Deep in Serum: six sound tricks to explore just by double-clicking, with maestro Francis Preve

For all the many soft synths out there, maturity and depth matter – and few tools offer those quite like the almighty Serum. Whether you’re just getting around to trying it – or you already think you know all there is to know – sound maven Francis Preve is the perfect guide.

The timing is great, too – Francis has just turned out an extraordinary ambient album-cum-sound library with Tonepaper. The sounds run in Ableton Live, too, but the adapted Serum library goes even further thanks to the instrument’s architecture. You can put that on if you need to focus – or for added incentive to check out Serum.

So let’s start this weekend properly with one of the planet’s best synth sound designers – and some serious secrets that start with just a global preference for how double-clicks work. (really!)

In just a few years, Serum’s feature set has evolved so much that even long-time power users can have a hard time keeping up with all the goodies. Creator Steve Duda is routinely sneaking in amazing tools in each free upgrade, and unless you’re actively following the Xfer Forums and keeping up with upgrades, it’s hard to catch them all.

This little option is where all the magic starts in these tips – now on by default.

For a while now, the “Double-Click for typable values” option has been enabled by default on the Global page. Many people just use this to directly enter values for cutoff frequency, LFO rates, and such—but there’s far more power available than simple numeric entry.
Below are six features you may have missed in the years of updates (it’s at version 1.3x now). Even if you’re fully immersed in Serum’s universe, these design tools are worth a revisit.

That’s right – modulation depth tuning to semitones.

1. Perfect equal-tempered intervals for modulation depth in Serum’s matrix 

For dialing in pitch sequences, you can set mod depths to semitones, like 7 chromatic steps for a fifth or 24 semitones for two octaves, by adding ST after your numeric value. For example, with an LFO assigned to Osc A’s Coarse Pitch, you can set up a 12-tone octave by double-clicking and entering 12ST (Adding the “ST” is crucial, or it’s just a numeric value). 

Quantized envelopes – synced to tempo divisions.

2. Tempo-synced envelopes

If you double click on a time-based envelope parameter, you can directly enter its value in milliseconds. But lo and behold, if you type in fraction like 1/8 or 1/2, that segment will lock a note value to your current DAW tempo. Just remember to repeat the process if you alter the tempo.

Quantize your LFO grid to pitches/semitones, too.

3. Setting the LFO grid to notes and semitones for step-sequences

Most users understand that holding down shift and drawing in the LFO window lets you create step-sequences that snap to the horizontal time grid—a bit like using the pencil tool on clip envelopes in Ableton. But holding down Shift+Alt together adds quantization to the Y-axis, so your step parameter values are also locked to the grid vertically as you draw.

With “Double-Click for typable” active, you can customize this LFO grid just by typing two numbers—separated by a comma—into the “Grid” parameter window. For example: 8,12 gives you an 8-step sequence with12 equal vertical values, while 16,24 will give you a 16-step sequence over 24 values (i.e two octaves, when applied to pitch). From there, you can set the modulation depth in multiples of 12 (described in #1) to create chromatic pitch sequences. After that, you can further refine the pattern by deleting points and changing curves to create 303 or electro effects. 

LFO shapes and edits are available from a pop-up menu.

4. Control-click on LFO to select alternate drawing shapes

Going beyond the above step sequence techniques, there’s even more available if you control+click in the LFO window itself. In this menu, you can change the shape from “flat” (steps) to saw down – or saw up – for pew-pew (or woop-woop) effects. This menu also includes options for inverting the phase or reversing the LFO pattern, as well as several other exotic tricks for individual LFO point modulation.

Make a wavetable from an LFO/

5. Alt-drag an LFO to an Oscillator to generate original waveforms

Once you’ve dialed in a complex LFO shape, you can actually grab the LFO “handle” and drag it into an oscillator window to produce your own original waveforms. These are single cycles (not complete wavetables) but if you repeat the process on a few frames while incrementing the index parameter (WT Pos), you can then crossfade the new table indices to construct a proper wavetable.

