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1.1 Update Information

FM Engine

In HoriZEN V1.1 we added FM Synthesis. Sure we could have added FM as a “normal, standard” approach to voice synthesis replacing one or more of the existing Synth Voices – but we wanted a broader approach, and, given FM can be notoriously difficult to program, an approach that was quick and easy to use.

FM is the combination of two components a carrier and a modulator. Normally FM is implemented as two Sine waves at different frequencies, but they don’t need to be. So that’s not what we did. We already have 7 rich sources of sound in HoriZEN, so we used these as the carrier. So this means FM can be applied to any and all of the HoriZEN voices – synth *or* sampler, no matter what they generated from.

The modulator is usually a Sine wave, but again we have a range of oscillator shapes in HoriZEN so we implemented all of them as possible modulator signals. You can choose from any of the following:

  • Sine
  • Triangle
  • Square
  • Saw
  • Noise
  • Triangle 2
  • Square 2
  • Trapezoid 1
  • Trapezoid 2

A single carrier and a single modulator is usually referred to as a 2-operator system, and normally (when you are just using Sine waves) this get pretty boring pretty quickly, but by varying the carrier signal and the available shapes for the modulator you can get some interesting sounds right away. Still we added a 3rd operator anyway, to modulate the modulator. But that’s where we stopped – combining the principles of FM with a range of different sources gave us lots of interesting and unique sound output and left us with a small number of intuitive controls in the interface.

So in HoriZEN V1.1 we have a powerful and easy to use approach to FM that you can apply in different amounts and different configurations to any and all the voices HoriZEN generates.

Synth Voice Editing

As promised, well not promised but we did say it was likely, HoriZEN V1.1 adds Synth Voice editing. So each Synth Voice in HoriZEN uses two separate oscillators, so that’s 3 Synth Voice x 2 Oscillators for a total of 6 Oscillators, so alone this would be a fairly hefty synth. Clicking on the Synth Voice name pops the editor pane where you can set a range of parameters. First is Oscillator shape, and as usual in HoriZEN it’s a bigger set than you might expect on a “normal” subtractive synth. In HoriZEN you get the following:

  • Sine
  • Triangle
  • Saw
  • Square
  • Noise
  • Triangle 2
  • Square 2
  • Trapezoid 1
  • Trapezoid 2

The variations offer different timbral possibilities, adding in varying amounts of harmonics, and you can combine any two of these shapes and then set a mix amount.

Each oscillator also has its own octave control, and detune amount. The oscillators can be sync-ed together or not.

If you select Square or Square 2 you also get Pulse Width.

Finally there’s an Attack Shape control, where you can set the shape of the gain envelopes attack curve for the voice to convex or concave, or anywhere in between. This is most useful to “shape” pluck sounds.

Each of the 3 Synth Voices has all of these features so even if there wasn’t also 4 Sampler voices it would be pretty comprehensive synth in its own right, as it is though you get 4 Sampler voices too….

Modulation Enhancements

HoriZEN V1.1 has a number of enhancements to the modulation system. First we added gates (16 Step) to the filter LFOs, and whilst we were in the “Gating Mood” we added the same to the Vibrato and Tremolo. These all allow you to add rhythmic effects to your output. We also added a per-voice depth control to the Tremolo and Vibrato – so not only can you add rhythmic LFOs, as well as all the “normal” LFO shapes, but you can define different amounts to apply to each voice so now you get even more movement across your patch. We also added Velocity based modulation to these controls:

  • Master Tremolo Depth
  • Master Vibrato Depth
  • FM Amount

It might sound like a small set of changes but they add up to a big impact on how sounds can evolve and move over time..

Realism Engine

HoriZEN Version 1.1 comes with our all-new “Realism Engine”. This is a comprehensive upgrade, extension and enhancement of the Infinite Round-Robin Engine(IRRE) found in HorZEN V1.0. The IRRE system gave us near-infinite velocity layers, near-infinite subtle timbre and pitch changes for every note you played, and an oscillator “Drift” system that emulated some older synths habit of drifting the oscillators in and out of tune.

But we wanted to go much further in the “Realism Engine”. We’ve spent a fair amount of time looking at, listening to and measuring every aspect of hardware synths – digital and analog. What we learned was that every single piece of hardware had its own quirks and variation, even within itself. So we wanted to take this and apply it across the board to HoriZEN, to every aspect of the signal path.

This resulted in a new engine that gives the end user eight different settings to work with – up from the 3 in IRRE. Sure you can still set the Drift Amount, the Timbre Variation between notes, the Pitch Variation for each note, but now we added a number of systems that allow us to vary the way each note evolves, so the modulators have subtle variation for each cycle, the Oscillator Mix for each Synth Voice is also varied, as is the sample start position for each Sampler voice. We even took it as far as the Unison system, allowing you to set variation in the unison detune. Finally we applied this approach to the filters for each voice. What we ended up with is a unique and powerful realistic model of hardware synths and samplers. So in Version 1.1 you now have a system that you can configure to your own unique profile giving you a lot more “Realism”.

Whilst we were there we moved the Master Saturation, Velocity, Offset and Width settings on to the Realism Panel as they belong to this set of “global sound” controls and it gives us a slightly neater interface.

Workflow Optimisations

Workflow is important, we want HoriZEN to be quick and easy to use, so we are always looking for small updates to make it more of those things. This time through we added copy-out and copy-in controls to a bunch of pop-up windows. So the Note Range pop-ups – that let you decide, per voice, which midi notes will trigger which sounds now has these so you can quickly copy the settings between voices. We also added them to the all-new Oscillator Editors, so you can copy oscillator settings between synth voices.

HQ Mode

HQ mode is an internal sample rate adjustment up to 96khz – this can be noticeable in certain types of sounds/wave-forms that can degrade, however up-sampling can cause some excessive CPU usage. Ideally, this is most useful for when you are bouncing tracks down before sub-mix in any session to perhaps yield better results, because the nature of upscale sampling this can adjust volume, most notably the convolution reverb, so be prepared to try before your final bounce.


Probably amongst the most requested workflow changes is the ability to save and load different Gate and Arp setups. So we’ve added these – but that was only the start. Sure saving and loading your favourite Gate shape and Arp shapes on the Player page is good, but we wanted to do more than that: Welcome to Profiles.

Profiles allow you to save and load a range of different components of HoriZEN. Here’s the list:

  • Master Gain Gates 1 & 2 (on the Player Page)
  • Master Filter Gate (on the layer Page)
  • Arpeggiator (on the Player Page)
  • Chords (on the Player Page)
  • Main Page Filter Gates
  • Vibrato Gates
  • Tremolo Gates
  • FM Gates
  • X/Y Pad Movements
  • Sampler Voices
  • Synth Voices

These last two are really powerful, they each contain all the components of each voice type, including their envelopes, matrix settings and FM settings. So you can create a voice you like (either sampler or synth) and save it for use in other presets or sounds you create.