INSTRUMENTS / GENERATORS

Harmor

Just like its predecessor Harmless, Harmor is powered by a powerful additive synthesis engine. Its modules will look familiar to subtractive synthesizer enthusiasts: oscillators, filters & phasers. These are featured in Harmor but, because they are performed on additive synthesis data, rather than audio, offer more freedom.

Additive / subtractive synthesis - In Harmor no audio-stream exists, instead a table of frequency and amplitude data is manipulated efficiently, accurately and in ways not possible with traditional methods, that process an audio stream. Draw filter shapes and gain precise control over every aspect of the sound generation process. Image & Audio Resynthesis - Images and audio files (WAV, AIFF, WavPack, MP3, OGG, REX1&2) can be dragged and dropped on Harmor to provide 'sampler-quality' reproduction of sounds or work with image-based synthesis when used in conjunction with your favorite image editor. Just cut-and-paste between Harmor and your editor of choice.

Check the video series Image-Line | Harmor (VST & Native Plugin Instrument), or the Harmor preset forum here.

DEMO ONLY: Harmor is downloadable as a demo version in FL Studio and needs to be purchased separately so you can save projects containing Harmor channels.

Click on the image above to jump to the help for that section

NOTES: The Harmor GUI color codes knobs and sliders so that related controls are the same color. We recommend opening the Visual Feedback panel while you are learning to program the plugin, a picture is worth 1000 words, so they say. You can also right-click most controls to open the associated Envelope ready for modulation.

Harmor Key Features

The Harmor design philosophy is 'more is more', every feature, control and harmonic function was carefully selected for maximum effectiveness.

Additive Synthesis?

Harmor can generate up to 520 sine wave (partials), per note, per unison voice AND modulate these in real-time to resynthesize ANY continuously evolving sound. So what is Additive Synthesis? This video is a great introduction to the topic - Overtones, harmonics and Additive synthesis.

In short, French mathematician, Joseph Fourier, showed that any waveform can be decomposed into a set of sine wave components. Each sine wave is referred to as a 'partial' as it is part of the complete series of sine waves that combine to produce the original waveform or sound. Partials can be harmonic, an exact (integer) multiple of the base frequency (notes pitch) or inharmonic, decimal multiples of the base frequency. Harmonic partials tend to reinforce the root note pitch adding complexity while maintaining a melodic tone. Inharmonic partials tend to confuse the root note pitch by add a metallic or noisy edge to the tone. There are three sets of data required to store and manipulate an additive waveform.

  1. Partial frequency - Frequency of each partial to play. This set of partials is scaled in frequency by the fundamental frequency (root note) played.
  2. Partial amplitude - Amplitude of each partial that plays. Not all partials play at the same level.
  3. Partial phase - The phase of each partial that plays. Is the sine wave increasing or decreasing in value from the start point?

Consequently, you will see references to 'partials', and 'mappings' throughout this manual and the Harmor interface. The good news is that you don't need to understand Additive Synthesis to use Harmor, but having some idea of what it is will help you to come to grips with the synthesizer faster. The data relating to the mappings can be found in the Timbre 1 & 2 harmonic level Editor target > Shaping envelopes. These contain the frequency and amplitude data and the Harmonic phase Editor target > Shaping envelope, that contains the Phase data (shared by Timbre 1 and 2, set by Timbre 1).

Main Controls

Harmor is an additive-subtractive synthesizer making fast program changes simple and is perfect for live performances and experimentation. The main control categories are:

Timbre

By default, Timbre 1 and Timbre 2 generate a Saw and Square wave respectively. Mixing the timbres will morph between them. You can right-click the Timbre windows to load audio files, drop audio files on the windows or edit Timbre harmonic mappings (level & phase) to achieve custom waveforms. The output from the timbre section is combined with the image / resynthesis section (when active).

The waveform from the Timbre section is additively generated according to the following controls:

Timbre - The default timbres are a Saw and Square wave. See the Timbre option below for methods of changing the waveforms.

BLUR

Blur smears the partials horizontally. Blur the left side (attack), right side (decay), top (harmonic frequencies) or bottom (fundamental frequency). Use this to create preverb and reverb type sounds.

Blur Articulator

TREM

Tremolo Is a stereo effect with a left/right panning of the sound that simulates the rotary speaker effect used in some classic organ patches.

