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Studio One 3 : MaiTai

Mai Tai

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Mai Tai is a polyphonic analog modeling synthesizer with a simple and straightforward interface. It excels at pad sounds, leads, rhythmic chords, and many other synth duties. Mai Tai includes the following features:

 

  • 32 synth voices with up to 8x oversampling
  • 2 oscillators (sine, triangle, saw, square) with sub osc
  • Osc spread, sync, PWM & Random Phase
  • Noise generator
  • Character processor (for creative tonal effects)
  • Multi-Mode Filter

◦     24 dB Ladder Filter

◦     24 dB Zero Delay Feedback Filter

◦     12 dB Low-Pass, Band-Pass, and High-Pass Filters

  • 2 LFOs (with sync, free run, and sample & hold)
  • 3 ADSR Envelopes (two with pre-attack delay)
  • 16-slot modulation matrix
  • Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Delay, Reverb, Gater, EQ, Distortion, Pan

 

Interface

The central control panel contains controls for the Oscillators (Osc 1 and 2) and Noise generator, the Character processor and Filter, and the LFOs and Envelope Generators. These are the primary controls you'll use to sculpt your sound. You can enable or disable each of these modules by clicking the module's name. To the right of these controls are the Global parameters, which let you tune the overall behavior and capabilities of the synth to your needs.

Along the bottom of the window, you'll see the Mod/FX section (which gives you access to Mai Tai's modulation matrix and effects) and the Image_002.jpg buttons.

 

Oscillators

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Two oscillators are available, per voice, allowing for rich sounds with a wide tonal palette. Each Osc has its own set of parameters, which differ in small but significant ways. In both Osc 1 and Osc 2, you'll see the following controls:

 

  • Bypass Click the [Osc 1] or [Osc 2] button to disable or enable each oscillator. This can be helpful when you want to create a one- oscillator sound, or to temporarily disable an oscillator, so that you can focus on shaping the sound of the other.
  • Oscillator Waveform Choose between Sine, Triangle, Sawtooth, or Square.
  • PWM Only available when Square Wave is selected, this control lets you vary the pulse width of the square wave, changing the distribution of harmonics, and thus, the tone of the oscillator.
  • Octave Lets you set the frequency range, in octaves, for the current oscillator. Range is set in number of feet (like a pipe in a pipe organ), so the lower the number, the higher the pitch.
  • Random Phase (RP) Enable this option to set the oscillator to Random Phase mode, in which, when a note is played, the  oscillator starts its waveform at a random start point. This establishes a varying phase relationship between both oscillators whenever a note is played (if both oscs are enabled), which creates pleasing shifts in tone over time. Disable this option to restart the waveform at the beginning when a note is played, which can be preferable when creating percussive sounds, because it allows a uniformity of attack, from note to note.
  • Semi and Fine These controls let you set the center pitch of the oscillator, in semitones (Semi) and cents (Fine).
    • Spread (Osc 1 only) This control lets you layer in additional oscillators that follow Osc 1 pitch, with increasing amounts of detuning as more oscillators are blended in. This creates a richer, fuller sound. With Spread all the way to the left, you hear a single oscillator. As you turn Spread to the right, more oscillators are added, with greater detuning and stereo spread.
    • Sync (Osc 2 only) Enable this option to restart Osc 2's waveform each time Osc 1's waveform repeats. This is a classic analog synthesis technique, creating rich harmonics and a sharp and strident sound. This is further expanded when pitch modulation is applied to one or both of the oscillators with an LFO or envelope.
    • Sub Each of Mai Tai's oscillators has an attached sine wave sub-oscillator, which plays the same relative pitch as the main osc,  but an octave down. This control lets you blend in the signal from the sub-oscillator, which is a nice way to add additional thickness and fullness to your sound, without having to dedicate the second main oscillator to the task.
    • Level This control lets you set the volume of each oscillator, to blend their tones to your liking.
  • Pan This control lets you position each oscillator separately in the stereo field, from left to right.

 

Noise Generator

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The Noise section is a noise generator that can add texture and character to your sounds. The Noise module offers the following controls:

 

  • Bypass Click the [Noise] button to turn Noise on or off.
  • Level Lets you set the volume level for the noise generator.
  • Pan This control lets you position each oscillator separately in the stereo field, from left to right.
  • Color Lets you set the timbre of the noise from dark to bright.

