Syntorial Teaches Synth Programming & Sound Design

Last year, we covered a KickStarter project for Syntorial – an app designed to interactively teach you about synthesis.

The project was fully funded and Syntorial is now available


  • Learn by doing! Complete challenges by programming patches with Syntorial’s built-in synth.
  • 147 VIDEOS – Everything is taught through video demonstrations using the same synth that you’ll use in the challenges.
  • 706 PATCHES – By the end you will have programmed over 700 patches, from simple to complex, familiar to strange.
  • 64 SYNTH PARAMETERS – Syntorial covers the most common parameters found on most synths.
  • 33 ON YOUR OWN – Syntorial will give you periodic tasks to be carried out on your own with whatever synth(s) you use.
  • 39 QUIZZES – Multiple choice questions to help you retain and remember everything you learn.

Syntorial is available for Mac & Windows for $99.99. A demo version is available to try it for free. It contains the first 22 out of 199 lessons.

16 thoughts on “Syntorial Teaches Synth Programming & Sound Design

  1. My immediate reaction was that it’s a little redundant with the advent of youtube tutorials, but watching the video, it looks great. Unless the provided synth is really great on its own, it’s perhaps a little expensive, but the concept is brilliant.

  2. I just downloaded and played with the app for the last half hour. Finished all the demo lessons/challenges/tests with a perfect score on the first try… skipped a lot of the pop up videos though… Hooray me!!! lol

    First impressions: the app is good but VERY thourough/redundant… depending on your knowledge of synthesis and how good your ears are. For beginners, this is probably an amazing app. It’s fun to use, minus the monotonous pace of the videos….

    It might not be very educational for the real synth nerds out there. The app seems to be more about training your ears than actually learning synthesis techniques. The basics are covered, but the challenges are all on parroting back a synth preset based on A/B listening skills/trial and error.

    While looking through the paid lessons I didn’t have access to… I saw a few lessons on delays, some advanced modulation, and placing a preset within a virtual space (soundstage, reverb, whatever you wanna call it).

    My humble verdict: Good for beginners to intermediate guys, and people who want to train their ears. Not so much for modular guys, people into alternate forms of synthesis, guys looking for the history and hard science behind making sounds, or guys looking to emulate current sonic trends (this won’t show you how to specifically cater to a genre’s aesthetics or emulate your favorite artist)…

  3. Might I add that this app is an amazing idea, and could easily become a revolutionary product with some tweaks.

    A few ideas (I’m a teacher by day, so hope this helps):

    A more academic approach. More terminology, history (behind synth techniques, artists who first implemented them, etc), more science (waveform parts, freq, harmonics, overtones, waveshaping, crossfading, filter poles, diff types of noise, percussion sounds, etc.)

    A built in oscilloscope for the more advanced lessons.

    lessons on basic integration in a daw environment… cc#s, sysex, MIDI, etc… if their target market is beginners using plugins or their first hardware synth, it would be very beneficial.

    For the videos, have a person talking that you can see, hopefully using visual learning aids… staring at a blank screen while listening to guy talk in monotone is uninteresting.

    More advanced lessons or links to where customers could learn more. A possible partnership with an educational institution? College-level academic lessons on sound design or electronic music history?

    1. But is all the mathematical stuff really necessary? The biggest problem with most books and tutorials, in my opinion, is that they sprinkle you with technical information, bake you a mathematical soufflé and bathe it in a sauce of visual parameters. People start paying attention to the parameters themselves, rather than the sound – you know, getting ocd on these attack times and knob clocky clocks (I’m talking about the ‘resonance at 2 o’clock’, ‘cutoff at 4:20pm’, ‘sawtooth mix at noon’, et cetera, it’s just fucking nonsense).

      Some things, of course, you really do have to learn by repeating your buttocks off, like wrapping your head around modulation, mostly (other things are timbre-, rather than time-based, much easier to hear the difference and thus much easier to learn) – but they are very important performance and expression elements of a synthesizer, that is you must master them like tonguing on a clarinet or proper fingering on a classical guitar. Knowing about how a predecessor to clarinet looked like in the 15th century never helped one play better.

