An Interview with Joel Blanco Berg

You may know Joel as the "Phase Plant Motorbike Guy" from Twitter. We caught up with him and asked a few questions to find out some more about what gets this sound design wizard's engines revving.

Joel came to our attention after tagging us in a tweet with a video of a Phase Plant patch that very accurately emulated a motorbike engine, entirely synthesised. Which was, to be fair, pretty incredible and not something we’d seen or even imagined before. You can watch the original video below.

That tweet really took off and generated quite a lot of buzz and praise for Joel’s enviable skills. Since then, Joel has become something of a sound design celebrity, dropping numerous videos of amazing inventive sounds and instruments to the adulation of fellow synthesis nerds.

Recently, after many requests, he’s released his first Content Bank of Phase Plant presets, Music Boxes and Bells, which makes great use of our recently added Granular Generator. Check out some examples in this trailer.

We managed to convince Joel to take some time out from his busy wizard schedule to chat with us a little about his work.

Hi Joel! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us and the many Kilohearts users who are keen to get some insight into how you work your magic!

Q. Can you start with a little information about yourself?

Sure! I’m Joel, A web developer living in Stockholm, Sweden. I was introduced to sound design last year (2022) and since then I have been completely obsessed with it trying to replicate all sorts of sounds. Primarily with Phase Plant.

When I’m not doing that I enjoy running, watching movies, playing video games and all that basic stuff. I used to ride a motorcycle but I sold that last year and got myself a cat instead.

Q. What made you decide to make that first motorcycle engine patch?

It had been on my mind for a while since seeing some videos on youtube by William Moser , where he replicated different engine setups with just an Arduino and a clicking speaker.

I thought it was amazing that you could actually get that close to the real thing, even though the setup was so simple and the engine sound was generated with phase clicks.

I wanted to try and recreate that with synthesizers, but I didn’t know anything about it at that time, so I put it on hold for some years. It wasn’t until last year when I took a short course in sound design where I was introduced to synthesizers that I actually decided to try it out.

After tinkering for some days and the patch finally started to sound like an actual motorcycle, it was an amazing feeling. I was hooked.

Q. The response on Twitter was pretty huge, did that surprise you? How did that make you feel?

It definitely surprised me! I had just seven followers when I posted the first motorcycle patch, so I didn’t expect it to get that many views. I just posted it and went on with my day. The next day I had tons of Twitter notifications and I saw that Kilohearts had retweeted the video, which made it get a lot more attention.

It was a bit scary with the huge response because it felt like it might have been pure luck and my next post would reveal what a noob I actually was. It did feel better the more patches I made, but I still hesitate a bit each time I post a new video.

Since my account was basically anonymous up until that point, it was a surreal experience for me. But it really encouraged me to continue to explore this type of sound design.

Q. How do you approach designing a patch like one of your engine emulations?

There are different approaches depending on what type of engine. I try to first learn a bit about the engine type, so I have a better picture of where all the sounds might be originating from. In my case, I was already into motorcycles, so I had some prior knowledge of that already.

In combustion engines I usually separate it into 5 parts: the exhaust note, exhaust noise, air intake, maybe gear whine and finally some general engine noise.

When I created the sport motorcycle, the exhaust note was actually made up of 4 square waves, one for each cylinder, phase shifted by different degrees to get the right firing order. Later I switched out those for wavetable generators instead, as it gives you better control of the tone.

The rest of the parts are mostly made up of filtered noise.

Q. Do you have any tips for this kind of sound design that might help those just getting started?


Most real sounds contain noise and randomness. If you want something to sound realistic, there has to be lots of variation to the sound.

For example; A flute doesn’t have a steady tone as a synthesizer does. The tone is always fluctuating a bit. the same is true for the amplitude and other parameters. Other than the tone itself, there is also noise from blowing into the flute that is just as important to the character of that instrument.

When I design sounds or instruments, I usually separate the different parts as tonal and noise.

Convolution reverb

Even if you have created a perfect realistic sound with a synthesizer, it will be completely dry.

Without adding a convolution reverb, it will sound like a recording from an Anechoic chamber, which works fine for some sounds, but will sound weird for others. Putting a convolution reverb at the end of your chain will put the sound in a real environment and probably help you hear that you are going in the right direction.


When designing a specific timbre for a sound, you shouldn't generally worry about using too muchEQ.

I use slice EQ very aggressively to shape noise to my liking. Boost A LOT if needed. Just be careful though and always use a limiter at the end of your chain to protect your ears, because it can get pretty loud.

Q. What makes Kilohearts products good for sound design?

You have most of what you’ll ever need with Kilohearts. The fact that you have access to Kilohearts' entire ecosystem inside of Phase Plant makes it insanely powerful. The option to add up to 32 generators is also something that is unique and makes it possible to create huge patches inside of a single instance of the synth.

Q. Are there any features or effects that you would like to see added to the Kilohearts Ecosystem?

Scripting inside of Phase Plant!

I would like to see one more legato option where you can customize it a bit more than just a regular flip or note slide. That would be great, especially for creating realistic-sounding instruments.

Maybe more mixing lanes and an increase in the generator limit.

Q. It’s great to see that you’ve released your first collection of presets. Are there more to come? What else do you have planned?

I have lots of patches planned. At the moment I am focusing on creating acoustic instruments, so my upcoming patches will probably be in that category.

Some of the things I am working on are Woodwinds, Brass, Strings and Plucked Strings.

I will also try and release some libraries that are not instrument oriented. It is just not the main focus at the moment.

Amazing. Thanks for answering our questions, Joel!

And thanks for reading, intrepid sound designers out there. We hope you found this interview inspiring and entertaining. We certainly did! To keep up with Joel’s work, follow him on Twitter . And be sure to check out his latest releases in his online store .

Kilohearts Press Team Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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