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User Reviews by KVR Members for Serum

Rate & Review Serum Now!

Reviewed By Yorrrrrr [read all by] on 2nd February 2015
Version reviewed: 8.1 on Windows.
Last edited by bitcrusher on 5th February 2015.
11 of 15 people found this review helpful.
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Many good things in here. Features (the oscillator section, the unison, the wavetable features, the noise and sample loading section, the crazy amount of filters), GUI (visual representation and animation for nearly everything) and sound (clean oscillators, oversampling) are very good.

I didn't like the stock presets as much, but there are third party patches (like Ayin Zahev, Simon Stockhausen, etc.) that really show the quality of this synth. I'm loving the function and sound of this synth.

However, I find the CPU usage way too high, and quickly becomes unusable for me (and I have a pretty powerful system i7 4790K at 4.4 GHz, 16 GB DDR3 2400 RAM, Samsung 850 Pro SSDs, an RME Babyface audio interface, an optimized for audio Windows 8.1 OS, etc..). I always end up using DUNE 2 instead in a production. But for messing around with the synth alone, Serum is good.

I made a little, quick and easy test on FL Studio:

1. A 7 voice unison (density in DUNE 2) saw wave, 16 polyphony, longest amp envelope release possible and filter activated on Serum drove my system close to 30 to 35% CPU load with all voices playing, and if I mess with the detune knob, ugly spikes drive it to 50-60%;

2. Meanwhile DUNE 2 is 3-4% CPU load and it stays stable no matter what. Even if I bump up the DUNE 2 unison voices to 8 (that is, 8 copies or layers of the same sound playing at the same time), I still can't reach the 30% Serum demands for its single layer.

3. Sylenth1...6-7% CPU load... (this is a surprise to me, DUNE 2 even outperforms Sylenth1, the gold standard in sound/cpu usage ratio..).

4. Spire...15-20% CPU load.. (this one is also considered a CPU hog, not as bad as Serum, though)

EDIT: I did the test again, with same settings on all synths. As suggested by Steve Duda himself, the settings are: Long sustained notes in the piano roll (FL Studio), no release at all, 16x polyphony, 16 notes playing at the same time, filter enabled. The results are:

1. Serum: 34%
2. DUNE 2: 3%
3. Sylenth1: 6%
4. Spire: 6-7%

Not super scientific tests by any means, and certainly not indicative of a real world performance for everybody, but it could give a very rough idea of the CPU load situation (as of the time of this little test, with Serum version 1.04b3).

IMHO, Serum seems like an unfinished product and it needs optimization. If you want to buy this synth, make sure you have the CPU power to back it up.

But it is one fine sounding synth (not better or worse than DUNE 2 or Sylenth1 in this respect, just different) and it deserves better. I guess those fancy animations come at a price [:?].

It has a great potential to be one of the greatest.

[comment from Steve Duda]: DUNE is multicore and you're not looking at the activity across your cores so it could be up to 8x what you're reporting. Sylenth caps at 32 polyphony, if you allow Sylenth to play 256 voices it's consumption is about 3x what you report, at least here. I don't trust your tests. Serum takes more CPU than the others (and for good reason, there is a measurable difference in oscillator quality compared to some of your test comparisons) and runs single-core, which can be prohibitive if you need 256 voices from a single instance but that isn't really a real-world example. There's users that have used up to 90+ Serum instances in a single project, as hosts should be spreading things to various cores which is in most cases the optimal way of operating, rather than a single instance spreading it's workload across the cores (as there is overhead doing such a thing).

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Discussion

Discussion

Discussion: Active
Vospi
Vospi
16 September 2014 at 5:51pm

Wow.

PUSHA
PUSHA
17 September 2014 at 11:44am

DAMN!!!! I AM EXCITED TO TRY THIS THANG OUT!!!!! ANY RELEASE DATE INFO?

bitcrusher
bitcrusher
17 September 2014 at 12:55pm

yes, there's an annoucement now here http://www.kvraudio.com/news/xfer-records-announces-serum-wavetable-synthesizer-for-mac-and-win-vst-au-and-aax-27366.

release is planned for this Friday.

powermat
powermat
18 September 2014 at 2:01pm

Still planning on a release, tomorrow? :D.

bitcrusher
bitcrusher
18 September 2014 at 8:41pm

all systems go.

krismiller1982
krismiller1982
19 September 2014 at 1:41pm

Following the countdown on Facebook... Several hours have past since Steve said it would be released.... Take my money already!!!!.

wickermanxxx
wickermanxxx
10 October 2014 at 7:26pm

Based purely on synthesis, this is my favorite soft synth yet.

digiteaser
digiteaser
24 November 2014 at 10:11am

Definitely a good pick. Xenos' review above is a nice resource for getting an idea.

THIS POST HAS BEEN REMOVED

yoshi303
yoshi303
21 March 2015 at 7:48pm

hello, im new on forum... willing to buy serum for my sounds... :)

1+- how do u set LFO amount ? (for pitch there coarse pitch assignable i saw... but for other thinks ?)

2- how do u decide the LFO start at this frequencie... and not random ? (free LFO mode like sylenth possible ?)

AWESOME SYNTH... my next buy. plz respond ^^ thx in advance <3.

yoshi303
yoshi303
21 March 2015 at 7:59pm

also how i do random and S&H waveform with LFO ?

powermat
powermat
24 May 2015 at 12:28am

you may want to try his website for questions xferrecords dot com.

stunkit
stunkit
14 July 2017 at 12:36am

Can I consider this Synth as the best one on the market for now?

ubailey
ubailey
9 January 2018 at 3:09am

I love this synth.

Fraggle
Fraggle
1 March 2019 at 1:40pm

After 20 years of trying and buying most of the big synths (and some cheaper ones) I now only use Serum and (occasionally) zebra 2.8. The versatility of Serum is breathtaking.

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Serum

Average user rating of 4.70 from 10 reviews

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