Xfer Records, a collaboration between Steve Duda and Deadmau5, has released Serum, an advanced wavetable synthesizer 3 years in the making. Serum features high-quality sound, a visual and creative workflow-oriented interface, with an integrated wavetable editor for creating your own unique wavetable sets.
“The dream synthesizer did not seem to exist: a wavetable synthesizer with a truly high-quality sound, visual and creative workflow-oriented interface to make creating and altering sounds fun instead of tedious, and the ability to ‘go deep’ when desired – to create / import / edit / morph wavetables, and manipulate these on playback in real-time.”
Serum has a Wavetable editor built right in: You can create your own wavetables in a variety of ways. Import audio directly from audio files – Serum has a variety of methods and options for analyzing audio for breaking it apart into individual waveforms. You can import single-cycle wavetables of course, as well as many at once (with in-built sorting options, or manual re-ordering). Morph between various wavetables using standard linear interpolation (crossfading) or via harmonic/spectral morphing. Draw directly on the waveform, with optional grid-size snapping and a variety of shape tools. Generate or modify waveforms using FFT. Create or process waveforms using formula functions. Processing menu options allow you to do the other tasks you would want, such as apply fades, crossfades, normalize, export, and much more.
Playback of wavetables requires digital resampling to play different frequencies. Without considerable care and a whole lot of number crunching, this process will create audible artifacts. Artifacts mean that you are, perhaps unknowingly, crowding your mix with unwanted tones. Many popular wavetable synthesizers are astonishingly bad at suppressing artifacts, and often dampen the highest wanted audible frequencies in the process, to try and suppress this unwanted sound. In Serum, the native-mode playback of oscillators operates with ultra high-precision resampling, yielding an astonishingly inaudible signal-to-noise (for instance, -150 dB on a sawtooth played at 1 Khz at 44100)! This requires a lot of calculations, so Serum’s oscillator playback has been aggressively optimized using SSE2 instructions to allow for this high-quality playback without taxing your CPU any more than the typical (decent quality) soft synth already does.
In addition to moving through the set of wavetables, you can manipulate the waveform itself in a separate realtime process referred to as Warp. This allows for FM/AM/RM/Oscillator Sync and many other ways to modify the waveform, including “Remap” modes – a graph editor for drawing your own custom table manipulations.
Serum includes all of the filter types found in Xfer Records’ LFOTool in addition to some brand-new ones. Flangers, Phasers, and Comb filters all of which can key-track to the musical note you play. Dual filter types let you control or morph between filter types. Get creative with atypical processes for filters such as downsampling, or the unique filter types found nowhere before, such as the dirty-sounding French LPF.
An effects rack with 10 effects modules lets you get your sound all the way to the finish line inside Serum. Effects can be re-ordered to any configuration you want. Virtually all effect parameters are also available as modulation destinations. This is especially useful on monophonic synth sounds. For example, apply an LFO to control reverb size or dry/wet, or velocity to control distortion amount. Many of these effects and modes were built just for Serum, so there are many unique effects to choose from, such as Hyper, which simulates (additional) unison amounts, or a dual-waveshaper which allows for a distortion you can morph between two separate wave shapes.
On the Mac, Serum requires OS X 10.6 or greater, an Intel processor and a VST, AU or AAX compatible host application.
Serum is available now via direct download from Xfer Records for $189, with special introductory pricing of $129 through 31 October.