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Serum: the latest MPE synth

Unlock more expression by pairing the Seaboard with Serum by Xfer Records

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Learn how to use Serum with the Seaboard Block in this tutorial.

MIDI Polyphonic Expression is spreading, one soft synth at a time.

Serum is the latest synth that’s compatible with MPE. That’s great news for the musicians and sound designers and musicians who love the 400+ presets, 100+ wavetables, and other features of Xfer’s acclaimed synth. Now they can do more with Serum sounds by bending and shaping them on MPE-enabled controllers like the Seaboard Block (Check out our film to learn how!).

It’s also an important moment for the whole MPE ecosystem, which is expanding more quickly than many people realize. At our last count there were 42 soft synths, 10 DAWs, 30 mobile apps, and 14 hardware controllers that interoperate and allow a more polyphonically expressive music-making experience. That list includes ROLI’s Seaboard plus its Equator, Cypher2, and Strobe2 synths. But these pioneering MPE tools are part now part of a crowd!

Why did Serum go MPE?


We asked Steve Duda, founder of XferRecords:

MPE is something that grew on me. Even when I was first experimenting with MPE in Serum, I was getting immediate results that sounded new and fresh. It’s probably obvious, but where MPE really offers something new is in the 'P' of polyphonic expression. Having per-voice pitch control along with multiple dimensions of additional expression — well, let's just say your chords get a lot more interesting!”

“Serum is a wavetable-centric synth, so a single sound in Serum can cover a lot of sonic territory. It’s quite easy in Serum to create complex modulations which evolve the sound over time. But as most every user of software synthesizers knows, it's not always easy to perform something to sound like you imagine it in your head. This is one of the last remaining bastions of benefit for hardware synthesizers: the ability have knobs and interact. But MPE bridges this expression gap, if not inverts it! An MPE controller integrated with Serum opens up a huge array of gestural and performance options.”

We like to keep track of where the MPE ecosystem is going. If you know of any hardware or software tools that are not listed on our MPE Hub, please email us at mpe@roli.com.