(Modulate This) Sound Design Synth: Gladiator Synths & Instruments (Virtual) Video Tutorials

Sound Design with Gladiator 2: HCM Synthesis Explained

Update: checkout the discount link on the right side of the blog.

I started using Tone 2 Gladiator 1 a year ago and recently upgraded to Gladiator 2. Gladiator 1 & 2 are based on a new type of synthesis called Harmonic Content Morphing (HCM). HCM offers a clever way to generate wavetables with a massive variety of harmonic content that can be modified over time. Tone2’s approach with HCM is quite unique so I put together this video which offers a step-by-step explanation of what HCM synthesis is and how to use it. These techniques apply to both Gladiator 1 & 2.

Watch Video on YouTube:

If you like the sound of Gladiator 2 but find it too expensive, you should check out Firebird+. Firebird+ only has a fraction of the the editing capabilities but is still quite a capable instrument for the price.


Mark Mosher

Ableton Live Synths & Instruments (Virtual) Video Tutorials Videos

Video Tutorial: How To Use Ableton Live Racks To Create Multi-Sampled Instruments

Watch Video: How To Use Ableton Live Racks to Create Multi-Sampled Instruments

I’ve seen questions recently in Modulate This comments, and on the Ableton Live forum regarding the creation of multi-sampled instruments in Ableton Live. This video tutorial is  step-by-step how-to video that walks you through the creation of a velocity switched multi-sampled instrument using Ableton Live, Ableton Simpler, Instrument Racks, and Drum Racks.

Mark Mosher

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(Modulate This) Reviews Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Sylenth1 2.2 Review – Midi Learn, Midi Program Change, Velocity Sensitive Keyboard and more…


I tried Sylenth1 when it first came out and didn’t buy it. I thought the oscillators and filters sounded great and loved the straight-forward interface but felt it was lacking some features I’ve come to expect in modern virtual instruments.

Sylenth1 came to my attention again because of the group buy in December. I’m happy to report that Lennar Digital has done a great job adding features and improving the synthesis capability since launch – so much so that yes – I bought another VA Subtractive synth :^).

Key 2.2 features that I really appreciate are Midi Learn (persistent from project to project), copy/paste for envelope and filters, Midi Program Change support (I can walk through programs using my Novation Remote SL).

Another 2.2 feature I use a lot more than I thought I would is the velocity sensitive GUI keyboard. It’s such a simple idea but makes it much easier to preview and tweak presets that use velocity as a modulator when using a laptop. Simply use your mouse to click towards the top of the key emulates a key press with little velocity. The further down you click on the key, the more velocity is sent to the Sylenth1.

As I work with Sylenth1, I’ve also noticed how incredibly warm and dynamic the oscillators and filters are. It’s much more like working with a hardware synth. I think it compliments Predator nicely.

The master effects tab interface in the center screen makes tweaking effects and programming arpeggiator a snap. The arpeggiator can also be used as a modulate source. This makes it possible to use the arppegiator as a gate and more.

2.2 ships with over 1,300 presets which cover a wide range of musical styles and are a great starting point for tweaking.

Lastly, I want to mention that Slyenth1 is incredibly CPU friendly.

In my opinion Sylenth1 is well worth €139 and I encourage you to give Sylenth1 a try even if you have other subtractive synths. I’ve really fallen in love with it.


(Modulate This) Polls Synths & Instruments (Virtual) Video Tutorials

Thanks for Participating in “What Virtual Synths Do You Own?” Readers Poll

imageFirst off thanks to all who have taken the time to take the readers poll on what virtual synths you own. I’ll leave the poll up for a while to keep collecting data. I also appreciate all the comments and links to synths not in the list.

A couple of early observations after look at the results so far.

Sound Design:
When I think about producing presets it’s clear that offering presets in native formats for the more popular VSTs and Live Pack versions for these and less popular synths makes the most sense.

I’m psyched that so many of you who own Live also have Sampler and Operator. I wasn’t sure the ratio would be so high.

