Posts categorized "Synth: Predator" Feed

Predator Synth Tip: Morphing Effects with LFOs

A stand out feature of Rob Papen’s Predator compared to many virtual subtractives on the market is that it allows you to modulate effects parameters via the various mod matrix slots with very few or no artifacts. I came up with a few examples below with some sample audio at the bottom of the post. You can also MIDI map these parms and modulate in real-time.

Smoothing the Gator


One of the Gator parameters is "smooth” which allows you to round off the sharp edges of the Gate. Even cooler you can modulate smooth parameter to rotate from sharp edges to round edges.

  1. Set LFO2 as a source and set “1 SMOOTH” as destination. The “1” indicates the effect is in slot 1 of 3.
  2. Crank the “smooth” param all the way up. This smooths the gate.
  3. Set LFO2 to sine and a slow speed.
  4. Turn the modulation knob for LFO2 all the way to the left. When you press a key, the LFO will modulate the smooth param back to 0, so a squared off gate. As the LFO cycles, you’ll hear the gate smooth out.

Modulate Delay Length


This same idea will work with effects like delay times. I modified this preset to use LFO 1 to modulate the delay “LENGTH” of a Mono Delay in slot 2.

Audio Sample

Get Creative
These are just two very basic examples to inspire you. Experiment with LFOs with different shapes at different speeds, with using different sources like envelopes or arp velocity. Also, some other synths that come to mind that offer the modulation of FX params are Alchemy, Absynth, or Zebra 2.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

My 2012 Go To Virtual Synthesizers


I own a lot of virtual synths :^)  As part of a voluntary simplification exercise I started in January,  I’ve been limiting myself to a smaller number of instruments over the last year so I could go deeper and create more expressive and unique signature sounds for compositions and live performance. The image above (click to go to interactive map and then click branches learn more about these synths) shows a mindmap of synths I’ve been most drawn to over the last year. In other words, these are the instruments that consistantly make into my tracks like “And What do the Trees Hear When the Wind Blows”, “Orbiting Miranda”, and “Now is Now Remix”.

When narrowing down to this list, I worked to find a very complimentary set of instruments with great workflow. The instruments range in character from pure synthesis instruments (Zebra and Predator), to sample-based instruments (Sampler, Iris), to hybrids (Alchemy, ElextraX) to virtual drum machines (utonic). The instruments with green dots in front are ones I’ve been spending 100s of hours with working to create signature "patches” from scratch that I’ll use in future compositions, productions, and live performances. I should also note that I’m also using many of these synths as effects processors allowing me to capitalize on the investment I made learning the synth workflows (here is a post on this notion) .


For those not familiar with some of these synths checkout some audio samples from past sound design experiments. First is a clip with Alchemy (download MP3) where I use granular synthesis to repurpose the field recording of a fluorescent light bulb.

Here is a little behind-the-scenes video on the creation of this patch.

Here is another example where I use Alchemy (download mp3) to repurpose crowd noise from a CU bastkeball game, a morse code key, and add in something called factalized waveforms.

Next is a Zebrify patch where I slowly pitch up and then process this incoming signal of a Theremin with two comb filters with the pitch of filters being modualted by a step LFO (download mp3)?

Next Steps – Deeper with the Top 3

As I go into the fall I’m going to be spending a lot more time with Zebra and Alchemy. They are both extremely deep and very complimentary. They nicely cover the entire spectrum from pure synthesis to sample mangling. Absynth, which I bought in 2002, is the first virtual synth I ever owned so holds a special place in my rig. I’ll be doing some synth work with it as well but will focus heavily on using it as an effects processor.

Which Should You Pick?

If you have limited funds or time and just want to go deep with one synth, you can't go wrong if you pick one of the three mentioned in the previous paragraph. Again, Zebra is pure synthesis (no samples) and semi-modular. Alchemy is great at resynthesis and sample mangling so if you are into field recordings this is your best bet. Absynth is somewhere between the two and is a great pick if you want to work with extreme multi-segment envelopes and very interesting and unusually effects. I give them all 10/10 and the deeper you go, the more you’ll be rewarded.

