Today’s post is one for the producers amongst you and perhaps anyone looking to get into production. I’m reviewing a new Serum pre-set and wavetable pack out now on the legendary Black Octopus Sounds. Made by the amazing, Arizona based mastering engineer and producer “The Lions Den”. Although the pack is aimed mainly at the dubstep market it is very cross genre and I’m testing it out at 174 bpm as it’s the speed I know best 😉
The first thing to say is this pre-set pack is really special for many reasons. As an avid pre-set maker myself I can appreciate the time dedication and care that has gone into each sound on the pack.
Not only do you get 300 pre-sets handcrafted for the Serum VST synth made by Xfer Records, you also get almost 90 uniquely created wave tables. By including wave tables this gives you a whole new core starting point to create your own new sounds. These all feature heavily in the pre-sets themselves in the Oscillator 1 menu. It is an extensive collection of pre-sets as well featuring arps, atmospheres, bass, chords, keys, leads, sub, synth and some sfx to boot. Each section comprising some very detailed and innovative sounds. As there are a lot of pre-sets I find it useful to copy them into individual folders labelled “bass”, “lead” etc within one main folder named the Kraken as it is much more user friendly within Serum.
The pre-sets themselves are not only thought provoking. but each sound is rich and drenched in intelligent fx production, with well placed layering and intuitive macro control. You would accept nothing less from such a talented engineer, but having seen far too many pre-set packs that seemed rushed and basic this is very refreshing.
As I mentioned at the start this really is a multi genre pack. Pretty much everything could theoretically work in nearly every bass heavy electronic production. It is perfect for those producers into Dubstep, Trap and all forms of heavy drum n bass like Jump up, tech and neuro. It does lean very much on the aggressive side of things, but is complete with some good melody making apparatus and you could make some great mid range anthems rollers as well as movie backing tracks and I’m sure some ideas that could translate well into some grime and hip hop tunes.
Each pre-set has 4 well thought out macro controls ready made for the user to transform the current sound. They are perfect for sculpting and evolving your sounds to match the style of your track and the general atmosphere and ambience you are looking to achieve. The attention to detail is strong and I really like the way the pre-sets are named. The “Hellfire” arp for instance I assume is a reference to The Hellfire club in Stranger things and the sound doesn’t dissapoint and led my 13 year old to exclaim “Dad how did you get the sound from Stranger Things?” The Hendrix pre-set has a similar vibe!
The sound design for me is such an important part of the design. There’s not much point in giving some one the “init” saw wave with an lfo mapped to a filter and saying please buy me. It just doesn’t cut the mustard. What people need are high quality arrangements that make them stand out from the crowd and sound professional. The layering of sounds really brings this home. If you play a note and mute individual oscilators you can see how well they are layered and also how strong each individual wave or noise is. Each sound comes through with lovely clarity, warmth creating the possibilities for some fantastic creations.
Looking at the individual sections available, the bass pre-sets offer lots of clarity rich sounds. There are a good amount of dnb friendly bass sounds as well as some things you would definetly associate more with Dubstep, although could be transferable in some jump up productions. Infact as far as dnb is concerned there is also a neuro section which chock full of heavy, room destroying bass and synth material. Some of the reese basses are so heavy even your neighbour is gonna need a cigarette after hearing it through the wall! The bass pre-sets offer lots of strong material as well as some great bass fillers and with the macros available you can create more ambient or more scultped versions to suit. We also have a sub section which has some really nice 808’s, sub drops and some strong core sub bass that will really glue down the low end on your tunes. There are lots of options to control and dial in tape saturation or tube distortion and add more or less harmonics to your sound to cut through more.
The chord section I found particularly cool and it was hard not to drift off writing this review and not start making a new tune with the sounds here. They are big and memorable and I’m sure will end up in some very big productions. Similarily the atmospheres and pads offer loads of monumentally epic opportunities to create masterpieces. If you are a fan of Hans Zimmer then eat your heart out!
The key, lead and pluck section will be very useful to all producers to create that unique melody we are all searching for which sets tunes apart. The macros are often used to control the shape of the sound as well as providing tone controls and where appropriate lfo speeds and all kinds of cool fxs.
We also have lots of fantastic arpegios, synths and some cool sfx which are again produced with precision and care and all sound absolutely huge. All with that thought provoking nature where you could write a new tune for almost every sound as a starting point which is really special. Most packs are full of throw away sounds, but the Kraken 2 is all killer with no filler. The synth sounds themselves are really extensive and wide ranging in their tonal feel. Ranging from oriental vibes to other worldly space style meanderings and more traditional sounds. The whole pack has a very good mix of modern, current and future sounds which I really like as well.
All in all this is a fantastically prepared, user friendly and well thought out pack. Provoking ideas, giving layers, clarity and vibe to productions across a multitude of genres. Each sound has been selected with care and precision offering the user complete control to evolve and explore the sound in more detail and create completely new and unique ideas. In short it is epic, dark, moody and will make you sound like a jedi master.
Check it out here!!
The Kraken Vol 2 – Dubstep Serum Presets – Black Octopus Sound (blackoctopus-sound.com)
Black Octopus Sound (blackoctopus-sound.com)