Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

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VZvision
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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by VZvision » Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:29 pm

This module took a long time for me to come to grips with as well. On a more general note, one thing that helped me was taking a different view of what the module was.

To me, it is one of the least traditional oscillators possible and more a collection of functions that all aid in making interesting waveforms. The best word I’ve seen used is Meta-oscillator in that it gives you a large collection of functions germane to oscillators and lets you decide how to roll them up into waveforms and modulation of waveforms. Each wave table on its own is actually pretty useless unless you’re after very basic tonality in timbre. Just like each feature is also pretty useless on its own. It’s picking a couple of these features (and most importantly NOT all at once), and using modulation to leverage the features you’ve chosen to use.

For me personally, I had a lot of nice results with the morph feature between one preset and the panel controls to get cool texture timbre changes. I really like the tilt function on Mod-B which is a bit less harsh than the wave-folder. Another cool sweetspot is tuning Osc2 to a fixed interval of Osc1 and bringing it in and out of a mix for harmonic relation to Osc1 main pitch. If it’s a 5th or an octave then you can also mix it in and out of the audio path as well as mixing it in and out of modulating Osc1 via combo modes or FM or Mod A.

Another hugely underrated area of use is as LFO’s. If you ever use S&H’s and LFO’s for sequencing, the shapeshifter is unreal in this department since the LFO shapes you can create border on endless, which means near endless modulation of sequences. The morph and preset sequence control here is super cool too since you can cross fade or sequence through LFO shapes changing your S&H input. And the multitude of sync options are amazing for this application as well.

Lastly, below is a link to another great resource for reading up on the module. I, like you, found the manual a bit too professorial :hihi: for my taste giving a lot of technical context without a lot of musical context. Totally cool, but I did need some more hands-on ideas to work with.

Phil Mease from Rabid Elephant has a large repository of information/musings/observations/synopses from other sources all put in one place on their website. Definitely recommend giving it a read if you haven’t already:

https://rabidelephant.com/blogs/general ... fter-guide

Hope that helps :tu:

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by geoffmar » Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:37 pm

Ive had it twice and sold it twice.

Replaced it with an Endorphin.es Furthrrrr generator and couldn't be happier for the style of music i make.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by sleepmute » Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:40 pm

Incidentally, the preset Bass=$$ is the one mylar uses at the beginning of his video.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by Rooter Tooter » Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:06 pm

Just a suggestion; have you tried calibrating it? When I bought mine, the newest firmware had just been installed by the dealer but they forgot to re-calibrate it. It took me like 3 months to figure out what the heck the problem was. Edge-of-sanity-Bonkerstown. I was carrying on like Colonel Kurtz by the end of the whole deal.
:hail: :hail: :hail: :eek:

SWN looks pretty rad, same hp. Jellyfish from the future vibes...

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by sleepmute » Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:44 pm

GregIcky wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:09 pm
One thing that boggles my mind is that damn MOD A input. Yes I get that it's normalized to the osc 1 input... but what I DON'T get is why? Like I've never been able to use that and get anything other that crazy static just totally trashing the Phase of osc 2. What's the catch? And why is it audio rate? If you stick an ext vco in to it, isn't that just turning it into a sync input? I can't wrap my tiny brain around why that thing is normalled to something that is basically useless by design? What am I missing here? I get that you can use it to address the wavetable (basically bypassing the saw that it uses).... but how do you use it to produce a useable outcome?
Modulating the phase of OSC1 with OSC2 sounds great, like FM but with a more stable pitch. The reason it's audio rate is so that you can use the combo modes with external signals. So you could ring mod a drum loop, for example. It's also how you use the vocoder on external signals. I haven't explored Mod A a ton, and I think you're relatively safe in ignoring it until you become more familiar with the other functions.
My other gripe is yeah in osc 1 combo mode things can sound great... and I've had some luck with "And" but what about Pong, XOR and Glitch? How are people using those modes to produce anything other that incoherent trash?
I've had good results with all of them, but again it really depends on the modulator signal. I would advise sticking to the basic1 wavetable for OSC2 (or even just the sine) and definitely play with the ratio. I've often found that one specific ratio (using the quantize function) will sound great when all of the others are too noisy. Glitch is obviously most useful for noisier sounds, but when used with simpler waveforms you can sometimes get some lighter distortion. I can't really advise on specific combo modes because I'll just scan through them all and pick one that I like (or none if it doesn't sound good). They're very program-specific.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by SavageMessiah » Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:20 pm

I use the mod a phase 2 stuff all the time when using FM. The trick is to turn the attenuator up only a tiny little bit and then you get some cross modulation that livens things up a little bit.

I really like the octave down internal sync (int sync flashing). You can go ape then and get some great growly sounds that are still in tune.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by Rudloe » Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:48 pm

Great DCO.