If you are looking for a fantastic subtractive that can also be used as an effects processor Predator is fantastic choice. If you want a hybrid with subtractive workflow with visual feedbak, ElectraX is a good bet.

Controllerism with the Top 4

Now that I’ve further narrowed my list, I’m working on templates for various controllers to get even more expressive results with Zebra, Alchemy, Absynth and Predator. I’m using the Alchemy Mobile to control Alchemy on my computer, I’m working on a custom Lemur template for Zebra and Absynth. I’ll also be working on mappings for my Novation Remote SL and refining my AudioCube patches for these synths.

I’ll leave you with a video I did some time ago showing the use of one Percussa AudioCube face in sensor mode to play a note plus send MIDI CC info to control the XY of Alchemy.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

Sound Design and Workflow Tip: Make Better Use of the Stand-Alone FX Versions of Your Virtual Instruments


When I’m producing I use a lot of Ableton Live’s built-in FX. I do this because a) I like them and b) they adhere to the same workflow in everything else in Live so I spend more time making music. Of course sometimes I also want to use a third-party effect for variety or to take advantage of a cool feature. The down-side is that they all have unique workflow and you may find yourself scratching your head a bit rather than making music.

One way to have your cake and eat it to is to make more use of the effects within your favorite virtual synth as stand-alone processors. For example, in my rig, Absyhth, Rob Papen Predator, Slayer 2, Zebra 2 (Zebrify) all have FX only versions of their plug-ins allowing you to route signal through the FX processor sections of these synths.

The advantage of this is your synth chops can now be applied to your FX work and you can get more unique sounds in less time.

The Soul of a Synth in the Effects Processor

In many synths, it’s hard to separate the effects processor from the soul of the synth. Absynth for example has some very unique effects such as the wonderful Aetherizer which is used heavily in many factory patches. By using it as a processor on another synth or audio source you can combine the unique sonic character of the input with this wonderful granular effect.

More on External Input

Want to use your audio input as a modulation source? Both Absynth FX and Zebrifiy have envelope followers. Zebrify also has a pitch follower so you can map the pitch of an incoming signal back to synth parameters.

Below is an example of  my Theremin routed through an audio track in Ableton live with Zebrify in the device chain. As I slowly pitch up on the Theremin, Zebrify processes this signal with two comb filters and modifies the pitch of these filters with a step LFO.

Modulation Mania

Another advantage of using FX from your virtual synths as processor is that most modern virtual instruments are structured to make heavy use of modulation and a modulation matrix. This offers a lot of possibilities for automation and real-time control that often aren’t possible with many stand-alone FX processor plug-ins or even FX in your host.

Unifying Color

I also sometimes apply effects from a single synth FX plugin to all tracks (or a group of tracks) in a mix to help unify the palette of the piece. For example, in my recent track Ambient Drone track “Orbiting Miranda”, I used one instance of Absynth and three of Tone2 Saurus and then used Rob Papen’s Predator FX to do multi-effects with automation on every single track. One of the effects I used is a comb filter which nudged and shifted the timbral character of these synths more towards a center of color I wanted for the piece.

Download MP3 of “Orbiting Miranda”  here.

Presets to Get you Started

When you load the FX only version of these synths, you’ll see factory presets dedicated to just the FX parameters. Jump in, route audio through, and poke around. I was personally blown away at what is possible.

Maximizing Your Investment

I’ll close this by saying you’ve already invested money and time into learning these instruments. If you’ve not explored the use of the stand-alone FX capable plugs in your rig , your really missing out.

Happy producing – and workflow FTW!

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
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Modulate This! - Best Products of 2008 for Electronic Musicians


Hope you all are having a restful holiday season. I continuously strive for the leanest rig that will give me the best results. In this post I’ll offer a list products that make up the core of my rig. Consider this my “If I was stranded on a desert island” list for 2008.  Note that some products in my list were not new in 2008, but I’m still using them tons so they’ve made the list. If you want to see all the elements of my rig, check out this photo album on MySpace.

