An over­view of Xfer Serum


Why has Serum been at the top of the synth tree for so long? Its ex­cel­lent sound qual­ity and sonic flex­i­bil­ity are likely to blame, but that doesn’t mean the synth is es­pe­cially hard to use or un­der­stand – in fact, it’s pretty sim­ple.

Serum has four main ‘tabs’ in all: Osc, FX, Ma­trix and Global. These only change the top half of the dis­play – re­main­ing con­sis­tently vis­i­ble are the bot­tom-half el­e­ments: all mod­u­la­tors, voic­ing con­trols, and global per­for­mance con­trols such as por­ta­mento and pitch­bend. And there’s still enough room down there for the oblig­a­tory key­board at the bot­tom of the in­ter­face.

The Osc tab is where you’ll most likely spend the ma­jor­ity of your pro­gram­ming time. In fact, this en­tire

Pro­ducer’s Guide doesn’t go any fur­ther than this – it’s all you need to get a more-than-de­cent sound pro­grammed and tweaked. This speaks vol­umes about the de­sign work and thought that have gone into Serum.

Here you’ll find those two ver­sa­tile wavetable os­cil­la­tors, with their wavetable dis­plays and the most es­sen­tial sound-sculpt­ing con­trols. While many mod­ern synths have up­wards of four or more os­cil­la­tors, Serum has man­aged to gain its no­to­ri­ety while bear­ing only two fully pro­gram­mable sources.

There are a cou­ple of ‘ac­ces­sory’ os­cil­la­tors to com­ple­ment these – the Sub and the Noise sound gen­er­a­tors pro­vide some ex­tra tone shap­ing, work­ing in very much the same way as their more high-pro­file coun­ter­parts.

We’ll show you more about ex­actly how to get to grips with all of these os­cil­la­tors in our walk­throughs be­low and on the next page, and in video for­mat with this month’s down­loads on File­Silo.

Also avail­able on the Osc tab, there’s that Cy­tomic-de­signed fil­ter up in the top right. Most mod­u­la­tion as­sign­ments can be made solely in the Osc tab, but if you want more de­tailed con­trol over these rout­ings, you’ll find it in the Ma­trix tab…

Here you can set up more com­plex mod­u­la­tion as­sign­ments and get ac­cess to more sources than are avail­able in the Osc tab. There are also fur­ther ways to in­flu­ence the mod­u­la­tion with a ‘Mod’ col­umn.

In the FX panel, Serum lets you route your sounds through up to ten re­order­able ef­fects. Along with the ex­pected items such as Com­pres­sor, Flanger, EQ, Dis­tor­tion and what not, you also get a full Re­verb pro­ces­sor and Xfer’s Hyper and Di­men­sion ef­fects. Spe­cific to Serum, these last two take in multi-voice de­lay/cho­rus and phas­ing de­lays re­spec­tively.

The Global panel con­tains op­tions to cus­tomise Serum that aren’t nec­es­sar­ily directly re­lated to patch de­sign. If you’ve ever wanted to hide Serum’s key­board, stop show­ing the help tooltips, cus­tomise uni­son and chaos prop­er­ties, al­ter global tun­ing or choose a level of over­sam­pling that you’re truly com­fort­able with, you sim­ply must get your­self over to this fine tab.

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