Sytrus Tutorial: Make Progressive House Stabs

In this Sytrus tutorial, you’ll learn how to make a stab synth. A stab is a sound commonly used in progressive house and trance tracks. They’re usually used in broken chord progressions, and have quick attack and release times. This means they reach full volume very quickly and then come back down to zero volume relatively fast too. You can see below that the volume envelope of a stab looks like a sharp knife or blade, hence the name.

sytrus tutorial stab volume envelope

Be careful with these.

If you’re a fan of progressive house or trance, you’ll instantly recognize the stabs in a track. The intro in the Kaskade remix below has a great example.

Step 1: Open Up a Default Sytrus in Channel Rack

Refer to Step 1 of Make an Epic Trance Pad tutorial if you need help.

Step 2: Set Operator 1 Timbre

  1. In Styrus, click on the OP 1 tab
  2. Make sure CENTER and DECLICK are checked
  3. Move the shape slider (SH) up to the half way mark to create a saw wave
  4. With the OP 1 tab still highlighted, go the OSC tab
  5. Set harmonics (2x, 4x, 8x, 16x, 32x) at or near levels shown below

Step 3: Set Operator 1 Volume Envelope

  1. With OP 1 still highlighted, click VOL tab and then ENV tab right below it
  2. With the pencil (Step editing) in envelope window highlighted, right-click and drag across the default volume envelope to delete it 
  3. Make sure TEMPO and “Enable envelope” buttons are checked
  4. Create the sharp stab shape as shown above
    1. Make sure the Snap to grid (magnet) is highlighted
    2. Turn off Step editing (pencil)
    3. Right-click to make a new point
    4. click and drag points to new positions
    5. click and drag tension point if needed
    6. see the How to Use Automation Clips operations section for more details if needed

Step 4: Set Operator 2 Tibre

  1. In Styrus, click on the OP 2 tab
  2. Make sure CENTER and DECLICK are checked
  3. Move the shape slider (SH) up to the half way mark to create a saw wave
  4. Set TN (tension) slider to 28% 
  5. Set SK (skew) slider to 100%
  6. With the OP 2 tab still highlighted, go the OSC tab
  7. Set harmonic 4x to 100%

Step 5: Set Operator 2 Volume Envelope

We want the same stab shape for this operator too. Rather than go through Step 3 again with OP 2, here’s a shortcut:

  1. Go to OP 1 VOL ENV tab from earlier
  2. Click the small arrow next to GLOBAL
  3. Click “Copy state”
  4. Go to OP 2 VOL ENV tab
  5. Click the same small arrow
  6. Click “Paste state”

Step 6: FX Tab Settings

  1. Go to the FX tab
  2. Change ORD in the chorus settings to 3
  3. Click the R to access the reverb tab
    1. Check the ON and TEMPO buttons
    2. Change COLOR to W+
  4. Click D1 to access the 1st delay tab
    1. Check ON and TEMPO

Step 7: FILTER 1 Tab Settings

We’re going to apply a low-pass filter with a cutoff envelope that mirrors the volume envelopes of the two operators.

  1. Go to the FILTER 1 tab
  2. Click CUT tab to automate the filter cutoff frequency
  3. ENV tab to automate the filter cutoff frequency using an envelope
  4. Click on the special arrow next to GLOBAL
  5. You should still have the volume envelope state saved on your clipboard. Click “Paste state” to apply the stab shape to the filter cutoff envelope

Step 8: Sytrus Operator Matrix Settings

Almost done. Columns labeled 1 and 2 are your OP 1 and OP 2 signals. We need to send them through the filter first, then through the FX processor, and then out of Sytrus.

  1. At the intersection between row F1 and columns 1 and 2, turn both knobs to 58%
  2. Mix in the FX at about 80%
  3. and last turn OUT to 100%

sytrus tutorial fm matrix

OK we’re all done. You should have something that sounds like this:

And here’s the same sound in a track I put together:

If you like it, make sure to save your preset by clicking the top left arrow in your Sytrus window and clicking “Save preset as”

Sytrus Tutorial Conclusions

You should now have a nice stab to work with in your trance/progressive productions. Feel free to tweak it to your liking and share with others! You can also find this preset here.


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