So what is a synth preset aka synth patch?
Seeing this term around and not sure what it actually means? Well let's create some clarity around it.
A synth preset or synth patch is essentially saved sound. A 'snap shot' of the dials, buttons and effects in the position they were in when this snap shot is saved. The saved snap shot would be called the preset. It will usually have been programmed by the user, the synth manufacturer/developer or a third party sound designer to provide a type of sound.
Usually a synth will come bundled with many, often hundreds of presets. They showcase the synths capabilities as well as provide quick easy access to a good range of sounds which can serve either as starting points or can be left and used as is.
Most producers do use some synth presets, (in fact over 70% use synth presets according to this poll) with additional effects or parameter changes to make the sound unique whilst others use the preset sound unmodified in its entirety.
Presets can be collated into banks, often called sound banks or preset packs. These can be kept by the user for easy access to a specific range of sounds.
For example a Trance producer may catalogue their own synth presets and save them into packs of Trance bass presets, Trance synth presets and Trance pad presets to then be stored in amongst the producers own library with other sounds.
It would then provide the producer quick easy access to the aforementioned sounds without having to A. Start the sounds from scratch and B. rooting round an entire library to find a trance bass preset.
Many producers and musicians prefer to use the synths built in presets (sounds) and purchase aftermarket packs as a quick and satisfying way to get instant access to sounds that could spark creativity or be a source of sounds the producer may not have been able to get themselves.
Some synths can be notoriously difficult to program (Such as the Yamaha DX7) thus presets provide the musician instant access to sounds they would likely have not had the time, patience or skill-set to produce themselves.
So if you're new to musician production or been in the game for a bit but perhaps were more of a working with samples type and often wondered what a synth preset is hopefully this short article gives you a better insight.