Why back up your Vital Presets, Wavetables, LFOs or Samples?
As well as recovering from a hardware crash, or that moment when you have realised you have accidently overwritten your favourite Vital Preset which can’t be recreated, backing up your Presets can help you to better organise your sounds for housekeeping purposes. For example you could have a bank of sounds used for a particular recording session or a maybe a particular genre which you seldom use but don’t want to delete, or perhaps its just so that you can share your Vital patches with a friend.
How to Back up Your Vital Presets, Wavetables, LFOs or Samples
Select the ‘burger’ menu
Select the Export Bank function to backup your Presets, Wavetables, LFOs or Samples (or choose Export Preset to backup individual Presets)
Select the Presets, Wavetables, LFOs and Samples you want to Export (Tip: hold Shift for selecting a group of Presets or select ‘+’ to add individual Presets)
Enter an Export Bank name
NB Only samples you have stored in Users > username >Documents > Vital> User >Samples (or non pc equivalent) can be exported
Select Export Bank
Choose a location and click Save
Ok so the job is done, but do remember to back up your Export to offline / cloud storage for safekeeping!
The Export Bank is stored in the format *.vitalbank and to import it back into Vital use the Import Bank from the ‘burger menu’.
I have been experimenting with bells for a while using different methods in Vital to create them. So far, the easiest way I have found is using the Vital FM (frequency modulation) function. Rather than using a LFO to modulate Oscillator I have use a wavetable in OSC 2 to oscillate OSC 1 by setting the FM OSC 2 function in OSC 1.
What is the FM OSC 1, FM OSC 2 & FM OSC 3 function?
FM has a ‘carrier’ frequency which outputs the sound and a ‘modulator’ which modulates the carrier to create a new sound. Vital uses FM when an LFO modulates the wavetable. The LFO (low frequency oscillator) is not audible as it is tuned below 20Hz.
The FM function in Vital sets an oscillator to be modulated by the another oscillator so you can use a wavetable to modulate another wavetable rather than an LFO. So for example if you select a wavetable in OSC 1 and set the function to FM OSC2 you are telling Vital to oscillate OSC 1 using OSC 2. So OSC 1 is the carrier and OSC 2 is the modulator.
You can have 2 Oscillators being modulated by 1 carrier or you can chain them together e.g. OSC 1 is modulated by OSC 2 and OSC 2 is modulated by OSC 3. This may sound complicated but using it to create a bell is very simple!
How to create a Vital Synth Bell using FM
To create the bell, OSC 1 will be the carrier and uses a simple sine wave. OSC 2 is the modulator and is set to a Quad Saw. There are 2 key points to create the sound.
Set OSC 1 to FM OSC 2. This setting is a function found in the drop down box under the Phase Distortion knob.
Turn the volume level of OSC 2 to 0 so it is not audible. Its role is just to modulate OSC 1.
Have a look at Part 2 of the video for other ideas e.g.
Adding filters to help shape the sound. Experiment with key tracking, band pass filters and comb filters.
Add white noise to create extra ‘shimmer’ or create your own shimmer with a real or synthesised sample.
Add harmonic or inharmonic waves in OSC3 and modulate them with the Quad Saw in OSC 2 (Set OSC 3 Phase to FM OSC 2).
Add chorus and delay to give a more unnatural ring effect, or some distortion, compression and EQ to adjust the feel.
Add Macros so you can quickly adjust the parameters to taste.
You can create a great Slow sweeping pad using subtractive synthesis. In this video I show you how to modify Vital’s Envelopes and Filters to create a clean sounding pad. You can get the FREE PRESET HERE
You will learn
How to adjust the Envelope Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release, Hold and Delay to get a pad to slowly grow in volume and decay over time
How to use a low pass filter to gradually open up the sound
How a comb filter can shape the sound over time
Using an LFO to adjust the volume
How Key tracking can open up the filters based on the pitch of the note played
Use these steps to create your own pad sounds. Enjoy!
