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.