Processor recommendations for Serum

Started by jocamiah

I have the demo of Serum running on my 2009 MacBook 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 4 GB of memory and 7200 rpm hard drive running Ableton Live 9. Some patches work fine while others will send my cpu meter into 70-117% range. Do I have to upgrade to use Serum and if so what budget friendly processor would you recommend?

Obviously the faster the processor the better. Budget friendly and MacOS don't really go hand-in hand. There's nothing processor specific to Serum (SSE2 instructions, but this is pretty much everything made in the last decade).

Keep in mind reducing Unison amounts, Env1 release times, and POLY in the lower-right of Serum might extend your usage quite a bit with potentially little audible difference (this depends of course). There will be some performance improvements in the future as well, there are some places left where I can save CPU without affecting sound quality at all.

I'm not really a hardware guy but I have watched friends go from Macbook to iMac and get an absurd CPU improvement (several orders of magnitude). Obviously there could be other factors at play there, so I won't be able to say that definitively.

Warm Regards,

will there be multi cpu support like in diva? I'm getting 50% on general pad patch with maybe 4 notes played on a i7 3.00ghz. changing the oversampling seems to have no effect on cpu usage either.

there's optimisations coming. I don't know about multi-cpu support. Something sounds fishy with that sort of CPU use however I would look at the voices in lower-right, it's pretty comparable with other WT synths. You might just need to lower polyphony there. The improvements already in the beta might help - I see you're not registered so whenever the next demo is up I guess you can check back.

Demo version? I don't want to buy until I know that it works better with my current setup.

Really good synth but he need multicpu support or he will be forgotten like lush
Sorry for English

Well, I disagree it is needed, but of course you are entitled to your opinion. I am skeptical to performance improvements there (thread timer waits, etc). and I could imagine it making things worse for some people. Those cores are open for other processes/plugins since no plugin exists on its own.

There are some optimizations coming first of all. While there is room for impromenet in some areas, The oscillators are quite SSE optimized in a general sense. You can do a comparison like this:

Serum: Init patch, Enable OSC B (2 oscillators) raise unison to 16 on both oscillators, play 3-note chord = 96 voices in lower-right = 20% CPU on my laptop
Massive: Init patch, disable Osc 3 (2 oscillators) raise unisono to 16, raise max voices to 96, play 3 note chord = 96 voices = 40% CPU on my laptop.

The reason I mention the above, and that this is important is that voices are exactly what get distributed in a multicore situation, and they are already optimized in a pretty heavy way.

Keep in mind Serum is doing this with a higher quality playback than the 'Ultra' setting in massive as well. I could raise the aliasing (lower-quality playback) and save more CPU, but a worse-sounding oscillator isn't a compromise that I have much interest in. Maybe I'll offer it as a 'draft' mode in the future, but it's not a priority.

On this example one single chord use 40 % on my desktop i7-920.
But when i play chord by chord , like legato, i see another situation - cpu is overdrived.
Ok i make unison to 10 on both oscillators.Now 80 % for my cpu.But now less powerfull sound.And now a have only 20 % max. for other plugins =)
I was disappointed when try Lush at first time without multicpu and i say to my self maybe i need new cpu.But when i try again next time after half year i buy them because he was with multicpu.When i play on serum with max voices for unison a feel very powerfull sound,but as i said =)
Sorry for English.
Btw do you fix problem with oversampling?

well, you should have all those other cores for other plugins :-) This is part of the reason it seems strange. I would recommend and wait for the next demo version and re-assess it shouldn't be too long, a few weeks. Some people have reported a lot less CPU in it. I'm not sure why you get half the performance I get, maybe your latency/driver are not optimal. I've fixed an oversampling bug, but you can't be that vague. The oversampling control doesn't apply to default oscillators, only warp modes.


I'm running on an i7 3rd Gen 3632QM with 8GB of RAM, using NI's KA6 and Cubase 7.5. When I first tried the demo out, I was getting something like 60% with a single note…but that was at 2x oversampling at a buffer size of 64. At 96 things improved and at 1x oversampling they were even better. Also the usage varied wildly depending on the preset. Some of them are more complex than others. Making my own patches, however, I'm hardly touching 10-15%. I get similar performance with synths like Dune 2.

As for whether or not multi-core support is necessary, I can't really say. Turning on multi-core support in something like Halion Sonic is a night and day difference, but I don't know if that's really applicable here because that's just a ROMpler as opposed to a highly complex synth.

Anyway the good news is that on my setup I'll be able to make exactly the kind of patches I want with plenty of CPU spare, so that's good enough for me! I'm sure further optimizations will come in time :)


Hi Steve. When I buy serum does it get sent by mail or digitally through email? 

Hi, my demo for serum will not come up for some reason, I have met all the requirements and followed all the instructions, i went on Ableton added a mii track and nothing would come up, do you know if you can help?

On Windows, you need Serum_x64.dll in the folder set as VST2 Custom Folder in Live 10 -> Preferences -> Plugins
On MacOS, make sure "Use VST2 System Folders" is enabled there.

Then Serum will show in Live's browser, in the Plug-ins tab.