The Make Noise 0-Coast is a powerful desktop synthesizer that makes it easy to quickly create complex sounds using both East and West Coast synthesis techniques. The synth fits a lot into a small package! With two channels of MIDI to CV and MIDI to gate options, 0-COAST is capable of creating complex synth sounds in any style.

We recently spoke with Walker Farrell from Make Noise (you may know him as the voice of these tutorial videos) to learn more about how to make music using the 0-Coast. Read on to learn 10 different ways to use the 0-Coast synthesizer in your studio from simple synthesis creation tips to complex arpeggiated patches.

1. Playing 0-Coast with the 0-CTRL

Make Noise recently released the 0-CTRL, a new controller and step sequencer designed to work seamlessly with the 0-Coast synthesizer.

WF: “I’ve been playing the 0-Coast with the 0-CTRL a lot recently. I play it like it’s a keyboard, but one thing I love about the 0-CTRL rather than a keyboard is that you can set each of the steps to any note.

I often set it up so that the notes aren’t distributed from low to high like a traditional keyboard. Instead, I might have lower notes in the middle and higher notes on the outside or even staggered. This helps get my fingers out of whatever rut or paradigm I’ve been in playing keyboards. It allows me to find melodies by feeling them out instead of playing what I might with a keyboard.”

For more info on how to set up this patch, check out the 0-CTRL Patch of the Week #1: Playing Notes by Hand video below:


2. Sequencing with the 0-CTRL

WF: “The 0-CTRL is also a sequencer, and it’s designed to be patched directly to the 0-Coast. In fact, we’ve made sure that all of the jacks that are most likely to patch into particular inputs on the 0-Coast are in the same horizontal position on the 0-CTRL, so it patches really quickly.

For example, we send the envelope output directly to the dynamic CV input on the 0-Coast. While sequencing, you have a set of envelopes that you can adjust using the strength row. It makes it really easy to create dynamic sequences that change both dynamically and rhythmically with the strength and time rows.

You can also use the touch plates to ‘play’ the sequence by interrupting it and jumping around or holding the sequence on one note for a few seconds.”

For more info on how to set up this patch, check out the 0-CTRL Patch of the Week #2: Sequencing video below:


3. Creating Basslines with 0-Coast

WF: “I really love playing baselines on the 0-Coast because it has such a different sound from other mono synths that I play. Since it’s not dependent on a resonant filter—it doesn’t even have one—it gives me a different set of timbres.

One thing I really love to do is use the slope circuit to emulate a sawtooth wave and mix that in with the folded wave that we get on the overtone output. Then I’ll patch the square wave from the main oscillator into the trigger input on the slope circuit, which will basically make it into a synced sawtooth wave that I can play alongside with the main oscillator. It can create some pretty gnarly bass sounds that are a lot of fun to play with.”

For more info on how to set up this patch, check out the Patch of the Week #3: Sync Bass video below:


4. Krell Patch

WF: “A popular patch that a lot of people will make when they first get a 0-Coast is called the Krell patch, which lets the instrument play itself without any input from you at all. It’s just one of a number of ways to do self-patching where the 0-Coast is playing itself and generating slow, ethereal music over time.

Whenever we do a 0-Coast workshop, we’ll have six to eight people sitting at a table with 0-Coasts and show them how to build different circuits. We always start with all of them patched up with the Krell patch so that people can start manipulating the sound without having to do much work.

Todd Barton invented this patch based on the feel of the ‘Ancient Krell music’ from the 1956 sci-fi film Forbidden Planet, famously scored by Bebe and Louis Barron—then I translated a simplified version to the 0-Coast.

The basic concept is that the random voltage generator is patched through the voltage math, to both the pitch and the time control on the slope circuit. This means that each new random voltage will create a note of random length and pitch. The slope gate output is clocking the random voltage generator so it’s always selecting a new length and pitch at the exact end of each note. It just sort of plays new randomly selected notes forever.”

