In 2013, EDM is most talked about the musical genre by some distance – but what is it, and how can you get the sound?
Every year seems to see one genre musical genre steal headlines more than any other, and this year EDM is that genre.
It seems to have come from nowhere, but EDM (Electronic Dance Music) is really a collective term for, er… dance music that is produced with electronic equipment (surprising, eh?)
Dubstep, House, Drum ‘n’ Bass- all fall under this umbrella term, which is pretty refreshing in this age of kaleidoscopic sub-genres.
However, if you want some tools to produce EDM, where should you look? Though it covers a huge spectrum of musical possibilities, there are generally key bits of gear involved.
Firstly, a computer running DAW software will be the hub of your set-up. You’ll almost certainly need an audio interface, too, and a controller keyboard.
Perhaps the key sonic element of EDM in (nearly) all its forms is synthesizer sounds.
Wondering where to start? Here are five great choices…
This new synth from renowned UK brand, Novation, resurrects the legendary Bass Station name. So, what makes it such a great synth for EDM?
Firstly, it’s an analogue synth, meaning that tonally it’s big, fat and warm, with the slight unpredictability that you don’t get with digital synths.
Secondly, despite its name, it’s a very versatile synth (much like its predecessors). It can produce huge bass sounds, great lead sounds, effects, and can run the full gamut from soft to aggressive.
Yes, it’s a mono synth, but with a DAW this isn’t really a problem.
Korg MS20 Mini
This diminutive recreation of the classic MS20 synth caused a huge stir when launched. The original has been a key synth in development of dance music’s sound (The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett is a huge fan, for example).
This new version has identical analogue circuitry, but with the addition of USB and MIDI connections, and housed in a smaller unit.
The semi-modular design is incredibly flexible, and the unique filter is capable of moving from subtle sweeps to edgy, gritty sounds.
It looks cool, too…
And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can always create your own synths and effects with Reaktor…
In an age where sound modules are becoming few and far between, the Integra-7 is something of an anomaly. However, in Roland’s typically maverick fashion, it has produced a truly cutting edge module for modern producers.
The easiest way to think of it is all of Roland’s best sounds, from all of its leading synths, pianos and drum kits, in a single box. It even contains all of the sounds from the classic XV-5080 module.
Add in the ability to place sounds in a 3D sonic space, a hugely powerful effects processor, and even the power to edit sounds wirelessly from an iPad app, and you’re still scratching the surface.
Sounds of every kind, all of the highest quality, make this an EDM powerhouse.
The ‘Nova’ brand is yet another revered synth line from Novation’s back catalogue. When it revived the synth technology in the form of the UltraNova, the synth world gasped. When it then offered it in the compact an affordable form of the MiniNova, the synth world collectively passed out, overcome with excitement.
Essentially, this virtual analogue synth is based on the same technology as the legendary SuperNova (you can even download a bank of SuperNova sounds for it for free).
However, it offers a very modern feature set to go with it. A USB socket makes integration into a modern studio easy, whilst a software editor makes ‘getting under the bonnet’ intuitive. And all with the classic sound of the Nova sound engine.
This is a great, affordable synth to add some magic to your EDM productions.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.