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ArcSyn User Manual












If you have any problems with installation, authorisation or any other aspect of ArcSyn,
please contact us.

PC: extract the ArcSyn VST.zip file (Right click, ‘Extract All’), then run the installer. The
default installation directory is C:\Program Files\Steinberg\Vstplugins but you can select
whatever location you want.

Mac Audio Unit: double click the ArcSyn AU.dmg file to mount it, agree to the license
then drag the ArcSyn icon to the Components folder icon. The default Audio Unit plugins
folder is Macintosh HD/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components .

Mac VST: double click the ArcSyn VST.dmg file to mount it, agree to the license then
drag the ArcSyn icon to the VST folder icon. The default VST plugins folder is Macintosh
HD/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST .

Installation notes:

If you are using OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or above you might get a warning
saying: “The item ArcSyn.vst can’t be moved because VST [or Components] can’t
be modified.“ In this case just click the Authenticate button, enter your Mac login
password and ArcSyn should install.

Info Screen
When first opened, ArcSyn will display a screen containing two options:

Authorise: enter your name and authorisation code then click the central ENTER
DEMO: works like the full version but fades-in soothing white noise at random

After purchasing an authorisation code from us, enter your name and code into the
ArcSyn info window by copying and pasting or typing, then click enter . The name and
code are both case-sensitive and you should include any spaces. If you have any difficulty,
for instance due to your DAW / sequencer host application ‘stealing’ keypresses and not
sending them to the plugin (“Reaper“ steals the spacebar, for instance), then look for an
option to “send all keyboard input to the plugin“, or similar. If you still have problems,
please contact us.

Upgrading on a Mac
If you have any problems with upgrading, please contact us.

If you're upgrading from an earlier version of ArcSyn, please follow these

instructions to avoid losing any programs you've created.

Go into the "ArcSyn" folder ( Users/YOU/Documents/ArcSyn ) and drag the My

Programs folder out of ArcSyn and onto your desktop.

Install ArcSyn and the new ArcSyn folder. It will ask if you want to replace the
original folder - choose YES.

Drag the My Programs folder you put on the desktop earlier into the new ArcSyn
folder. If a warning message appears, choose REPLACE or MERGE.

That's it!

What Is It?
ArcSyn is a synthesizer instrument plug-in based on typical analogue synthesizer
architecture, i.e., a "virtual analogue" synthesizer. Unlike many virtual analogues, it
doesn't try and emulate a particular 'real' synthesizer, nor does it use 90% of your
computer's CPU time to emulate a filter which can be cloned on a 2" (5 cm) square PCB
with $5 worth of components :-) Instead, it takes the "road less well travelled" and
explores some unusual avenues of analogue (and digital) synthesis—the sort of
capabilities you might find on a well-stocked modular synthesizer, including: unusual
waveforms, dividers, logic functions, frequency shifters and so on. ArcSyn introduces the
concept of LFO wave sequencing, allowing extremely complex modulation patterns.

ArcSyn is laid out approximately like a MiniMoog, so it shouldn't be too difficult to start
editing programs and creating interesting sounds, although if you take the time to work
out how the LFOs and modulation matrix operate, you'll be able to create much more
complex programs. There's also a RANDOM button which you can click at any time if you
want some instant (not necessarily musical!) inspiration.

Basic Operation
How to select programs

Click the +/- (up/down) grey arrows to either side of the program name display to
select the previous or next program. This will advance from one folder to the next
and will wrap-around, so if you're on the last program in one folder and click the
right arrow, ArcSyn will advance to the first program in the next folder. If you're on
the last program in the last folder, ArcSyn will wrap around to the first program in
the first folder.

Click the program name display (top centre). This will open a full-screen menu
listing all the programs currently available. Click a program name to select it and
close the menu, click anywhere else, like a folder name or horizontal dividing line, to
close the menu without selecting a program. If there are more programs than will fit
in the menu, it will display an icon consisting of 3 circles—click any part of the
vertical strip containing it and the programs will move one column to the left,
allowing you to access further programs in the right-hand column. An identical icon
will then appear in the left column indicating that you now have more programs
available to the left.

The first (top-left) position in the program menu shows the currently-selected
program. This is the program which will be saved as part of a song by your

How to save programs

Click the SAVE button to open a standard file selector. It will default to the "My
Programs" folder which is inside the main "ArcSyn" folder.

Enter a new name if required—if you use a name which already exists, you won't be
asked to confirm that you want to overwrite it , so take care! You don't have to
enter ".fxp" as the file selector will do that automatically.

Click Save (or Cancel if you've changed your mind) and the program will be saved
to disk.

Although the file selector opens in the "My Programs" folder, you can navigate to
another folder, like "Bass" and save there instead if you want. This choice will be
remembered for the remainder of a session.

After saving a program, ArcSyn will reload the program menu and select the
program you've just saved.

How to manage programs

PLEASE don't move or rename the "ArcSyn" folder itself or ArcSyn won't be able to
find it!

By using the Mac finder (or Windows explorer), you're free to rename, delete or
copy programs, rename delete or copy folders and add new folders. If you rename
the "My Programs" folder, ArcSyn won't be able to use it as the default SAVE

If you rename or move programs using the Mac finder (or Windows explorer)
while ArcSyn is open, it won't 'know' that you've done so and the program menu
might need updating—there's a small icon labelled RELOAD above the
program name display which you can click to force ArcSyn to reload all programs
and update its program menu. Otherwise, you won't need to touch the RELOAD
button at all.

On Windows, any programs you've altered since installing ArcSyn will be left
behind if you later uninstall it.

How to edit programs

When you select a program, ArcSyn makes a copy of it which is placed at the top
left of the program menu. This copy is the one you're editing when you move any
controls in ArcSyn's GUI and is saved when you save a song you're working on in
your DAW. Because you're always working on a copy, it's impossible to accidentally
mess up a factory program so you're encouraged to experiment with ArcSyn's
controls as much as possible.

If you make a sound you want to keep, please remember to click the SAVE button
and enter a new name.

If you click the SAVE button and then click Okay without entering a new name,
ArcSyn will overwrite the program, so be careful!

How to operate the controls

Knobs and sliders can be adjusted with vertical or horizontal (or both) dragging of
the mouse.

Hold down the SHIFT key for fine adjustment of knobs and sliders.

Hold down the ALT ( CTRL on Windows) key when clicking a knob or slider to set
it to its default value, which is 50% , or halfway in most cases (There's not much
point in setting parameters to 0% or 100% as that can be done easily anyway).
There are some exceptions to this, including the LFO level controls: step 1 defaults
to 127 , steps 2 to 16 default to 0 .

Silver 'blob' +/-, up/down buttons to the left and right of displays step through
options one at a time to save having to open the menus.

Click a display to open a menu. Click an item in the menu to select it and close the
menu, click anywhere outside the menu to close it without selecting an item.


Sets all parameters to plain vanilla settings.


Creates a random variation on the current program together with a random name. Certain
controls, such as MASTER (Volume) aren't affected. Because the random function only
varies the existing program, it works best with more complicated programs. Each time it
is clicked, it starts from the original program.

• It's probably a good idea to turn ArcSyn's MASTER volume down when experimenting
with RANDOM !



List of waveforms with detailed notes.

There are 72 waveforms (including OFF !). The default waveform for oscillator 1 is SAW ,
for oscillators 2 and 3 it's OFF .


Adjusts the "shape" of oscillator waveforms. Some waveforms have fixed shapes, for
example the SAW so the SHAPE control won't have any affect on these and the display
will show - . In other cases, such as PULSE , the SHAPE can be continuously adjusted. In
other case the SHAPE selects between a fixed number of options, for example

SHAPE +/- Buttons

Increases or decreases the SHAPE setting in discrete steps. The step size varies according
to the particular oscillator waveform selected, for example there are 32 CHORD steps
and 64 WAVETABLE steps. The default number of steps is 16 .

• The shape +/- buttons are useful even for continuously-variable waveforms like PULSE,
as it allows several oscillator waveform shapes to be set to exactly the same amount.


Each oscillator has OCTAVE and SEMITONE tuning controls. If you click on the readout,
you get a menu from which to select a new value, if you click the silver buttons to
either side of each readout, the OCTAVE or SEMITONE value is increased or decreased by
1. The range is -4 to +4 OCTAVES and -11 to +11 SEMITONES. If you try clicking the
SEMITONE number past "11", (or "-11") it resets to zero and the OCTAVE value goes up
(or down) by 1.


Each oscillator has EXP and LIN detuning controls. The EXP control gives standard
detuning which speeds up as you increase the oscillator pitch, the LIN control gives a
different detuning which has a constant beat rate as the oscillator pitch goes up and
down. You can use both options at once. LIN detuning is useful to give more 'analogue'
warmth to a sound by causing octaves to go slightly out of tune.

• There is a small, random amount of LIN detuning applied to each note played by
ArcSyn to give it a more natural sound. this is especially useful if you're using the
ROTATE voice mode.


Adjusts the oscillator level. The default setting is 100% for oscillator-1 and 0% for
oscillator-2 and 3.