Kore2 is not as popular as might have thought. I only have the free player myself and since I own Live and Absynth 4 I don’t end up using it that much. I think Kore 2 has potential, and I may do something with it, but for now Live Packs and native presets seem the way to go.

I was happy to see Absynth 4 fair so well – I personally love it. Sylenth1 and Predator are neck and neck. Camel Audio’s Alchemy is only 15% but it’s new and relatively expensive.  I personally think this synth will grow in popularity. I would have predicted Morphine being this low. Being additive it’s rather specialized. I’ll most likely use it to generate waveforms that I’ll then take into Live Packs. Circle is no surprise either. While it’s interface is really innovative I think it’s pricey and a lot of people have subtractive covered.

Video Tutorials:
I’ve been doing some research on video tutorials and there are a lot of fine tutorials out there on Ableton Live (I’ll post a list in the near future). At this point I’m thinking I’ll do some general videos on “sound design” on the more popular synths in the poll plus Alchemy (as it kicks ass) and perhaps some free synths. I have a few ideas on how to structure tutorials in a way that will help you build up knowledge that is transportable between synths and will experiment with some ideas around this.

Thanks again!

Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Polls Synths & Instruments (Virtual) Video Tutorials

Reader Poll: Which Virtual Instruments Do You Own?


In the coming months I’m planning on releasing FREE video tutorials on sound design with virtual instruments as well as FREE presets for virtual instruments. To help me pick which instruments to focus on please take a minute out of your day to take a poll.


Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Ableton Live Synth: Ableton Operator Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Meet the New Ableton Operator – Watch These Videos

What’s new in Ableton Operator 8? Watch this video.

Here is a second video with Dennis DeSantis demoing Operator 8 at the 2009 Winger NAMM. Watch Video on YouTube.

Ableton has announced that when Live 8 ships there will be an also provide an update Ableton Operator. Ableton is calling it a “major overall”.

So what’s new?

  • User Waveforms: Draw your own waveforms by adjusting the amplitudes of each oscillator's harmonics. You can also edit the built-in waveforms. So, it’s like a mini-additive synth.
  • Feedback is now available for all oscillators that are not being modulated by another oscillator. This should provide for some pretty interesting possibilities.
  • New filter types: New ladder modes and SVF filters bring the total number of Operator's filter types to fourteen.
  • There is also a frequency response curve view in the filter display and an integrated waveshaper in the filter, featuring an adjustable drive amount and four curve shapes.
  • The filter, LFO and pitch envelopes now feature adjustable slopes, like those found in Sampler.
  • There's a new MIDI modulation section in the global display, with multiple destination and amount settings for five MIDI control sources. We've also added new modulation options for the LFO and pitch envelope.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Operator and it has fantastic third party support. I hoping companies like Covert Operators and Pure Magetik are already working on killer presets.

Ableton has posted a great video on their web site which summarizes what’s new.

Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Interviews Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Modulate This! Interview With Smule’s Dr. Ge Wang (Maker of iPhone Ocarina)


Want to know what one of the leading iPhone developers has on his mind?

I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Ge Wang, CTO and Co-founder of Smule are the makers of extremely popular and innovative iPhone applications such as Sonic Lighter and Ocarina. Dr. Wang is also an assistant professor at Stanford University, at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Princeton University and a BS in Computer Science from Duke University. Ge is the creator and chief architect of the ChucK audio programming language, and the founding director of the Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk).

I asked a wide variety of questions in this interview – so – whether you are a musician, a developer, an iPhone user, or an entrepreneur, I hope you find this interview interesting and enlightening.

I’ve provided this audio interview in YouTube (for computer or iPhone users), and in MP3 formats*.

Part 1 – Dr. Wang discusses the iPhone as an application
platform, how constraint leads to innovation, and his vision for using
technology to bring people together. Watch on YouTube or Download MP3.

