We’re here with a SIGNAL tutorial to get you rolling with this amazing tool immediately. With over 40 gigabytes of beautifully-recorded content, SIGNAL is today’s most powerful dedicated pulse engine.
From composers to producers to DJs, Output’s team of veteran musicians came together to build a creative engine that brought together all forms of pulse-making.
Combining the warmth and grit of analog synths with the beauty of deeply-sampled instruments, SIGNAL is a unique tool that focuses on the playability of instruments, sounds, and rhythms. Let’s show you around in this SIGNAL tutorial.
SIGNAL tutorial: engines, pulse instruments, and effects
For those eager to dive right in, Output’s SIGNAL is incredibly simple and user-friendly, but it’s also an excellent choice for those who want to subtly tweak tracks.
The engine comes with a huge library of over 40GB of uncompressed recorded content. Each pulse instrument (or preset) is carefully organized by tag, letting you focus on making music and spend less time scrolling.
SIGNAL has three main pages: engines, pulse Instruments, and effects.
The engines page is the heart of the instrument. Although it may seem complex at first, its clean layout makes the page extremely intuitive.
Pulse engines is split into two layers, each with its own channel strip and two-rhythm pulse engine. With SIGNAL, have up to four individual rhythms or combine them to create a major one.
Within each rhythm tab, you’ll find the pulse rate and pulse type. This is where you’ll explore the wave shape, step sequencer, arpeggiator (arp), and SIGNAL’s own proprietary looper.
To access all of the additional parameters and modulation centers, head over to the advanced menu. Here, experiment by changing the volume, pan, filter, tube, and pitch ADSR. To duplicate all (or individual) parts from one layer to another, simply select the copy menu.
If, at any time, you want to hear what your track sounds like without the pulse, simply turn off the engine. What’s more, you can also turn off any of the four rhythms (along with the channel strips), too.
SIGNAL’s macro sliders
Front and center in the engines page are SIGNAL’s four macro sliders. These sliders change from patch to patch, meaning that each pulse instrument has its own set of knobs and parameters.
When combined, these sliders can control up to six parameters at once. They are also customized differently for pulse instruments so that each one provides its own unique way of manipulating the sound.
Pulse instruments page
The pulse instruments page is all about finding a preset that you love. Choose a few tags and either select a pulse instrument from the list (on the right-hand side of the platform) or cycle through via the arrows at the top.
For insights on how to get the best out of each sound, a number of descriptions and tips are located at the top of the pulse instruments page.
One of the best things about this engine is that you can easily save a pulse instrument from anywhere within SIGNAL. Your custom pulse instrument will always be saved with the user tag.
On the effects page, discover effects for the overall global sound and for the two SIGNAL layers. Check out layer effects by clicking on the pulse A or pulse B tab at the bottom of the screen, Turn them on or off by using the designated power button below each one.
In SIGNAL’s effects page, there are two separate effects per layer, meaning that once you click on the effect, you’ll have two distinct options for parameters. Layer effects include EQ, compression, lo-fi, tape saturation, drive, stereo spread, delays, reverb, and flutter.
Navigating to the global tab display, you will see the available global effects — including a beautiful convolution reverb. These effects are fairly similar to the ones found under layers, but include a phaser, chorus, and filter, too.
SIGNAL tutorial: advanced features
Output’s SIGNAL has plenty on offer for those who want to dig deeper into the engine. Some of the more advanced options including wave mode, step sequencer mode, arp mode, Loop mode, settings, and macro sliders details.
When in wave mode, you’ll notice a lock/unlock button on the engines page. This locks waves to the selected rate, changing how the low-frequency oscillation (LFO) reacts.
When locked, each and every voice will play in the same phase. When unlocked, the pulse will trigger with every new note, allowing you to offset rhythms. This option lets you fade in the pulse and highlight specific portions of the wave shape.
Step sequencer mode
The step sequencer mode comes with a number of carefully-designed patterns that are made to fit a wide range of genres and scenarios.
By selecting the modify tab, you’re able to vary the step pattern and invert or reverse it. With the step sequencer mode, you can also clear the pattern and break out on your own.
Arp mode is designed to be a powerful arpeggiator. The mode functions in a way similar to the step sequencer mode. Arp, however, allows you to nudge the pattern, adjust the amount of steps, or choose from a library of arp patterns.
You can also control how the arpeggiator behaves. Clicking on the gear icon will show you all of the mode’s advanced features, allowing you to tweak different parameters like octave jumping, round robins, swing, and sample duration.
Loop mode is possibly one of Output’s most groundbreaking features. Acting much like a tape loop, it infinitely repeats as long as a note’s held down.
Manipulate this tool creatively and perform offset rhythms that will continue to loop (you can also syncopate the loop). Moving the bottom sliders, think about setting the initial attack to start midway through the highlighted loop.
When the stack is on, use the sustain pedal to easily build stack patterns, rhythms, and chords.
Use the settings button for a simple way to tweak the key range, maximum number of voices, and velocity sensitivity of each layer.
If, for instance, you’re performing patches with different sounding layers, you will find the key range setting particularly useful. Why not think about restricting a deep synth sub to the ideal low range — or a light atmosphere to the ideal high range?
To access the feature, click on the settings icon at the top right corner of the layer window.
Macro sliders details
By clicking on the macro button on the engines page, you’ll gain instant access to the details in each of the macro sliders. Discover which parameters are assigned and how the slider move affects them.
This advanced feature allows you to adjust the range of the assigned parameters and further tweak your pulse instrument’s sound.
We hope this SIGNAL tutorial was useful! For more, check out this video that shows off everything SIGNAL can do in two minutes.