SIGNAL by Output: Expressive Pulse Engine Instrument for Native Instruments KONTAKT 5 Player

In this product review, Dubspot’s Rory PQ takes us deep inside SIGNAL by Output – a new Pulse Engine Instrument for Native Instruments KONTAKT 5 Player.


“SIGNAL by Output is absolutely brilliant; it will find a home in every project!”

Based in the heart of Hollywood, California is a creative force called Output that develops innovative software instruments for musicians, composers, producers, and sound designers across all genres. In 2013 they made a grand entrance into the music scene with their groundbreaking release of REV, a virtual instrument based entirely on reversed sounds, all playable in real time through Native Instruments’ KONTAKT 5 Player. REV’s power unleashes through four unique engines with over 14GB of content, including complex synths, real instruments, multi-layered organic pads, loops, rises, pulses, swells, stutters, and more.

Check out Josh Spoons review on REV by Output: Instruments in Reverse for Native Instruments Kontakt Sampler.

The forward-thinking concept of REV is still buzzing throughout the music community, and before the dust has settled, Output has once again recaptured our attention with yet another revolutionary concept to excite our senses called SIGNAL. Output describes SIGNAL as “The World’s most powerful pulse engine.” This uniquely expressive virtual instrument harnesses a massive 40GB library that combines the warmth of analog and beautiful sounding digital synths with a diverse collection of sampled organic instruments. After an extensive run with this innovative music maker, there’s no denying that SIGNAL is truly capable of creating infinitely unique pulses for an entirely new type of sound.

Before we get to the details, check out Output’s intelligent product teaser video. Their engaging marketing efforts has left us pulsating with anticipation to give this marvelous instrument a spin.

Let’s delve into a detailed look at the new Pulse Engine and explore its capabilities, what’s included, and the possibilities this library will add to your existing arsenal of music tools.

The Interface

SIGNAL’s interface is extremely welcoming and simplistic. At first glance, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by looking at complicated parameters and options. The interface is organized to be simple and clean making it easy to dive right into creating sounds without much sound design knowledge at all. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity, SIGNAL also has advanced capabilities that allow you to go deeper into shaping sounds and rhythms. SIGNAL operates across three main pages, the Pulse Engines page, Pulse Instruments page, and the Effects page.


Pulse Engines

The Pulse Engines page is where most of the magic happens. The layout is separated into two layers each loaded with channel strip settings and SIGNAL’s “Pulse Engines”, which is the true heart of the instrument. Each Pulse Engine has the ability to control two separate rhythms giving you a combination of four rhythms total across two layers for some major sound manipulation. Within each Rhythm tab, you will find modulation options to choose the pulse rate and pulse type. The pulse type menu includes selections for LFO waveshaping modulation, step-sequencer modulation, Arpeggiator, and Loop, which is SIGNAL’s proprietary note looper that will infinitely repeat while a note is held down. Out of the four options, I found the Step and Arp to be the most fun. In addition, there is a wealth of premade patterns and rhythms to choose from, as well as the ability to modify existing patterns or make completely new patterns from scratch.


Clicking the Advanced tab gives you access to a menu of additional parameters and modulation controls for each pulse type. Within the Advanced menu, you can control Rhythm Sends for volume, panning, different filter types, Tube saturation modulation, Bite distortion modulation, and ADSR envelope settings.

Sometimes simple is better, and the team at Output have provided us with the option to disable the Pulse Engines completely, as well as each of the four Rhythm types and their channel strips. Having the option to disable various controls across SIGNAL is great. You can automate these controls to evolve you sound from a lush pad to a complex pulsating lead that would take days to program without the simplistic luxury of SIGNAL’s powerful features.

Pulse Engine Layers

Looking at the source channel strip settings you will find an option to select different sources for the Pulse Engine Layer. Accessing the Pulse Engine Layer menu will give you the option to choose from sampled acoustic Instruments or sampled Synths. You can change any source regardless of the pulse type for each layer. For example, you could combine a Cello with a Gritty Bass synth to create a new layered sound. There are extensive amounts of sound layering combinations you can choose from. In addition, Output has added a “Copy Menu” feature that allows you to duplicate all or individual parts from layer to layer. For example, if you have multiple sounds playing, you could copy a custom rhythm over to each layer to create one rhythm with different sounds.


Anytime you feel lost or just curious about what a particular control does, simply click the Help button located at the top of each page.

MACRO Sliders


The MACRO sliders section is what immediately captured my attention when first opening SIGNAL. These four simple sliders are capable of doing so much more than expected. Each MACRO slider can control up to six parameters at once, and every Pulse Instrument preset loads with its own unique settings and slider configurations giving you a variety of ways to manipulate sounds. The sliders can be a lot of fun to automate or use in a live performance to drastically change sounds with ease. Between the MACRO sliders and Pulse Engine controls, you can quickly change the sound of a Pulse Instrument to bring new exciting life and movement to your projects.