Part 2 – Dr. Wang discusses how people are using Ocarina and how Ocarina has brought music to the disabled. He also discusses the future of the Ocarina and Smule, and what it’s like to be “Smulian”. Watch on YouTube or Download MP3.


Mark Mosher

—- Production Notes —
Audio was taken from a phone conversation between myself and Dr. Wang. I originally intended to publish as transcribed text but felt of the tone of conversation would be lost so I instead published an audio version. I decided to present both sides of our conversation at phone quality to preserve the feel of the conversation. Note that for a short time in the beginning of Part 1, Dr. Wang was on a mobile phone with some signal drop out and the quality improves as the conversation continues. In addition to MP3 format, I’ve provided a YouTube format so you can easily listen to this from an iPhone or web browser.

(Modulate This) Computers & Laptops Effects Plugins Midi/USB Keyboards & Controllers Novation Remote SL Sound Design Synth: Predator Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Modulate This! – Best Products of 2008 for Electronic Musicians


Hope you all are having a restful holiday season. I continuously strive for the leanest rig that will give me the best results. In this post I’ll offer a list products that make up the core of my rig. Consider this my “If I was stranded on a desert island” list for 2008.  Note that some products in my list were not new in 2008, but I’m still using them tons so they’ve made the list. If you want to see all the elements of my rig, check out this photo album on MySpace.

Best DAW – Ableton Live 7, $499
01_live_midnightFor me, Live has been become more than a DAW. It’s at the core of everything I do and after years of use feels more like a musical instrument to me than some piece of software. See all my posts on Live here. Official Live site is here.

Best Hybrid Synthesizer – Camel Audio Alchemy , $249
imageCamel Audio just released a new synth called Alchemy. They've been working on it for 4 years. It's an additive, spectral, granular, virtual analog synth. The interface is really well done with a clever scheme for routing modulation. I think it’s one of the finest virtual instruments I’ve ever used. I’ll be writing more posts about this synth in the future. For now you can learn more about it here.

Runner up for me in this category is Native Instruments Absynth 4. It’s not new this year but is also a great synth. I also want to mention Spectosonics Omnisphere. I don’t own it and I haven’t tried it (no demo available), but from what I’ve read and seen in demo videos it’s a monster synth. I went with Alchemy because it has a much smaller footprint and has more features for those like me who want to manipulate our own samples.

Best Virtual Analog Synthesizer – Rob Papen’s Predator, $179
predator_advancedPredator is a virtual analog synthesizer for Windows or Mac that runs as a plug-in (VST, Audio Unit, RTAS).  It ships with a huge library of presets, and built-in tools for patch browsing and search.  It also has some innovative features such as preset morphing, intelligent preset variation, and chord memory. Even though Predator didn’t release this year, Rob Papen keeps the synth fresh with free updates. More posts here …

Best Controller Keyboard – Novation Remote SL, Starting at $299

02_novation_remotesl25 I still love the way this controller and Automap 2 software helps make using software more like using a physical instrument. Check out official site here. I still get a lot of traffic on my posts on the M-Audio Axiom series controllers so it’s clearly a popular choice if you can’t afford the Remote SL.

Best Controllers for Those on the Go -Korg Nano Series, $49-59


This year Korg released USB powered slim-line controllers nanoKey, nanoKontrol, and nanoPad. I have Key and Kontrol and can say they are fantastic if you want more control while making music from your laptop. More here

Best Bang for the Buck USB Audio Interface – Novation Nio, $249
image Microphone/instrument or line-level sources, low latency effects (Direct Mix Monitoring, 'Overloud' Guitar amp and distortion pedal effects, effects from the Supernova II and signal processing from Focusrite), two headphone outputs, four RCA outputs. All this for $249! See official site.

Best iPhone Music App – iDrum, Ocarina
image Hmmm. This is a tough one as there is so much innovation going on in this space. My two favorites are iDrum and Ocarina.

iDrum has a great interface for making beats on the go and synchronizes with iDurm for the PC and Mac. Read more about it here.