Best DAW – Ableton Live 7, $499
01_live_midnightFor me, Live has been become more than a DAW. It’s at the core of everything I do and after years of use feels more like a musical instrument to me than some piece of software. See all my posts on Live here. Official Live site is here.

Best Hybrid Synthesizer - Camel Audio Alchemy , $249
imageCamel Audio just released a new synth called Alchemy. They've been working on it for 4 years. It's an additive, spectral, granular, virtual analog synth. The interface is really well done with a clever scheme for routing modulation. I think it’s one of the finest virtual instruments I’ve ever used. I’ll be writing more posts about this synth in the future. For now you can learn more about it here.

Runner up for me in this category is Native Instruments Absynth 4. It’s not new this year but is also a great synth. I also want to mention Spectosonics Omnisphere. I don’t own it and I haven’t tried it (no demo available), but from what I’ve read and seen in demo videos it’s a monster synth. I went with Alchemy because it has a much smaller footprint and has more features for those like me who want to manipulate our own samples.

Best Virtual Analog Synthesizer - Rob Papen’s Predator, $179
predator_advancedPredator is a virtual analog synthesizer for Windows or Mac that runs as a plug-in (VST, Audio Unit, RTAS).  It ships with a huge library of presets, and built-in tools for patch browsing and search.  It also has some innovative features such as preset morphing, intelligent preset variation, and chord memory. Even though Predator didn’t release this year, Rob Papen keeps the synth fresh with free updates. More posts here …

Best Controller Keyboard - Novation Remote SL, Starting at $299

02_novation_remotesl25 I still love the way this controller and Automap 2 software helps make using software more like using a physical instrument. Check out official site here. I still get a lot of traffic on my posts on the M-Audio Axiom series controllers so it’s clearly a popular choice if you can’t afford the Remote SL.

Best Controllers for Those on the Go -Korg Nano Series, $49-59


This year Korg released USB powered slim-line controllers nanoKey, nanoKontrol, and nanoPad. I have Key and Kontrol and can say they are fantastic if you want more control while making music from your laptop. More here

Best Bang for the Buck USB Audio Interface - Novation Nio, $249
image Microphone/instrument or line-level sources, low latency effects (Direct Mix Monitoring, 'Overloud' Guitar amp and distortion pedal effects, effects from the Supernova II and signal processing from Focusrite), two headphone outputs, four RCA outputs. All this for $249! See official site.

Best iPhone Music App – iDrum, Ocarina
image Hmmm. This is a tough one as there is so much innovation going on in this space. My two favorites are iDrum and Ocarina.

iDrum has a great interface for making beats on the go and synchronizes with iDurm for the PC and Mac. Read more about it here.

Ocarina turns your iPhone into a true musical instrument. It uses every feature of the iPhone and has some fantastic social connection features. Checkout the official site here.

Best Field Recorder – Zoom H2, $179
image I just got one of these back in November. It’s really fantastic. It weighs 4 ounces and has 4 mic capsules onboard for 360° recording in a W-X/Y configuration. You can also use it as a USB mic. I blogged about it here.

Buy Online
Most of these items can be purchased online. Support Modulate This! buy using these links: Musicians Friend, Guitar Center, Zzounds.

Share Your List
I’m sure many of you out there have a your own list so feel free to share your list using the comments link at the bottom of this post.

See You in 2009!
Have a safe new years eve and I’ll see you in 2009.

Mark Mosher

Modulate This Review of Rob Papen Predator Virtual Synthesizer


I just spent a few weeks immersing myself in Rob Pappen's Predator Virtual Synthesizer.  I've reemerged and decided to share my thoughts on this synth with a review.

Predator is a virtual analog synthesizer for Windows or Mac that runs as a plugin (VST, Audio Unit, RTAS).  It ships with a huge library of presets, and built-in tools for patch browsing and search.  It also has some innovative features such as preset morphing, intelligent preset variation, and chord memory.