Adjusts the balance of the oscillator output sent to filter-1 and 2. The default setting is
50% .



List of filter types with detailed notes.

There are 38 types (including "OFF" ) which are selected with a menu. Most types have
adjustable RES (Or Resonance, or Emphasis or Q, or...) which usually adjusts the
resonance but in some filter types does something else. The CUTOFF control adjusts the
filter frequency and all filters have the same range *EXCEPT* the FORMANT filter, in
which the CUTOFF control adjusts the current vowel sound.

Adjusts the cutoff frequency of each filter, except the VOWEL filter where it adjusts the
vowel sound. All other filters have the same frequency range, which is 16.3Hz to
25,110Hz, or exactly one octave higher than the oscillator range.


Adjusts the amount of RES (or resonance or Q or feedback or emphasis...) for each filter.
Some filter types don't respond to this control, noteably the ALIAS filters.


There are 9 types (including OFF ) which are selected with a menu. You can use the
DRIVE feature even if you've selected the OFF filter. The drive is positioned after the
filter as it sounds a lot more interesting that way - distortion does little to a raw SAW
wave and nothing to a PULSE wave other than messing-up the finely-tuned antialiasing


Adjusts the amount of cutoff modulation from ENV-1. If it is set to 100% it will modulate
the cutoff over its entire range.


Adjusts the amount of cutoff modulation from the MIDI note input. If it is set to 100% the
cutoff tracks the note input exactly.


Each filter may be panned from left to right (in the SERIES effect routing. From EFFECT-1
to EFFECT-3 in PARALLEL effect routing.)


Adjusts the filter output level. The default setting is 50%.


Adjusts the balance between Filter-1 and Filter-2 outputs. The default setting is 50%.


Adjusts the level of signal from Filter-1's output to Filter-2's input. This signal is taken
before Filter-1's LEVEL control so it will work even if Filter-1's LEVEL is set to 0%. This
allows the filters to be arranged in series. The slider increases the signal from Filter-1 as it
is moved down , which matches the visual layout of the filters.

TIP: To arrange the filters completely in series, slide 1 - 2 down to 100%, then slide
BALANCE down to 0%. You can also slide the individual OSCILLATOR 1 - 2 sliders up to
1 if you want to send all the oscillator signal to Filter-1.


This is the complicated bit! There are 8 LFOs selected with the 1-8 number buttons on the
left. Each LFO is capable of playing not just single waveforms but also sequences of up to
16 waveforms. Each sequence step also has a STEP LEVEL control which generates a
stepped, 'sequencer' output, sometimes called a 'stepper'. The current (active) sequence
step is shown by the LFO waveform display as yellow on black, inactive steps are grey.

TIP: Click the waveform display to select LFO waveforms. Adjust the SHAPE control to
alter the waveform shape or select between different waveforms in a set like RANDOM-
VAR-1 (which has 16 different random waveforms).


Adjusts LFO frequency. There is a button to the right of this control which selects between
beat-sync and normal modes. In beat-sync mode, the control is a menu, in normal mode
it is a knob.


Adjusts how much offset is added to the LFO output. If you're doing something like
vibrato, you probably want the LFO output to be balanced equally about zero (the central,
default position), if you're doing note sequencing you probably want it to be entirely


Adjusts how long the LFO takes to fade in from zero when a note is played. This applies
even in MONO mode.


Selects what happens when a note is played:

OFF - if tempo sync is OFF, the LFO carries on from where it last got to. If tempo
sync is ON, it locks position entirely to the current song position.

RESET - the LFO plays from the start.

RANDOM - The LFO starts from a random position.

QUANT 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1: The LFO starts partway-through the first sequence step to
keep it in time with the current beat position.


FWD: The sequence steps from left to right.

REV: The sequence steps from right to left.

FWD / REV: The sequence steps from left to right then right to left.

RANDOM: The sequence chooses steps at random.

RANDOM +/-: The sequence steps left or right one step at random.

ONE SHOT: The sequence plays from left to right once only, when a MIDI note is
triggered. Note: If KEY SYNC is OFF and TEMPO SYNC is ON, the LFO sequence will
only play once, at the start of a song.


Selects MONO or POLY LFO modes. In MONO mode, all the voices share one LFO, in
POLY mode, each voice has it's own LFO.


Shows the LFO waveform. Clicking this display opens a menu from which the LFO
waveform can be selected. The LFO sequence step currently active is highlighted in black
and white.

The horizontal slider underneath each WAVEFORM DISPLAY. Adjusts the LFO waveform
shape or selects between discrete shapes - watch the parameter display to see what's
going on :-) As with the oscillator SHAPE control, if the current waveform is a fixed shape
which can't be adjusted, the parameter display will show .


