These are the minimum recommended system requirements for running Phase Plant.
If you have many instances of Phase Plant running, or use a lot of snapins at the same time in your patch the CPU usage will increase accordingly. Thus, we cannot guarantee that Phase Plant will work flawlessly in all use cases even if your system does meet the minimum recommended system requirements.
Phase Plant is a modular synthesizer where you can combine several different synthesis techinques in your sound design. Analog oscillators, samples, wavetables and a noise generator creates the initial sound, which can then be filtered and processed using any combination of snapins from your arsenal. To bring your patch alive Phase Plant supports an open ended modulation system, wher you can add envelopes and LFOs as you need them and route them to almost any parameter. To top it all off, audio rate modulations can be used to modulate the phases, frequencies and amplitudes of all generator modules, to create all manner of sounds based on FM and similar techiques.
This is an overview of the plugin UI. It may look a bit overwhelming at first, but let's try to break it down a bit.
Most parameters of Phase Plant are controlled by the knobs and the sliders seen in the UI. To move a knob or slider simply click on it, and while holding the mouse button down move the mouse up or down.
Sometimes you might want more precise control when tuning a parameter. Hold the shift key while moving a knob or slider to enter fine tuning mode, where the knob or slider will move more slowly.
You can reset a knob to its default position by double clicking it.
Finally, most controls support entering the value using your keyboard by right-clicking on them.
The first thing you want to do after installing Phase Plant is probably to try out some of the presets it comes with. To reveal the preset browser, click on the name of the current patch in the top most part of the UI.
Loading a preset in the preset browser is as easy as clicking on it. The preset browser also allows saving presets, and organizing them into folders. Presets are divided into two categories, factory presets and user preset.
Factory presets are included with Phase Plant or downloaded using the Kilohearts installer. Factory presets are write protected to protect them from accidental corruption.
The user presets folder is where you as the end user should store your own presets. By default this folder is located in your documents folder, but you are free to relocate it elsewhere.
Once you have checked out some of the presets you are probably eager to get your hands dirty and create your own patches. We designed Phase Plant to be easy and fast to work with, and we hope you will enjoy experimenting and discovering the possibilities. Still, knowledge is power, so in this section we will go through all the features of Phase Plant in detail.
It all starts in the generator area. This is where your sound is generated, modulated and filtered before you pass it on to the effects. Like most things in Phase Plant, the generator area uses a modular approach where you add modules one by one to gradually build up your sound. You have several different modules at your disposal in the generator sections, some of them are oscillators that can generate a plethora of waveforms, and you also have access to filter and distortion effects, as well as some utility modules.
Most modulators in the generator section will show a visual representation of the sound that it outputs in the form of a scope. Most parameter changes you do will be reflected by changes in these scopes. The data for the scopes are generated using the same signal path that generates the actual sound, but the frequency is fixed and the scopes do not track the played note.
To add a module, click on the large icon that appears at the bottom of the generator area. A popup menu will appear where you can select what kind of module you want. The first time you add a generator module a group and an output module will be added automatically as well. The generator area can hold up to 32 modules.
Once added, modules can be moved and copied by dragging and dropping. Hold ctrl or command while dragging to make a copy.
The generator modules are the ones that actually produce the sound in Phase Plant. There are four different kinds, the analog oscillator, the noise generator, the sample player, and the wavetable oscillator. All of these sound sources are key tracked, meaning that their frequency depend on what note you are playing.
Generator modules automatically route themselves in the module stack by mixing their ouput on top of the signal coming from above.
All generator modules also share a few parameters which are described below.
The analog oscillator is one of the generator modules, and it's probably also the generator that is easiest to understand and get started with. The goal of the analog oscillator is to reproduce a few classic waveforms with as high fidelity as possible. The Analog Oscillator is a great choice for presets based on subtractive synthesis techniques, and it also does really well when FM is used.
This oscillator supports unison which is described in detail in the unison chapter.
