Tracing the signal flow commonly found in Synthesizers, to get an overview of how to study them.


  1. Comment by kuuma

    kuuma Reply June 13, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    i’m still a bit unclear on the differences between modulation and automation. is it that modulations are perpetually moving timbrally whereas automations are a more one-to-one relationship to the knob you’re turning? so if i were to map the LFO MIDI m4l patch onto a synth’s parameter, the resultant motion would be modulation, whereas manipulating said parameter directly via a mapped knob would be automation. am i understanding this right? thanks, master producers.

    • Comment by UPA

      UPA Reply June 14, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Hey AC! I think the distinction is only that Modulations have the potential to move in addition to the base setting that the knob is at, whereas automation pretty much replaces the knob altogether. So, let’s say I have a modulation that goes up 10 and back down 10 every time I hit a key (like an envelope). I could then go and set the knob to 25, and the modulation “modulates” that – going 25 up to 35 and back down again. Then I could adjust the knob to 75, and the modulation would still do it’s thing, only now it starts at 75, goes up to 85, then back to 75.

      Automation, on the other hand, would require you to move the whole line up or down – you don’t have access to the control anymore.

      Now M4L is kind of a special case! The Live parameter API inside the LFO does “takeover” the knob you have it assigned to. But it just sort of replaces it with a modulation opportunity, which you can still adjust with the offset control on the LFO. So it still counts as modulation 🙂

      And in the case of mapping via macros, it’s again a “takeover” of the control. The control just exists in another place now. You still have the opportunity to choose Modulation or Automation from there! Note that live has a simple way to do one or the other by right clicking a control “Show Automation” or “Show modulation” – if you choose modulation, you are still able to adjust the control after drawing in some curves.

      Hope that helps! Best, Weapons Specialist Krupa

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