For more info on how to set up this patch, check out the Patch of the Week #11: Krell video below:


5. Using 0-Coast as a Rhythm Machine

WF: “I’ve patched this one up on a lot of tradeshow floors because it’s not dependent on pitch at all, which makes it easy to patch really quickly. The concept behind that one is to gate the contour with a fast tempo from the clock output and randomly modulate the contour decay time. Then patch a slow LFO from the MIDI B CV output into the balanced CV input to bring in high frequencies in a rhythmic way. Then modulate the overtone and multiply circuits at audio rate to saturate the sound.”

For more info on how to set up this patch, check out the Patch of the Week #14: Dark Techno video below:


6. Using 0-Coast Inside of Ableton

WF: “Start by making a clip or making an arpeggiator in Ableton, then send it to the 0-Coast. You can also have other instruments playing in your Ableton set as well, whether it’s drums or chords or whatever.

Then you fire off the clips to the 0-Coast using the MIDI input and tweak the timbre controls while the notes are coming in from MIDI in sync with the track.

Then you just record a bunch of audio clips back into the set using the audio output and select the ones I like most. We get a bunch of sonic control with the knobs and CV units on the 0-Coast, but receiving note values via MIDI makes it even easier to get a bunch of wild stuff.”

7. Using 0-Coast with Max MSP

WF: “This is one of the most advanced concepts on the list, and it’s another MIDI-based patch. I like to use the 0-Coast with Max MSP—I have a lot of MIDI creating tools that I’ve written in there over the years. I’ll send info to the 0-Coast alongside whatever weird computer music I’m creating in Max MSP.

I find that the 0-Coast sits well with computer music, as opposed to my larger modular synths. It plays really easily with MIDI notes and it always has a nice sound that sits well in the mix. It has a feel or vibe that sits nicely with more digital sounds that often have a different kind of flavor. It really fills out that whole space really well.”

8. Using 0-Coast for Scoring

WF: “At Make Noise, I make YouTube videos for our channel, and we have a number of animations in the intros. I don’t make the animations, but I do soundtrack them.

I’ve found the 0-Coast to be really helpful for making those soundtracks because I can use one of the MIDI to CV converters to find the exact frame an event happens in a video clip and use my DAW to send MIDI events to the 0-Coast at that exact frame, allowing me to perfectly sync up the audio and video.

You don’t even necessarily have to use the sound of a 0-Coast in that case—you can just use it to trigger the events like a messenger between the computer and another modular synth.

One of the interesting things about modular synths is that they’re kind of self-contained systems, but since the 0-Coast has a couple of channels of MIDI to VC conversion, it makes it easy to send signals into the modular synth.

It’s really helped to make these videos because the sounds are so much more impactful when they’re synced well.”

For an example of a score made this way, check out the intro animation in the opening seconds of the video below


9. Using 0-Coast with Morphagene

WF: “I really like to make a bunch of crazy noises with the 0-Coast, then record them into Morphagene, which is another module that we make, which allows you to chop up the pieces and play them back out of order, in different speeds, play it backward, stuff like that.

It works great with natural sounds recorded with microphones, but I’ve also really enjoyed recording synth sounds into it. The 0-Coast is perfect for that because the range of controls make it so that 0-Coast is pretty much always making a good sound.

That’s one key difference between 0-Coast and modular synths—the 0-Coast pretty much always sounds good. Even when it’s going totally off the rails, there aren’t any ways you can use it that don’t produce any sound. Whereas with a modular synth, there are a lot of things you can do that have bad results.

If you’re trying to make a wide range of sounds really quickly, the 0-Coast is really powerful, which is why I love using it to record with Morphagene and totally mangle the sounds.”

For more info on how to mangle your sounds with Morphagene, watch our demo with Celldweller below:


10. Play 0-Coast with Your Eyes Closed

WF: “Since 0-Coast pretty much always sounds good, I like to play it with my eyes closed. I just let it do its thing. I like to turn some knobs and make some patches and see what happens. Since it’s almost guaranteed to make a sound most of the time, I can generally let my mind turn off a little more and just see where it takes me.”

Need more Make Noise?! Watch our Inside Look mini-documentary to learn about the company that gave us the 0-Coast, 0-CTRL, Morphagene, and so much more modular madness:

Brian GrossIf you want to purchase any Make Noise gear or have questions about the 0-Coast, we're here to help! Please contact a Vintage King Audio Consultant via email or by phone at 866.644.0160.