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Thriller - Heartbeat synth sound in the break?
Old 18th April 2015
  #1
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🎧 5 years
Thriller - Heartbeat synth sound in the break?

Hi all, I've been intrigued by this incredible synth pulse sound from Michael Jackson's Thriller track, here's an example of the sound: https://youtu.be/sOnqjkJTMaA?t=8m28s

Would anyone like to hazard a guess on how this sound was made?

Many thanks.
Old 18th April 2015
  #2
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
I'm sure I read somewhere that the Thriller album used 2 mini moogs sync together. It sounds moog'ish to me.
Old 18th April 2015
  #3
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tehlord's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Many moons ago I made a mock halloween track for an online challenge, part of that was me creating a heartbeat. From memory it was a reversed kick followed by two normal kicks and heavily low passed.

It's at the start of this track :-

https://soundcloud.com/bluffmunkey/the-reading
Old 18th April 2015
  #4
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xanax's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
minimoog using the filter-fm for formant sound
Old 18th April 2015 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by xanax ➑️
minimoog using the filter-fm for formant sound
sounds about right. such a sick texture.
Old 18th April 2015
  #6
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Probably Softube Heartbeat
Old 18th April 2015 | Show parent
  #7
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WozNYC's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by earwolf ➑️

Probably Softube Heartbeat

Old 18th April 2015
  #8
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nednerd's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Good question
Amazing sound.
Sounds like a stack of at least two synths to me.
Analog for the bass (P5 or Mini or SEM) + an early digital synth for the purr?
Old 19th April 2015 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 5 years
It does sound like two synths playing, one playing a simple sine bass (Probably the Jupiter 8 sound from the start of the song, easily made), but that modulated fluttery sound over the top just blows my mind! It does sound moogy though
Old 19th April 2015 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by xanax ➑️
minimoog using the filter-fm for formant sound
Thank you for the help! I'll research that more, and see what sounds I can come up with, many thanks
Old 19th April 2015
  #11
ValhallaDSP
 
seancostello's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
FM from a Synclavier? I have read that the sound at the beginning of "Beat It" was a Synclavier, and the "heartbeat" sound has a similar tone (mixed with Minimoog bass).
Old 19th April 2015
  #12
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lineofcontrol's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The beginning sound is Synclavier. I have that exact sound in a sample library...

here is a snippet
https://soundcloud.com/androiddreams...sample-beat-it
Old 20th April 2015
  #13
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xanax's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
^ right except this wasn't about beat it intro but thriller's heartbeat sound (thriller's intro is JP-8 btw)
Old 20th April 2015 | Show parent
  #14
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nednerd's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by seancostello ➑️
FM from a Synclavier? I have read that the sound at the beginning of "Beat It" was a Synclavier, and the "heartbeat" sound has a similar tone (mixed with Minimoog bass).
Exactly what I thought.
Sounds like either the Synclav or the DK Synergy
stacked on top of a super fat 2 or 3 OSC analog synth bass.
I just love these kinds of composite sounds!
Old 21st April 2015 | Show parent
  #15
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nednerd ➑️
Exactly what I thought.
Sounds like either the Synclav or the DK Synergy
stacked on top of a super fat 2 or 3 OSC analog synth bass.
I just love these kinds of composite sounds!
Tell me about it! The work that went into the sounds of Michael's records was tremendous. Annoyingly, I can't find a single VST/Software based emulation of a Synclavier or the DK Synergy /:
Old 28th April 2015
  #16
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Dysanfel's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I don't know if anyone has noticed, but the sound in "Double Dutch Bus" By Frankie Smith is stylistically similar to this sound in Thriller. Not exactly the same rhythm, but I bet Jackson heard this track. Looking at the dates "Double Dutch Bus" was released when Michael was probably already working on Thriller. "Double Dutch Bus" was released Feb 1981, and "Thriller" November 1982.

Maybe I am wrong, but I hear it.

Last edited by Dysanfel; 28th April 2015 at 01:29 AM..
Old 1st May 2015 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Norm Spups ➑️
Annoyingly, I can't find a single VST/Software based emulation of a Synclavier or the DK Synergy /:
I'm working on a VSTi which is similar to the FM part of the synclavier. Not an exact copy, but (very) inspired by the SII. There's much work left (it's my first attempt to make a VSTi ), but I think next year it'll be finished.
Old 7th December 2015
  #18
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🎧 5 years
Got it on Retro Synth - MainStage. Two square oscillators synced with wide, quick LFO.
Old 7th December 2015
  #19
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monomer's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The bass part of the sound seems to be completely separate from the crunchy sound on top. Notice how the bass sound continues unchanged after the break while the cruncy sound disappears.
To me the crunchy sound has something FM-ish so i would be inclined to say synclavier as well.
Old 26th November 2016
  #20
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🎧 5 years
https://youtu.be/L5X9qvkGR3o
Old 28th November 2016
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
Elsongs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Norm Spups ➑️
Hi all, I've been intrigued by this incredible synth pulse sound from Michael Jackson's Thriller track, here's an example of the sound: https://youtu.be/sOnqjkJTMaA?t=8m28s

Would anyone like to hazard a guess on how this sound was made?

