Posts categorized "Sound Design" Feed

How to Use ElectraX Synth with Ableton Push Pad Pressure and Use Ribbon Controller Like a Mod Wheel

push electrax

I finally got my hands on a Push. I’m going through songs in my existing live show and tweaking synths to be even more expressive with Push’s aftertouch and ribbon controller. In this post I’ll be focusing on the wonderful ElectraX synth by Tone2 Audiosoftware but the same concepts apply to any synthesizer that allows for CC mapping in their Mod Matrix - including all the other Tone2 synths.

The image below (click to enlarge) illustrates how to map Push’s pad pressure (aftertouch) and ribbon controller in the mod matrix.


Ribbon Controller

If you are using Ableton instruments, the ribbon controller on Push is hard wired to pitch wheel. One advantage to using third party synths is synths like ElectraX, Absynth, and others allow you to map MIDI controller information right into their mod matrix. In other words you can map the ribbon to anything you like

In ElectraX if you want to disable mod wheel so it doesn’t change pitch got to Settings and set “Pitchwheel” to off. Now go into the Mod Matrix and map Pitchwheel. In the example above, I’m using the ribbon to crossfade oscillator 1 and oscillator 2 volumes.


To map pad pressure, which is really exposed as aftertouch, go to the Mod Matrix and map “Afterto.” to parameters. In the example above I’m using pressure to close the filter and increase filter resonance.

Keep Up with Push Posts

I’ll be doing many more posts on Push in the future so keep an eye on this category You can subscribe to the RSS feed for this category here The ElextraX category is here |

Mark Mosher

Sound Design Tip: Add Variability and Slop with U-HE Diva Synthesizer Trimmers


This month I’ve been focusing on writing presets from scratch with Diva. While I’ve had Diva for a  while I’m just now getting around to doing some proper programming from INIT. Diva has a reputation for crushing your CPU so it’s worth mentioning that 1.1 release uses up to 40% less CPU. The 1.1.1 update adds Mountain Lion support and some other bug fixes so make sure you update

One of my favorite parts of Diva is the “Timmers” panel. (P. 29 of the Manual)

This panel is the most ‘esoteric’ part of Diva – from the user’s point of view at least. As well as detuning voices (individual and/or stacked), a variable degree of slop can be applied to cutoff frequency, envelope times, pulse width and glide times.

Using Trimmer to Detune Voices

So lets walk through a simple example to get you going with Trimmers. In this example we’ll use the trimmers to detune voices.

1 – Load the template preset INIT Minipoly


2 – Got to the Trimmers panel and set voices to 2.


3 - Now with ever note press, Diva will round-robin between voice 1 & 2. The corresponding LED will light so you know which voice is sounding.

4 – Now turn the VCO1 Trimmer knobs for “VCO Voice Detune” in opposite directions detuning both voices up and down from center.

5 – Start playing notes and you’’ll hear the voices detuning with ever other key press.

More Ideas

Now that you know the basics here are some more ideas to try.

  • Use more voices to add more variability
  • Try stacking voices
  • Use the “Voice Map Modulator” as a modulation source
  • Walk through the factory patches with the “Trimmers” panel open to learn how these sound designers took advantage of these features
  • ….

Wrap Up

As you can see using voice allocation as a modulator with these trimmers can add both predictable and unpredictable results (especially when playing polyphonically). So add this to Diva's fantastic analog modelling and you get a very organic synth that can sound very cranky and interesting.


Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Composer, Performer
Boulder, CO

Pure and Broken Circuits 01 - Absynth Sound Design Experiment


"Pure and Broken Circuits 01" is an Absynth sound design experiement. A sound design experiment showing the darker virtual analog modelling side of Absynth (no samples here) to illustrate Absynth's range beyond the typical motion pad :^) This piece is an improvisation using an original preset patched with two oscillator in single mode and two Filters with feedback. I'm using waveshaping feedback mode and modulating filters and resonance with envelopes which creates the sonic movement as the envelopes play out.

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

Chernobyl Diaries Soundtrack by Diego Stocco

Just a quick heads up to let you know that the new horror film Chernobyl Diaries was scored by the epic Diego Stocco. While you may no Diego from his sound design work with Omnisphere (Burning Piano…) this is his debut as a film composer.

He is sharing fun photos related to the film on his Facebook page like the one below is a photo of Diego with director Brad Parker.

Update: Diego just tweeted me that he update some behind-the-scenes info and audio clips on the project here

I’ll be checking this film out over the weekend for sure. Learn more about Diego by visiting his official web site

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

Crowdsourced Mindmap: Synthesizers with Comb Filters


I love comb filters! Buying a Waldorf Blofeld a few years back caused me to start using them even more because it’s interactive display allowed me to visualize the shape of the filter and correlate that with an audio result. Waldorf Largo and Tone2’s ElectraX also offer this feature.

What is a Comb Filter?

I like the definition on p. 49 of the Waldorf Blofeld Manual:

A Comb filter is basically a very short delay that can be controlled in length and feedback. The delay time is so short that you can’t hear its individual taps but a colorization of the original signal created by peaks or holes in the frequency spectrum. The frequency of the colorization is set by the delay length, which is controlled in the Blofeld through Cutoff, while the amount of colorization is set by the Comb filter feedback, which is controlled in the Blofeld by Resonance.

To further illustrate this, I’ve included a screenshot below which has the same filter type in Waldorf Largo, but with VERY different shapes simply  y changing cutoff and resonance.


What Do Comb Filter's Sound Like?

Stay tuned for a future article on this with some video.

Crowdsourced Mindmap of Synths with Comb Filters

 A week or so back I was curious how many synths in my rig had comb filters and started to document them in a mindmap. I decided to take things a step further and crowdsource this on Twitter and Facebook and make an even more comprehensive map. The map is constrained to just synthesizers with comb filters that are in production. It also doesn’t contain FX plug-ins or processors that have combs.

Click here to view an interactive version of this mindmap full screen.

The Crowd

Be Combtastic

Now get out there and crank on those comb filters!

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Official Web Site:
Listen/Download Albums:

Mind Maps

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
Official Web Site:
Listen/Download Albums: