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1.4.1 u-he ACE

u-he ACE
  

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u-he ACE

Any Cable Everywhere

Compact, clear, a careful selection of modules and semi-modular architecture makes ACE easy to learn. Simple but not simplistic. Compact but not limited. Clear but definitely not underpowered. With the ability to connect any output into any input, ACE is a powerful synth with tools and features ready for beginners or seasoned users.

The careful selection of modules and clear layout make ACE the ideal instrument for newcomers delving into the fascinating world of modular synthesis. But ACE also delivers the goods: like any medium-sized professional hardware system, ACE has enough synthesis power to keep you discovering new tricks for many years to come!

u-he ace ui

ACE Features

  • Semi-modular architecture (with default routing)
  • Oscillators include pulse width modulation (PWM), sync, internal ring and cross modulation (FM)
  • Polyphonic (up to 16 voices), duophonic or monophonic (retriggered or legato)
  • Powerful glide options: constant rate or constant time, percentage range control, per-oscillator offset
  • Up to 8 voice unison (stack) with +/−2 octave individual detuning
  • 2 multimode analogue-style filters
  • 2 ADSR envelopes with fall/rise, snap, singing option for authentic analogue-style voice triggering
  • 2 LFOs with 0Hz to 20kHz frequency range (can be used as VCOs)
  • 2 multiplex modules for signal mixing / crossfading, ring modulation, amplitude modulation etc.
  • 1 syncable and loopable ramp generator
  • Mixer with modulation inputs
  • MIDI modulation and performance: wheels, velocity, pressure, key follow, gate, 2 user-definable MIDI CC
  • Circuit bending options: slop, crosstalk, oscillator cap failure
  • 3 effects: chorus/phaser (4 types), delay (7 fixed options), bass and treble controls
  • Multichannel MIDI support
  • Resizable UI from 70% to 200%
  • Over 920 factory presets

The “boxes and cables” philosophy of modular synthesizers gives you the freedom to create your own custom instruments. Once you start connecting the sixteen modules in ACE—exploring new combinations, cross-pollinating ideas—the vast potential of modular soon becomes clear.

Sounds

The two VCOs act as the main sound generators, but as ACE does not differentiate between audio and control (modulation) signals, the full-range LFOs can also be used to generate audio frequencies.

ACE’s oscillators are modelled on analogue circuits, including instabilities and various non-linear characteristics. You can push these characteristics further using the Circuit Bending options.

If the bottom end needs beefing up, try adding the sub-oscillator. For more intense, complex sounds, try VCO2’s ring modulation, sync and cross modulation.

The LFOs can be co-opted for sound generation. They are similar to the VCOs but have a different feature set, including the possibility of phase modulation (commonly referred to as FM synthesis) and custom waveforms (LFO2 only). Wild experimentation is welcome here—draw any waveform or use the Spectralize function to create additive waves.

Mapping Generator

Not typically found in analogue synthesizers, ACE’s Mapping Generator is a useful addition with a variety of uses. The Mapping Generator is a list of up to 128 values. You can use the drawing tools to edit the values and create your own patterns, or choose pre-built shapes. This map can be stepped through for each played note, it can create per-note offsets, it can transform any modulation source or be used as the LFO2 waveform.

Filter

Like the oscillators, the two filters are modelled on analogue hardware and deliver satisfyingly analogue results. You can overdrive the filters without introducing any harsh distortion, and the resonance remains intact. Or you can take advantage of the self-oscillation feature for chaotic timbres and more experimental sound design.

For an extra aggressive sound, route your signal through both filters and crank the resonance on the second filter. Both filters are cascade type multimode circuits with two parallel outputs each.

Cables anywhere and everywhere

ACE takes after hardware modular synthesizers, although it is not a truly modular design, more correctly it is semi-modular. ACE has a default fixed architecture (like for instance the ARP 2600), which means you can start making noise immediately ‘out-of-the-box’. Any default routing can be overridden by patching cables, which means that the options are practically limitless.

ACE does not differentiate between audio signals and control signals. Any of the outputs can be plugged into any of the signal inputs. Hook things up, explore new ideas and crazy combinations. Try LFOs as audio oscillators or a VCO as LFO. Plug an LFO into a filter, then use the filter as an FM source for an oscillator.

Sound experimentation awaits, limited only by your imagination… and dinner time.

Signal sources

An array of output sockets provide signals from a variety of different sources: noise, MIDI controls (modwheel, velocity etc.), mapping generator and more…

Use these to add organic life-like dynamics, modulation and refinments your sounds.

Effects

Add final touches using the global effects. Pick from a classic stereo chorus with four modes (including phaser) to add richness, a stereo delay with seven immediately selectable modes to add movement, and finally a pair of controls to boost treble and bass.

Ramp generator

If the two ADSRs and two LFOs are not enough, try the host-syncable Ramp Generator (essentially a trapezoid, which combines elements of both).

Multiples

Common to most modular setups, multiples are mix/split devices. Signals are merged and sent onward, or split and sent to different inputs. In ACE the multiples do act as a simple mixer, or can be enlisted for much more interesting possibilities. That is why we renamed them Multiplex. Using the modulation input and some clever cable arrangements, the Multiplex modules can do ring modulation (RM), amplitude modulation (AM) or both at the same time. Or crossfading or inversion…

Envelopes

Without envelopes, your patches would just turn on and off with each note, organ style. Envelopes add dynamics over the length of the note. ACE has classic ADSR envelopes, but with a few extras directly available for more interesting results: Snap, fall/rise, level modulation, rate modulation, velocity. The envelopes can be further with modified in the Envelope Tweaks section. Switch on the singing envelopes for classic analogue retriggering behaviour, or adjust the fall/rise limits.

User Guide

 

 

 

Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.9 or newer (including M1)
  • Windows 7 or newer
  • Linux
  • 1GB RAM, more recommended
  • 50MB free disk space
  • 1000 × 600 or larger display
  • Modern CPU required:
    Windows/Linux: Intel Nehalem or newer, AMD Bulldozer or newer
    Mac: Intel Nehalem or newer, Apple M1
    Linux: glibc version 2.28 or newer
  • Host software/DAW

Formats

ACE is not a standalone product, it requires host software. ACE is compatible with nearly all DAWs.

Available as Audio Units (AU), VST2, AAX (Pro Tools 10.3.7 or later) plug-ins with 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

*AAX Mac is temporarily unavailable until native AAX support for Big Sur/Apple Silicon arrives. Pro Tools users should continue working with the previous versions until further notice. (Read more)

What’s new in the Performance Update?

Native support for Apple Silicon M1

We saw Apple’s switch to their own CPU architecture as a welcome opportunity to up our game and “go native”, so to speak. After several months of hard work, we have new plug-in versions, all refactored to offer a massive performance boost on recent Macs with Apple Silicon CPUs, especially if your host application has also gone M1-native. This means more instances of your favourite u-he plug-ins!

Users of other computer systems are not left out in the cold: We improved multicore support for Intel-based Macs, and the GUI response is generally smoother on all Mac models. Windows and Linux users also benefit from the following:

  • Improved browsers, easy drag & drop soundset installation
  • New resource management in Hive means that most presets will use even less CPU
  • Support for MTS Link , a new project-wide microtuning standard
  • New designs for Triple Cheese (freeware) and ZebraCM (magware)
  • Better overall performance for all plug-ins on all platforms

u-he ACE 4 Part Tutorial Series #gettingstarted

Dan Worrall gives you an in-depth introduction to u-he ACE, a powerful synth with tools and features ready for beginners or seasoned users.

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