Vital Synth is famous for its Text to Wavetable feature. Watch the Video here or follow the steps below. The video shows the easy steps to create the Text to Wavetable voice and shows how to add some extra effects to enhance the voices using Chorus, Delay and Compression. I then take the liberty to mash up the sound to create a unique Lead rhythm from it.
The Basic Vital Text to Wavetable Steps
Right Click in OSC 1
Text to Wavetable
Enter word e.g. “disco dancing”
Select Vocode under the Unison Control
Select Formant under the phase control (optional)
Adjust Unison Voices (optional)
Change LFO 1 to Saw Up
Drag and Drop LFO 1 on Wavetable
You are now ready to play your new Vital Synth Text to Wavetable sound. Have fun!
Text to Wavetable Tips
Remember to save the wavetable so you can use it with other sounds!
Enhance the voices using Chorus, Delay and Compression
See what happens when you add Formant Filters
Try playing the sound backwards by reversing the circle on the LFO 1 modulation anticlockwise
Try copying and pasting the wavetable to OSC 2 and OSC3 and repitch them or apply other modulations / effects to get weird phase effects
Why should you assign your MIDI keyboard to Vital Synth?
Firstly, by mapping your MIDI keyboard to your Vital Synth you can control the dials on your Vital Synth using your MIDI keyboard. The advantage is you can forget about your mouse and get more creative with your playing as you can rapidly adjust parameters either in a methodical or random way to hear the impact the assigned dials will have on your Preset.
Secondly it will speed up your workflow and thirdly, it is so easy to do, why wouldn’t you do it?
The Vital Synth macro feature is brilliant; my only wish is I could have more Macros! This article walks through the basics of macro functionality, and design tips and tricks. There is also a link to a video and 2 accompanying Presets with worked examples.
Visit YouTube for my video which walks through the creation of 5 different Macros.
Use the Vital Matrix to detune the Oscillators to add dynamic movement (Preset Part 1 & 2)
Build a Macro to control the other Macros (Preset Part 1 & 2)
Use LFO 1 to modulate Macro 3 (Preset Part 1)
Use a Macro to control LFO 1 and enhance LFO 1 with the Mod Remap (Preset Part 2)
How to add a Vital Synth Macro
Macros can be added by dragging or dropping the macro control on any other control which turns green on the Voice, Effects or Advanced screens.
Alternatively they can be added via the Matrix screen which is sometimes easier and also enables you to keep track on your various macro assignments.
The macro will then automatically adjust the value of what it is controlling when you turn the dial.
Vital Macro Basic Functionality
Each of the four macros can be assigned to multiple controls.
Each assignment is represented by a circular icon.
Each Circular icon is colour coded e.g.
GREEN or PURPLE icons represent Oscillators, LFOs and other controls on the VOICE and ADVANCED pages (the colour depends on whether other Macros have already been assigned to the same control)
PURPLE icons represent Macros
SANDY/GOLD icons are assigned to Filters,
Effects assignments are coloured the same as the effect e.g RED for distortion, YELLOW for flange etc.
Each Circular icon can be assigned a value representing the amount or level it will apply to the control it is assigned to.
If fully shaded in the macro amount is at its maximum value and pro rata if partially filled (like a pie chart).
Use the pencil to rename each Macro to remind you or people you share your Preset to what it does.
Double click a Circular icon / pie to remove it – take care there is no undo!
AVOID Creating macros with severe pitch or volume changes which could hurt ears!!
REMEMBER to save versions of your preset as there is no undo button!
Vital Macro Advanced Functionality
I recommend that you prioritise or group your macro functionality to maximise their use e.g. design them so that they can be used in combination with each other or build them in a way that more esoteric functions wont disrupt more subtle changes.
Enter specific values in your macros (right click > enter value, or Ctrl/Cmd + Mouse to accurately adjust the value) or adjust the pie chart value with your mouse.
Use the right click to avoid tabbing to the Matrix it gives you options to Enter a value, Remove, Bypass, Make UniPolar/BiPolar, Mono/Stereo
Use the right key to assign the macro to your midi keyboard its easy to do!
