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4 analog waveforms, just 4 damn waveforms!
Old 10th May 2015
  #1
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🎧 10 years
4 analog waveforms, just 4 damn waveforms!

Sawtooth, triangle, sines and versions of pulsewaves! that's it, that's pretty much all we got. Yes you can hard sync the osc, yes you can fm (usually only 2 osc stuff), but still even with all the filtering available, the waveforms themselves from a jupiter 8 to a matrix 12, to a minimoog (fine, sharkteeth!) there is still only so much variety to be had. So we concern ourselves with getting a minimoog and an OB8, so our sawtooths can sound a little different.

Modern electronic music has appeared to move on as most big producers are doing ITB with plugins that... eeek sound worse. It seems though in the beginning with the softsynths everyone cared about sounding analog, but listen to any mainstream EDM or dubstep and you'll hear plenty of if not the majority of sounds are not even trying to be analog style. Is it just the convenience of running plugins in a laptop, the price of them? Could plugins have an advantage in the sound quality department?

look, I love analog synths. In fact I have 5 of them including an andromeda. I think for what they can do they sound better if at least not very different than digital doing the same things. I've played and sampled all the great classics. (I had a job doing just that) So what am I gettin at here? I'm just sick of the same old waveforms and so are most of the audience probably. It doesn't mean you can't make great music with saw and square waves, it's just that digital synths can give you way more colors and ways for the colors to change dynamically.

In the end the music always wins and I've made plenty of songs with my analogs and gotten lots of sounds with those same couple of waveforms, but if analog wants to survive, it has competetion from the likes of FM8, massive, etc. People will start to care less about the quality of saw waves and will be wanting to push ahead with new sounds the audience hasn't heard a million times. When I had a modular I'd fm the 3 oscillators in series and that would indeed make unheard before waveforms, you'd just have to sample and tune them to play in your sampler.

Maybe its cause I don't understand electronics but is it just not possible to create more immediately playable analog waveform shapes and change them dynamically the way some software can?

Btw I'm diggin the metalizer in me minibrute, at last something a little different.

Last edited by StarfishMusic; 10th May 2015 at 10:34 AM..
Old 10th May 2015
  #2
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🎧 10 years
sup, bro. I heard you like waves?

Old 10th May 2015
  #3
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🎧 10 years
Wavetable, karplus, sampling, physical modeling, etc.
You can also fm the oscillator, waveshape it, etc.

IDK, I started getting into modular because I needed a wider variety of sounds. However, there are plenty of hardware instruments that do more than just the basic shapes.
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrvana8775 ➡️
Wavetable, karplus, sampling, physical modeling, etc.
You can also fm the oscillator, waveshape it, etc.

IDK, I started getting into modular because I needed a wider variety of sounds. However, there are plenty of hardware instruments that do more than just the basic shapes.
I guess you missed the part in the title and post where I'm talking about ANALOG synths. You do know that hardware does not an analog synth make, right? I mentioned both digital FM and wavetable, but alas not what I am talking about.

If you read the whole post you'd see I was also not talking about modulars which can produce crazy waves with FM and the like because I mentioned I used to do it and sample it, but they cannot produce those waves predictably up and down the keyboard as playable. Even if some can, modulars are really another realm entirely and usually have more work, expense, and less predictability.

Last edited by StarfishMusic; 10th May 2015 at 06:20 AM..
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrvana8775 ➡️
sup, bro. I heard you like waves?

If you are indeed a waveform dealer, i'll take whatever I can afford. How much for that squiggly one in the corner? I bet that's some good sh-t! You aint a cop right?
Old 10th May 2015
  #6
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Bald Eagle's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Analog and the traditional waveforms is not an end to all means ... It is however a useful tool when used creatively.
Old 10th May 2015
  #7
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🎧 5 years
Forgot Noise? Not really a waveform thought.

Anyway, yeah totally get where you're coming from, all those variations on a buzzy thing. I'm definitely for more creative options in the analog domain, or any domain really.

That said, it's their signature sound, what people want/expect out of them. Demand for the unknown is never high so, even if I'm pretty sure it's possible to do novel things with analog, I do think the Brutes are an example of that, I don't think it'll happen to a high degree, at least in mainstream synths.

I mean, people will ask for the "Classic Digital X" to be added to the "Classic Analog 4" long before they ask for the "New Cool Thing I've Never Heard", so you get hybrid synths, and/or synths that emulate all sorts of past synths, and so on, which are the simplest way to hit those goals.
Old 10th May 2015
  #8
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🎧 15 years
Lucky you're not a composer using an orchestra. Imagine how "constrained" Mozart felt with just one :P
Old 10th May 2015
  #9
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🎧 5 years
I'd like to see digital waveforms run through analog filters and saturation. I don't really care for DCO. If it's digitally controlled, might as well be digital all the way. The filter is where it's at. Look at the Waldorf Rocket. Probably sounds better than all the analog monos I heard and it has digital oscillators. I would also like to see wave morphing. I'm actually surprised synth manufacturers haven't done stuff like this already... Well anymore at least. The synth doesn't have to cost a grand either. I want an asr-x with analog effects. Someone put a freaking Juno chorus in a synth. It's the best chorus I ever heard. Man it's not that hard to be innovative. And Dave smith, if you make more flagship synths, don't use Curtis filters (ever again) cause they sound like shit. Visit gear slutz more often. You might learn what we want.
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowkey ➡️
Lucky you're not a composer using an orchestra. Imagine how "constrained" Mozart felt with just one :P
Right, because an orchestra has just one timbre, with varying brightness and ringing frequency bump?
Old 10th May 2015
  #11
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zerocrossing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Well, the reason you have those waves in analogs are for a few reasons. They're electronically feasible and they somewhat mirror natural sonic phenomena. Lot's of early synths were sold as "string machines." You can get a surprising amount out of those four little wave forms. But yeah, not everything. So... enter FM. There's a way of taking a bunch of sine waves and making something much, much more. It can be done in the analog realm, but usually you find it in digital synths.