The noise generator is, as the name implies, one of the generator modules that is used to produce noise. Noise can be used synthesize inharmonic elements like wind or drum hits. The noise generator support three diffent types of noise, two of which are key tracked.
The sample player is a generator module which allows you to use sampled audio as a building block in your generator stack. It will play the sample at different speeds depending on the played note, which of course also adjusts the pitch of the sample. You can load any sample you like into the sampler by browsing for it or by dragging and dropping it onto the sampler module. Phase Plant also comes bundles with a library of samples that you are free to use as you see fit.
Instead of showing a scope of the waveform like the other modules the sampler will instead show a visual representation of the loaded sample. This view will also allow you to drag the offset and adjust the loop points.
Samples can be looped in several different ways, which is controlled by the parameters in the rightmost panel:
The wavetable oscillator is a very versatile generator module that can replicate pretty much any waveform you can think of. It is backed by a wavetable, which contains 256 frames, each one holding a sampled waveform 2048 samples long. By modulating the current frame over time all sorts of interesting movement can be created.
A versatile library of wavetables is included with Phase Plant, and you can also use wavetables from other sources if they are in a compatible format. Finally you can also create or edit wavetables with the included wavetable editor. Phase Plant can load wavetables from wav and flac files provided they have the right length (256 × 2048 = 524 288 samples). Furthermore, the wavetable editor has a tool for converting any sample to a wavetable.
This oscillator supports unison which is described in detail in the unison chapter.
The filter is an effect module which can apply a variety of filters to the incoming signal from the modules above it. It is very similar to the filter snapin it its capabilities, but since it lives in the generator area it can also partake in audio rate modulation, both as a source and as a target.
The distortion is an effect module that distorts the incoming signal from the modules above it. It is lightweight version of the snapin with the same name, but since it lives in the generator area it can also partake in audio rate modulation, both as a source and as a target.
The output module is a utility module which does two things. First off it applies an amplitude envelope to the incoming signal. Secondly, it can send the enveloped signal on to other parts of Phase Plant. You will need at least one output module in the module stack to be able to actually create any sound with Phase Plant.
The envelope that is build into the output module works exactly like the envelope modulator, and is described in more detail in that chapter.
The mix module is a utility module that you can think of as an effect that only applies a gain to the signal. The most common use of the mix module is to mix together the output of several generator modules above it to be able to use the mixed signal for audio rate modulation.
It also allows you to adjust the volume of a signal and invert it. Since the level can be target for audio rate modulation you can also use the mix module for amplitude- and ring modulation.
The aux module is a utility module which is very similar to the mix module. The only difference is that instead of automatically routing itself and using the signal coming from the modules above, it expects you to route it's input to it using the audio rate modulation system. You can use the aux module to send audio to different parts of the generator stack, even to a different group. The aux module mixes its output onto the signal coming from above, much like a generator module. For technical reasons, the aux module adds one sample of latency to the signal.
The level and invert parameters work in the same way as in the mix module
Groups are used to divide the generator stack into different logical units. The group header breaks the automatic routing of modules, and an audio signal will never automatically flow between two different groups. You can however route audio between groups using the audio rate modulation system.
A common use case for groups is to create layered sounds, where each layer live in it's own group and has its own output modules. It can also be useful to create groups for modules that act as modulation sources, so that they are isolated from the modulation targets that they act on.
Groups can be renamed and folded to aid in navigating complex patches. They can also be moved and copied as a whole by dragging and dropping. Hold ctrl or command while dragging to make a copy.
As if all the different module types in the wasn't enough, Phase Plant also support audio rate modulation between all the modules in the genrator area. This can be used to create FM patches and other interesting sounds.
To set up an audio rate modulation, hover over the module you want to use as a source. A green circle with a plus symbol will appear on the right hand side of the module. Click the plus symbol to enter modulation mode. Other green plus symbols will now appear on all viable targets. Simply click and drag on the plus icon of the parameter you wish to modulate. After a modulation is set up the target will turn from blue to green to show that it is being modulated.
