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SIGNAL by Output Walkthrough

Welcome to Signal. The world’s most powerful dedicated Pulse engine.

Here at Output, we’re all musicians. From composers to producers, DJs to artists. The one common element across all of our music was the consistent use of pulses. A year and a half ago, we set out to build a creative and powerful engine that brings all forms of pulse making under one roof.

We wanted to combine the warmth and grit of fat, analog synths, with the beauty of deeply sampled instruments. We wanted to make something musical, focusing primarily on the playability of the instrument, the sounds, and the rhythms.

In our tutorial, we’re going to start with a quick overview of the different pages within Signal, along with a look at the 40GB of beautifully recorded content.

We organized the engine to be simple and clean for those that want to dive right in, and deep for those that want to tweak. We’ve also organized our presets, Pulse instruments as we call them, by tag, so that you can spend more time making music, and less time scrolling.

Signal is broken down into three main pages. The engines page, the pulse instruments page, and the effects page.

Let’s start with the engines page, the heart of the instrument. As you can see, this is split into two layers, each consisting of a channel strip and a Pulse engine with two rhythms. That means you can have up to four rhythms total, or combine them to make one big one.

Within each rhythm tab, you have the pulse rate and pulse type. Wave, for wave shape, step, for step sequencer, arp, for arpeggiator, and loop for Signal’s own proprietary looper, which acts much like a tape loop infinitely repeating while a note is held.

Signal comes with a ton of step sequencer and arpeggiator patterns. You can use it as is, you can modify it to make it your own, or you can build a rhythm from scratch.

By clicking here, you access the advanced menu, which has all of the additional parameters and modulation sends for these engines. You have access to volume, pan, filter, tube, and bite, along with volume and pitch ADSR.

You can change any of those amounts here, and the settings of each over here. We’ll get into plenty of detail later in the video, but if you want to hear what it sounds like without the Pulse, you can turn off the Pulse engine completely within here.

In addition, you can turn off each of the four rhythms at any time, along with the channel strips, by clicking here or here.

Moving on, you’ll notice the four main sliders in the middle of the screen. We’ve all grown accustomed to a key knob or slider in the middle of an instrument, but what you have here is four main macro sliders that change from patch to patch. This way, each patch has its own set of knobs and parameters that make the most sense, and that’s why we call them Pulse instruments.

The four sliders control up to six parameters at once, and are customized differently per Pulse instrument, so that each one has its own unique way of manipulating the sound. It can be a really fun way to perform with the Pulse instrument, or just find alternatives to the sound you already have.

Between the macro sliders and Pulse engine controls, you can quickly and drastically change the sound of your Pulse instrument from the front page.

Signal comes with a big library. 40GB of dynamically recorded samples. As a Pulse engine, it was also important to record Round Robins so that note repetition sounds realistic and expressive.

Our production team spent the better part of a year recording in halls and studios across Los Angeles and London. You can click here to change any of the sources, regardless of pulse type.

In each layer, you can select a synth or an instrument. For example, you can combine a sub-saw with a distorted electric guitar.

[sub-saw and guitar]

Or they can both be synths.


Or they can both be live instruments.

[strings and guitar]

A really useful feature that we added is the copy menu, which lets you duplicate all, or individual parts from layer to layer. So if your goal is to have one rhythm with different sounds, you can find the right pattern and copy it over by clicking here.

In addition, each page has a help button, so if you’re ever lost, just click here for direction.

Next, let’s move on to the Pulse instruments page.

Focusing on the bottom panel, you’ll see that the area to the right creates a list based on the tags you’ve selected on the left. Choose your tags, then either select a Pulse instrument from the list, or use the arrows at the top of Signal to cycle through.

At the top of the page, there are descriptions and tips that can be helpful in showing you how to get the best out of each sound. If you make any modifications, you can save a Pulse instrument from anywhere within Signal. Click the save tab up top and select “save as new preset.” Title your Pulse instrument and give it custom tags.

Do keep in mind that your custom Pulse instrument will always be saved with the user tag. So now that we’ve found a preset that we like, let’s move on to the effects page.