Plus next – make an LFO out of a wavetable. Whoa.

6. Coming soon: Convert Wavetable to LFO

In the next version of Serum (coming later this month) this LFO<>OSC waveform exchange will be bi-directional. By clicking on the LFO preset folder, there’s now a “Wavetable to LFO” option, so if you want weird wiggly LFO shapes based on harmonic structures, it’s almost here.

Well, hot damn. Sold. On that wavetable to LFO thing alone.

Stay tuned for more tips like this soon, in a special series we like to call “No One Wants To Hear Damned YouTube Ads While They’re Trying To Make Stuff Happen In The Studio Reading Is Actually Way Faster And More Effective.” Okay, shorter names welcome.

Find more Francis Preve:

And his sound boutique:

Listen to Tiësto’s new ‘AFTR:HRS Sessions’ mix series with inaugural episode by VER:WEST

Listen to Tiësto’s new ‘AFTR:HRS Sessions’ mix series with inaugural episode by VER:WESTTiesto At EDC London 2

Tiësto has one of the longest-running radio shows that electronic music has to offer with “CLUBLIFE,” and now the veteran producer, alongside his record label Musical Freedom, is launching a new mix series in honor of his new AFTR:HRS imprint. The imprint was launched alongside Tiësto’s new side project VER:WEST, and to celebrate the new mix series Tiësto as VER:WEST is the featured artist for the launch of the new series. The series is titled “AFTR:HRS Sessions,” and the monthly sessions will host 60-minute live sets from DJs and producers worldwide. The series will focus on artists and mixes that feature melodic house and techno, which is AFTR:HRS’ primary focus.

Discussing the AFTR:HRS Sessions plans, and the label’s goals over the next 12 months, Tiësto says,

“With 2021 now getting underway myself and the Musical Freedom / AFTR:HRS team wanted to give fans something to get them through the tough months ahead with the ‘AFTR:HRS Sessions.’  I would describe VER:WEST as melodic house music. It’s a lot deeper and more chill and very different energy than Tiësto and hopefully that can be showcased in the upcoming AFTR:HRS releases and artists we have the pleasure of working with. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to play in front of fans but I hope that 2021 will be the year we can all get back out there at a festival together.”

News on “AFTR:HRS Sessions” including upcoming featured artists will be announced in the coming weeks. Listen to the series’ inaugural session below.

Featured Image: Jeff Lombardo

Habstrakt puts the bass house spin on Nitepunk’s ‘Flow’

Habstrakt puts the bass house spin on Nitepunk’s ‘Flow’Habstrakt PC Emp Media

Habstrakt primes himself for another yearly round of bass takeover as he puts forth his first release of 2021. Recruited by young gun Nitepunk for a remix of his single “Flow,” the Frenchman takes on the former’s HARD Recs label debut with a sinister four-on-the-floor spin.

Previously crossing paths when Nitepunk appeared on Habstrakt’s remix package for “The One,” the two producers now trade favors again. Transforming the breaks-heavy production into a steady bass house endeavor, Habstrakt injects skittering hi-hats and dark bass line steps into his reimagined delivery, maneuvering the underground components of the predecessor into more club-heavy proceedings. Less raucous than the original, but equally hard-hitting, Habstrakt’s remix deals out a low-profile groove with massive impact.

Stream Habstrakt’s remix of “Flow” below.

Featured image: EMP Media

KSHMR drops new single ‘The World We Left Behind’ featuring KARRA, announces debut LP ‘Harmonica Andromeda’

KSHMR drops new single ‘The World We Left Behind’ featuring KARRA, announces debut LP ‘Harmonica Andromeda’Kshmr Ultra Meico Rukes

KSHMR launches the new year with his latest single titled, “The World We Left Behind” featuring KARRA, forthcoming from his debut album, Harmonica Andromeda, slated for March. The new track is the first release from his upcoming album and marks KSHMR’s first project since his 2017 EP, Materia. In a press release, the multi-genre producer and DJ states,

“The best song I’ve ever made, I tear up listening to KARRA’s chorus. The song embodies so much of what I love in music, youthful purity instead of adult bravado. It’s a bit Lion King, a bit Porter Robinson. I’m really excited for people to hear this and the rest of the album.”