Values can be positive or negative. Turn on the Bi-Polar setting to assign positive and negative values.
Use Macros to adjust the value of another control value/parameter by dragging the Macro on to the other button. You will see a green dot in these controls like an embossed radio button to signify it can be controlled by a Macro.
Vital Matrix Screen
Get to know the Matrix page which will make macro assignment easier and to experiment with new target destinations.
Order the Matrix screen columns by clicking the title bar to sort e.g. by Source or Destination
Click the #No. in the first Column to temporally turn an assignment off i.e. ‘mute it’
Use Bipolar to send positive and negative values based on the direction of the macro knob turn
Right Click on the amount to Enter exact values. Zero (0) is in the middle with negative values to the left and positive values to the right.
Don’t forget to add Stereo effect settings for lead parts
Use the Morph setting to apply ‘s’ curve type modifications rather than just linear adjustments
Use the Mod Remap to further modulate your transformations.
My final tip is that the Matrix is a great place to reverse engineer other Vital Preset Macros to get a better understanding of the art of the possible.
What do the Global Snap and Transpose Functions Do?
The Vital Synth transpose and global snap functions can help to create automated arpeggios by snapping Vital’s output or your keyboard midi output to the grid. Global Snap will snap the midi keyboard outputs to the nearest note mapped in the global snap mapping, whereas the Transpose Snap will automatically map sounds generated by the Vital Synth to the keys you have mapped. I will provide details below and examples including a free arpeggiated sound preset using the transpose snap feature and a full demo how I created it.
To find the Snap functionality in Vital Synth click on the keyboard dots located on the Pitch panel. Transpose snap is the default setting with the dots turning purple when selected. Global Snap is activated when the Global Snap button is pressed and the buttons turn green. Think of the series of dots as a mapping of the 12 notes on a piano keyboard between an Octave i.e C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
Transpose Snap Explained
At first glance it is easy to think the buttons don’t do anything as you can switch on different combinations of buttons and when you press your midi keyboard nothing changes. However when you assign an LFO in Vital to the Pitch Transpose control it suddenly springs into action and the LFO will trigger the notes you have mapped out in the Transpose note mapping.
The best way to start is perhaps mapping out a minor triad (1st flattened 3rd and 5th shown in the image below) and then assign a triangle LFO to the pitch transpos. Slow down the tempo frequency to 2/1 so you can hear more accurately the sound you are generating. Keep your finger pressed on the C note and you will hear Vital playing the minor triad.
Whilst the mapping is based on the C Scale it will automatically transpose the LFO if you start with a different root note. Try changing key (root note) and you will hear that the triad is still correctly played.
Vital’s Global Snap feature will snap the midi key’s input to the nearest note that you have mapped on the Global Snap mapping no matter what note you play on your keyboard. So if you have mapped 1, 3, 5 and 7 (C, E, G, B) on the Global Snap (see picture below) no matter what key you press on your midi keyboard it will automatically snap / transpose to the nearest mapped note.
A few things to note:
if 2 mappings are equally spaced it will automatically resolve to the higher note. If the root note C is mapped then it transpose to the octave of c if that is higher
Global Snap does not transpose as you change scales and maps directly to a C Octave on the piano. It will transpose by Octave e.g. C4, C5 etc
When to use Vital Transpose Snap and Vital Global Snap
Transpose snap probably has more uses than Global Snap. You could use Global snap to avoid hitting ‘bum’ notes in live gigs [ Wow imagine being able to play live gigs again] or live recording in your DAW but personally I am more likely to use it with Vital’s random function or an LFO to make sure that any random notes generated are in the right key of my riff.
Are you confused what each of the Vital Sample Player buttons do? In this article I describe what the Vital sample player buttons do and how they work when used in combination with each other. Selecting multiple Vital Sample Player buttons will give you a multitude of options; from playing the sample as recorded, to tempo pitching it, randomly pitching it, randomly starting it, playing it backwards and forwards and everything in between.