Pulse Instruments Page

Finding sounds that fit your project couldn’t be any easier. Output has created a browser based on “tags” that allow you to quickly find desired sounds using an intuitive tagging system. This menu feature saves heaps of time, so you’re not scrolling through a massive sound library looking for the right sound. You can easily narrow down presets to choose from by either targeting specific sound characteristics or time signatures.


Accessing the Pulse Instruments page through the preset selection window will show a panel loaded with 40GB of dynamically recorded samples ready to play. The Pulse Instruments are uniquely crafted starting points each with immense depth and variety. They were all recorded so that note repetitions sound realistic and expressive. Output’s production team spent over a year recording these samples in halls and studios across Los Angles and London. Navigating and selecting sounds from the Pulse Instruments panel is easy. The right panel lists all of the sounds based on the tag buttons you selected from the left panel. In addition, at the top of the page is a helpful display that shows descriptions and tips for using each sound. You can even save custom presets and tag them so you can quickly recall them in another project as well.

Effects Page


The Effects page has dedicated effects for the individual layers as well as another section for the overall global effects. Choosing either the Pulse A, Pulse B or Global tab will show the Effects controls for each layer. The two layer effects include an EQ, Compressor, LoFi Distortion, Tape Saturation, Drive, Stereo Spread, Delay, Reverb, and Flutter for adjusting pitch drift settings. The Global effects include an EQ, Compressor, Phaser, Chorus, Limiter, Filter, two Delays, and a beautiful Convolution Reverb.

Advanced Features

Everything we covered so far just scratches the surface of what this monster sound design tool is capable of doing. The video below demonstrates some of the more advanced features of SIGNAL.

Don’t let us convince you how awesome this instrument sounds. Check it out for yourself in the video below demonstrating SIGNAL in-action.

Final Thoughts

I have only used SIGNAL for a week and absolutely love it. It is an incredibly thought out instrument capable of crafting simple or complex rhythmic sequences. I found it extremely intuitive to use and think it’s suitable for many different styles of music. Simply loading a preset and playing with the MACRO sliders was enough inspiration to get my music making gears turning. The simplicity of the user interface is immensely intriguing and devilishly addictive. SIGNAL has certainly earned the top spot in my KONTAKT library and will more than likely find its way into many of my productions.

I enjoyed working with SIGNAL so much that I created a new tune using it set to be released on refused.

Dantiez Saunderson | Deep Something (Rory PQ Remix)

Where to Buy?

Signal is available for purchase at Output.

  • $199.00 | SIGNAL Pulse Engine
  • $348.00 | SIGNAL + REV Bundle, save $50

What’s Included

  • 500 Pulse Instruments for instant playability
  • A massive array of content
  • 40GB including analog synths, digital synths, and organic instruments
  • Up to 4 separate pulses at one time
  • All pulses lock to tempo
  • Rhythms: Looper, Step Sequencers, Arpeggiators, LFO’s
  • 4 central MACRO Sliders unique to each of the 500 Pulse Instruments

System Requirements

  • Signal runs in KONTAKT or Free KONTAKT Player version 5.3.1 or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.7, OS X 10.8 or higher is recommended**
  • Windows 7 or higher
  • At least 4 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended), and 41 GB of free drive space

Kontour Tutorial

Sound Design Program

Become fluent in the language of sound design and synthesis with this comprehensive program. This six-level Sound Design program uses Native Instruments’ Komplete as a platform for learning synthesis and sampling techniques. Starting with an introduction to the properties of sound, this comprehensive series of courses covers the major techniques used for contemporary sound design.

What’s Included:
Sound Design Level 1: Introduction to Komplete
Sound Design Level 2: Synthesis with Massive, FM8 and Absynth
Sound Design Level 3: Sampling with Kontakt and Battery
Sound Design Level 4: Advanced Sound Design
Sound Design Level 5: Reaktor Ensembles and Production Techniques
Sound Design Level 6: Reaktor Programming and Instrument Building

Become fluent in the language of sound design and synthesis with this comprehensive program. This six-level Sound Design program uses Native Instruments’ Komplete as a platform for learning synthesis and sampling techniques. Starting with an introduction to the properties of sound, this comprehensive series of courses covers the major techniques used for contemporary sound design.

You will learn to create your own sounds with a variety of techniques and add a personal sonic signature to your tracks. We introduce you to the latest synthesis and sampling technologies and show you how to use the world’s largest and most diverse sound library. In the advanced levels, you will acquire total control over all aspects of the Komplete instruments while practicing genre-based sound design.

Click here for detailed information on this program, including start dates and payment plans.

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