 

Character

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The Character processor is one of the unique features of Mai Tai, offering a range of waveshaping effects that broaden its tonal range. The Character module offers the following controls:

 

  • Bypass Click the [Character] button to turn the Character processor on or off.
  • Mode Menu Choose from a range of different spectral and formant processing modes.

◦     Analog Color These character modes emulate a variety of characterful analog audio circuits. In the following modes, the Sound knob blends between two different circuits, with distinct effects on sound.

▪     Ardency

▪     Bassmoderator

▪     GrandClass

◦     Formant These character modes effect the sound using formant-shifting techniques. In the following modes, the Sound knob sweeps through the range of formants.

▪     CharacterSaw

▪     Subvox

▪     Talky

▪     Voxil

◦     Harmonics These character modes generate harmonics and spectral effects. In the following modes, the Sound knob sweeps through the range of harmonics.

▪     Ampog

▪     Fuzzarmonics

▪     Harmonia

▪     Harmson

▪     Spherical

▪     Subharmonium

  • Sound Lets you vary the effect of the Character processor. Each Character mode responds to this control in a unique way, so feel free to experiment.
  • Amount Lets you blend between the dry signal and the signal from the Character processor.

 

Filter

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Mai Tai offers a versatile Filter, which lets you shape and enhance your sounds. The filter is often one of the most important defining elements to the sound of a subtractive synthesizer, and likewise, this filter's unique characteristics have much to do with the sound of Mai Tai. The Filter offers the following controls:

 

  • Bypass Click the [Filter] button to turn the filter on or off.
  • Filter Mode Choose from the following filter modes, each with its own sound-shaping characteristics.

◦     LP 24dB Ladder This mode emulates a classic 24dB-per-octave low-pass filter based on a transistor-ladder configuration, as found in many classic synthesizers. This type of filter allows frequencies below the chosen Cutoff frequency to pass through, which cutting frequencies above Cutoff at a rate of 24 decibels per octave—a fairly aggressive slope.

◦     LP 24dB Zero This is a 24dB-per-octave low-pass filter, based on a zero-delay-feedback architecture that closely models the tone and modulation behavior of analog filters.

◦     LP 12dB Ladder This is a low-pass filter with a 12dB-per-octave curve, which cuts frequencies less aggressively than the 24dB filters.

◦     BP 12db Ladder This is a high-pass and low-pass filter in series, known collectively as a band-pass filter. It allows a selected band of frequencies to pass through, then cuts frequencies above and below that band at a rate of 12 decibels per octave.

◦     HP 12dB Ladder This is a high-pass filter with a 12db-per-octave slope. This lets frequencies above the chosen Cutoff frequency pass through, while cutting frequencies below Cutoff at a rate of 12 decibels per octave.

  • CutoffThis lets you set the corner frequency of the filter—the point in the slope of the filter at which the filter cuts incoming audio by 3dB. In the case of the Band-Pass filter, this sets the center frequency of the passed frequency band.
  • Soft This control lets you switch between two differing analog-modeled processing circuits within the filter. Engage Soft for a mellower, darker tone. Disengage it for a brighter, more aggressive sound.
  • Drive This lets you specify an amount of filter overdrive, to add fullness and saturation artifacts to your sound.
    • Punch This control lets you add a range of percussive attack to the start of each note. At the lowest setting, dynamics are unchanged. At higher settings, the sound becomes more aggressive and more readily pops through the mix.
    • Resonance (Res) This lets you set the amount of resonance in the filter, which is an emphasis centered on the chosen cutoff frequency. At lower settings, the filter cuts frequencies smoothly. As you increase Res, the emphasis at the cutoff frequency becomes more pronounced, able to mimic resonances such as those in voices or acoustic instruments, as well as many classic synthesis effects. At the highest settings, the filter can self-oscillate, emitting a pitched tone at the current cutoff frequency. This filter oscillation can be treated somewhat like an extra oscillator, especially in conjunction with the Key parameter.
      • Velocity (Vel) This control sets the relationship between incoming Voice Velocity and filter Cutoff. When set at the center, velocity does not effect cutoff. When moved to the right, cutoff rises as note velocity increases. When moved to the left, cutoff lowers as note velocity increases.
      • Key This control sets the relationship between incoming Voice Pitch and filter Cutoff. In physical instruments, higher notes tend to produce higher harmonics, brightening slightly as you go up the scale. On a synthesized instrument, if the filter stays static, setting

the proper tone in the lower note ranges may cause inappropriate dullness in the higher notes. So, with the Key parameter, we can compensate for this, and create a more natural-sounding range of timbres up and down the keyboard.