The sample player’s capability is a great way to add sparkle to the sound you have designed but to get the best out of it you to need to understand what each button does. I describe the 4 sample player buttons below and what they sound like when used in combination and a link to a free sample to help you understand each function. At the end there are 3 beginner’s tips in readiness for a future article delving into sound design using the sample player in more detail.
Vital Synth’s 4 Sample Player buttons: What do they do on their own?
I have labelled the 4 buttons as follows:
Keyboard Trigger: Plays sample at pitch of midi controller keyboard by altering sample tempo (slowing the sample up or down to achieve the pitch)
Random Trigger: Randomly triggers sample anywhere within the sample
Forward Loop: will retrigger the sample loop from the beginning of the loop once the loop reaches the end
Reverse Loop: Will retrigger the sample loop and play in reverse (backwards) from the end of the loop.
Vital Synth Sample Player functionality
Using Multiple Vital Sample Player Buttons
So now you understand the basics you are probably asking what if I choose multiple sample player buttons? The answer is there are a multitude of variations to choose and each has its own effect. You will need to decide what effect you want to achieve and then chose the right combination unless you are feeling lucky and want to just randomly select them!
Below is a table describing the combinations and what the Vital Synth Sampler will do based on the buttons you turn on and off.
As you can see depending on which buttons you chose you will either be able to play the original sample or pitch it with your keyboard (remember to tune the sample first). The interesting function is that when random is switched on the sample player will start the pitch randomly based on the range of my Akai MPK mini’s Octave range setting which I was not anticipating.
Try out the Sample player settings for yourself! In the resources folder I have included a small sample of the C major scale which you can download and insert it as your own custom sample; as its a scale it will help you identify the various functions more clearly than say a sample of your favourite pet or arpeggiated lead synth!
Try using multiple Vital Sample Player buttons to hear the multitude of sample player options; from playing the sample as recorded, to tempo pitching it, randomly pitching it and randomly starting it, playing it backwards and forwards. I suggest that you play around with each combination to fully get under the hood of its capabilities. Remember You can further modify the sample by using the pitch button controls or assigning an LFO against them (try random pulses) to completely mash your sounds up!
3 Beginner Tips using the Vital Sample Player
The sample player is triggered by ENV 1 so make sure the ADSR is set up to play the length of your sample and does not cut it short unless that is what you want.
Turn off the Oscillators to hear the sample clearly when first trying it out
Build up your own set of samples and name them in a dedicated folder where you can choose them direct from the Sample player.
Each Drawbar position has a different pitch and I had to choose which positions / tactics to go for in my design blueprint since there are not 9 oscillators available. I needed to consider how to potentially double up sounds to get the sound I wanted and I drew my inspiration form the legendary Yamaha CS1x Bluebook – Advanced User Guide which was the first keyboard I ever owned. There are a number of ways to create the organ sound I used a combination of additive synthesis and frequency modulation.
Position (pipe length)
Initially I decided to set the pitches of the 3 Vital Synth oscillators as follows to give drawbars 3 , 1 and 5 respectively:
Osc 1 Pitch 0 (drawbar 3)
Osc 2 Pitch minus 12 (drawbar 4)
Osc 3 Pitch + 19 (drawbar 5)
Using the Oct Note key on Osc 1 and Osc 3 will give the additional Pitches + 12 and + 31 being drawbars 4 and 8 so in total this will create drawbar sounds for 1, 3, 5, 4 and 8. You could choose other voicings to suit your taste.
Use basic sine waves to replicate the organ and single voices to replicate individual pipes. Leave the Unison to 1v (i.e. 1 voice) since each pipe is a single voice.
Basic Shape. Leave the Pitch at 0.
Basic Shape. Adjust Pitch to minus 12 (-12).
Basic Shape. Adjust Pitch to +19.
Leave the Envelope in its pre-set mode with a fast Attack (0 ) to help get a clicky organ sound.
The basic organ has now been set up.