“The World We Left Behind” personifies KSHMR’s latest sonic direction as the single stays keen to the producer’s signature sound while channeling a new set of grooves, characterized by an ensemble of euphoric synths, enchanting melodies, cinematic atmospheres, and alluring choruses.

The single previews the worldly production of his upcoming debut LP, enlisting the talents of Reid Stefan and frequent vocal collaborator KARRA, the latter of which has worked with the Dharma Worldwide label head on tracks such as “Devil Inside Me,” “Scare Me,” and “Anywhere You Wanna Go,” released by way of his recent Dreamz side project.

Listen to “The World We Left Behind” featuring KARRA below.

Featured image: Rukes

PC Music’s Danny L Harle announces debut album and interactive clubbing experience, Harlecore

PC Music’s Danny L Harle has announced a debut album and new interactive clubbing experience, ‘Harlecore’. 

Ahead of the launch on 26th February, the single ‘On A Mountain’ has been unveiled, a cut credited to DJ Danny, one of four residents set to grace the virtual venue alongside MC Boing, whose ‘Boing Beat’ also recently dropped, DJ Mayhem and DJ Ocean. 

Once opened, the space will be accessible online 24/7 and is inspired by an alternate universe of Harle’s own design. The record, meanwhile, arrives on Mad Decent and takes inspiration from the producer’s musical ‘true loves’ — hardcore, gabber, makina and ambient, here married to electronic pop. 

The online club is the latest web space to offer an interactive, virtual nightlife experience in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and widespread bans on music events across the world. Most recently, Germany’s iconic institution Bootshaus went digital, while DJ Mag has been waxing literary on the emerging tech-music frontier via monthly instalments of our new State of Play column

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Tomorrowland New Year’s Eve sets from Major Lazer, Tchami, Martin Garrix, and more land on Apple Music

Tomorrowland New Year’s Eve sets from Major Lazer, Tchami, Martin Garrix, and more land on Apple MusicGarri Olympics

Tomorrowland has uploaded several live sets from their recent New Year’s Eve digital festival to Apple Music for streaming in full. The grip of performances includes sets from Martin Garrix, Major Lazer, Armin van Buuren, Diplo, Duck Sauce, Tchami, Netsky, Kölsch b2b Joris Voorn, CamelPhat, Lost Frequencies, and many more. The sets are posted as fully interactive playlists that allows users to jump to any ID in the mix.

Apple Music also hosts mixes from July’s Tomorrowland Around The World event, named one of Dancing Astronaut‘s best of 2020, including a comprehensive collection of nearly every set from the two day virtual festival. Listen to the mixes on Apple Music below, or rewatch the New Year’s Eve performances from NAOZ with an access code on Tomorrowland’s website.

Featured image: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Governor Cuomo: Live events to return to New York as soon as February

Governor Cuomo: Live events to return to New York as soon as FebruaryAndrew Cuomo July 2020 Credit Lev Radin Dancing Astronaut

Live events may be returning to New York as soon as next month, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. While some are writing off the idea as optimistic at best, the planned return to live sports, music, and arts is bolstered by an impending increase of COVID-19 vaccinations and rapid testing sites.

Governor Cuomo cited the recent Buffalo Bills game as a shining example of how live events may run in 2020, calling the playoff game, which was the first of the season to allow limited fan attendance, an “inarguable success.”

In his State of the State Address, Cuomo stated that “testing is the key to reopening our economy before the vaccine hits critical mass.” He continued,

“Rapid testing poses great possibilities, as it can be completed in as little as 15 minutes. We will be entering a time where more people are vaccinated, and this will allow us to reopen more businesses safely. We piloted our strategy at last week’s Bills game, where testing was done in a drive-thru, at approximately five minutes per car. The New York State Department of Health is monitoring the contact tracing results, but all early indications suggest this model was successful.”

