknames and leaving stupid and harsh comments on peoples websites. It’s people like you who makes the Internet a bad place. And I’m sick of it. Sick of people like you.

          I hope you piss off now.

          Have a nice day.

          • Chonburi Sam says:

            Lmao. Very well said Petri. Just ignore people like that. They scour the internet looking for opportunities to feel better about themselves. Thanks for the awesome tutorial, I’ve been wondering why my synths have been lacking in body!

          • Ryan C. says:

            Just ignore that fool Petri, he has no manners. Thank you kindly for your tutorial as it is truly enlightening. I would love to hear some of the tracks you have made with FL studio. I too have been using it to make electronic beats and such. Thank you again for your tutorial!

            Cheers,
            Ryan C.

        • Rush. says:

          You imbecile saying that. Sticking up for Petri here for all of the amazing tutorials he has obviously put a huge amount of time and effort into to help anyone and then some brat like you has to say that. Leave this world of music immediately.

  3. No Problem, Very Nice tutorial though. How do you add those speech bubbles?

  4. Ironic, we use that at work…never thought of using it for this.

  5. Nice helpful tutorial :) I’ve used the layer channel a few times with drum hits but never with a lead. I will have to try this out today! Oh and I knew you could use the midi out, but never knew how to do it, so thanks!

  6. Aung Myin says:

    Hi Petri,
    Your tutorials & guidelines are very helpful in my daily music production!!!!!
    Thank you so much for kindly sharing your knowledge

  7. Erik Nilsson says:

    Hey Petri.
    Let me begin by saying thank you and what a great tutorial!
    I have a few questions. You come across as very specific in some of your settings. For example, your pans for the two other synths were 64% left and 56% right. What is the reason for these exact amounts. Is there a certain guideline one should be following or is it what you felt sounded the best? I noticed you did the same for volume and fx mix levels. What exactly does this do (I have no idea what the fx mix level is :P)?
    Last question, and I apologize about the length of my comment, but coming from a house producing point of view, where would you have this lead in the song?

    Thank you :)

    • Hey Erik, I just used those specific settings because they sounded good to my ears. When I produce, I pretty much rely on my ears and what sounds good. :)

      The fx mix level controls the wet/dry (processed/non-processed) level of the effect. But I have to say that BEST practice is to always use the wet/dry controller from WITHIN the effect plugin itself and not with the fx mixe level -knob because most plugins will have processing delay which may lead to a thing called phase cancellation (that makes the audio sound hollow if you know what I mean) as the wet signal slightly lags the dry signal. However I’ve been using it (I actually dont know why lol, maybe because its so ‘quick’ to use) with such effects as Fruity Reeverb 2 & Fruity Delay 2 and haven’t yet noticed any phase cancellation issues.

      hope this helps!

  8. downtownhumanoid says:

    another great and helpful tutorial. even though i rarely listen to trance or house (let alone produce them) i always gain insight from your tutorials because they are always applicable to ALL styles of music. your tutorials are, without a doubt, the best tutorials for fruity loops. what makes your tutorials so freakin fantastical is that you EXPLAIN everything you are doing; they WHYS, the HOWS and the WHERES. keep em coming! peace

  9. Tony says:

    Very nice tutorial mate! Very, very nice.

  10. John says:

    Really helpfull tut.
    Just stumpled across this HP, and this is really some interesting tuts thats in here, they can really help me alot cause im still new in Fl studio.

    Was just wondering, this pattern you made in this tut (http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Lead-Melody-Full.jpg)
    Is it from some kinda track, or just something you came up with making this? cause really sounds awsome if you make it with your own sounds (just tryed it ;) )

  11. ibrahim says:

    awesome tutorial, petri

    i love the way you show your tutorials
    i follow them all and it works just fine
    and i lear so much from you,
    keep it up!!!
    and add more tutorials, if you have time
    because, you are the best,
    and it’s so clearly, your tutorials.
    thx, KEEP IT UP!!!!!

  12. Rickard says:

    My god what a good work you are doing here! :) Thanks for taking your time to make these tutorials, they have learned and helped me a lot, and Im sure many others too. Keep up the good work. \../,

  13. Peter says:

    Hey Petri, this is my first week experimenting EDM, with your tutorials I really learnt alot.
    But I am confronting a problem now, with this particular tute I keep on having CPU overload problem/overrun?
    Anyway to solve it?
    Thanks

    • Hello Peter,

      This tuto shouldn’t stress a lot of your CPU.. are you having the latest version of TAL NoiseMaker? Also, what kind of specs your computer has?

  14. Erez says:

    Hey, great tutorial as usual :)

    Ironically, I learned another way to layer effectivley, and i was sure you will mention it here – because i actually learnt it from you :)

    I’m talking about Fruity Patcher, am I correct? is it possible?

  15. Paul says:

    Hey! Hmm damn men ive been producing for say 3 years now mostly dutch house and wow your tutorials are the best on the internet :) very cool ive been looking for a tutorial like this one for say 3 weeks lol trying to find a way to get a fat ass texture to my leads. this tut really heped me men thanks.

    …PS DJ Smok3y B3ar

  16. james sayle says:

    Hi Petri,
    Great tutorial,I was wondering if it is possible to copy a pattern a few times and simply have different instruments playing each copied pattern?would this work,if it did it should be more simple than layering?
    Thankyou

  17. southwestson says:

    petri..u are d besssssstt..i pray God make u bigger!!!

  18. Logan says:

    hi Petri,
    I’ve just started making edm few months ago and
    love your tutorials.
    they are very helpful for me as a beginner. I just want to know which sounds I can use for trance music.
    thank you.

  19. VineRs says:

    Another great tut bro thanks a lot, i’ll try it with sylenth1.
    I request you to dedicate one tut on melodic big room drops like axwell, alesso, avicii, basto, etc.

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