Many thanks.
It's funny how you describe this as a "heartbeat" sound. I always thought it sounded like frogs croaking.
Old 6th February 2017
  #22
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Anybody ever figure out how to make this sound or where it originates from? I have a Moog sub 37 and didn't really come close. Tried modulating the filter with a fast lfo, tried syncing the OSCs, turn the resonance up, down, fiddled with the filter cutoff etc. Doesnt really sound like it though. Been searching the web where people suggest Ring mod or even a band pass filter, but considering they used mostly straight forward sounds I don't know if that's the answer. Any help would be great, thanks.
Old 6th February 2017
  #23
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nednerd's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
As was established above it is very likely a combination of a digital FM for the pulse and an analogue synth for the bass.

I vaguely remember a Synclavier preset called "phone" or "purr" that sounded like it.
I probably have it on a 5 1/4" floppy disk in the basement somewhere
Old 6th February 2017 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nednerd ➑️
As was established above it is very likely a combination of a digital FM for the pulse and an analogue synth for the bass.

I vaguely remember a Synclavier preset called "phone" or "purr" that sounded like it.
I probably have it on a 5 1/4" floppy disk in the basement somewhere
So probably a Synclavier preset since the DX7 didn't come out yet?
Old 6th February 2017
  #25
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acreil's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I thought it was actually the "Frog" tone from either the Casiotone 403, 101 or MT-60. I swear I saw a scan of a track sheet at some point that hinted at this, but I can't find it now.

You can hear the frog sound here at 5:09


I actually went as far as comparing the waveforms; I don't think my forensic analysis would necessarily be admissible in court, but it does suggest that this is actually the same sound. In both cases there's a distinct pattern of pulses with four high peaks and four low peaks that cover one fourth of the total waveform period.

Edit: the Casiotone 301 and 401 also have a "Frog" tone, although the hardware is different. I don't know how similar the sound is. Also I thought I'd saved those images as .png files. JPEG artifacts are gross.
Attached Thumbnails
Thriller - Heartbeat synth sound in the break?-frog.jpg   Thriller - Heartbeat synth sound in the break?-thriller_frog.jpg  

Last edited by acreil; 6th February 2017 at 10:41 PM..
Old 6th February 2017
  #26
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Musician's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Its a moog bass layered with a sine wave put through a RING MODULATOR. That's the thing that makes the "frog squeek" sound.
Old 7th February 2017 | Show parent
  #27
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musician ➑️
Its a moog bass layered with a sine wave put through a RING MODULATOR. That's the thing that makes the "frog squeek" sound.
What ring modulator did they have back then?
Old 7th February 2017 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by acreil ➑️
I thought it was actually the "Frog" tone from either the Casiotone 403, 101 or MT-60. I swear I saw a scan of a track sheet at some point that hinted at this, but I can't find it now.

You can hear the frog sound here at 5:09


I actually went as far as comparing the waveforms; I don't think my forensic analysis would necessarily be admissible in court, but it does suggest that this is actually the same sound. In both cases there's a distinct pattern of pulses with four high peaks and four low peaks that cover one fourth of the total waveform period.

Edit: the Casiotone 301 and 401 also have a "Frog" tone, although the hardware is different. I don't know how similar the sound is. Also I thought I'd saved those images as .png files. JPEG artifacts are gross.

Oh thanks for the info. I don't know that Casiotone keyboard. I'll look it up thanks.
Old 7th February 2017 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by acreil ➑️
I thought it was actually the "Frog" tone from either the Casiotone 403, 101 or MT-60. I swear I saw a scan of a track sheet at some point that hinted at this, but I can't find it now.

You can hear the frog sound here at 5:09


I actually went as far as comparing the waveforms; I don't think my forensic analysis would necessarily be admissible in court, but it does suggest that this is actually the same sound. In both cases there's a distinct pattern of pulses with four high peaks and four low peaks that cover one fourth of the total waveform period.

Edit: the Casiotone 301 and 401 also have a "Frog" tone, although the hardware is different. I don't know how similar the sound is. Also I thought I'd saved those images as .png files. JPEG artifacts are gross.
The guy is playing kinda quickly, but it sounds like it to me. Not sure if it's ring mod or not. That Casio is pretty cheap sounding, any idea how it creates that Frog sound? I read it's only 2 osc.
Old 7th February 2017
  #30
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acreil's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Esemjayes ➑️
The guy is playing kinda quickly, but it sounds like it to me. Not sure if it's ring mod or not. That Casio is pretty cheap sounding, any idea how it creates that Frog sound? I read it's only 2 osc.
Most of the early Casio models work by playing two very low resolution digital waveforms with independent amplitude envelopes. It's not really two oscillators since they can't be detuned. It's a unique and strange sound that can't really be reproduced by anything else, but it isn't really complicated.

I was able to isolate the "frog" waveform better by finding all the clearly audible occurrences, then aligning and summing them. This effectively increases the gain by about 16 dB total since they're correlated and everything else is mostly uncorrelated. Even though it's layered with other bass sounds at the same pitch, they're not going to be consistently in phase.

I also looked around for examples of the Casiotone 301/401 frog sound, since they don't use the same ICs as the other models. The sound appears to be the same.

The Casio waveform doesn't look exactly like the isolated Thriller waveform, but while looking for sound samples I came across an example of the Casiotone 301 recorded by a microphone. That actually looks much closer to the Thriller waveform. So it's possible that they recorded the keyboard with a mic, or maybe it's just the cumulative effect of equalization, recording to tape, etc. I'm pretty confident though that this is the right sound.

And it turns out that gearslutz automatically converts attached images to .jpg...
Attached Thumbnails
Thriller - Heartbeat synth sound in the break?-thriller_frog2.jpg  
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