Tutorial: U-HE ACE Analog FM Synthesis Using Cross Modulation and ADSR 2

There are many ways to achieve Frequency Modulation (FM) in ACE. The "Cross" knob adds "cross modulation" which is equivalent to analog FM. This knob can be a bit confusing because if you turn up the knob after initializing a patch you'll hear no effect. This is because the knob controls how much VCO1 modulates VCO2 and when you initialize a preset the "VCO Mix" knob is set so you only hear Oscillator 1. So always remember to to turn op the "VCO Mix" knob so you can hear the effects of the "Cross" knob setting.

Example – Using “adsr 2” Envelope to Modulate “Cross”

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Of course things get much more interesting when you modulate "Cross". In this example let’s use modulate "Cross" with the "adsr 2" envelope.

  1. Turn "vco mix" so it at 12 o'clock so you'll hear a mix of VCO1 and VCO2
  2. Tweak "adsr 2" to give it a log attack and release. Add more time to the release stage of "adsr 1" which will allow you to hear the FM modulation change after key release.
  3. Patch output of "adsr 2" to the "Cross" input. Turn up the gain of "Cross".
  4. The patch will be a little hot volume wise so use "volume" knob to cut the overall volume of the patch

Experiment with tweaking #3 "cross", #1 "vco mix" to adjust to your taste. Also try turning "vco mix" all the way up so you only hear "vco2" then change the pitch of "vco1" to hear how adjusting "vco 1"'s frequency changes the harmonics.

Here is an audio example of what this preset sounds like https://soundcloud.com/markmosher/u-he-ace-cross-modulation-adsr2.

Happy patching,

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician | Composer | Sound Designer | Performer
Boulder, CO
www.MarkMosherMusic.com
www.ModulateThis.com

Early Experiment Using Launchpad as a Cable Patching Matrix for U-he ACE

U-HE Ace allows you to use MIDI CCs to control the source and destination of patch cables. This video is my first experiment to use a Launchpad as a patch cable matrix. I have a cable plugged into the Filter Gain. By pressing buttons on the Launchpad, I’m essentially plugging cables into input sockets without touching the computer. I’m using the  QWERTY to trigger notes but not move cables.

Special thanks to my cat who photo-bombed the video at the end :^)

Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Composer, Performer
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

NAMM Analog Synth Demos Inspire Me to Dig Deeper Into U-HE ACE Synthesizer

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Gear Lust

From the looks of the reports coming out of Winter NAMM analog & analog modeled hardware synths were once again all the rage at this year’s show. After watching a few videos, and getting some serious gear lust, I got inspired to reproduce what I was seeing and hearing using what I already own. Ok, it’s not exactly the same as buying a new piece of gear – but it’s more affordable – lol.

$85 Weapon of Choice

imageMy weapon of choice was U-HE ACE as it has a 2 OSC +  Sub Osc architecture similar to Sub Phatty. ACE is actually “pimped up”  ARP 2600 according to the manual

If you really want to compare ACE to a classic modular synth (or three), think of it as a pimped-up ARP 2600 using modules from a Roland SH-7 with (almost) the patching flexibility of an EMS VCS3 / Synthi A – but polyphonic. Just like the ARP 2600.

Added bonus, ACE  is $85, is semi-modular with  patch cables (watch this video “u-he ACE Tutorial: Patch Cables 101”) and is polyphonic. Like the Sub Phatty it has “slop” and beyond that has “crosstalk” and “osc cap failure”. It also has a built-in Scope which is just fantastic for getting visual feedback as you design sounds.

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On an Mission for Nasty Organic Analog

In the last few days, I created over 20 super organic patches. I focused patches with oscillators being detuned, phased,  detuned in hertz (to cause beating), PWM, all with organically controlled instability ACE doesn’t have the same filter overdrive, but you can coax some nasty distortion out of it by overdriving the filter and using the LFOs at audio rates.

ACE has something called a “Mapper” that allows you to add even more variability from note to note. In the example below, I patched the mapper to add some variability for the pitch of OSC 2 which creates a slightly different beating with each key press.

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New Sound Set?

I have some momentum going with this style of patch with ACE so perhaps I’ll push on and release a sound set. If you want to be notified if I release a sounds set join the Modulate This! newsletter.

Wrap-Up

In closing, I want to say I’m not hating on the Sub Phatty. If you want “that Moog sound” in hardware, the addition of OSC 2 and a Sub Osc  and distortion seems like it will be popular and fills a gap between the Slim Phatty and the Voyager. However, at only $85 bucks, ACE is worth a look if your need for similar features in a virtual synth.

Links

Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Composer, Perfomer
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

U-HE ACE TIP: Pulse Width Modulation Basics

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After watching my YouTube video “u-he ACE Tutorial: Patch Cables 101”, I had a viewer ask “How can i modulate the pulse width of the osciliator?”, so I thought I’d do a quick answer here in text form. Click the image above to see a larger version of the synth. Annotation numbers in diagram match steps below.

For VCO1, LFO2 is already hard-wired to modulate pulse width. To get going follow these steps:

  1. Turn the Waveform1 knob clockwise to select pulse width
  2. Turn the lfo2 knob clockwise. You’ll hear Pulse Width Modulation right away
  3. Turn the sync knob to increase the speed of modulation
  4. Turn pw knob to set the PulseWidth

Play around with other lfo2 params to get more extreme results.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO
www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com