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The State of Serum in 2017

p4tz3r
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49 posts since 6 Dec, 2016

Postby p4tz3r; Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:15 am The State of Serum in 2017

I'm using Ableton as my current DAW and working on writing tunes in a variety of styles, but if I had to generalize I'd say indie pop/electronic (think Foster the People, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT, Phoenix) to more ambient (think Tycho, Bonobo, BoC, Ulrich Schnauss, or even Aphex Twin). Not generally aiming for EDM/club music, dubstep, or the like (other than a bit of futurebass influence, like Flume).

I know Omnisphere is supposed to be great for ambient stuff, but I don't have $500 to invest in that right now, or enough hard drive space on my laptop for all its samples. I'd probably invest in a Push 2 at that price point.

I have the Serum demo and have been working through tutorials (I think the On Cloud Sine ones are good, e.g.). I really like the visual nature of Serum and how you can see a lot of what's going on in the waveforms/wavetables, envelopes, LFOs, filters, modulation, etc.

That said, I'm not sure if Serum's sound is the right one for me, but I'm having a hard time deciding if that's just because many people are using Serum for EDM/dubstep sounds.

So, what do you all think -- what's the state of Serum in 2017 for designing sounds outside the EDM genre? Do people find it flexible and adaptable enough to handle other sonic palates?
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Ingonator
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11223 posts since 21 Mar, 2008, from Hannover, Germany

Postby Ingonator; Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:31 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

Wavetable synths like Serum and many others are very versatile concerning which kinds of sounds they could produce.

The fact that many sound designers and producers use and/or "misuse" them for the EDM genre des not mean they could not be used for other kinds of sounds.

Besides that a Supersaw or Hypersaw is also usable for nice lush pad sounds, not just for the typical dance stuff. This is even more true if this feature could be used for all waveforms, not just for a Sawtooth (like it is possible in e.g. Serum, Icarus, DUNE 2.5 and others).
Ingo Weidner - Sound Design
HW: Blofeld, Pulse 2, UltraNova, Motif ES7
SW: PPG 3.V, Largo, Nave, Icarus, Legend, Avenger, Saurus 2, Diva, Syn'X 2, Komplete 10, many more
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wagtunes
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7987 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Postby wagtunes; Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:32 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

I have found that you can get non EDM sounds out of Serum if you work at it. By nature, Serum has kind of a harsh tone. That's just the way it it. But that doesn't mean you can't get other things out of it. Those things just take longer than the typical stuff Serum is great at and does with relative ease because of the sound engine itself.
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JoeCat
KVRian
 
1021 posts since 19 May, 2011, from North Carolina

Postby JoeCat; Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:46 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

I've been in the same boat - not doing much EDM anymore but looking at one of the "modern" wavetable synths for more ambient / electronica, or even mixed sampled / real instrumentation.

Experimenting with some analog saturation / tape emu signal chains, and really makes the difference taming these the "colder" synths. I love Razor for example, 'cause its workflow is great for swapping out filters and modules and experimentation, and it encourages some really unique sound design, but even with it's built-in spectral clip filter, it can be quite cold and digital (as is its nature). Adding some tape emu and saturation can go a long way (Klanghelm's SDDR is versatile and criminally inexpensive for that task!)
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foosnark
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3864 posts since 9 Jan, 2003, from Saint Louis MO

Postby foosnark; Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:48 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

Serum is my favorite VST synth and one of two I use regularly. I don't do EDM at all, more ambient and abstract stuff. I use it for pads all the time, and drones and sometimes other things. I never use presets with it, always create my own from scratch.

I've also used its wavetable editor to create wavetables for Disting (Eurorack module that has a mode that reads wavetables off an SD card), and SerumFX that comes with it is my favorite multi-FX plugin.

It can be very dirty (in multiple different ways) or really lush, or both, or neither. It's just really flexible and easy to patch IMHO.
dangayle
KVRist
 
161 posts since 29 Mar, 2014

Postby dangayle; Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:02 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

There are really four oscillators: 2 wavetable oscillators, a sub-osc, and a noise osc that is actually just a sample playback device. That last piece is a key to opening up an entirely new world for ambient and other purposes. Stretch out a reverby drone and drop it into the noise folder in Serum’s presets and you now have a cool reverby drone to play with, that you can modulate, filter, etc.

As for the main wavetables, just don’t use a crazy harsh one, use one of the analog wavetables or import your own.

