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Layering Advice

fori
This is my first time using a synth with such a heavy emphasis on layering. Does anyone have advice on how to make the most effective use of layers? Can you recommend any good tutorials?

Whenever I search for videos on layering, it's people in Ableton and their advice is about matching sounds together that have different timbres and are concentrated in different frequency spectrums. That's all fine and well, but I want to know things like:
1. What is the trick to ensuring that the layers sound like one sound and not multiple separate instruments being played at the same time?
2. It seems like layers can be used for added movement; what else do they bring to a sound? Like what is the purpose of using multiple layers in, say, a piano patch, and how does one go about programming something like this? (I should maybe add that I have many years of experience with the DX7 and FM in general so I'm not asking, how do you make an FM piano patch? I'm asking how do you approach a patch that is built with multiple layers?)
KODAMO
1. What is the trick to ensuring that the layers sound like one sound and not multiple separate instruments being played at the same time?

The difference between a seemingly unique sound and two layered ones is mainly due to psycho-acoustics. Ears expect to get some coherency between harmonics, with multiples of the fundamental and some relationship patterns between them. It's a really complex subject. For sound design however, it doesn't really matter as it simply needs to sound "good", and often when layering sounds and starting tweaking/playing with them, they'll start to blend together. It's the same as playing with two oscs of an analog synth, they can be heared as separate tones but as you play some notes the ear quickly notices how both tones follows the same note then blends them together.

2. It seems like layers can be used for added movement; what else do they bring to a sound? Like what is the purpose of using multiple layers in, say, a piano patch, and how does one go about programming something like this? (I should maybe add that I have many years of experience with the DX7 and FM in general so I'm not asking, how do you make an FM piano patch? I'm asking how do you approach a patch that is built with multiple layers?)


It's the same as having multiple groups of operators inside a single voice (eg. two groups of 3 stacks), it's often used to split the sound into several pieces to make sound design easier. For example for a piano, you can separate the hammer impact noise from the string resonance. 3 operators will do the hammer, the remaining 3 will do the resonance. However 3 operators can be limiting, so on the EssenceFM you can create a "hammer noise" voice that will use 6 op, and a "string resonance" voice that will also use 6 op, and layer them together to get the final sound. Since you have so many layers/polyphony available, you can also use additional layers to simulate sympathetic resonance. You can also split the sound into low/mid/high ranges with crossfade built into them, to make a better tone across the keyboard (piano is notoriously hard to emulate, due to timbral changes between the lows and highs, and also due to timbral variation depending on velocity!)

Layering can also be used to thicken the sound, with some duplicate layers slightly detuned with different pannings.
fori
This is a super thorough/helpful answer to my question. Thank you!

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