◦     When Key is set all the way to the left, the filter is unaffected by note pitch. In the middle, cutoff follows note pitch subtly, allowing high notes to shine. When set all the way right, filter cutoff follows note pitch closely in a relative fashion, moving upward and downward in semitone values as notes are received. This lets you use the filter as an additional pitched oscillator or resonator when filter Res is set high.

 

LFO 1 and LFO 2

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LFO stands for Low Frequency Oscillator, and they work very much like Osc 1 and 2 in Mai Tai, only slower. Standard oscillators are used mainly to create audible pitched tones, LFOs create slow-moving regular cycles of control signal that are useful for modulating other parameters over time. One common example is the way many synth patches respond when you move the Mod Wheel up from zero; the pitch of the oscillators wavers up and down in an expressive manner, much like the sound of vocal vibrato. This is simply an LFO modulating oscillator pitch to a degree set by the position of the mod wheel.

LFO 1 and 2 have identical controls, so the following explanations apply to both:

 

  • Bypass Click the [LFO 1] or [LFO 2] button to turn the LFO on or off.
  • LFO Type Choose between Sine, Triangle, Sawtooth, Square, and Sample & Hold shapes, for the oscillation of the LFO.
    • Rate This control lets you set the rate at which the LFO oscillates, from inaudibly low (0.01 hz) for long, sweeping changes, all the way to higher ranges (up to 8 kHz) useful for FM techniques. When the [Sync] button is engaged, Rate can be set in terms of rhythmic values relative to Song tempo, such 1/8th-note and 1/4-note.
    • Sync Engage this option to enable setting LFO Rate to a rhythmic value (such as 1/8th-note or 1/4-note) relative to Song tempo. Disengage to set Rate by Hz.
    • Key Engage this option to bind LFO speed to incoming note pitch. Higher notes result in higher LFO speeds, while lower notes result in lower LFO speeds.
    • Free Engage this option to let the LFO run continuously, resulting in a differing LFO start point for each note played. Disengage to restart the LFO waveform at the start of each note.
      • Delay This control lets you specify an amount of time (in milliseconds) for the LFO to wait before becoming active after a note is played. This lets you do things like adding a bit of expression to held notes, or creating layers of modulation that start at different points in each note by setting distinct Delay values for each LFO.

 

Envelopes

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Envelope generators are a vital part of sound synthesis, giving us the ability to shape the amplitude and timbre of our sounds within the time-scale of each note. Mai Tai has three envelope generators, labeled Amp Env (so named because it is hard-wired to amplitude), Env 2 (which is often routed to filter cutoff, for timbral shaping), and Env 3.

All three Env modules are triggered when a note is played. Each Env then outputs a control signal that follows the shape set by the following controls:

 

  • Attack (A) This control lets you set the time required for the envelope to go from zero (silence) to full amplitude, in a range from 0 ms to 20 seconds.
  • Decay (D) This control lets you set the time required to drop from full amplitude to the sustain level, in a range from 0 ms to 20 seconds.
  • Sustain (S) This control lets you set the signal level that is maintained from the end of the decay period, until the key is released, in a range from -∞ dB (silence) to 0.0 dB (full amplitude).
  • Release (R) This control lets you set the time required to fall back to silence after the key is released, in a range from 0 ms to 30 seconds.
    • Delay (- Env 2 and 3 only) This control lets you specify a length of time (in ms) for the Env to pause before starting its attack phase after a note is played. This can assist in creating evolving sounds, where cycles of modulation occur at differing times over the length of a note.