Get some of its rich tones through an analogue amp,envelope and filters.... heaven.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by GregIcky » Tue Jul 21, 2020 5:45 pm

geoffmar wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:37 pm
Ive had it twice and sold it twice.

Replaced it with an Endorphin.es Furthrrrr generator and couldn't be happier for the style of music i make.
I can totally see that. Like "hmmmm, I must have missed something...." then buy it again, "nope, I was right the first time." :omg:

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by Stice » Tue Jul 21, 2020 5:59 pm

GregIcky wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 5:45 pm
geoffmar wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:37 pm
Ive had it twice and sold it twice.

Replaced it with an Endorphin.es Furthrrrr generator and couldn't be happier for the style of music i make.
I can totally see that. Like "hmmmm, I must have missed something...." then buy it again, "nope, I was right the first time." :omg:
I did this with Hertz Donut mkII. I do like using complex waves as a starting point for certain things, and digital modules offer a lot in that regard. But you still have to like the basic sound of the module, and I simply found HD2 sounded good in too small a range for me. Hoping Shapeshifter offers a somewhat more-controlled palette.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by th0mas » Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:07 pm

Just wanted to mention I recently added Shapeshifter to Modes. It's only on the website right now, but will be in the app soon. just finishing up the next update.

I got permission to include the waveforms from the PDF manual so it's a nice way to see the wavetables.

https://www.synthmodes.com/modules/shap ... wavetables

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by GregIcky » Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:09 pm

sleepmute wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:44 pm

I've had good results with all of them, but again it really depends on the modulator signal. I would advise sticking to the basic1 wavetable for OSC2 (or even just the sine) and definitely play with the ratio. I've often found that one specific ratio (using the quantize function) will sound great when all of the others are too noisy. Glitch is obviously most useful for noisier sounds, but when used with simpler waveforms you can sometimes get some lighter distortion. I can't really advise on specific combo modes because I'll just scan through them all and pick one that I like (or none if it doesn't sound good). They're very program-specific.
Yes yes the modulator signal.....

Now am I correct in assuming that, when you have the combo mode set to osc 1 and you have the "int sync" button on (solid led) and also the "quant" button on (solid led) - nothing is effecting nothing.... meaning osc 2 is NOT effecting osc 1..... until you turn up the "int FM" knob. Once you turn that up basically now osc 2 is the "modulator" oscillator and osc 1 is the carrier? Is that an accurate assumption? And it's for that reason that "When the QUANT button is pressed once, so that the QUANT LED is lit, the frequency of oscillator 2 is set to a integer multiple or fraction of the frequency of oscillator 1. " They normal the pitch so that it basically stays in tune when you're fm'ing osc 1.

So that is a very basic operation/patch of the module. Which makes sense. Where things go bat shit crazy is when you start to veer off of this path. And there are literally endless ways for that to take place. I would love it if anyone could describe how they use any of these features:

Glitch Mode
XOR Mode
Sync "Bump"
Sync "Hold"

Since starting this thread I've gone back and done some very basic patching with some light modulation (running a maths cycling env into int fm and/or the fold cv) and I've gotten some pretty descent (if not kinda vanilla) sounds coming out. I guess I'm assuming that there just has to be WAY WAY more to this thing than sines modulating sines.... and using osc 2 in lfo mode. I'm not giving up yet.... but if I do decide to I'm hoping (from the comments) that it won't be hard to sell.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by Tonefloat01 » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:51 pm

helix wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:25 am
I must say I bought one second hand because of the mylarmelodies video. It’s an incredible machine when you use it right and for the right genre/styles of music.
Same reason for purchasing but I still have mine.
There are some really great videos on YouTube that go over how to make an initial patch and explain all of the settings which really helped demystify it for me.
The space you occupy determines the time that you live in.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by intellijel » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:28 pm

A lot of people default to just using Shapeshifter for basic chord stabs or simple FM and while both of these sounds great it is really only scratching the surface of capabilities and kind of a waste of its 'talents". Some of the coolest things happen when you start to self patch it instead of relying on the built in normals (use cables).

Some ideas to try:

1. Explore the extensive sync modes
Try increasing Multi2 to 2 or greater. This links together adjacent waveforms in a given table to make a more complex waveform on VCO 2. Patch the outputs of VCO2 into SYNC and then try the different sync types availabel. Syncing VCO 1 to VCO 2 via a patch like this opens up a huge range of new tones. Especially once exploring the different banks for either vco and combiner types.
Using the one-sht modes is a good way to get some complex envelope styles modulation over another thing in the signal chain like a filter cutoff for example. (put VCO2 into LFO mode with LFO wavebanks and one-sht sync and a gate to trigger)

2. Vocode Stabs
Don't forget about the built in vocoder! I was recently getting amazing results by patching a Plonk into Mod A (with it set to be VOC Mod) and then dialing in some chords on VCO 1. Any sound source like Plonk that has a decaying timbre will manifest as chords with evolving timbre and amplitude envelopes. I got some amazing dubby chords this way and there was a lot of interesting ways to manipulate them; especially if you sequence the modulation source and the Shapeshifter pitch independently.

