The story

Have you ever grown so used to the way something sounds, only to realise that it should never have sounded that way in the first place? My introduction to 80s sci-fi films and their amazing cinematic synth-based scores came not through pristine digital copies, DVDs or even new tapes. So often, they were introduced to me a decade later, on home recorded VHS tapes that had years of wear, warping and distorting both the visuals and audio in unpredictable ways. Similarly, my love of prog and psychedelic rock came via cassette tapes that my dad had recorded from his LPs, to prevent the grooves from widening with multiple playbacks. It was years before I realised that warping audio on films and vinyl cracks and pops through saturated tape is not how the world necessarily wanted you to listen to music. However, it was too late, that sound had cemented itself in my mind and I’ve grown fond of it as have we all, I suspect.

Over the holiday period, I found myself revisiting some of those films and albums, remembering my dad and the huge impact he had on my life. While I missed the warping, distorted tones and visuals that I’d grown so used to in my childhood, there were often times where the clarity felt new, felt fresh and exciting, like watching it for the first time or stumbling on it years later and you can’t quite remember it. It’s like there is now a place for both in my mind, the hi-fi and the nostalgia, as it were. I could live the film or album’s story or I could relive the memory of how it used to be.

I’d always intended to sample my Arturia PolyBrute, but this recent experience took the library into unexpected territory. I wanted to create two tones you could blend between morphing them between A and B as the synthesiser does, but now I found myself sampling these sounds and then manipulating them further, putting them through Abbey Road vinyl emulations for added clicks and pops, into subtle tape saturation for warmth, and finally into a new free plugin that arrived this holiday, Mello-Fi, for that gritty, warped texture of worn tape. I ended up with 4 sample groups, two different textures and a tape version of each, and created the basic library that could blend to any mix of these four groups note to self, definitely looking into XY Pads for future libraries. After that, I just got carried away with how you could shape the tone further and mess with it even more. The low and high pass filters can help you achieve that lo-fi tape sound, the saturation can get super gnarly and into punchy lead territory, the chorus and tape delay warped the tone even more and the reverb just put it into such an incredible space.

My favourite elements of this library; The tape knob, when set at 100%, just gives you this cool, mellotron like texture that sounds just like the old tapes we used to watch, with clicks and pops heard from the vinyl that bring back the memory of the first time my dad showed me Wish You Were Here. The saturation is almost a given in anything I create, because as a guitarist everything just sounds better when the tubes are breaking. Adding flutter to the delay introduces these crazy pitch fluctuations that sound so beautiful when mixed in with some reverb. The reverb is an IR taken from one of my favourite production plugins, Raum, that just creates a great atmosphere that feels like it can go on forever. The velocity triggers a cutoff on a LPF on all groups, meaning the softer notes are warmer and the louder notes brighter. This is something you don’t often get from vintage synths that can’t use velocity as a modulator, but it just adds this expressive feel to your playing that resembles an acoustic piano. You can turn this off for a classic synth vibe, though.

MIDI CC Channels:

CC11: Volume Pre Effects Chain
CC1: Blend Modulation Wheel
CC21: Tape

I hope you enjoy this library and find it both nostalgic and useful. It has been one of my most favourite libraries to work on yet and it is a pleasure to share it with this community. On my YouTube channel, I’m going through some of the features of my libraries and how I constructed them, so if you are interested in how something came to be or in picking up a skill or two, head over there and drop in a comment on what you want to see. Also, I’d love to see some reviews for this one, I found the reviews from my last library so helpful in developing this one!

Cheers, Steve.

The Analog and Tape Affected Synth for Your Nostalgia

DEMO: How I Used MelloSaw to Create Enigmatic Waves


Reviews for MelloSaw

  • Sound
  • Character
  • Playability
  • Inspiration
  • GUI

Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!

  • A lofi dream

    This has just the right amount of all the lofi tropes to sound authentic without overdoing it. One of the sounds I've been looking for and it's easily accessible and tweakable in this library.
    Some control over the filter envelope would have been perfect, but it's still expressive enough through note velocity.

    Thank you for this.

    rrahim24 May 2022
  • A wide variety of possibilities

    I love how much possibilities there are with this library. You can tweak so much and make just something that's unique and signature. Very very versatile set of Synth. And i also would like to second the other reviewer. I would like some more control over the filter. But it's not something that you can't work with. Only if you wanna experiment more

    JashandeepReehal24 May 2022
  • The smoothest saw synth!

    If you are into synths and you like to play around with tons of options to get the most perfect sound, this will be of huge interest to you. It is a very versatily synth instrument with tons of options for you to play with. You don't really need to do too much though in order to get a nice sound. I personally found the Tape texture incredible. Just be careful a little bit with the volume because if you go nuts it can get really loud.

    Alex Raptakis17 January 2022