Serum Tutorial: Highlights & Pro Tips

In this tutorial video, Vespers does a review of the new XFer Records Serum Synth by Steve Duda, including many of it’s highlights and pro tips for sound design.  You’ll learn how to import audio to make your own wavetables, how to draw and morph between frames in the visual editor, and how to apply warping to bend the wavetable readout.  You’ll see the unison engine, some of the best filter types, the sub oscillator, modulation routings, and macros.  We’ll unleash the beast and get deep into the synth’s inner workings in this Serum tutorial!

This is the first of many tutorials you’ll see from Vespers on this new “go-to” synth.  Serum is fresh to the scene and will be evolving quickly.  Steve Duda has been super responsive on the forums and there’s a large community of producers and sound designers using the plugin.  We expect to see big things from this stellar new piece of kit.  It’s been a long time coming too.  There hasn’t been a synth that’s excited me this much since the release of NI Massive years ago.  Serum has quickly been dominating my production and replacing other plugins because of how intuitive, user friendly and immediate it is.

Currently, XFer is doing a large discount on purchases during the synth’s introduction period.  It’s on for only $129 until October 31st, 2014.  After that it goes up to $189.  Check it out over at the XFer Records site: http://www.xferrecords.com/products/serum/

For more detail on Serum and to really amp up your bass sound design skills, check out the Blitz Bass Sound Design Ultra Class and Template: http://vespers.ca/shop/ableton-live-templates/blitz-bass-the-bass-sound-design-ultra-class-with-vespers/


Ableton Push, the new Live 9 controller

ableton touch

Today, in tandem with the announcement of Live 9, Ableton also introduced a brand new controller called Push.  Upon first glance, Push looks a lot like a hybrid of ideas from the APC40 and Native Instruments Maschine.  Push offers the small clip launch style buttons of the APC40, but with much sought-after pressure sensitivity.  In their demo video (below), Ableton shows how this can be used to create a pressure sensitive repeat.

This controller seems aimed equally as a compositional tool and a live performance tool.  Unlike the APC40, it also has an LCD display and looks like it bus powers!  One of my main complaints about the APC40 was it’s required power supply with a very short cord, making it cumbersome to set up at gigs.

From their statement “Play instruments with Velocity and Pressure” it would seem that the controller can send out both MIDI velocity data and MIDI aftertouch data from the pads.  This makes it a powerful controller both it the studio and on the stage.  Around the back panel, it appears to have 2 footswitch ins as well.

Ableton Touch

Although it’s lacking the APC40s faders, it has lots of assignable knobs, plus it looks much slimmer and easy to travel with.

I’ll cover this in more depth as the news unfolds.  Plus, expect a full video review when I get my hands on one!

Take a peek.

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Ableton Live 9 release officially announced

Ableton Live 9

Last week we saw a flurry of activity on Youtube, as a Live 9 preview video was released.  This sneak-peak was followed up today by the highly anticipated official release announcement.  A new controller, called Ableton Push, was announced in tandem with Live 9.  I know you’re all hungry for the details, so let’s skip the pleasantries and get right into it!

Release Date

First quarter of 2013 for the full release.  Beta testing will begin in short order.

Video Preview

New Features

You’ll be excited to know, many of your prayers have been answered and Live 9 will be packed with new functionality.  This is not an exhaustive list I’m sure, but prominent among the new features are:

  • Automation curves.  In Live 8 the track automation was limited to straight lines separated by Break Points.  Live 9 introduces curves that will allow for dramatically enhanced automation potential and faster workflow when making creative automation.
  • Record automation/envelopes directly into Clips in Session View.  In Live 8, automation data could only be recorded into Clips in Arrangement View, but not Session.  If you wanted dynamic parameter changes in Session, you needed to manually draw in Clip Envelopes, which could be arduous.   Now you can record automation in realtime into a Clip in either view and transfer Clips between the views while retaining this automation data.
  • New Audio Effects.  So far we’ve seen previews of a new analog modeled bus compressor called The Glue, as well as enhancements to the EQ Eight, where you can now expand its display to be much larger and includes a built-in spectrum analyzer.  In addition, the Gate and Compressor display a real-time amplitude graph, visually showing how much of the incoming signal exceeds the Threshold.  The look is quite similar to the FabFilter Pro-C interface.  The Compressor now includes a Wet/Dry feature, to allow for easy parallel compression.
  • Extract MIDI from audio.  Live 9 provides new functionality to extract MIDI data from audio sources via Harmony, Melody and Drums to MIDI options.  Theoretically this would allow you to hum or sing a melody into an Audio Clip, and convert that into MIDI notes and velocities.  Personally, this is my new favorite as I’m a saxophone player.  This feature should allow me to play a riff in with my sax, then covert it to MIDI and drop it on a synth bass patch, turning my acoustic sax riff into a bassline.  This will be a fantastic alternative to drawing MIDI patterns in with the mouse and will give us access to far more human and musical sounding MIDI patterns.  Sounds ace to me!
  • Enhanced MIDI and Warping.  There are enhanced tools now built directly into MIDI Clips, such as stretching, reverse, legato, and loop duplication, which can be done in real time, on the fly.
  • Suite just got sweeter.  Suite now rolls out including the infamous Max for Live, as well as an arsenal of over 3,500 sounds from more than 40 sound designers.  The new Max for Live includes 24 new Devices.  Among them are new drum synthesizers, convolution reverb, and MIDI echo.

Ableton Live 9

Pricing and Versions

  •  Intro, the most basic version of Live, will be 99 USD / 79 EUR
  • Live, the full version, will be 449 USD / 349 EUR
  • Suite, the full-on “big daddy” version will be 749 USD / 599 EUR
  • All prices are based on download versions
  • Upgrade pricing to Live 9 will vary, based on which Live products you already own

Live 8 Discounted

Live 8 is now selling at a 25% discount and includes a free upgrade to Live 9 upon release.

Find out more about Ableton Live 9

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Sugar-Bytes Cyclop Bass Tutorial

In this tutorial video I do a full review and tutorial on the main features of the new Sugar-Bytes monophonic bass synth, Cyclop.  Cyclop is a modulation monster, with the huge wobble knob, fx knob, sound knob and effects sequencer.  You can choose from 9 distortion modes and 6 oscillator / synthesizer types including super saws, analog sync, fm, transformer (wavetable / granular engine), the additive spectromat, and the phase stressor phase distortion sound engine.

Anyone who’s a fan of dub step and video arcade games will love this one!  It has a built in video game and the whole interface looks very Atari.

It’s certainly found a place in my plugin library, which is a hard thing to do these days.  I’m enjoying getting to know it better and mangling sounds with it in my tunes.  Enjoy!

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