Unify Manual

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Creating your first patch (Tutorial)

On this page, we'll work through a simple example of creating and saving a basic piano-and-synth patch. Because some of you will be reading this when you aren't familiar with Unify yet, this page will take a step-by-step, tutorial approach, unlike the rest of the manual pages, which are more encyclopedic.

You'll be working almost entirely in Unify's layer-stack view You needn't click that click that link just yet; this page is meant as a beginner's tutorial, so we'll guide you through every step, without getting into too much detail.

Start from an INIT patch

To start creating a new patch “from scratch”, click the “init” button at the right side of the header, just under the “browse” button. You will then see the simplest possible layer stack in Unify, with just a single instrument layer and an empty Master effects layer. Because an instrument layer must always have an instrument plug-in loaded, the built-in Sine Wave Synth is used, and there are no effects.

Play a few notes on your MIDI keyboard to make certain Unify is working correctly. If you don't hear any sound, go back and check that you have correctly set up your MIDI and audio settings.

Create the piano layer

Click the ops button (two concentric circles icon) to the right of the words Sine Wave Synth to pop up the instrument ops (operations) menu:

Roll the mouse pointer to the right, over the “Swap: Unify Standard” item, until the second-level menu opens (“Instruments” and “Special”). Keep rolling across “Instruments” until the third-level menu opens, and click the first item “Guru Sampler”:

The plug-in name will change from “Sine Wave Synth” to “Guru Sampler”, and the Guru Sampler GUI window will open. Don't worry about the details at this point; just look for the row of three pop-up menus about one-third of the way down from the top. Click the middle menu to select “Keyboard”, and select “HR Pop Piano f” on the right menu, as shown below:

Play a few notes on your MIDI keyboard, to ensure that you are hearing piano tones, before moving on.

Close the Guru Sampler GUI window by clicking on the small red “X” in the title bar. NOTE the “X” will be on the right on a Windows system (as shown above), but on the left on a Mac.

Add an audio effect

Click on the add button (plus sign in a circle) at the right-hand end of the effects box as shown below:

In the menu which pops up, follow “Unify Standard” through “Reverb” to “EmVerb” and click on that:

You have just added an instance of the EmVerb plug-in to the output of Guru Sampler. In the EmVerb GUI which then appears, adjust the knobs approximately as follows:

Close the EmVerb GUI window by clicking on the small red “X” in the title bar.

Add the synth layer

Locate the add layer button just below the Unify logo at the top-left corner of the Unify GUI.

Click on that to open the add-layer menu, which is another system of cascading sub-menus, but this one lets you select fully-configured layer presets. Follow “Add Instrument” > “JX10 Analog” > “Synth Pad” to add a new instrument layer using an instance of the mda JX10 synthesizer:

The GUI window for mda JX10 will open, but at this point, we don't need to make any changes, so just close it again.

Play a few notes on your MIDI keyboard to confirm that you hear piano and synth tones layered together.

Adjusting the layer balance and octaves

You'll probably want to make at least two further changes. First, the synth layer will be too loud, so reduce the layer level fader down to about -9 dB.

Second, the layer preset was created with a MIDI pitch offset of -12 semitones, so the synth layer sounds an octave lower than the piano layer. To change this, locate the MIDI note-offset control at the bottom-left corner of the MIDI-controls cluster for layer 2, where it says “-12”:

Roll your mouse pointer over the control, press the mouse button, drag upwards (keeping the mouse button down) until the value reads “0”, then release. Play some notes now, to verify that the two layers are now sounding in the same octave.

Save your new patch

At this point, you should SAVE your new patch. Locate and click the save button in the upper right-hand corner of the Unify GUI:

This will open the patch-save dialog, which consists of several individual text-edit boxes. Edit the items as shown below, then click the “Save As…” button. (To learn what the other buttons do, see below under “Other buttons in the Preset Metadata dialog”.)

When you click the “Save As…” button, you'll be presented with a standard file-save dialog, which will be different for Mac vs. PC, but should be familiar to you. In this case, we have selected User Library as the library for this patch, but if you want, you can choose another one, or select “New Library…” at the bottom of the Library menu and enter a new name of your choice. (Unify will then automatically create a folder with that name in Unify's main Libraries folder, and a sub-folder called “Patches” inside it, and prepare to save your new patch file there.)