With a plan in place, it seems like venues could be on the verge of opening on a limited basis. The New York Arts Revival, a private-public partnership which aims to bring the state pop-up performances from over 150 musicians, is slated to begin on February 4 in accordance with the New York State Council. For current information about COVID-19 in New York, visit the state assembly’s official website.

Featured image: Lev Radin

Polivoks Filter Mod For Waldorf Pulse Makes It ‘A Synth On Steroids’

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Virtual Music has introduced a new Polivoks filter mod for the Waldorf Pulse synth that they say makes it ‘a synth on steroids’.

The Polivoks Filter Upgrade offers low pass and band pass filter modes for the Waldorf Pulse. Oscillator 3 can be used as modulator for the filter cutoff frequency. And the original Pulse filter can still be used.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

“The filter of the Russian Polivoks synthesizer is legendary for its powerful and mangy sound. Nothing in the world is that fat! The new Virtual Music Polivoks Filter Upgrade is an adequate replica. It is a small circuit board, designed for installation in the Waldorf Pulse.
Polivoks + Pulse = A powerful team!

The distinctive aesthetics of the Polivoks filter under the control of a powerful modulation matrix make sonic dreams come true. With relatively little effort, this Filter Upgrade transforms the Pulse into a fantastic sounding analog monster that even outshines some famous vintage synthesizers.”


  • Vintage sound and analogue warmth for Waldorf Pulse / Pulse Plus
  • Authentic Polivoks sound
  • Multimode filter with low pass and band pass characteristics
  • Optional filter modulation by Oscillator 3
  • The original Pulse filter still remains
  • All filters can be selected quickly via the panel
  • Seamless integration into the Pulse sound generation
  • Kit for self-installation – optional installation by Virtual Music
  • Installation without visible change of the Pulse
  • The filter’s audio path is built in the style of the 80s

The Polivoks Filter Upgrade consist of A fully assembled and tested circuit board that is designed for self-installation. Installation service is also available.

Polivoks vs Original Filter:

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Pricing and Availability:

The upgrade is available now in small quantities with the following pricing:

  • Polivoks Filter Upgrade Kit for Waldorf Pulse – Price: 195,- Euro net / 234,- Euro gross
  • Polivoks Filter Upgrade for Waldorf Pulse – Installation by Virtual Music Price: 275.- Euro net / 330,- Euro gross

via Andreas Markusen,

Local Action and Finn launch new mixtape series to help pay DJs during pandemic

Local Action and Finn have launched a new mixtape series to help pay DJs during the pandemic, with six artists set to feature.  

Known as Mixtape Club, the series is a response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, which has effectively put the majority of selectors out of work since spring 2020, and works as a non-profit. Every act that contributes to the project is paid a flat fee, £150, with no rules or specifics on format. A budget of £150 is also offered to cover the costs of producing original artwork. 

Mixes will be available to download for free, although there’s also a Patreon system in place — those who can are invited to pledge £5 a month to help fund the project. Any cash left over after costs are covered will be saved until the end of the season and then distributed evenly between the artists.

Full details can be found on the Mixtape Club website, with the first instalment set to drop later this month. 

Revisit our long read, The Sound of: Local Action, then catch up with the DJ Mag Best of British Awards 2020 winners, which include the label’s sister imprint, 2 B Real, alongside affiliates India Jordan and ANZ. 

ARP 2600 Sample Library For Zampler & Akai MPCs

Zampler Sounds has introduced ZA2600, an ARP 2600 sample library expansion for Zampler & Akai MPCs.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

“It‘s often called the Holy Grail of synths… and rightly so, because hardly any other instrument has as big a want-to-have factor as the legendary ARP2600.

With their ZA2600 expansion, Beat Mag presents 65 patches that capture the independent and distinctive sound of this analogue cult synthesizer, so you‘re just as equipped for music styles with a retro vibe like Synthwave and Electro-Pop as you are for modern club productions.”

Audio Demo:

Pricing and Availability

ZA2600 is available now for €12.49.