Prism

Prism shifts the position of the partials from their original relationship to the fundamental frequency. If the partials were harmonics, prism will generally making them inharmonic. This adds a metallic (extreme prism) or detuned (mild prism) quality to the sound. NOTE: The 'Harmonic prism' articulator envelope allows you to customize the prism effect as a function of the partial frequency.

Prism articulation

Harmonizer

The harmonizer clones and transposes the existing harmonics, using various methods (+/x octaves, or by an offset).

Harmonizer Articulation

Unison

Unison is a thickening / stereoizing effect, similar to chorusing. Unlike chorus, that is applied to the final output, unison is a per-note effect where each note is given a user-defined number of 'subvoices' (from the order setting). Subvoices are then given user-defined variations of panning, volume, pitch and phasing relative to the root note, as per the following controls:

NOTE: Set unison phase to 100% (full blur) for a smooth unison on high pitch notes, lower notes may sound noisy however.

Unison Articulators

Left-side Buttons

From top to bottom:

Pitch

Filter

The filter functions control the type of filtering and cutoff frequency.

Filter Articulation

Pluck

Pluck is a specialized decay-related filter. To change the filter shape select 'Pluck shape' from the Editor target shaping. The mapping represents decay time (vertical) as a function of frequency (horizontal). The default shape decays the high frequencies first, progressing down to the low frequencies. This simulates a plucked string where the pluck is bright and quickly dulls. At high settings the default pluck shape imparts a 'damped' quality to the tone.

Pluck Articulation

Phaser

Phasing is the process of creating, constantly moving, frequency cancellation/s in a sound. The Harmor phaser allows individual harmonics to be phased rather than it being applied to the entire output or 'cancellation patterns' (cut templates) to be applied to the timbre making a range of interesting phasing and harmonic effects possible.

Filter Articulation

EQ

EQ or equalization adjusts the tonal balance of the sound. The MIX knob controls the EQ as set by the ENV > Shaping > Global EQ envelope. By default the EQ curve is flat so no EQ will be applied when tweaking the knob.

Visual Feedback

The visual feedback panel shows partials sent to the synthesis engine and is perfect for learning how features and functions in Harmor work. Leave it open during patch creation. It also looks cool and impresses onlookers.

NOTES: Visual feedback shows a monophonic harmonic series related to the last note played. Visual feedback is quite CPU intensive, so close the panel if you experience high CPU loads with Harmor-intensive tracks. The display may appear over the Harmor GUI in some VST hosts, because those hosts don't allow the plugin to resize.

Global Controls

These parameters control performance related effects including portamento, strumming and modulation. The A/B (Part) switch is used to access the two separate and identical synthesis banks.

ENV - Envelopes

The ENV panel provides access to the full suite of modulation parameters in Harmor. The ENV editor shows Editor Targets (usually a synthesis control), for each target there can be a number of Articulation parts (modulation sources)

Finding the right envelope

A quick way to find the articulation envelopes for any parameter is to Right-click the target control and select 'Edit articulator' from the pop-up menu. The Editor target will be automatically selected in the Envelope editor.

Envelope controls

There are several basic operations for editing the envelope/mapping shape:

NOTE: The ATT, DEC, SUS and REL knobs make RELATIVE changes to the ADSR envelope, snapping back after release. While the envelope will appear as it did prior to the change, the envelope will sound according to the relative changes made (as seen in the Hint Bar while the knob is adjusted). Right-clicking the knobs will give options, in particular Create automation clip & Link to controller so automation of envelopes (and LFO parameters) is possible. Similarly, Right-clicking points gives options such as Sustain loop start & Sustain loop end points can be set to loop the envelope during the sustain action.

Envelope tips:

  1. Many envelopes need to be activated with the switch in the lower-left corner before articulating the target.
  2. Use the horizontal and vertical zoom/scroll bars for more accurate editing. Click and drag on the ends to zoom or hover your mouse pointer and roll your mouse-wheel.
  3. Make use of the SNAP switch (lower-right) to snap to envelope values.
  4. Notice the background shading, it will usually reflect bars, octaves or other useful divisions related to the Articulation target.
  5. If an envelope is frozen and won't respond to editing, uncheck the FREEZE switch on the lower right.
  6. Envelopes can be synced to tempo using the TEMPO Switch.
  7. The Envelope options menu usually contains a list of useful pre-defined envelopes or can be used to save your own.
  8. Drop compatible file types on envelopes and they can be auto-analyzed. For example .fnv (envelope state files), .wav, .mp3, ,ogg etc audio files (volume envelope will be extracted and replicated).