Click the “Save As…” button in the file-save dialog to confirm. The file-save dialog will close, and you should see the information you entered in the “patch metadata area” at the top of the Unify GUI, AND the name of your patch added (in alphabetical order) to the patch list in the sidebar:

Congratulations. You just made your first patch in Unify!

Make some more changes

Now that you have saved your patch, you can make all sorts of additional changes. If you're not happy with your changes, click the revert button just above the save button to re-load the last saved version. Once you are happy, you can re-save your patch as follows:

  • To save the current patch back to the same file, use the Update button instead of the Save As… button
  • If you don't need to change the patch name, tags, comment text, etc., but have made other changes, you can just hold down the Option/Alt key and click the save button.

Changes you might want to make at this point include:

  • Double-click each layer title to add your own descriptions
    • Remember to hit Enter/Return on your keyboard to confirm
  • Add instances of Omega Delay and Silky Chorus on layer 2
  • Use the layer ops button at the right-hand end of the Master Effects layer, choose “Replace from layer preset” > “Unify Master presets” > “MASTER Optimizer JL” to put John Lehmkuhl's pre-built mastering effects chain on the combined output.

When you hit the save button to save the patch, and then the “Update” button at the bottom of the “preset metadata” dialog, the previous preset file will be overwritten immediately. If you'd like to save a new file, change the patch name and then save using “Save As…”. (If you keep the same patch name, but change only the file name, the result can be a little confusing, as you would then end up with two identically-named patches in the patch list.)

Other buttons at the bottom of the Preset Metadata dialog

Variations (advanced feature added in Unify v1.6.0): see Patch Variations.

Lock Master Effects: Check this box if you have used any effects plug-ins on your patch's Master Effects layer which must be active for the patch to sound correctly. Otherwise, leave un-checked to allow Unify to bypass the Master Effects layer entirely if your patch is later loaded as a “Unify layer”.

Cancel: If you hit save by accident or you change your mind, click the Cancel button.

Update: Click this button instead of Save As… if you have made changes to a previously-saved patch, and simply want to update that patch rather than save an entirely new one. (Pro tip: If you don't even need to edit any of the metadata items, you can hold down ALT (Option on Mac) while clicking the save button, to update the saved patch without even seeing the metadata dialog at all.)

Save Layer Patches…: If you've created a multi-layer patch, you can use this button to create one new patch file for every INST layer, which is just like the full patch but has only that specific INST layer. Unify will present the usual file-selection box, as though you had clicked “Save As…”, but instead of saving just one file, it will save a series of them, with “L1”, “L2”, etc. appended to the patch name and file name. This facilitates creation of patch libraries containing both single-layer and combination patches.

Use a macro to adjust the layer balance

True PlugInGuru fans know that Skippy never makes a patch without making sure at least something happens when you use the mod-wheel, so let's do that now.

Click the knob icon at the bottom-left in the icon strip, to open the Macro knobs view in the footer:

If the first knob on the left doesn't say “CC1” in the middle, click the ops button just above and to the right of the knob, and choose “Assign CC” > “CC1 Modulation Wheel (coarse)”.

We'll connect the Layer 2 level-fader parameter to the mod wheel. Click the first knob's ops button, and choose “Linked Parameters…” to open the linked-parameters editor window. When this first appears, it will be empty, except for the title, as shown:

Note the small red “X” in the title bar (on the left on Mac, on the right on PC); you'll use this to close the window in a moment. Click the add parameter button (small plus-sign in a circle) to open the usual cascade of menus, and choose “inst” > “2:” > “mixLevel”.

The view should change as follows. In the response-curve editor section at the bottom, note the two circular endpoints and the horizontal blue line.

The blue line represents the current setting of the Layer-2 mixLevel parameter. We'd like the patch to start out with Layer 2 at this level, and fade down to nothing as the mod wheel is raised. Drag the two endpoints so the first one aligns with the blue line and the second is all the way down, like this:

Close the linked-parameters window by clicking the red “X” in the title bar, and try playing with your MIDI controller's mod-wheel while playing some notes. As you bring the mod wheel up, you should hear the synth layer fade away until eventually all you hear is piano.

Quick–save that patch again–and don't forget to add a note to the description, e.g. “MW: fade out synth”. Congratulations again–you've made a proper PlugInGuru patch, complete with mod-wheel support!

Learning more

At this point, you should be starting to get the feel of the Unify GUI, enough that you shouldn't need further hand-holding. The other pages in this manual will thus be less “tutorial” and more “encyclopedic”.

first-patch.txt · Last modified: 2023/05/08 18:59 by