Here, you have the dedicated effects for each individual layer, and then another round of effects for the overall global sound. Click the Pulse A or Pulse B tab to display the layer effects. Your different effects are laid out at the bottom, and you can quickly turn them on or off, using the power button below each.

The positions and colors of the power buttons correspond to the two layers in signal.

Keep in mind that these are two completely separate effects per layer, so when you click on the effect, you have two separate options for parameters. Clicking on the global tab displays the global effects available, including a beautiful convolution reverb.


Layer effects include EQ, compression, lo-fi, tape saturation, drive, stereo spread, delays, reverb, and flutter. On the global level, it’s very similar, except we have a phaser, chorus, and filter. I think we’ve laid out most of the basic ideas. So now, let’s jump into the more advanced options, for those that want to dive in.

Moving back to the Pulse engines page, you’ll notice a lock and unlock button when you’re in wave mode. That changes how the LFO reacts. Keep in mind, the wave will always lock to your selected range. When it’s in lock mode, every voice will play in the same phase. When it’s unlocked, the pulse will retrigger with every new note, so you can actually offset rhythms.

[offset rhythm synths]

This option also gives you the ability to fade in the Pulse.

[synths, Pulse faded in]

You can also highlight a specific portion of the wave shape.

In the step sequencer mode, you have many patterns that have been carefully designed to fit a wide range of genres and scenarios. So if you’re not exactly sure what rhythm you might need, you can easily find something expressive and practical to fit, and also vary the step pattern by clicking the modify tab, allowing you to invert, reverse, or clear the pattern and start on your own.

Perhaps you just want to offset your rhythm by one or two steps. Clicking on the arrow nudges the entire pattern by one step. Even the amount of steps can be set by dragging on the step count indicator. Think of the possibilities you could reach by taking a standard 4/4 pattern and setting it to an odd number of steps, like 7 or 13.

Art mode is a very powerful arpeggiator. Arp features function much like step mode in that you can draw your patterns directly.

[arp synth]

You can also nudge the pattern, adjust the amount of steps, or choose from a bank of useful art patterns.

[arp synth]

Clicking this tab allows you to choose how the arpeggiator behaves.

[arp synth]

You can explore advanced features of the arp by hitting the gear icon here. You can tweak things like octave jumping, Round Robins, swing, or sample duration. Loop mode is arguably one of our most ground breaking features in Signal. This pulse type acts much like a tape loop, infinitely repeating as long as the note is held down.

You can really manipulate this tool creatively, performing offset rhythms, which will continue to loop. When stack is on, you can use the sustain pedal to build stack patterns, rhythms, and chords.

[rhythmic synth]

To control which part of the sample is looping, just drag the highlighted section on the loop section.

[rhythmic synth]

You can even syncopate the loop by moving the bottom sliders. This sets the initial attack to start mid-way through your highlighted loop.

[syncopated synth]

Clicking the settings icon on the top right corner of the layer window opens the settings for that particular layer. Here, you can tweak the key range, maximum number of voices, and velocity sensitivity. Changing the key range is quite useful for performing patches that have very different sounding layers.

For instance, you might want to restrict a deep synth sub to just the low range, or a light atmosphere to just the higher range.

Taking a step back, you’ll notice that after the main rhythm, sound then passes through to a secondary rhythm, which provides additional modulation with a wave or a step.

[rhythmic synth]

If I turn off the rhythms in the Pulse engine, we’re left with just the sound source.


Another advanced feature that you have access to is the details in each of the macro sliders. By clicking on this macro button here, you can see which parameters are assigned…

[rhythmic synth]

How they’re affected by the slider movement, and you can bypass or activate each individually. If you want to be able to turn a knob and you’re limited, you can come here and bypass that one completely. You can also adjust the range of the assigned parameters, so if it’s not hitting exactly where you want to, you can change it.

[pulsing synth]

So that about wraps it up for the tutorial. We hope you enjoyed it. Please do stay tuned for upcoming videos of Signal in action.




Output designs innovative music software for the modern musician. We've partnered with them to feature some their videos. Learn more at

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