You'll spend most of your time in Unify's layer-stack view, which you can always get to using one of the two icons at the rightmost end of the icon strip:
The following pairs of screenshot show how the same factory patch (BPM SPLIT - And So It Begins!) appear in the scrolling (left) and accordion (right) views:
Note that you can also resize the Unify window to see more (or fewer) layers.
Unify creates composite sounds using a system of Layers, of which there are three distinct kinds:
Unify's layer-stack view uses the following color scheme and structure:
MIDI and audio flows generally from top to bottom and left to right:
See this section for a full diagram of signal flow in Unify. See below for detailed descriptions of each layer type.
Starting in Unify v1.1.10, you can drag layers within each group to change the layer order.
Starting in Unify v1.6.0, INST and MIDI layers can be disabled by clicking on the green MIDI indicator-dot at the left end of the layer. When a layer is disabled, it goes dark, and the flow of MIDI data to the layer is interrupted so it won't play any new notes (until you re-enable it), but any sustaining notes will continue to sound.
INST and MIDI layers can also be enabled/disabled using the top-level midiEnable and midiToggle parameters, which can be linked to macro knobs or used in MIDI Controller Files. See also Parameter paths reference for details, specifically the Top-level paths section.
Because you often don't need to see the details of MIDI layers after they are fully set up, Unify provides the option to “show” or “hide” them. When you click the Layer button just below the Unify logo (in the header part of the GUI), you'll see the show/hide MIDI layers item at the bottom of the menu.
Instrument layers are the most important type, and also the most complex, in that it contains elements that other layers don't. Once you understand the structure of instrument layers, you'll understand the others as well.
Unify v1.4 introduced the ability to disable Instrument layers individually. This feature is currently only accessible via external MIDI control; see MIDI Controller Files. When an Instrument layer is disabled, the whole layer will go dark in the GUI, and it will stop playing new MIDI notes, but it remains connected to the output, and any decaying notes, echoes, reverb tails, etc. will continue sounding.
Each Instrument layer is divided into six rectangular regions as shown:
Any time you see an icon consisting of two concentric circles in Unify, it's called an “ops button” or “operations button”, and clicking it will pop open an “ops (operations) menu”. The scope of the operations (functional items) on the ops menu always matches the location of the ops button in the layout.
For example, at the extreme right-hand end of the title bar is the layer ops button. Its location in the layer title bar is as a graphical hint to indicate that the operations its associated menu provides are related to the entire layer. Similarly, the instrument box features an instrument ops button for operations on that instrument plug-in, and as you can see, a similar ops button exists for every audio-effect plug-in.
The Layer operations menu for an Instrument layer looks like this:
As of Unify 1.4, after loading a new Unify layer, if you decide you only need the first INST layer (very common for “unified” patch libraries having only one INST layer per patch), you can click on the layer's operations menu (concentric circles menu at right end of layer) and choose Replace with embedded INST1. This NEW menu item will automatically appear at the TOP of the menu for embedded Unify layers only.
The horizontal layout of the MIDI, Instrument, Audio-effects, and Mix controls sections reflects the signal-flow in each layer, with MIDI coming in on the left, and audio going out on the right.
See signal flow for a diagram and discussion of overall signal flow in Unify.
The stream of MIDI data coming in to each instrument layer is subject to three kinds of operations, all set using the cluster of MIDI-related controls at the left-hand side of the layer (see diagram below):
See How Unify processes MIDI for more details.
In addition, two more items may be visible in the blank area just to the left of the main cluster of eight MIDI controls:
All the rectangle-shaped controls can be controlled with either the left or the right mouse button (use Ctrl+left on a Mac with a single-button mouse):
Clicking on the MIDI Velocity Graph control at the right-hand side of the MIDI-controls cluster pops up a curve editor window like this:
The graph itself represents incoming MIDI note-velocity values along the horizontal axis, with lowest (quietest) velocities on the left and highest (loudest) velocities on the right. The vertical axis represents outgoing (processed) velocity values, lowest at the bottom and highest at the top. The default velocity curve is a straight line–the so-called “identity mapping” where each incoming velocity value is mapped to the identical value (no change at all).
In the graph control itself, you can:
For velocity curves, you will rarely need to create split points. You will usually only need to adjust the curvature (slightly – a little change goes a long way). Dragging upward to create a convex curve will make the layer more responsive to velocity, and can be useful when you are working with a weighted-key MIDI controller. Dragging downward to create a concave curve will make the layer less responsive to velocity, and can be useful when playing a very lightweight synth-action keyboard.
The Lowest note and Highest note boxes in the MIDI controls cluster are your main starting point for setting up key splits in Unify, by restricting each INST and/or MIDI layer to respond only to a certain range of notes on the keyboard. In a typical key-split patch, layer key-ranges will normally not overlap, nor will there be any gap or “dead zone” between them.