For classic FM sounds you probably want to modulate the phase of the target oscillator. It is also possible to do linear FM and exponential FM by modulating the shift and pitch, respectively. Modulating the level of another oscillator will result in multiplying the two signals together, also know as ring modulation.
Phase Plant leverages the snapin in eco system of effects to bring a wide and ever expanding range of effects to it's effect section. After sound has been produced by the generator area it is sent to one of three effect lanes, wich in turn can be routed to either process the audio serially or in parallel.
Lanes are divided into three parts. The header, where you will find a few toggle buttons, the main part of the lane, which holds the snapins in the lane, and the footer where you will find some mixing controls.
In the lane header you will find the following controls:
In the lane footer you will find some controls for where the output of the lane is sent:
To add a new snapin to a lane, click the add snapin icon which appears when you hover the empty space in a lane. This will make a dialog appear giving you a selection of all the snapins you have installed. Simply click one to add it to the lane.
Snapins can be reordered or moved between lanes by clicking their title bars and dragging them. If you hold the ctrl key when dropping the snapin you will make a copy of it instead of moving it
To remove a snapin simply click the little X icon in the top right corner of the snapin.
Detailed descriptions of all the snapins can be found in their respective manuals.
Almost all parameters in Phase Plant and in snapins can be modulated. Modulators can be added as modules in the horizontal lane along the bottom of the screen. The macro buttons at the top of the screen also use the modulation system and are hooked up to their targets in the same way as other modulators like envelopes and LFOs.
Hooking up a modulation source to a target parameter is done in pretty much the same way for all modulation sources. Look for the little plus icon appearing when you are hovering your mouse pointer over a modulation source. Clicking the plus icon selects the modulation source and switches the UI over to modulation target selection mode. In this mode a small orange modulation knob will appear next to each possible modulation target. Click and drag on the modulation knob to connect the modulation source to the target parameter and set the modulation level. The modulated control will to turn an orange color to indicate that it is being modulated.
After a modulation source has been connected to a target parameter the modulation knob will be visible next to the modulation source at all times. The modulation knob will also appear next to the modulation target when the target is hovered. The modulation knob can be dragged to adjust the level of modulation. To disconnect the modulation, double click the modulation knob.
Modulations are color coded. Control rate modulations are shown in orange in the UI, audio rate modulations are shown in green, and modulations scaling other modulations are shown in yellow.
The macro knobs can be routed to any other parameter in Phase Plant or in Snapins using the modulation system. This lets you control many different aspects of the sound of the patch using a single macro knob. The macro knobs can be renamed by clicking on their label. The new name is stored in the preset.
The macro knobs are probably the first thing you should take a look at when trying out new presets, since the preset maker may have routed them to allow quick adjustment of some key parameters in the preset.
The macro knobs are also useful when setting up automation from your DAW. Many parameters in Phase Plant can't normally be targeted for automation, but the macro knobs can be. A common practice is to automate the macro knobs and then use the modulation system to route them to any other parameter.
Along the bottom of the screen is the modulator lane. Here you can add modules that can be used for modulation such as LFOs and envelopes. It's possible to add up to 32 modulator modules. To a add a modulator, click on the icon that appears in the lane as you hover it.
All modulator modules have a small animated display at the right hand side that shows the current value that the modulator outputs. The value for the most recent voice is shown in blue, and the other voices are drawn in grey. Some modulators also have a global value which is used when modulating parameters which are not tied to a voice. This is also displayed in grey.
The output depth of all modulators can be scaled by clicking and dragging on the animated output display. The depth can also be modulated by routing another modulation to this parameter.
By clicking the little blue triangle that you can find at the top right of most modulator modules you can change its output range. The available options are unipolar (0 to 1), bipolar (−1 to 1) and inverted (1 to 0).
The LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) module is one of the modulator modules you can add in the modulator lane a the bottom of the screen. They are ideal for modulating parameters in an oscillating and rhythmic fashion. The LFOs in Phase Plant are very versatile since you can design your own LFO curves.
You edit the curve with the LFO editor. You can move control points around by clicking and dragging. Clicking and dragging on the curve rather than on a control points creates a new control point at that location. Right clicking on a control point toggles it between being a smooth or a hard point. The view can be zoomed by using the scoll wheel on the horizontal axis below the curve, and panned by clicking and dragging on the axis. The magnet button at the bottom left toggles snapping to the grid, and clicking the cogwheel allows you to adjust the grid resolution along both axis.
The envelope modulator is a modulator module that provides an envelope that you can use as a modulation source. It is based on a standard ADSR envelope, but it adds the states delay and hold, making it a DAHDSR envelope.
The random modulator module outputs a stream of random values that you can use to create random movement in your patch. For polyphonic patches this modulator will output different random values for each voice.
There are three different MIDI based modulator modules which will help you build more expressive patches.
The multiply modulator is a utility where you can multiply two different modulations. It also allows you to multiply a modulator with a static value to boost or attenuate it.
The min and max modulators will output the smallest or largest of two values, respectively. This can be used to output the largest or smallest of two modulators, or to clamp a modulator at a fixed value.
In addition to just modulating knobs and parameters directly, you can also use the modulation system to modulate the depth of other modulations. To set up this kind of modulation, enter modulation mode and then click on the yellow star icon under a parameter with an existing modulation. This will bring up a popup where you can see all the modulations for the parameter. Click on the dashed yellow rectangle under the modulation to scale that modulation.
Modulations that target other modulations will be shown as yellow in the UI. Both audio rate (green) and control rate (orange) modulations can be targeted.
Below the generator are a few parameters that control some overarching behaviour of Phase Plant.
Unison is the effect you get when you play several slightly detuned voices at once. Phase Plant supports unison in two different ways.
First off, there is oscillator unison, which is implemented in the analog oscillator as well as the wavetable editor. This is the type of unison you should reach for first, since it is much more resource efficient. When you enable unison on an oscillator it will generate several waveforms at once internally. The output of the oscillator will be all waveforms mixed together, so if you use it as a modulation source this is what you will get as well.
The second type of unison is global unison, which you enable below the generator area. This type of unison will create several parallell voices for every note you play. This includes the whole generator stack as well as any effect lanes which are set to polyphonic. If you aren't careful this can eat up quite a lot of computer resources. The benefit of global unison is that it allows you to add unison to FM patches, and patches that require polyphonic effects.
Phase Plant has a very capable wavetable editor built in. You can use it to edit any wavetable, or even to create novel wavetables from scratch. The wavetable editor also has a powerful tool for converting any sample to a wavetable.
To launch the wavetable editor, click on the little pen button next to the wavetable selector on the wavetable oscillator. This will allow you to edit the currently loaded wavetable for that oscillator.
Let's break down the user interface of the wavetable editor.
You can pan and zoom the waveform view and the spectrum view by clicking and dragging or scrolling the mouse wheel on the horizontal and vertical axis.
Most of the tools in the wavetable editor are modal meaning that you enter a special mode when you enable the tool. When you have a modal tool enabled a tool options bar will appear at the top of the screen, under the menu bar. The tool options bar may contain some options and parameters for the tool. During the duration of the mode you can do several different non-destructive edits using the tool. The changes you make will be reflected in the sound that you hear as you play, even while editing. When you are happy with the result you click on the button labelled done in the tool options bar to commit your changes to the wavetable. Activating a different tool will also commit your changes. Clicking on the cancel button will discard your changes.
