Preset Galaxy: Blast Off!

Presets are a vital and integral part of people's experience with electronic instruments.

Jared White

Set your phasers to four stages as I tell you all about Preset Galaxy, a brand new platform for sharing and downloading plugin presets. But first, a story…

The year was 1995, Microsoft was cool enough to bring on Jay Leno to start us all up, and my brother and I were but greenhorn preteens who desired to become stars of electronic music. Due to a settlement from a car accident involving a remarkably polite fellow named Zano, we were able to purchase the synthesizer of our dreams: the much-lauded, oft-praised…Ensoniq KT-76.

(Actually, I have no idea why we chose that particular instrument. The piano sounded good and it had a weighted keyboard? 🤷🏻‍♂️)

As with many synths of that day, it was a glorified rompler (though we would later come to discover it offered some pretty interesting “transwaves” and creative effects, including a 24dB 4-pole low pass analog filter!). Thus our general experience with using the synth was all about the presets.

And one preset, a screaming electric guitar, stood out as having a particularly confusing name: “This goes to 11!

What the…? My brother and I had absolutely no clue what that meant or why a guitar preset would be named that. 🤣

Spoiler alert! Years later, we would watch This Is Spinal Tap for the very first time—and when we got to That Scene, suddenly it all clicked into place.

Ahhhhh. Brilliant.😆

(Turns out the makers of the Ensoniq KT-76 were really big fans of that movie, as not only did that preset exist, they endeavored to ensure their special guitar amp distortion effect could be dialed up to 11. It even mentions Nigel Tufnel by name in the Owner’s Manual!)

It’s astonishing how the name of a single preset on a keyboard I used in the 90s has stuck with me throughout the decades. That, my friends, is a story which serves to illustrate one thing. Actually two things—because naming presets after movie references isn’t a bad way to come up with preset names! But the point is this: presets are a vital and integral part of people’s experience with electronic instruments. You always have the plugin itself: an instrument, an effect, and so on. But you also have the presets. And they can craft a narrative, set a mood, reference pop culture, tickle your nostalgia bone, and introduce you to a whole new world of sound.

The best part is: now you have the ability to join in on the festivities! You can create your own presets—and yes, make sure they too go to 11—and share them with the world. Or you can find presets others have created, bringing delightfully novel and exciting sonic experiences to the instruments and effects you already use.

This is why we’re so thrilled to announce the launch of Preset Galaxy. In observing the landscape of online resources for fans of computer music technology, we noticed there wasn’t a central place where musicians, producers, and sonic innovators could all come together to form a community around presets. Sure, you could find presets lurking about—a forum here, a chat room there, some extension of some other website about electronic music, or a particular manufacturer’s online community. But Preset Galaxy isall about the presets. That’s it. That’s the toot. 🎺

Uploading your presets to Preset Galaxy couldn’t be easier. Sign up for a free account, select some preset files on your computer, and drag them into our uploader. Write an intro for the readme file, and you’re done. Preset Galaxy will automatically bundle all the presets into a “bank” together with the readme and zip everything up. Then other people can download the zip file and load in the presets, boom done. 🚀

You can let creators know how much you enjoy their presets in the comments section, and we also operate a Discord server where folks can spread the word about presets they like or ones they’ve made. The Preset Galaxy community may be new, but with your help, we can grow to become the premier destination for preset fans everywhere—in this solar system and even beyond.

So sign up today (did we mention it’s totally free?), join the Discord (only if you want to!), and blast off to a whole new world of sonic mayhem and merriment. And let us know what you’d like to see us add next to the site to make things really go to 11. 🎸