Control point context menu:

The options menu contains a range of useful tools including:
Options - Click the forward-arrow to select:

Targets are divided into Articulation (modulation destinations), Mapping (keyboard/articulator to target modifier relationships) and Shaping (harmonic filter shaping).

Each Editor Target can respond to multiple Articulator Parts. Active parts & articulators show with an indicator next to them.

The Articulator parts will vary depending on the Target selected.

For LFO articulation the initial state shows one point (noted below) which can be used to change the amplitude, phase & start-time of the LFO.
NOTE: All active LFO's can be scaled/modulated according to the Global LFO control which has its own Amount, Speed and Phase articulation mappings.

To change:

Keyboard mappings - represent the piano keyboard from C0 to C10. As you move your mouse cursor around the editor the exact notes will show in the FL Studio Hint Bar (or VST Hint Bar).

One related and special Articulator part is the Held index mapping that generates 'index' values for successively held notes. When the notes of a chord are added in secession (rather than simultaneously) each additional note after the first will have an 'index' value 1 unit greater than the last. In practice, the mapping steps 1 grid unit per note. It's useful with:

Unison Index Mapping - Another particularly useful mapping is the Unison index mapping. This mapping part allows you to pan, pitch, set levels, etc., for each unison voice independently, opening up many powerful synthesis techniques.

The horizontal grid changes to reflect the number of unison voices active. When two voices are active the extreme ends are Unison voice 1 (left) and Unison voice 2 (right) respectively.

Unison index mapping examples:

Harmonic mappings - See also Additive Synthesis in addition to this section since the following envelopes control the level and phase of partials sent to Harmor's 'additive synthesis' engine.

Timbre harmonic level calibration - The default (flat) Timbre 1 harmonic level & Timbre 2 harmonic level envelopes generate a Saw and Square wave shape due to a special per-harmonic level calibration. Envelope values are scaled relative to the slope of the Brownian noise spectrum. This allows Harmor to generate the useful Saw waveform using an, easy to draw, flat envelope. Brownian noise is simply a frequency response curve that decreases the amplitude of frequencies in the audio spectrum by -6 dB per octave (in other words a continuous drop of 50% per octave). For example, a frequency of 1000 Hz at 1 unit amplitude will be 0.5 units and by 2000 Hz, 0.25 units at 4000 Hz and 0.125 units at 8000 Hz, etc. This means each partial in the Timbre harmonic level envelope, that is an octave above the last (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 etc), will be 1/2 the amplitude of the partial an octave below it. But why?

It turns out that a decrease in harmonic amplitude, at the rate of 50% per octave (the Brownian noise profile), is the exact recipe to additively synthesize a Saw wave. Eg. Saw wave = Partial 1 (the fundamental) + Partial 2 * 0.5 + Partial 3 * 0.333 + Partial 4 * 0.250 + Partial 5 * 0.200 + Partial 6 * 0.166 + Partial 7 * 0.142 + Partial 8 * 0.125 + etc. Notice how for each octave (bold partials), the level drops by 50%. It also transpires that filtering the even harmonics (2, 4, 6, 8, etc.) and leaving the odd harmonics (3, 5, 7, 9 etc.), in addition to the 50% per octave Brownian amplitude profile, is the additive synthesis recipe to create a Square wave. This is what the Timbre 2 harmonic level mapping (above) is doing, filtering even harmonics. This envelope is achieved with the (Right-mouse) 'wave' control-point menu option set on the right-most control point in the envelope. So now you know how the default Timbre 1 and 2 waveforms are generated. Timbre 1 & 2 harmonic Brownian level scaling avoids the need to program complex level envelope curves in order to synthesize a 'standard' Square and Saw wave.

If all that is confusing, just remember that Harmor's Timbre harmonic level envelope has been pre-scaled to make it easier to get good sounds from the plugin using simple (to draw) partial level mapping envelopes.

TIPS: While the Timbre harmonic level and phase envelopes can be used to create any waveform, it's simpler to load single-cycle waveforms on Timbre window 1 by right-clicking it and importing a waveform OR dropping an audio file on it. The file will be analyzed and all the mappings created for you. Remember that Timbre 1 and Timbre 2 share the same phase data (set by Timbre 1 during audio import). Phase is shared as it avoids phase cancellation problems when mixing the Timbre sources.