Ocarina turns your iPhone into a true musical instrument. It uses every feature of the iPhone and has some fantastic social connection features. Checkout the official site here.

Best Field Recorder – Zoom H2, $179
image I just got one of these back in November. It’s really fantastic. It weighs 4 ounces and has 4 mic capsules onboard for 360° recording in a W-X/Y configuration. You ca
n also use it as a USB mic. I blogged about it here.

Buy Online
Most of these items can be purchased online. Support Modulate This! buy using these links: Musicians Friend, Guitar Center, Zzounds.

Share Your List
I’m sure many of you out there have a your own list so feel free to share your list using the comments link at the bottom of this post.

See You in 2009!
Have a safe new years eve and I’ll see you in 2009.

Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Effects Plugins Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Image-Line Holiday Sale – Maximus and Morphine Only $99 a Piece + Free Copy of Gross Beat


There are a lot of sales going on right now so make sure you stop by your favorite companies site to see what deals they might have.

Image line has put both Morphine (virtual synthesizer that does additive synthesis and re-synthesis) and Maximus (Mastering Maximizer) on sale. Here is the deal:

  • Every order of $99 and more comes with a free copy of Gross Beat (value $99).
  • Maximus is available for $99 instead of $189 (AND includes a free copy of Gross Beat)
  • Morphine is available for $99 instead of $159 (AND includes a free copy of Gross Beat)

I've been waiting for Morphine to go on sale. I've spent a lot of time with the demo and think it has a great interface for additive synthesis. I especially love the re-synthesis capabilities and plan on using it to create some custom sounds for future projects. Needless to say I just hit the buy button. So it's now official, I own all of Maxx Claster's synthesizers (Poizone, Toxic Biohazard, and Morphine).


Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Reviews Synth: Predator Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Modulate This Review of Rob Papen Predator Virtual Synthesizer


I just spent a few weeks immersing myself in Rob Pappen’s Predator Virtual Synthesizer.  I’ve reemerged and decided to share my thoughts on this synth with a review.

Predator is a virtual analog synthesizer for Windows or Mac that runs as a plugin (VST, Audio Unit, RTAS).  It ships with a huge library of presets, and built-in tools for patch browsing and search.  It also has some innovative features such as preset morphing, intelligent preset variation, and chord memory.

Sonic Range
Even though Predator is primarily a subtractive synth, it can produce a much wider range of sounds than your average analog synthesizer. This is made possible with a powerful yet straight-forward  three oscillator architecture. For each oscillator you can select from one of 128 wave  forms. In addition to analog waveforms, Rob Papen has included, additive, spectral, pink & white noise as well. Each oscillator also has Pulse Width Modulation and oscillators 2 & 3 have modes for Ring  Modulation and FM Synthesis. In plain English, you don’t need to understand complex harmonic structures to produce complex sounds quickly.


Predator allows for 3 effects per preset. The list includes Mono Delay, Stereo Delay,  Comb, Reverb, Chorus, Chorus/Delay, Flanger, Phaser, Wah/Delay, Distortion, Low  Fi, Amp Simulator with 5 models, Waveshaper, Stereo Widener, Autopan, Gator,  Vocoder, FX multi-filter, 5 Band Equalizer, Compressor, Ensemble, Cabinet Simulator,  Multi- distortion and AutoWah. Two FX modulation sources are available for connecting midi or synth controls to FX parameters. 

The “Gator” effect is a trance gate. “Vocoder” is a 32 band vocoder that can use either samples or sound (input) that is fed into Predator as a modulator. So, creating cool vocoded effects is a snap.

I should also mention that there is a stand-alone version of the effects processor called PredatorFX which allows you to use these effects on any audio channel in your DAW.