3. MOD A
Further to the vocoder mode mentioned above there is a lot to explore with MOD A. You can get a lot of mileage out of patching VCO 2 (try multi >2, LFO modes etc.) into MOD A and then make sure you understand how all of the different destinations work. If you also have some of the comb delay active there are some really haunting sounds you can coax out of it at times.

4. Presets and Morphing
It is difficult to make factory presets for this module because you can't really account for the necessary external modulation that brings them alive (same goes for Rainmaker) . However you can create your own or simply randomize apatch and then store some weird ones. Then try morphing between them. When you have presets with chords and delay active, morphing to drastically different presets can have very interesting in between points. The more complex and different the presets are, the more interesting discoveries you will make in between.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by GregIcky » Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:44 pm

intellijel wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:28 pm
A lot of people default to just using Shapeshifter for basic chord stabs or simple FM and while both of these sounds great it is really only scratching the surface of capabilities and kind of a waste of its 'talents". Some of the coolest things happen when you start to self patch it instead of relying on the built in normals (use cables).

Some ideas to try:

1. Explore the extensive sync modes
Try increasing Multi2 to 2 or greater. This links together adjacent waveforms in a given table to make a more complex waveform on VCO 2. Patch the outputs of VCO2 into SYNC and then try the different sync types availabel. Syncing VCO 1 to VCO 2 via a patch like this opens up a huge range of new tones. Especially once exploring the different banks for either vco and combiner types.
Using the one-sht modes is a good way to get some complex envelope styles modulation over another thing in the signal chain like a filter cutoff for example. (put VCO2 into LFO mode with LFO wavebanks and one-sht sync and a gate to trigger)

2. Vocode Stabs
Don't forget about the built in vocoder! I was recently getting amazing results by patching a Plonk into Mod A (with it set to be VOC Mod) and then dialing in some chords on VCO 1. Any sound source like Plonk that has a decaying timbre will manifest as chords with evolving timbre and amplitude envelopes. I got some amazing dubby chords this way and there was a lot of interesting ways to manipulate them; especially if you sequence the modulation source and the Shapeshifter pitch independently.

3. MOD A
Further to the vocoder mode mentioned above there is a lot to explore with MOD A. You can get a lot of mileage out of patching VCO 2 (try multi >2, LFO modes etc.) into MOD A and then make sure you understand how all of the different destinations work. If you also have some of the comb delay active there are some really haunting sounds you can coax out of it at times.

4. Presets and Morphing
It is difficult to make factory presets for this module because you can't really account for the necessary external modulation that brings them alive (same goes for Rainmaker) . However you can create your own or simply randomize apatch and then store some weird ones. Then try morphing between them. When you have presets with chords and delay active, morphing to drastically different presets can have very interesting in between points. The more complex and different the presets are, the more interesting discoveries you will make in between.
Thanks for ALL of this!!!

I do struggle with that delay. Knowing how/when to apply it.

Yeah, there is just so much to this thing. I got some good things coming out with Perc mode and sending a wogglebug into Mod b for the decay amount. I should really work up some presets and experiment with the morphing.

Was also thinking of running my FR Transient+ into Mod A set to vocoder - I bet you can get good results with beats chugging through it.

Yeah, I got such a smoking deal on ShapeShift there's no way I can bring myself to sell it ever. It's definitely an endless sound creation laboratory!!!

When I get some good patches going I'll try and post something here... Cheers everyone!!!

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by Benoist » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:45 pm

My only gripe about the SS but a big one is that way too many wavetables are using too harmonically rich waveforms that mostly work if you are conservative on combinations / FM / Sync ...
It's as if the wavetables were created foremost with more classic wavetable uses in mind then features began to pile on.
Like waveforms for FM, low harmonic ones are best fitted to be exploited by all the great tools of the SS.
If only there were an alternate set of wavetables more suited it would really expand the sonic potential big time !
Updating the wavetables EEPROM seem like utter fun but I would sign anytime :mrgreen:

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by Besfar » Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:48 pm

Sold it, miss it.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by dubonaire » Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:33 pm

GregIcky wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:44 pm
Thanks for ALL of this!!!

I do struggle with that delay. Knowing how/when to apply it.

Yeah, there is just so much to this thing. I got some good things coming out with Perc mode and sending a wogglebug into Mod b for the decay amount. I should really work up some presets and experiment with the morphing.

Was also thinking of running my FR Transient+ into Mod A set to vocoder - I bet you can get good results with beats chugging through it.

Yeah, I got such a smoking deal on ShapeShift there's no way I can bring myself to sell it ever. It's definitely an endless sound creation laboratory!!!

