Free Mac Synthesizer, The Swarm, Inspired By Trent Reznor’s Swarmatron Synth

The Swarm Inspired by Trent Reznor's Swarmatron synthesizer

reFuse Software has released a new software synthesizer, inspired by the Dewanatron Swarmatron synthesizer, used by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross in making the soundtrack for The Social Network.

Here’s what reFuse has to say about The Swarm:

While The Swarm is based off the Swarmatron, it is not an emulation of that synth! It is meant to give some of the sonic flavor of the original, but the hardware itself (which includes a pair of ribbon controllers) is integral to the experience of using an actual Swarmatron. So, while we offer this software model as a tribute to the idea of the original, we acknowledge that in this case, software can only go so far!

The basic architecture of The Swarm is as follows:

A bank of 8 sawtooth oscillators -> Lowpass filter => Output ADSR envelope

Not too crazy per se, but the interesting part is in the tuning of the oscillators. They are tuned with a pair of controls:

1) the Base Pitch slider, which tunes the 1st oscillator

2) the Span knob, which tunes the other oscillators in relation to the 1st. With the Span at minimum, the 8 oscillators are nearly in unison. With the Span at maximum, the 8 oscillators spread out to evenly spaced harmonic multiples. It is this Span control that allows The Swarm to quickly switch from pretty tones to ugly, pulsating clusters of sound.

Note: The Swarm is an OS X standalone application, not an AU/VST.

The Swarm is a free download

12 thoughts on “Free Mac Synthesizer, The Swarm, Inspired By Trent Reznor’s Swarmatron Synth

  1. Sounds great! But the window it runs in is so tall it falls off the bottom of my 1280*800 macbook screen, so I can't reach the MIDI controls. 🙁

    I would pay money for this as an iOS app and be able to control several sliders at once.

    A volume slider rather than ADSR would be good on a multitouch version.

  2. Yea, same on my MBP. And there's not a scroll bar, so no luck accessing CC's or Presets. Hopefully it'll be an easy fix to at least add a scroll bar to the window. Ideally having the interface features fit in a slightly wider (not-as-tall) window, or slightly more concise. It's a simple enough interface.

  3. i want to say screw you guys.. i have real analog synths…

    i do have real analogs.. but with a droid x… i'm having some serious fucking iphone/pad envy..why is everything on the iphone?.. i thought i was doing the smart thing going droid… and it isn't the lack of apps on the droid… i think its something deeper.. that makes it so people don't even want to make apps for it… thought i tend to think its something easily remedied… it hasn't been yet!

    get some droid love going fuckers!

  4. Really ??
    Not even bothered to design your own interface….
    30 minute maxmsp patch if you are really slow with it .

  5. I was playing with this yesterday and it's enormous fun and sounds pretty good. If only I could work out how to record it into something other than my pocketrack via the speakers…

  6. Mapped the base freq to pitch wheel and filter to mod wheel, span to an expression pedal and was jamming for hours… Not the most musical performance, but a lot of fun! Playing this with a keyboard would be useful in some situations I guess, so mapping the base frequency to midi notes instead of CC. Perhaps it's intentionally done this way? Also have to figure out how to record it internally from os x, without routing the audio through external equipment.

  7. use soundflower to route the audio from swarm into your daw. or a lot of audio interfaces have their own mixing environment that may enable you to route to your daw as well. soundflower is free.

    set soundflower as the output for swarm; set soundflower driver as the input for your daw.

    anyone have any good suggestions for which controllers to use as the ribbon controllers?

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