Selects the number of active sequence steps (1 to 16). The default setting is 1 .

LEVEL (The numbers under the waveform display)

Adjusts the level of the LFO output in semitones (0 to 127). The default setting is 127 for
LFO step 1 and 0 for the remaining steps.

STEP LEVEL (The bottom row of numbers)

Adjusts the level of the LFO step output in semitones (0 to 24). The default setting is 0 .


The silver buttons next to LFO step numbers 1-15 . (There's no button next to step
16 because it has nowhere to PASTE to!) Clicking this button copies all the LFO
waveforms up to and including the current step to the remaining active steps. For
example, if you've set the SEQUENCE LENGTH to 8 steps, clicking the COPY/PASTE
button on step 1 will copy step 1 's waveform to steps 2-8 . If you click the COPY/PASTE
button on step 5 it will copy steps 1-3 to steps 6-8 —it won't copy steps 4-5 because
they would have to go after the end of the current sequence (step 8 ).

To delete waveforms, try setting the SEQUENCE LENGTH to 1 then clicking step 1 's
COPY/PASTE button—it will clear steps 2-16 because the sequence is now only 1 step


The silver buttons next to the LFO WAVEFORM LEVEL numbers (Grey, top row.)
These buttons work in the same way as the WAVEFORM copy/paste buttons but work with
the WAVEFORM LEVELS. See COPY/PASTE WAVEFORM above for detailed explanation.


The silver buttons next to the LFO STEP LEVEL numbers (Grey, bottom row.) These
buttons work in the same way as the WAVEFORM copy/paste buttons but work with the
STEP LEVELS. See COPY/PASTE WAVEFORM above for detailed explanation.


Copies all settings from the current LFO.


Pastes all LFO settings held in the COPY buffer to the current LFO. The Parameter Display
shows which LFO's settings have been copied, or NOTHING TO PASTE if no LFO has been
copied yet.


There are 4 AHDSR envelopes. ("H" stands for "Hold".) ENV-4 is pre-patched to the main
output level and ENV-1 is pre-patched to filter cutoff modulation. The SLOPE horizontal
sliders above the ADR controls adjust the curve of the envelope slopes - the central
position gives linear slopes. All AHDSR times range from 2ms to 20s .

A (Attack)

Adjusts the ADHSR ATTACK time, which is the time it takes to reach the peak level when
a MIDI note starts.

H (Hold)

Adjusts the ADHSR HOLD time, which is the time it stays at the peak level. If the note is
released during the HOLD time, the Envelope will switch to RELEASE.

D (Decay)

Adjusts the ADHSR DECAY time, which is the time it takes to decay to the SUSTAIN
level after the HOLD has finished.
S (Sustain)

Adjusts the ADHSR SUSTAIN level which is the level which it stays after the DECAY has

R (Release)

Adjusts the ADHSR RELEASE time, which is the time it takes to decay to zero when a
MIDI note ends.



List of effect types with detailed notes.

There are 32 types (including OFF ) which are selected with a menu. All types share
controls wherever possible, for instance the choruses, flangers and phasers all share LFO
controls. Most of the controls are (hopefully!) fairly self-explanatory. As usual, watch the
parameter display—every control has its own readout.

• To temporarily turn an effect off, click its label if you save a program
with an effect turned off in this way, those effect settings will not be saved.


There are 2 effect routing possibilities, SERIES and PARALLEL . In SERIES mode, effect-
1 is fed from the effect L and R busses in stereo—effect-1 then feeds effect-2 then effect-
3. In PARALLEL mode, the L filter bus goes to effect-1, the R filter bus goes to effect-3
and effect-2 is fed from the combined outputs of effect-1 and effect-3. The default setting

Swaps the position of effects-1 and 2, or effects-2 and 3 when clicked. Useful when
experimenting with different effect ordering, which can change the sound of a program



Adjusts the glide time. The button next to the knob switches between EQUAL TIME and
EQUAL RATE modes. The default time is 2ms which is short eough to be inaudible, the
default mode is EQUAL TIME .


Selects the way in which ArcSyn's 32 voices are assigned to incoming MIDI notes.

POLY Uses as few voices as possible. If you play the same note twice, it will use the
same voice. If you play a different note, it will use the same voice if it has stopped
playing, otherwise it will use a new voice. This is the default voice mode.

ROTATE always uses a new voice for each note played and voices are assigned in
ascending order. If you try and play more than 31 notes, the oldest voice will be set
to RELEASE. This voice-assignment method is similar to that used by the first
hardware polysynths.