When I get some good patches going I'll try and post something here... Cheers everyone!!!
Well I'm glad you have decided to stick with it. It's like a swiss army knife, you don't need to use all of the features all of the time. Just because a module can go into extreme places doesn't mean you need to go there.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by jjclark » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:15 am

SS Designer here. There is much to say about different ways to use the Shapeshifter. Here are a few random observations/tips in no particular order:

Many of the features, such as some of the sync and pulse modes are intended for very specific uses. Others are there to provide a wider variety in waveform spectra.
- For example, to get a wide range of envelopes, instead of using Perc mode (which only gives a very rudimentary fast-attack/adjustable decay), set combo mode to RING, set Osc2 to LFO, and SYNC1 to 1-shot. Then the osc2 waveform acts as an envelope. There are a lot of envelope shapes in the LFO1 through LFO21 wavebanks. The BASREC, EBASS and EPIANO also are OK for envelopes.
- The TILT modulation is best (to me, anyway) when used with an envelope. It can produce quite nice "acoustic bass" type of sounds, as well as nice attack dynamics in general.

The Glitch combo mode is intended to provide glitchy noisy waveforms. It's not meant to provide traditional "musical" sounds. But lots of people want unpredictable noisy sounds. This is for them. It is also good for producing interesting random pulses (out of the PULSE jack) in LFO mode.

Combo modes such as AND, XOR, PONG, are there to produce harmonically complex sounds. XOR cross-mod is one of the features of the Korg Monopoly synth and you can mimic some of the sounds produced by that synth with the SS. These are intended to be used to feed filters. Filters work best with sources that have interesting rich spectra, which is why the focus of the SS is on providing a wide range of different harmonic profiles. Perhaps as a standalone sound source the SS may often come across as harsh, but paired with a filter it can shine and standout from the pack.

The SS is an evolution of the Cyclebox and as such inherits the primary motivation for the Cyclebox, which is to provide a module that produces a lot of different types of sounds (i.e. a "box of cycles") beyond the standard sine/square/saw. The idea is that you find the sounds you are interested in and use those. You don't have to use the other sounds if you don't want to. The SS provides a lot more modulation capability than the Cyclebox and adds a novel sound morphing mode that you won't get on any other module.

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyways - this is a module, and is made to be used in a modular system with associated modulation sources and filters.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by GregIcky » Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:51 pm

Hey, thanks again for all the feedback! I especially appreciate the designer chiming in and that is some great info. Info that I failed to glean from my readings of many other threads. Thank you, thank you..... :hail:

These are great tips. I gotta say tho, why not make a shapeshifter "patch book" or pdf? Seems like with everyone I've read about selling the module after not liking some aspect of it (the harsh waves!) Why not just throw together a PDF with like 20 patch ideas in it? Maths is a perfect example of how a complex module that does way more than meets the eye can be grasped much more easily with just some simple graphics and basic patch instructions. And Maths is much simpler than SS any day of the week! It's one thing to "accidentally discover" some cool feature, but quite another to be given that feature and let users expand upon it. I honestly don't see how that could be that difficult as there has to be graphic files already created for the module when it goes into production. Hell, just use the photo from the manual and add some patch cables. :despair:

And, I say this not just as a bewildered user/owner, but I would think from a selling standpoint it would increase/retain sales tremendously. Seems like a missed opportunity IMO.

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by SavageMessiah » Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:35 pm

I've always thought it a bit odd that Intellijel, who makes quite a few good videos for their modules, haven't really done any on shapeshifter. The basic tutorial case is covered well by other people, but there aren't really any good videos explaining good patches using shapeshifter. I think videos like that would help a lot of people.

As for a patch book, well, this isn't quite the same thing but was really helpful to me: https://rabidelephant.atlassian.net/wik ... fter+Guide

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by starthief » Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:56 pm

I think between Seth's Shafer's and Mylar Melodies' videos, both the usage and what to expect from the module are well covered. They took me from my initial impression of "this looks scary and maybe not fun" to "I need one of these."

(And I expect I'll be comfortable using it as soon as mine arrives -- granted I'm already quite familiar with all the relevant synthesis concepts and it's just a matter of putting the pieces together and navigating the interface.)

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Re: Shapeshifter: I’ve tried so hard

Post by nomenklature » Fri Jul 24, 2020 4:48 pm

I got Shapeshifter bc of preset saving/stepping, but soon learned that it packs a ridiculous amount of functionality and flexibility into 26HP. Overall, it can sound *unlike itself* far more often than any other VCO I've worked with. That's what kept me from selling it. (I still have a manual printout nearby).

In terms of taming it, the 4 most common causes of unwanted gnarliness for me are:

1. Int.FM knob turned up
2. mod A turned up
3. Combo mode set to something other than Osc1
4. Multi setting on 8

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