Predator has a 16 step pattern based arpeggiator with some excellent features that might make you use this arpeggiator more than the one in your DAW.  Some stand out features include the ability to enter note values for a step by using your midi keyboard. You can also set note velocity, swing and slide amount controls.  One really cool feature is the ability to use an  arppegiator step as a free modulation source. You can even control  arpeggiator latch using a midi sustain pedal. Lastly, you can copy, paste, clear, move, reverse, randomize and turn off / on controls, for both selected steps or all steps.

Right Click and  MIDI Learn

The interface supports right-click for access to additional parameters. For example, you can reset a knob to its default state or execute MIDI learn to map knobs and sliders on your controller to a Predator parameter.

One Page Interface
What’s amazing about Predator is that almost all the parameters fit on its clean one page interface.  A few parameters require you toggle to a different panel (see this article). The layout is logical and simple and if you’re familiar with subtractive synthesis you’ll be creating new custom presets in no time.

There is something for everyone inside of Predator. Musicians and Producers will love the large library of sounds, the bank manager,  and how easy it is to “tweak” using the single page interface. Sound designers will love the flexible Free Modulation scheme with 8 modulation routings for connecting 40 modulation
sources and 65 modulation destinations.

At $149 EU/ $179 US you’ll be hard pressed to find a virtual synthesizer with more bang for the buck. For many I think this will become their “goto” synth.

Learn More
I’ve covered the core elements of Predator in this review but there are many, many more features I’ve left for you to discover. Checkout the links below for more.

Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Synth: Predator Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Where Is the Arpeggiator in Rob Papen’s Predator?


I’m really into synthesizers with one page interfaces these days. I’ve been working a lot with Rob Papen’s Predator which has a fantastic UI. Almost all control "sections" are displayed on one page. I say almost as they couldn’t quite cram all the control elements in.

To accommodate more controls without cluttering up the interface, there are toggle buttons on the interface. Use the graphic above as a guide to access additional sections, see the back of the synth, and access the help file.





More on Predator in future posts…

Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Synth: Predator Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

What’s New and How To Upgrade To Rob Papen Predator 1.5.1, Blue 1.8.1 and RG 1.0.1



Rob Papen has released updates to Blue, Predator and RG. All three virtual synthesizers have the following new preset browsing features:

  • "Quick Browse" is a new function that allows you to quickly browse through preset.
  • "Recently Browsed" allows you to easily rind the presets you tried out previously.
  • "Favorites" allows you to quickly collect you favorite presets.


Predator 1.5.1 Update (web site | buy from Musicians Friend)

Blue 1.8.1 Update

To upgrade use download link here

Additional RG 1.0.1 Updates 

  • Sequencer Preset Menu: Sequences can now be selected by click in a sequencer preset menu.
  • Currently loaded Sequence is displayed
  • Keyboard sequence / chord / notes pressed is displayed
  • Bug fixes
  • To upgrade to RG 1.0.1

Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Image Line Announces Updates for Morphine, PoiZone, and Toxic Biohazard Virtual Synthesizers


Image Line just announced a series of minor updates to their core line of virtual synthesizers.

Morphine 1.4.2 released

– fixed crashes/freezes when closing plugin in OSX
– fixed threading in Windows version
– fixed compatibility with the Toxic Biohazard installer in OSX
– better tablet pc / stylus support
– fixed polyphony issues in FL version
– several small changes

PoiZone 2.2.5 released

– fixed threading issues
– made it more stable
– better tablet pc / stylus support
– fixed polyphony issues in FL version
– fixed crash when changing presets on PPC macs
– several small changes and fixes

Toxic Biohazard 1.0.2 released

– fixed crashes when closing plugins in OSX
– threading-related fixes
– fixes on PPC macs
– fixed some crashes related to downloader in OSX
– several small changes and fixes


Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Just a reminder Synth Sale Ends the 15th – Get sytrus, Toxic BiHazard, Poizone, Morphine and more for 40% off


Only a few days left. I’ve been playing with Morphine and Toxic BioHazard and will be picking them both up. BioHazard is especially cool.

