Did you know that Xfer Records included Serum’s FX as a separate plugin? Even if you don’t use the synth, you can apply Serum’s effects to your track.
You might be wondering why this is useful. Obviously the first answer is that if you are just starting out and don’t have a ton of effects, it’s a nice little freebie. Ok, so most DAWs have some kind of Compressor, EQ, Delay, Reverb, etc. built in. And in many instances, I’d probably opt for R4 or the UAD EMT 140 or Lexicon delay over the Serum delay.
Logic Fiends recommends renting-to-own Serum for $9.99/month. (And if you click that link, we’ll get a few bucks to keep the site running.)
But here’s a real world example of where it came in useful for me. I had a killer sound in Serum going for my Chorus melody, with half a dozen effects on it. I mean, it sounded like a real radio grade Chainsmokers type hit. For the Verse though, I was using 3 instances of Sylenth, and they were all pretty dry. The change from Verse to Chorus was quite drastic, it didn’t blend well, and honestly sounded like two different songs. There was no way it could work as a commercial grade song.
So the first thing I did was send the 3 Sylenth instances all to the same Sum Bus. My plan was to level them all relative to one another, and then apply one reverb to the Summed Bus to give them a coherent sound, and hopefully get the reverb to match the Chorus so that it’d be a seamless transition. Or at least sound like it was all part of the same song 😉
First I applied the Soundtoys Little Plate. It sounded good on it’s own, but didn’t blend well for the transition. I then tried the EMT 140, but still no dice.. I then tried them both in serial. It just wasn’t matching. I thought “wouldn’t it be nice if I could somehow apply the Serum Reverb as an effect?” Obviously the Soundtoys and EMT algorithms are different than the Serum Reverb. Rather than screw around for half an hour trying to get it to match, applying it directly would be the quick fix.
I knew other products had this feature. Native Instruments Guitar Rig acts as an effect (which makes sense) but their Absynth keyboard could also act as an effect aside from a synth. iZotope’s Stutter Edit from their Creative Suite and Output’s Movement can also do this.
Make sure you check out our tutorial if you are new to Serum.
So all I had to do was select SerumFX as an Audio FX plugin on my track to get access to all the built in effects. The nice thing was that I could not only match the reverb settings to those used on my Serum preset from the Chorus, but I could also apply the same Delay and Distortion settings as well. This made my transition from Verse to Chorus much more seamless.
The downside with this being on the Bus is that there’s no midi information, so I can’t automate the knobs. (Which is fine for this circumstance, I didn’t want that. )
Here’s a similar example from an actual song titled “I Am Lost” with the effects removed from the Sylenth patch (the one that sound like a guitar.) The next patch is the Serum patch with the effects on it, playing the same pattern.
By adding the Serum FX to the Sylenth track, and matching the FX settings from the Serum patch, the Sylenth patch now sounds like it belongs in the same song.
If you find yourself in the same situation, keep this in mind. It’s not a bad idea to try the Serum FX on your next few songs to get used to how they work and see if they have value. While it probably wouldn’t be my first choice for compression or EQ, it can be quite convenient to have everything there in one rack. It give you the ability to quickly try Distortion, Phasing, Chorus, Delay, etc.
Make sure to check out our Serum VST Tutorial if you are new to Serum.