Envelope point-transitions - Generally the Held point type should be avoided when working with envelopes where you need to be precise about the exact harmonics active or inactive at a given point. Better to zoom in on the horizontal axis and use a Single-curve type point. In the example below, Harmonic 20 may not be active in the top panel but definitely will be in the lower panel. In both cases Harmonics 19 and lower will be active while Harmonics 21 and higher will be inactive.

IMG - Image Synthesis / Resynthesis

The IMG (Image Resynthesis) section can load images OR samples. In resynthesis mode all processing is referenced to the original sample data. Maximum detail is used for the frequency & gain planes (additive synthesis views audio as an evolving frequency spectrum vs amplitude on a moment-by-moment basis).

In image synthesis mode sample data is stored as image files, the advantage is editing 2D images easy. There are independent image planes for gain & pitch that you can edit using the image editor of your choice. You can import any bitmap, even if it wasn't designed to be turned into audio, it might still sound interesting. In short, the difference between the two modes is quality (resynthesis) vs editing flexibility (image synthesis).

NOTES: An important difference between image and resynthesis modes is, in resynthesis mode the phases of partials change depending on the source audio while in image mode the phases are fixed in the Harmonic phase mapping. This means resynthesis will maintain a more natural sound with deep editing. Once you switch to Image Synthesis mode (see 'Image options' menu) you can't revert back to resynthesis mode, the link to the original sample data is lost and the sound is converted to image planes.

Working with raw images - Harmor has 516 partials so an image 516 pixels high can play all partials (1 to 516). Pixel brightness is interpreted as partial level. Black means no partial, white is 100%. A horizontal white line at the bottom of an otherwise black the image, 1 pixel high, will play the first (lowest) partial. A horizontal white line at the top of the image, 1 pixel high, will play the 516th (highest partial). Time is represented by the image-width, although you can change the speed and scaling via the resynthesis controls as shown below. An image less than 516 pixels high is assumed to start from the bottom partial up. An image 20 pixels high will play the first 20 partials.

Scrubbing - Left or right-click the image editor and drag to scrub-play the sound. You can record this movement from FL Studio 10.0.5 onward using the FL Studio native version (just set FL Studio to record and start scrubbing). NOTE: The VSTi specifications don't support this. Right-click the image editor to scrub in both pitch (vertical) and time (horizontal), set the speed to 0% first.

About images and planes

There are independent images that control the Pitch/Frequency and Gain of partials. Together these can create any sound, just as sampler can. In the image window the vertical dimension is frequency (each line of pixels is a single partial), while the horizontal dimension is time.

Resynthesis notes

To resynthesize a sample:

  1. From the presets select Template > Resynthesis.
  2. From the Image options menu select 'Analyze audio file' OR drop an audio file on the window.
  3. Optional: Convert to image-synthesis mode for more editing freedom (see below).

To load stereo samples:

  1. From the presets select Template > Resynthesis. This has the 'side' switch on the ADV (advanced) tab selected. Important for loading stereo samples.
  2. Load a stereo sample in Part A
  3. Reload the same stereo sample in Part B
  4. The A/B fader now acts as a Mid/Side mix control and the stereo sample will play as originally recorded with 50% mix settings.
  5. Optional, link parts A and B so playback relocation etc is synchronized

To use image synthesis:

NOTE: Images are calibrated to a brown noise profile, the same profile used in Harmor to create a sawtooth wave (i.e a sawtooth is created by a flat line in the Harmonics Editor, the purpose of which is to make it much easier to create traditional and good-sounding waveforms).

Image Synthesis Articulation envelopes

FX - Effects

It's important to remember that while the engine is additive, operating in the frequency domain, the FX section acts on the output of that process and operates in the time domain.

NOTE: The effects unit order can be set on the ADV tab.

ADV - Advanced Controls

These controls are under the 'Advanced' tab as they generally don't need to be messed about with by amateurs. Since you are reading the manual to see what it all means, that means you! If you do decide to fiddle with stuff on this tab, don't complain to techsupport when Harmor explodes in an orange ball of flame.

Formats

Drag & Drop audio Files (WAV, AIFF, WavPack, MP3, OGG, REX1&2):

Drag & drop Images:

Drag & drop scala tuning files:

Special note colors

The native FL Studio version of Harmor responds to MIDI note colors in the Piano roll as follows:

Making Presets

There are tricks to lowering CPU usage, although most of the CPU-saving settings are on by default.

Plugin Credits

Manual Credits

Thanks to: nucleon for programming tips and suggestions.