MONO only uses the 1st voice. Any note played will trigger the envelopes and LFO
note sync.

LEGATO only uses the 1st voice. Overlapping notes apply glide (if selected) but
don't retrigger the envelopes or LFOs. Non-overlapping notes trigger envelopes and
LFOs but don't apply glide.


Selects the range of MIDI pitch bend pitch-bend modulation. The default value is +/-2
semitones . These settings have no effect on the pitch-bend modulation source in the mod
matrix, which always ranges from -100% to +100%


Selects the current MIDI channel. This value is saved separately for each instance of
ArcSyn. The default value is OMNI , or all MIDI channels.


Illuminates (in white) when MIDI data is received.


Selects MIDI learn mode. Send a MIDI control message to ArcSyn, move a control and it
will be paired. The default setting is OFF .


Adjusts the master tuning. This fine-tunes the whole sound engine of ArcSyn up or down
by a maximum of half a semitone so it can be adjusted relative to other plug-ins or other
instances of ArcSyn. The default setting is 0% .


Adjusts the master (post effect) volume. The default value is -12dB . Note: the output of
ArcSyn (since v1.3) is limited to 0dB by a soft-clipping stage.

The modulation matrix allows modulation sources (like LFOs) to be routed to modulation
destinations (like FILTER FREQUENCY). Each slot (row) allows up to 2 sources (A and B)
to be selected and combined together using MODIFIERS. There are a large number of
modifiers, ranging from simple addition to musical quantisation. The default modifier
setting is OFF which will just add sources A and B together.

There are 16 modulation slots but only 8 are shown at any one time. To access slots 9 to
16, click the vertical numbers to either side of the modulation matrix. Click again to
switch back to slots 1 to 8.

IMPORTANT! If you want the LFO output to be in tune, you have to turn the modulation
AMOUNT to maximum (100%) in the modulation matrix when modulating oscillator pitch.


List of modulation sources with detailed notes.


List of modulation modifiers with detailed notes.


List of modulation destinations with detailed notes.


Displays ArcSyn 1.3 for a few seconds when first opened, then the value of any control
as the mouse pointer is moved over it.

Displays the licensed user’s name or DEMO MODE - SOOTHING NOISE .

Minimum System Requirements

PC: any PC running Windows XP or newer with an SSE2-capable CPU and a VST 2.4
compatible DAW / sequencer host application.

Mac: an Intel Mac running OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or higher and a VST 2.4 compatible
DAW / sequencer host application.

Version History
ArcSyn v1.3

Updated GUI.

Polyphony increased to 32 voices.

Output stage soft-clipped to 0dB. Audio unaffected below about -1dB.

Fixed: periodic clicking in MONO CHORUS.

Fixed: Oscillator SUB-OCTAVE HARMONIC waveform goes out of tune in high

octaves (C6+).

Fixed: LFOs in MONO mode sometimes cause clicks.

Fixed: LFOs sometimes get stuck on wrong sequence step. (This bug was introduced
in v1.2!)

Fixed: Rotate voice mode could sometimes produce stuck notes.

Fixed: PHASER filters could overload under extreme modulation and resonance.

General fine-tuning of voice triggering and LFO sequence operation.

Many small fixes and code improvements.

Now comes with 400 programs.

ArcSyn v1.2.1 (Mac AU only)

Fixes issue with last-selected program name not being displayed when a song is
ArcSyn v1.2

LFO sequence default key sync mode now locks to song position.

LFO FWD/REV sequence mode improved.

Display now shows correct version number.

ArcSyn v1.1

Fixes bug which caused no sound to be output in FL Studio and possibly other

Fixes slight inconsistency in Filter Cutoff knob graphics.

ArcSyn v1.0

Initial release.

Known Issues
ArcSyn AU has problems with Logic Pro X. We're currently (March 2016)
investigating this and hope to have a fix available soon. ArcSyn runs in
GarageBand 10 but won't load any factory programs due to sandboxing. Again,
we're working on fixing this.

ArcSyn design, DSP and GUI copyright © 2016 Steven Cook, SPC Plugins. All rights

Thank you to MetaDronos, Marc-Olivier Johnson, Miro Pajic, Simon Field and Ed
Ten Eyck for beta testing and design suggestions. Jürgen Haible (RIP) for inspiration.
Special thanks to Ace Layton. Fabricate Regular font by TypeFetish. Mac Audio Unit
version implemented using Symbiosis by NuEdge Development. VST plug-in technology
by Steinberg. Some icon designs by Picol. All trademarks are the property of their
respective owners.

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