Let the Fun Begin
The fun part is now adding various adjustments to the basic oscillators to create the organ and Leslie speaker effects. I wanted to use the LFOs to do this rather than the in-built effects where possible to try out the Vital Synth’s capabilities. Other possibilities could be using the Pan or spread functions.
LFO 1 – Choose the random pulses as a starting block then even them out as shown below
– Assign these to OSC 2 & OSC 3 Pitch Cents adjustment control (either drag and drop or use the matrix to assign the LFO to each oscillators ‘tune’ value) to get some pitch modulation to create the basis of the Leslie speaker effect. Ensure the 2 adjustments offset each other e.g. set one to minus 0.3 and the other to + 0.3 – Smooth LFO 1 taste by adjusting the pulses and the LFO amount in the matrix (small values are good values otherwise the organ will warble too much).
LFO 2 – Use a simple Sine wave or Triangle wave to adjust the Level of OSC 1, OSC 2 and OSC 3 to further give the impression of the doppler effect of a rotating speaker using Amplitude modulation. – Assign LFO 2 to OSC 1, OSC 2 and OSC 3 level knobs by drag and dropping it on the Level Knobs (or use the Matrix) and adjust the value to 1.00 in the matrix or circular control.
So now you have a basic Vital Synth organ with a Leslie effect but here are suggestions to explore some other advanced features of the Vital Wavetable Synth.
You can re-pitch the exiting Oscillators to represent different drawbar pitches. But I have tried to add 2 additional drawbars (positions 4 and 8) to give 5 drawbars in total. Although this isn’t perfect it kind of works…
drag and drop the Oct Note located in the bottom right hand corner of the Vital Synth to OSC 1 Waveframe and OSC 3 Waveframe (or assign it via the Matrix tab). This creates additional drawbar pitches of +12 and +31 (i.e. positions 4 & 8).
for different drawbar voices consider changing the original oscillator voicings e.g. change OSC 2 to a Pitch of +24 so the Oct Note will also give a pitch of +36. There are more details below about assigning a macro to increase the volume of these 2 new drawbars separately.
In the matrix adjust the Mod Remap for these two items to a complete full rectangle (screenshot below)
You will hear the additional Octaves play on all notes other than each value of C. I will be interested in reading up on the manual when it comes out on this!
2. Emphasising the Leslie rotary effect
To recreate the effect of a Leslie speaker speeding up or slowing down while you are playing in realtime add macros to adjust the speeds of LFO 1 and 2.
Macro 1 Assign to LFO1 Tempo Rename the label Vibrato 1
Macro 2 Assign to LFO2 Tempo Rename the label Vibrato 2
Remember to adjust the max and min parameters to taste. See my final touches below to create a mechanical whirr. I set Macro 1 Tempo to about +1 and Macro 2 Tempo about +2.25
3. Incorporating the Modulation Wheel
Assign the modulation wheel to Macros 1 and 2 by dropping it on the 2 macros that have just been created so the LFO 1 and LFO 2 vibrato can be changed together using the modulation wheel
4. Simulate pulling out the drawbars for Hammond effect
I decided to emphasise the 2 2/3 layer (OSC 3 pitch 19) by assigning Macro 3 to adjust the modulation amount of OSC 1 , 2 and 3. However the key to this is that the Macro must have a positive effect on the value of OSC 3 but a negative impact on OSC 1 and OSC 2.
To achieve this either turn the amount knob (circle) in the Vital Synth Matrix counter-clockwise for the Modulation of OSC 1 & 2 and clockwise for OSC 3 or easier still just edit directly in the Matrix as below. Now when the macro is turned in the matrix view 2 green bars should move from left to right for the OSC 1 and OSC 2 Levels and the OSC3 Level should move from left to right. You should audibly hear the higher pitched OSC 3 come through the mix. I re-named Macro 3 “Hammond”.
Remember I created 2 additional drawbars above. Well to increase their level the same principle can be applied to the 2 additional drawbars. Rather than doing it directly in the matrix use Vital Synth’s drag and drop capability;
Drag and drop the Macro 4 selector onto the Vital Synth OCT NOTE knobs that were created earlier.
