Soft focus — based on the Yamaha “instant shoegaze” setting

This is based on the Yamaha FX500 preset. Full disclosure: never heard this unit in person, most of the samples I could find were grainy as heck recordings of the rackmount unit going into an amp and then being recorded with a (bad) phone mic. I had a Keeley Loomer a few years back, and it had a Soft Focus-inspired patch, but I don’t remember it well enough to say whether I’ve done it justice.

It is, however, a pretty famous preset in the shoegaze world; Slowdive, in particular, is associated with the sound. So, what is it? A compressor feeds a delay with different times per side. After the delay comes a 100% mixed reverb (plate) which then goes into a dual stereo chorus somewhat akin to a Roland Dimension, with out-of-phase LFOs to minimize the sense of wobble.

The original preset features an EQ section; I omitted this for CPU purposes and because it didn’t seem to accomplish much. I did EQ the plate reverb, however, to try to restore a little of the effect (minor cut to lows, minor bump to highs). It also placed the delay after the reverb, but I found that this created a very unsavory modulation.

I don’t know if it’s a terribly exacting replica; in fact, see my comment above about sourcing, and you can tell I’m not sure I have a means of discerning whether it is. The reverb of the FX500 was very… early digital, which has its own sound; more clearly composed of discrete echoes. I thought about making a diffuser reverb to get a closer sound, but I think this certainly conjures a similar mood, so I put that idea aside. For what it’s worth, I tried the reverb lite, as it is a diffuser-based reverb, but I didn’t care much for the results.

The original and this patch as you load it are set to 100% wet. I included an audio balance so you can edit the mix (you could edit the preset on the FX500, but I don’t think anyone ever did).

This version is stereo throughout, unlike the original (which was mono-to-stereo; you can still use it mono-to-stereo, though).

I also came up with a couple stompswitch options:

Left stompswitch, momentary — increases the feedback of the delays above 0 dB (they start to gain volume); it’s sort of a swelling effect; obviously it can get quite loud if you hold down the stompswitch too long (don’t hold down the stompswitch too long)

Middle stompswitch, latching — introduces an envelope follower-controlled reverb freeze effect; still needs a little work (probably a gate, which will slurp up that CPU I have to play with) but the basic idea is that it freezes its buffer then releases it with new notes following a silence

Front page:

I moved the modulation controls to the front page (rate and depth). These affect the sound of the patch the most without changing it into something different. There are pixels on either side to show the changes in rate. The patch loads pretty close to the default settings on the Yamaha.

There is also a mix control at the top, and some pixels to indicate the state of the stompswitches.

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  • Modified: 1 month ago
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One comments on “Soft focus — based on the Yamaha “instant shoegaze” setting
  • Alexpp on said:

    Man, this is amazing… Thank you so much!

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