Most modal tools in the wavetable editor support keyfame animation. This powerful concept will allow you to create movement across the whole wavetable with a single application of a tool. You place keyframes on wavetable frames by clicking on the frame in the wavetable view and simply start to do edits with the active tool. A blue marker will appear under the wavetable view to show that a keframe is placed there. You can drag and drop keyframes or delete them by double clicking.
Tools that work on a section of the waveform or the spectum often have handles that appear above the view which lets you crossfade the edges of the edited region.
The defualt tool in the wavetable editor is the selection tool. It allows you to select parts of the wavetable, waveform or spectrum and copy and paste it. When pasting a piece of the waveform or spectrum a keyframe-enabled mode will be entered where you can transform the pasted section.
The morph tool allows you to crossfade between different frames in the wavtable. Simply place a keyframe on each frame you want to crossfade, and the intermediate frames will be filled in with a crossfaded version of the two neighbouring keyframes. You can either do a linear or spectral morph.
The pen tool lets you draw a curve between several control points which can be animated across the wavetable using keyframe animation. The way you interact with the curve is similar to the LFO editor.
You can move control points around by clicking and dragging. Clicking and dragging on the curve rather than on a control points creates a new control point at that location. Right clicking on a control point toggles it between being a smooth or a hard point. The view can be zoomed by using the scoll wheel on the horizontal axis below the curve, and panned by clicking and dragging on the axis. The magnet button at the bottom left toggles snapping to the grid, and clicking the cogwheel allows you to adjust the grid resolution along both axis.
The brush tool lets you freehand draw on the waveform view. Each frame you draw on will become a keyframe. Inbetween frames are interpolated linearly from the keyframes.
The wave tool lets you insert a standard waveform into a wavetable frame. The phase, frequency and positon of the inserted wave can be adjusted and keyframe animated.
The harmonic edit tool will let you directly edit the partials in the spectrum view by freehand drawing. The result is interpolated similarly to the brush tool. If you zoom in small round widgets will appear under each partial which represent the pases of the partials. Click and drag these widgets to adjust the phases.
The filter tool lets you apply a filter to the wavetable. Standard filter types are supported, and the slope of the filter can be set freely. All parameters can be animated across the wavetable using keyframes, which allows you to bake filter sweeps into your wavetables.
A powerful feature of the wavetable editor is it's ability to convert a sample to a wavetable. Drag and drop a sample onto the wavetable editor or browse for a sample using File/Convert Sample to start a conversion.
The conversion is implemented as a keyframe animated modal tool. The old wavetable data is still present underneath the sample data you are importing, and you can blend between them using the mix parameter.
When you have selected a sample to use a visual representation of the input sample will be added to the UI over the wavetable view.
For conversion to work well the tool needs to know the root pitch of the sample. It will try to detect this automatically, but you can also edit the root pitch manually in the tool options bar. The pitch of each keyframe can also be offset from the root pitch by using the pitch bend parameter for samples where the pitch is not static. Playing around with the pitch bend can also create interesting effects similar to a formant shift.
Adjusting the source parameter for keyframes will let you adjust which location of the sample that they map to.
Since it is unlikely that the root pitch is spot on for the whole sample some phase drift will occur. The tool mitigates this problem by trying to align the phases. There are a few different strategies that can be used for this task that you can choose between. Try them out to see which one performs best for your use case.
In the effects menu at the top of the screen you will find many interesting effects that you can apply to your wavetable. All of these effects are modal tools whose parameters can be keyframe animated.
In the fixes you will find some commands that can help you fix problematic wavetables. These are not modal tools, and will apply their effect immediately.
This development of this product was helped by the following pieces of excellent open source software:
Skia Graphics Library
Copyright © 2011, Google Inc.
Copyright © 2010-2013, NuEdge Development / Magnus Lidström
Copyright © 2005-2015, Lode Vandevenne
C++ optimized SHA1 algorithm
Copyright © 2011, Micael Hildenborg
By Rich Geldreich
By Don Clugston
By Laurent de Soras