The values displayed in the two note-boxes can be changed in any of three ways:
Right-clicking a note-box puts it into “edit mode”. This is indicated either by a pop-up “value editor” like this:
or, in Unify v1.2.0 and later, by the note-name in the box changing to a question mark; this is called in-place note editing. A new “Note-range pop-ups” checkbox was added to the Settings view. When this is checked (which is the default), right-clicking activates in-place editing and Option/Alt-right-clicking opens the pop-up. When it is NOT checked, this behavior is reversed.
While a note-range pop-up is displayed, you can:
While a note-box is in “in-place edit” mode, you can:
Note that only one note-range pop-up can be displayed at a time, but it's perfectly OK to set multiple note-boxes to in-place edit mode at the same time, so you can press one MIDI key to set them all at once.
Unify v1.1.10 introduced more sophisticated control for key splits, including the ability to have one layer fade smoothly into another, through a region of overlap. This is achieved by modifying MIDI note velocities, and hence will only work with instrument plug-ins which respond to MIDI velocity in the usual way (higher velocity = louder sound).
All of this functionality is achieved by using the right mouse button (or holding down CTRL while using the left mouse button) in the title bar of an INST or MIDI layer, specifically on the brighter-colored area which indicates the layer's note-range. (In earlier versions of Unify, this brightened area was not displayed unless the layer's note-range was restricted. In v1.1.10 and later, it is always shown.)
To adjust a layer's key-range, drag or double-click without holding down any modifier keys (other than CTRL, if used) as follows:
To set up a velocity-based fade, hold down ALT (Option on Mac) as follows:
Having set up a fade, hold down SHIFT to adjust the shape of the fade velocity curve:
The Instrument box is simple. The name of the current instrument plug-in is displayed, and you can double-click on it to open that plug-in's own GUI window. At the right-hand end is the instrument ops button (icon), which you can click to pop up the instrument ops menu:
The instrument-ops menu has several sub-menus, and is divided into four sections:
For (mostly older) VST plug-ins which support “program banks”, the ops menu will contain a number of additional items:
The audio-effects box on each instrument layer is initially empty, except for the add-plugin button at the right-hand side, which pops up a menu very similar to the “Swap” items on instrument-ops menu:
As with the “Swap” menus, this is divided into three sections:
When you add an audio-effect plug-in using this menu, a new plug-in box will be added at the right-hand side, indicating that it follows the previous ones in the audio processing chain. Each plug-in box is almost exactly like the instrument box described above, including the presence of an ops button for operations specific to that plug-in, but it also features a bypass button on the left, which you can use to toggle whether the plug-in is active in the processing chain (normal case) or if it is bypassed.
Some (not all) audio-effect plug-ins accept MIDI input. For such plug-ins, you will see both “M” (MIDI mute) and “B” (bypass) buttons on the left. Click the “M” button to suppress (deactivate) MIDI input to the plug-in.
The effect ops-menu also offers slightly different options, including bypass and delete functions:
Finally, note that you can drag the individual effects boxes to change the order of the effects chain. Red markers will appear as you drag, indicating where the effect will be moved to when you release:
The mix controls cluster at the right-hand side of each instrument layer has a dense array of controls:
The Direct and AUX Send level controls only appear if the patch has at least one AUX layer. These allow you to control how much of the layer's output is sent directly to the Master Effects layer and how much is sent to each individual (numbered) AUX layer. Note these are “post fader” levels, i.e., they are affected by the settings of the main layer level fader (and also the pan control).
The Layer Mute and Layer Solo buttons are straightforward, and work as in any DAW:
The Layer Pan control and Layer level fader are also straightforward and similar to those in DAWs, as are the VU Meters above the fader.
All faders, knobs and knob-like controls in Unify have certain common characteristics:
In all pop-up “Edit value” windows:
MIDI layers contain a MIDI controls cluster exactly as described above for instrument layers, and an MIDI effects box which is exactly like the Audio effects box on an instrument layer, but contains MIDI effects instead of audio effects.
Because MIDI layers contain only these two sections, they are drawn half the width of other layers:
AUX (auxiliary) effects layers are comparable to auxiliary buses in a DAW or traditional mixer. Each AUX layer contains only an Audio effects box and mix controls, which work exactly like their counterparts in instrument layers.
The Master Effects layer is basically just another AUX layer, except that:
Functionally, the Master Effects layer truly is just another AUX layer, to the extent that if you save the state of an AUX layer as a layer preset, you can recall it to the Master Effects layer, and vice versa. As of Unify v1.6.0, you can also copy/paste between AUX and Master layers.
Also new in Unify v1.6.0, you can double-click the title-strip to rename the Master Effects layer, just as you can with all the other layer types.
The Bypass (B) button at the left-hand side of the Master Effects layer provides a way to simultaneously deactivate (bypass) the entire layer. The reasons why this was added (in Unify v1.3.2) are subtle, and are discussed on a separate page (click link).