Rename Macro 4 ‘Drawbars’
Turn the ‘Drawbars’ macro and it will increase the modulation amount i.e. volume level of OSCs 1 and 3
Final Touches and Summary
There are other ways to create these sounds but I wanted to explore some of the main features of the Vital Synthesizer to get under its bonnet, so here are some other ideas and suggestions.
Add a Box Fan in the sampler to add a bit of mechanical sound that the old organ and speaker would make as it whirred around
Turn on the VEL TRK keyboard velocity tracking to register those palm slapping glissandos!
Consider automating the stereo spread key as another away of getting a Leslie effect
Add the Reverb or Chorus effect to give an additional timbre; you could even assign them to a macro. I recorded my sample with the Chorus Cutoff being modulated by LFO2
Consider adding distortion for a dirtier sound
Play with panning and spread to get similar Leslie tremolo effects
Use EQ in your DAW to take off the high and low ends
I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please let me know and subscribe to get future updates!
choose a Pulse width wave detune the pitch to -12 (i.e. 12 semitones being an octave lower). To add extra depth to the final sound detune the pitch further by -3 cents (this is found to the right of the Pitch control)
choose your preferred number of voices (I went for 2) and modify the detune to about 5%. A lower number of voices and detune setting will help the bass to cut through in the final mix.
choose Basic shape & detune 2 octaves (-24 semitones) and adjust the pitch by +3 cents to offset the detune of -3 cents in OSC 1
Use the preset ADSR so the bass reaches full volume immediately before it sustains and decays
Now you have a basic bass start manipulating and shaping the sound and create a ‘wobble’.
Filter 1 will be used create a wobble to the bass using a low pass filter (analog 12dB)
Increase the drive to taste and keytracking to open up the filter more or the lower notes but less on the higher notes by turning the knob anti clockwise.
LFO 1 will be used to modulate the filter to give the wobble.
Choose a triangle LFO and drag LFO 1 onto Filter 1 to control its sweep.
Remember to set the LFO to Sync mode to Sync with your DAW’s tempo otherwise the wobble will be out of sync with your drums
Adjust filter 2 to taste I went for an analog 24DB low pass filter to create a steeper cut-off.
The finishing touches: effects and sound shaping to your taste..
If desired, add Glide, Octave Scale and legato to get the pitch glide between notes
Adjust the Spread; mono is probably better.
Try assigning Random 1 to filter 1 and 2 to add nuances to your sound
Add distortion and flange as required
Consider adding macros to control the distortion drive & mix or the flange feedback and Dry Wet sounds
This year has had a massive impact on what we do and how we do it and given plenty of us time to reflect on what we want to do with our lives. Prior to lockdown I had already planned to leave my 9 to 5 job, get married and go travelling…. so 4 cancelled trips and a cancelled wedding later I had plenty of time on my hands and decided to get more serious with music production.
I invested in a course at the School of Electronic Music in my hometown of Manchester and that really solidified my decision to invest more time and energy in electronic sound production. I can’t rate their course highly enough.
At the same time I discovered the Vital Wavetable Synth; a cool, amazing low cost wavetable synth. So I thought what better than to give my sound production and design focus by creating a blog to publish and share my sound creations, hints tips and the like.
I hope it will be a journey from simple sound design to more complex challenges as I develop my understanding. I also hope to cover other subjects such as workflow best practice and the like as I develop my own best practice.
Finally to be clear I know there is a great users official forum hosted by Vital Audio and I am not trying to compete with this and I would like to thank Matt Tytel for making such an amazing product and making it available free. So THANKS Matt!
If there are any subjects or sounds you would like me to address, please let me know! In the meantime I will start with some FM and subtractive synthesis while I get to learn more about the wavetables themselves!
Thanks for taking the time to read this and please come back soon to hear my first wobbly reese bass and my first organ which I will document as soon as I can!