 

Envelope Graphical Display

Each envelope has a corresponding graphical display that represents the shape created by the settings of its parameters. There are handles on the corners and slopes of each envelope that you can click and drag, letting you shape the ADSR envelope and the curve between its points visually. If you wish to lengthen any phase of the envelope beyond the time limits of the current display, simply drag the point toward the right of the graph, and the time scale adjusts to properly display the new setting.

 

Global Settings

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The following Global parameters let you configure Mai Tai's overall behavior and capabilities, to meet your needs

 

  • Volume This control lets you set the total output volume, in a range from -∞ dB (silence) to +6.0 dB (six decibels above unity gain).
  • Velocity This control lets you set the degree to which Mai Tai's volume is affected by note velocity, from zero (no velocity sensitivity) to 100% (full velocity sensitivity).
  • Poly, Mono, and Glide Enable Poly mode to allow polyphonic playing (more than one note at a time). Enable Mono mode to play just one note at a time. When in Mono mode, you can enable Glide to cause the pitch to sweep smoothly from that of the currently held note to that of the next note, when played legato (one note played while the previous note is held). The Glide knob lets you set the rate of pitch change over time, from 1 ms to 1 second.
    • Voices This parameter lets you set the level of polyphony (number of available simultaneous voices) for Mai Tai, in a range from 1 to 32. Note that this control has no effect when in Mono mode (in which there is only one voice available, by default).
    • Quality Choose from a variety of sound quality modes to suit the power of your CPU and your taste in synth timbres. The following modes are available:

◦     80s The simplest and most CPU-efficient of the modes. High-frequency modulation can create harsher, more typically "digital" artifacts in this mode, much like some early digital synths of the 1980s.

◦     Normal The default mode, Normal makes a good compromise between CPU load and sonic complexity. This mode is useful in most standard synthesis tasks.

◦     High This mode budgets additional CPU power to handle high-frequency modulation (such as that used in FM synthesis) smoothly.

◦     Supreme This mode strives for the most realistic simulation of analog synthesis; rich and complex. CPU usage is high, but the results can be worth it.

Effects

Mai Tai offers seven effects processors to add dimension to your sounds. They are arranged in two banks: FX A (Modulation, Delay, and Reverb) and FX B (Gater, EQ, Distortion, and Pan). You can enable or disable each effect by clicking its name. You can show or hide the Mod/FX section of the plug-in window by clicking the [Mod/FX] button.

 

Modulation

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This processor creates time-based modulation effects. Choose from the following modes by clicking the [Chorus], [Flanger], or [Phaser] button:

 

  • Chorus This processor creates effects similar to that of multiple identical instruments playing the same part simultaneously. The synth signal is fed through a short, modulated delay, which is then mixed with the dry signal. Chorus offers the following controls:

◦     Mono Engage this option to sum the wet (effected) signal to mono.

◦     Delay This control lets you set the length of the modulated delay. Higher settings create full-bodied chorusing effects, while lower settings create more pronounced harmonics, akin to the effects of a Flanger.

◦     Speed This control lets you set the speed at which the delay line is modulated. Lower settings create slow, sweeping effects, while higher settings create faster, more aggressive modulation.

◦     Width This control lets you set the degree to which the delay line is modulated. Lower settings produce subtler chorusing effects, while higher settings produce more pronounced changes in timbre over time.

◦     Depth This control lets you blend between the dry signal (all the way left) and the chorused signal (all the way right).

  • Flanger This processor creates resonant, hollow-sounding sweeping effects. The synth signal is fed through a short, modulated delay, which is mixed with the dry signal. While similar to the workings of a Chorus effect, Flangers get their signature sound by employing smaller delay times than those used in chorusing, combined with a feedback system that can add extra resonance to the sweep. Flanger offers the following controls:

◦     Mono Engage this option to sum the wet (effected) signal to mono.

◦     Delay This control lets you set the length of the modulated delay (in ms), which changes the pitch of the resultant resonance. Higher settings create lower-pitched resonance, while lower settings create resonances at a higher pitch.

◦     Speed This control lets you set the speed at which the delay line is modulated. Lower settings create slow, sweeping effects, while higher settings create faster, more aggressive modulation.

◦     Width This control lets you set the degree to which the delay line is modulated. Lower settings produce subtler flanging effects, while higher settings produce more pronounced changes in timbre over time.