      The actual sonic result is more important for the layman – it also motivates one to keep learning, and later, if he finds himself really intrigued by synthesizers, he’ll find the technicalities himself – there’s lakes of info on the web and depths of a thousand tits in the books. You’re not going for GPA here, so bother first with primary results and then deepen your knowledge and start bending it ‘the right way’. The real synthesis begins, after all, when you put the technical stuff aside and focus on the sound.

    2. Hey Goku.

      I’m the developer of Syntorial, and I just wanted thank you for the candid feedback. You make a lot of good points.

      You’re definitely right in saying that it is more about the ear, and less about the science. We feel that there already is an abundant amount of science-focused info out there (like soundonsound’s synth secrets) so we wanted to focus on the missing ear-based stuff.

      In the future we want to add more specialized lessons, like ones focused on specific genres, specific producers/artists, as well as more advanced synth techniques like Granular, Physical Modeling, FM, etc. The lessons that come with Syntorial are what we believe to be the essentials of Subtractive synthesis (with a little FM). Which, yes, is very fit for beginner and intermediate.

      For advanced users, I would recommend this only if you feel the need to improve your ear’s ability to recognize the sounds, because as you pointed out Goku, it’s light on the science.

      That being said, I really like your suggestion about linking to places customers can learn more (maybe relevant Synth Secrets pages), as well partnering with college institutions. And some of the later lessons use visual cues (like the Filter Envelope and LFO lessons), but integrating them into the earlier lessons as well is something to think about.

      Again, thanks for you input.

      1. This program sounds like a fantastic idea! I teach Synthesis at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA and I’m very curious to see how I could incorporate this into my classes.

        1. Hey tronichord, I’d love to chat with you about implementing Syntorial in a classroom environment. I don’t think this comment board allows for posting of email addresses, so just go to Syntorial’s website and send me a message via the contact page.

      2. Wow. Thanks for the reply… Few developers would have done so. I’m glad the candid advice came out right; I was in no way knocking your product. Like I said before… this product could usher in a revolutionary way to teach synthesis (which until now has been relegated to the trial and error and academic crowd). I’m very impressed so far, and am definitely recommending Syntorial to my friends, co-workers, and students.

        Kudos on your excellent customer relations. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for future versions/updates.


  4. Well, I am a backer from Kickstarter and I’m using it for some weeks now. I really love it! I read about synthesis a lot on the net but as a musician I am used to trust my ears and this one by one approach is perfect for me.
    Goku is probably right in saying it’s for beginners to intermediate synth lovers.

    Cheers mates!

  5. I think some visual feedback is helpful as working in a daw requires us to link visual cues with sonic ones. There could be either three separate panes or switchable between oscilloscope, FFT, and spectral graph.

    There have been various ear testers to help engineers learn frequencies for EQ, etc. It does seem like a good idea to help synth programmers develop their ears.

    I think $99 isn’t unreasonable for a product with an expectation of expanding within the same version. But if there was to be another charge when they add advanced techniques, it might become prohibitive to the broke-assed kid who is saving up for their next plug-ini or modular or whatever.

  6. Sorry guys, hit the wrong key :/

    This seems like the app I always wanted to learn how to create sounds and understand how they are made just by listening to one sound, recognizing the sound character.

    If it have been cheaper, I would have bought it right away but 100$ are just too much for me at the moment and I think 100 bucks is quite a big amount of money for most of us (or am I the only one? In that case it would be great!)… So, I’ll pass for the moment, expecting wether a promo campaign with a lower price (hope I won’t missed it) or finding a job! (the second solution being the most desirable, but clearly unreal though…)

    Anyway, These guys really filled a gap and such app is way better than any Youtube pseudo tutorial video.
    Well done buddies! And I hope I’ll be able to catch the train ASAP!

    Kind Regards


  7. Hoping it’s not the case, 99 bucks were too expensive for me, so 129$ is just impossible for me…
    Too bad I loved the idea, but will have to pass on this one. It seems you at least miss 3 sure customers dudes 🙁

  8. I’m going to take the leap and buy this product tomorrow, it sounds exactly what I’m after.

    As for moving this product forward, I’m 100% sure this would work as an ipad app retailing between £10 and £20
    I would buy a second copy!

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