  • Sytrus $179 $109 (-$70) 
  • DirectWave $99 $59 (-$40) 
  • Toxic BioHazard $99 $59 (-$40) 
  • Poizone 2 $79 $49 (-$30) 
  • JuicePack $99 $59 (-$40) 
  • EZGenerator $129 $79 (-$50) 
  • Morphine $159 $95 (-$60) 
  • Maximus $189 $119 (-$70)
    Deckadance Club Ed. $179 $109 (-$60) 
  • Varazdin Orchestral $169 $99 (-$60)

Note, if you’ve never purchased from image line before you can save an additional 10% off with by clicking here.

Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) Ableton Live Free Resources Synth: Ableton Operator Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Installing and Using Ableton’s Free “Designer Drums” Operator Live Pack


Ableton has released a new free Live Pack called "Designer Drums". You can listen to a preview and download the Live Pack from here.

The cool thing about this collection of drum presets is that they are not samples but Operator synth presets. For the most part the installer integrates presets inside of existing folders so finding all the presets can be tricky. In this article I’ll walk you through installing and finding presets and offer usage tips.


For those unfamiliar, Operator is an add-on synth you can buy from Ableton’s web site. If you already own Live, it will cost you EUR 129/USD 159. Ableton is running a promotion for new users that’s pretty amazing – Buy Live, Get Operator for Free.


Ableton’s blurb.

We’re giving all Operator fans some "Designer Drums", a free Live pack with brand new Operator presets. It features classic analog drums, a number of innovative percussive sounds and dedicated drum racks for
instant and intuitive beat-making.


DOWNLOAD "Designer Drums"

Download from here Extract the DesignerDrums_v01.alp file on to your computer.


From the file menu select "Install Live Pack…" and specify the DesignerDrums_v01.alp.


The install requires 24.7 MB. 



image The kit presets are implemented as Drum Racks. They are not installed in their own folder called "Designer Drums" and are instead integrated into "Instruments-> Drum Rack -> Kit" and the new presets are labeled with "(Operator)" in the end of the name. See example on the left.

There are a series of clips saved as live sets in "Library -> Clips -> Designer Drums".

The individual Operator patches that make up the drum racks are again integrated within existing folders in "Presets -> Instruments". For example, there are two 808 high-hat presets (open and closed) at "Presets -> Instruments -> Drum Rack -> Cymbal -> Hihat-808(Operator)".




Most of the Drum Rack presets place Devices in a cluster around the same set of 16 locations which is fantastic if you are using a controller like a Trigger Finger. The Kick, Snare, Hihat Open, Hihat closed are in the same position for most kits which I really appreciate since I like to hot swap kits.


Operator had been around a long time and I’ve always liked it. This Live Pack really shows off the range of sounds that can be produced from Operator. Once you start working with the presets you’ll be amazed at the amount of work that went on behind the scenes to create this Live Pack. Thanks Ableton!


Mark Mosher

(Modulate This) FL Studio Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

Image Line Music Plugin yard sale – 40% off Deckadance, Sytrus, Toxic Biohazard, Morhpine, Poizone…


Every few years, Image Line (the makers of FL Studio) has a "yardsale" and offers huge discounts on plugins. The last time they had a sale this big was 2 years ago. Save 40% off the following items. Note, if you’ve never purchased from image line before you can save an additional 10% off with by clicking here.

  • Sytrus $179 $109 (-$70) 
  • DirectWave $99 $59 (-$40) 
  • Toxic BioHazard $99 $59 (-$40) 
  • Poizone 2 $79 $49 (-$30) 
  • JuicePack $99 $59 (-$40) 
  • EZGenerator $129 $79 (-$50) 
  • Morphine $159 $95 (-$60) 
  • Maximus $189 $119 (-$70)
    Deckadance Club Ed. $179 $109 (-$60) 
  • Varazdin Orchestral $169 $99 (-$60)

The sale runs until September 15th. Visit the Image Line Store to learn more.

Mark Mosher