◦     Feedback (FB) This control lets you set the amount of output signal to feed back into the Flanger. Higher amounts of Feedback add to the resonance of the sweeping effect.

◦     Sync Engage this option to enable setting Flanger modulation speed to a rhythmic value (such as 1/8th-note or 1/4-note) relative to Song tempo. Disengage to set Rate on a continuous scale.

◦     Depth This control lets you blend between the dry signal (all the way left) and the flanged signal (all the way right).

  • Phaser This processor creates dreamy, otherworldly sweeping effects. The synth signal is fed through a series of all-pass filters that alter its phase. When mixed with the dry signal, this creates a series of peaks and valleys in the frequency response that changes depending on the degree of phase shift applied. Phaser offers the following controls:

◦     Mono Engage this option to sum the wet (effected) signal to mono.

◦     Shift This control lets you specify the amount of phase shift to apply. Lower settings focus the phasing effect in the lower frequencies, while higher settings focus the effect in higher frequencies.

◦     Speed This control lets you set the speed of modulation applied to the phase shift amount. Lower settings create slow, sweeping effects, while higher settings create faster, more aggressive modulation.

◦     Width This control lets you set the degree to which the phase shift amount is modulated. Lower settings produce subtler effects, while higher settings produce more pronounced changes in timbre over time.

◦     Feedback (FB) This control lets you set the amount of output signal to feed back into the Phaser. Higher amounts of Feedback add to the resonance of the sweeping effect.

◦     Sync Engage this option to enable setting Phaser modulation speed to a rhythmic value (such as 1/8th-note or 1/4-note) relative to Song tempo. Disengage to set Rate on a continuous scale.

◦     Depth This control lets you blend between the dry signal (all the way left) and the phase-shifted signal (all the way right).

Delay

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This processor creates an echo effect, either as a single delayed repeat of the input signal, or a trailing series of echoes. The Delay effect offers the following controls:

 

  • Low and High These controls let you set the cutoff frequencies of the provided high-pass and low-pass filters, which effect only the delayed signal.
  • Delay Time This control lets you specify the length of the delay effect, in rhythmic values (such as 1/8th-note or 16th-note) relative to the tempo of the Song.
  • Feedback (FB) This control lets you set the amount of effected signal that is fed back into the Delay effect. At zero, there is just one repeat. As you increase the value, the trail of repeats grows.
  • Mix This control lets you blend between the dry signal (all the way left) and the delayed signal (all the way right).
    • Ping-Pong Mode This menu lets you enable and configure the stereo Ping-Pong delay mode. You can choose from the following modes:

◦     Off The delay works as normal, without ping-pong functions.

◦     Panned Using a multi-tap delay structure, this mode pans each delay repeat to the right or left, in sequence.

◦     Dotted and Double These modes work similarly to Panned mode, but employ staggered spacing of the delay taps to produce a dotted-note or syncopated straight rhythm in the delay repeats.

  • Reverb Enable this option to route the output of the Delay effect to the Reverb effect, enabling further diffusion and abstraction of the delay signal.
  • Reverb

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This effect places the synth signal within a synthesized reverberant physical space, ranging from short reverbs that emulate smaller rooms, to long reverbs that evoke the sounds of large spaces, such as halls and cathedrals. Reverb offers the following controls:

 

  • Pre-Delay (Pre) This parameter lets you specify an amount of delay applied to the reverb-processed signal, in a range between zero and 500 ms. This emulates the delay inherent in large spaces between the impact of a sound and its audible reverberation. Lower settings are best suited to shorter reverb times, and longer settings with longer reverb times, but let your own taste be the judge.
  • Damping This control lets you set an amount of high-frequency attenuation to apply to the reverb signal. Spaces with soft surfaces tend to lose treble quickly as the sound reverberates, resulting in a short bright reverb followed by a progressively darker tail. Spaces with harder surfaces retain high-end more efficiently over time. Set Damping to its lower rage to emulate hard surfaces,  and to the higher ranges to enable further damping, to emulate softer surfaces.
  • Size This control lets you set the length of reverberation from the moment a sound starts, in a range between 100 ms and 10 seconds. The larger the size, the longer the tail of the reverb, and the larger the emulated space sounds.
  • Low and High These controls let you set the cutoff frequencies of the provided high-pass and low-pass filters, which effect only the reverb signal.
  • Mix This control lets you blend between the dry signal (all the way left) and the reverb signal (all the way right).