Throw on the excellent chorus, flange, reverb, and you’ll never even be able to tell you were using Serum.
pdxindy
KVRAF
 
11945 posts since 2 Feb, 2005, from in the wilds

Postby pdxindy; Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:04 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

p4tz3r wrote:I have the Serum demo and have been working through tutorials (I think the On Cloud Sine ones are good, e.g.). I really like the visual nature of Serum and how you can see a lot of what's going on in the waveforms/wavetables, envelopes, LFOs, filters, modulation, etc.

That said, I'm not sure if Serum's sound is the right one for me, but I'm having a hard time deciding if that's just because many people are using Serum for EDM/dubstep sounds.

So, what do you all think -- what's the state of Serum in 2017 for designing sounds outside the EDM genre? Do people find it flexible and adaptable enough to handle other sonic palates?


I find the sound of Serum sterile and unfeeling. Most of the sound examples I've come across do not please my ears. Here and there I come across an audio demo that makes me go... ahh, there is something I like. So it is possible.

I've also spent a good number of hours with the Serum demo making my own sounds. I'm pretty decent with sound design in general and make my own presets in a variety of synths and I just have not come across many sounds I like when exploring the demo. I just do not find the sound of Serum 'musical' Nothing else really matters in a synth if the sound does not speak to me.
recursive one
KVRAF
 
2769 posts since 7 Feb, 2013

Postby recursive one; Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:16 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

dangayle wrote:Throw on the excellent chorus, flange, reverb, and you’ll never even be able to tell you were using Serum.

And what's the purpose of using Serum then?

It is possible to make mellow, warm and organic sounds with Serum but it shines at cold, anrgy, mechanical sounding stuff and it agruably the best synth for these tasks. If your music doesn't rely much on such sounds probably it would make sense to consider other synth(s).
It's not all about how close something is to the bleeding edge of technology or how long the feature list is. If it sounds good to you, it sounds good to you, full stop. (C) Vectorman
Kinh
KVRian
 
642 posts since 25 Aug, 2012

Postby Kinh; Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:23 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

Serum has serious cpu spiking issues to an extent which no other synth has. This renders it useless in my mind's eye.
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foosnark
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3864 posts since 9 Jan, 2003, from Saint Louis MO

Postby foosnark; Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:28 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

recursive one wrote:It is possible to make mellow, warm and organic sounds with Serum but it shines at cold, anrgy, mechanical sounding stuff and it agruably the best synth for these tasks. If your music doesn't rely much on such sounds probably it would make sense to consider other synth(s).


Funny, I think of Serum as "otherworldly and vaguely threatening" (to borrow from a meme) and ArcSyn as the one that's cold and angry. :hihi:

Kinh wrote:Serum has serious cpu spiking issues to an extent which no other synth has. This renders it useless in my mind's eye.


I've never had that happen :shrug:
lnikj
KVRian
 
1334 posts since 23 May, 2005

Postby lnikj; Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:36 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

recursive one wrote:
dangayle wrote:Throw on the excellent chorus, flange, reverb, and you’ll never even be able to tell you were using Serum.

And what's the purpose of using Serum then?

It is possible to make mellow, warm and organic sounds with Serum but it shines at cold, anrgy, mechanical sounding stuff and it agruably the best synth for these tasks. If your music doesn't rely much on such sounds probably it would make sense to consider other synth(s).


Agree with this. I think it's a great synth for harsher sounds, enormously usable since the GUI upgrade, but I wouldn't ever reach for it if I wanted something warm. Here I usually reach for analog emulations. Sure, you can slap something onto it but that misses the point.

@p4tz3r - have you thought about Reaktor? It won't use much disk space and beyond the initial purchase you will find pretty much anything you want to explore. The rabbit hole is deep ...
Bump1
KVRist
 
203 posts since 3 Oct, 2009

Postby Bump1; Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:25 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

I've never loaded a synth that I've hated as much as Serum...maybe Sylenth.

I know hate is a strong word. But it applies.
Augren
KVRian
 
1203 posts since 8 May, 2003, from Munich

Postby Augren; Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:30 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

Don't go by the factory presets (in general). They often don't do the synth justice, if only because whoever does the patches usually doesn't have the same tastes you do.
While I don't get the hype, Serum is a capable synth and in my arsenal. You do pay the price with CPU cycles mind you. Also, did I mention you need to take the time to do a few patches from scratch to hear some of what a synth is capable of sonically? I'll say it again.
Zexila
KVRAF
 
1806 posts since 17 Mar, 2008

Postby Zexila; Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:36 am Re: The State of Serum in 2017

Maybe look into Zebra.
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