Sonic Range
Even though Predator is primarily a subtractive synth, it can produce a much wider range of sounds than your average analog synthesizer. This is made possible with a powerful yet straight-forward  three oscillator architecture. For each oscillator you can select from one of 128 wave  forms. In addition to analog waveforms, Rob Papen has included, additive, spectral, pink & white noise as well. Each oscillator also has Pulse Width Modulation and oscillators 2 & 3 have modes for Ring  Modulation and FM Synthesis. In plain English, you don't need to understand complex harmonic structures to produce complex sounds quickly.


Predator_gator Predator allows for 3 effects per preset. The list includes Mono Delay, Stereo Delay,  Comb, Reverb, Chorus, Chorus/Delay, Flanger, Phaser, Wah/Delay, Distortion, Low  Fi, Amp Simulator with 5 models, Waveshaper, Stereo Widener, Autopan, Gator,  Vocoder, FX multi-filter, 5 Band Equalizer, Compressor, Ensemble, Cabinet Simulator,  Multi- distortion and AutoWah. Two FX modulation sources are available for connecting midi or synth controls to FX parameters. 

The "Gator" effect is a trance gate. "Vocoder" is a 32 band vocoder that can use either samples or sound (input) that is fed into Predator as a modulator. So, creating cool vocoded effects is a snap.

I should also mention that there is a stand-alone version of the effects processor called PredatorFX which allows you to use these effects on any audio channel in your DAW.



Predator has a 16 step pattern based arpeggiator with some excellent features that might make you use this arpeggiator more than the one in your DAW.  Some stand out features include the ability to enter note values for a step by using your midi keyboard. You can also set note velocity, swing and slide amount controls.  One really cool feature is the ability to use an  arppegiator step as a free modulation source. You can even control  arpeggiator latch using a midi sustain pedal. Lastly, you can copy, paste, clear, move, reverse, randomize and turn off / on controls, for both selected steps or all steps.

Right Click and  MIDI Learn

The interface supports right-click for access to additional parameters. For example, you can reset a knob to its default state or execute MIDI learn to map knobs and sliders on your controller to a Predator parameter.

One Page Interface
What’s amazing about Predator is that almost all the parameters fit on its clean one page interface.  A few parameters require you toggle to a different panel (see this article). The layout is logical and simple and if you’re familiar with subtractive synthesis you’ll be creating new custom presets in no time.

There is something for everyone inside of Predator. Musicians and Producers will love the large library of sounds, the bank manager,  and how easy it is to "tweak" using the single page interface. Sound designers will love the flexible Free Modulation scheme with 8 modulation routings for connecting 40 modulation sources and 65 modulation destinations.

At $149 EU/ $179 US you'll be hard pressed to find a virtual synthesizer with more bang for the buck. For many I think this will become their "goto" synth.

Learn More
I’ve covered the core elements of Predator in this review but there are many, many more features I’ve left for you to discover. Checkout the links below for more.

Mark Mosher

Where Is the Arpeggiator in Rob Papen's Predator?


I'm really into synthesizers with one page interfaces these days. I've been working a lot with Rob Papen's Predator which has a fantastic UI. Almost all control "sections" are displayed on one page. I say almost as they couldn't quite cram all the control elements in.

To accommodate more controls without cluttering up the interface, there are toggle buttons on the interface. Use the graphic above as a guide to access additional sections, see the back of the synth, and access the help file.





More on Predator in future posts...

Mark Mosher

What's New and How To Upgrade To Rob Papen Predator 1.5.1, Blue 1.8.1 and RG 1.0.1



Rob Papen has released updates to Blue, Predator and RG. All three virtual synthesizers have the following new preset browsing features:

  • "Quick Browse" is a new function that allows you to quickly browse through preset.
  • "Recently Browsed" allows you to easily rind the presets you tried out previously.
  • "Favorites" allows you to quickly collect you favorite presets.


Predator 1.5.1 Update (web site | buy from Musicians Friend)

Blue 1.8.1 Update

To upgrade use download link here

Additional RG 1.0.1 Updates 

  • Sequencer Preset Menu: Sequences can now be selected by click in a sequencer preset menu.
  • Currently loaded Sequence is displayed
  • Keyboard sequence / chord / notes pressed is displayed
  • Bug fixes
  • To upgrade to RG 1.0.1

Mark Mosher