 

Gater

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This is a rhythmic gating effect, able to create a series of syncopated breaks in the synth signal. A variety of presets are provided, each with a different rhythmic gating pattern. However, the fun really begins when you create your own. Gater offers the following controls:

  • Beats This control lets you set the length of the gating cycle, in rhythmic values (such as 1 bar or 1/2-note) relative to Song tempo. For example, at a setting of 1 bar, the 16 steps in the cycle repeat every bar, effectively representing 16th-notes. At a 1/2-note setting, the 16 steps repeat each half-bar, representing 32nd-note values.
  • Beat Steps This grid lets you specify which steps in the cycle lets signal pass through, and which gates the signal to silence. Click on a step to enable or disable gating for that step.
  • Stereo Engaging this option creates a separate beat grid for each side of the stereo field. When engaged, you'll see two rows of beat steps, the top row specifying gate steps for the left channel, and the bottom row gating the right channel.
  • Depth This control lets you blend between the gated and dry signals, allowing for rhythmic gating effects while retaining the continuity of the synth sound.

Distortion

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This is a variable distortion effect, which adds grit and character to your sounds. Choose from a variety of distortion types, from fizzy transistor fuzzes to thick, warm tube overdrives. Set the amount of distortion with the Drive knob.

Pan

This is an auto-pan effect, which pans the synth signal left and right over time. Pan offers the following controls:

 

  • Speed This control lets you set the speed at which the signal is panned left and right.
    • Sync Enable this option to set pan speed to a rhythmic value (such as 1/4-note or 16th-note) relative to Song tempo. Disable this option to set pan speed along a continuous range.
    • Depth This control lets you set the degree to which the signal is panned. Lower settings give a subtly panned effect, while higher settings pan the signal more radically, all the way to fully left and right in each cycle.

Modulation Matrix

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Mai Tai provides 16 configurable modulation routings, in two banks of eight (Mod A and Mod B). Modulation signals can be routed from a selection of incoming MIDI controller signals (such as Pitch Bend, Mod Wheel, and Aftertouch), modulation generators (such as the LFOs and envelopes), or the pitch or velocity of played notes.

These modulation signals can be used to vary most of the parameters throughout Mai Tai, including modulation sources themselves (such as LFO 2 modulating the rate of LFO 1, or the Decay of Env 2)

Each modulation slot has a bypass button at the top, which lets you enable or disable the flow of modulation signal. Below that are the   input selector and modifier selector. If you assign a modulation source to the input selector only, that signal is routed directly to the chosen destination. In some cases, you’ll want to govern the flow of one mod source before it reaches its destination, using the signal from another mod source. For example, you may want to control the output level of LFO 1 (routed to a parameter such as oscillator pitch) with the Mod Wheel. In this case, you'd choose Mod Wheel with the input selector, and LFO 1 with the modifier selector below.

Below that is a slider that controls the amplitude and polarity of the modulation signal. Set at its center, no modulation occurs. Move the handle right of center to send an increasing amount of the modulation signal, at its normal (positive) polarity, to the chosen destination. Move it left of center to send the signal to its destination with a negative value.

If the parameter you wish to modulate is set to a high value, you may want to send a negative modulation signal to it, driving the setting downward and causing more audible effects. Positive-going modulation signals are more efficient when modulating parameters set to low values.

A selector at the bottom of each modulation slot lets you choose the destination of the chosen modulation signals.

Virtual Keyboard

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The virtual keyboard lets you easily click to play notes or manipulate the Pitch and Mod wheels, while auditioning or editing patches when you're away from a MIDI keyboard. The keyboard display also shows you which notes are currently being played.

Note that for a more playable keyboard experience when away from your MIDI controller, you can also use Studio One's QWERTY Keyboard Device to play notes using your computer's keyboard.

Next to the virtual keyboard is the Bend parameter, which lets you set the pitch bend range of the Pitch wheel, in semitones. The upper value sets up-bend range, and the lower value sets down-bend range.

 

 

 

 

 

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