And to the question of, "do plug ins have an advantage over hardware synths in the sound quality department?" Well that depends. I spent a month with a Virus Snow in my studio (same engine as a TI2 but with less polyphony) Fine synth... but as I got deeper into it I started feeling like it didn't quite sound as good as what I was doing with Serum. When I stripped both instruments of their effects, I did actually feel the software sounded better and I really liked some of Serum's filters considerably more than the Virus. Of course, these are both digital synths, so maybe that doesn't count...

OK, let's look at Diva. Does it sound as good as my ATC-X for doing a nice phat bass sound? I don't think so... however, it does sound good and my ATC-X sure doesn't have an osc section modelled on a Model D that I can run though an MS20 filter section... polyphonically. So the software becomes a whole different thing.

The thing that's exciting me now is what Modal is doing with their dark magic they call "NCOs" These numerically controlled oscillators seem to have such high resolution as to be rendered with no perceptible aliasing what so ever. The result sounds, to me, like someone figured out how to make analog waveforms in the style of digital ones. Now, to me, I don't care if there's frogs inside creating the waveforms. If it's good it's good. Another favourite of mine is in the software world. It's a plug-in called MPowersynth. It's got very high quality oscillators and a boatload of filters that sound very good to me. Coupled with it's extensive modulation options and modular effect section it's far beyond anything ever made in a hardware synthesizer. Does it prevent me from going to my trusty ATC-x for the sounds it does best? Nope.

A wise man here on Gearslutz said something to me recently that really sunk in. I'll paraphrase, but he basically said, "Most stuff sounds great these days, software and hardware. Buy for character." So I have all analogs (VCO and DCO) a hybrid (digital oscs and analog filters) and an embarrassingly large collection of software instruments. I like them all for different reasons or I'd have already ditched them. I should really think about actually making some music one of these days.
Old 10th May 2015
  #12
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Rogue Ai's Avatar
 
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🎧 10 years
I'd like to see analog do this: (see attachment)

(I do love analog, but damn this might be making me love digital synths more!)

Wavetables!!!!!!!
Attached Files

Blofeld Patch - ShatteredBeauty.mp3 (2.00 MB, 5020 views)

Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing ➡️
And to the question of, "do plug ins have an advantage over hardware synths in the sound quality department?" Well that depends. I spent a month with a Virus Snow in my studio (same engine as a TI2 but with less polyphony) Fine synth... but as I got deeper into it I started feeling like it didn't quite sound as good as what I was doing with Serum. When I stripped both instruments of their effects, I did actually feel the software sounded better and I really liked some of Serum's filters considerably more than the Virus. Of course, these are both digital synths, so maybe that doesn't count...
I meant that as rhetorically, because the reason big mainstream EDM producers are using the ITB synths for most if not all of their sounds, is probably not the quality. It's probably a combination of their convenience, automatability, and the sheer fact they can do sounds the analogs can't. listen to any skrillex, Prydz, deadmau5, to hear it. What's better quality, something doing a saw wave in analog or some other wave morphing radically between 3 different shapes over time? it's an unanswerable question, which is why I posed it that way. But it remains in my mind, what if analog could make that same 3 interesting waveform morphing timbre itself?

Last edited by StarfishMusic; 10th May 2015 at 06:22 AM..
Old 10th May 2015
  #14
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🎧 10 years
Strap an Eventide across those 4 waves and have your great grandkids get a hold of mine when they get through the first two of them after exhausting the possibilities.
Old 10th May 2015
  #15
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishMusic ➡️
Maybe its cause I don't understand electronics but is it just not possible to create more immediately playable analog waveform shapes and change them dynamically the way some software can?
I know, that you said "no modular", but I will will mention some modular stuff anyway, that (should) track across the keyboard, since it only uses one oscillator.

The most common form of changing a waveshape dynamically is probably waveshaping. Basically you distort your waveform in an extreme way, especially folding back the peaks of the waveform. That is basically what the metallizer on the Minibrute does. The minibrute folds back linearly (triangle folder), if I remember correctly. some "softer" stuff, e.g. the Intellijel µfold, does it closer to a sine shape.

Some additional shaper examples from the Doepfer A-136 page:


You can do a couple of more things with multi-parameter waveshaping. The best known stuff for this are the Buchla Oscillators, but you get some interesting versions with the e.g. the Make Noise DPO or the Endorphin Furtherrrr . These are all double oscillators, so you CAN do FM etc., but I mention them here for the waveshaping.

An example for the Furtherrrr, waveshaping starts approx. 4 minutes in.


You can also do some stuff with audio rate crossfading, using several waveforms from the same oscillator. E.g. you use a crossfade that is controlled by the triangle shape and you feed it with a saw and a square. This get´s more interesting when you use frequency multiplying/dividing.

For a bit of additive fun you can always use frequency dividers and add/mix the outputs. You get a super stable source with varied harmonic content. Most frequency dividers output squares (and yes, you might call a square wave digital), some also do saws (Doepfer A-113). Obviously you could add further waveshaping to some of the outputs to get a triangle, a sine or a folded warped waveform and than mix and match or use nonlinear combinations (esp. ringmod) on the outputs. Since you only use one oscillator as an input the resulting waves can be pretty much constant through the full keyboard range.

The "problem" of all this: To get the full flexibility you need a bunch of VCAs. This will make variable waveshaping expensive, so you will probably rarely see it in fixed architecture synths. But it is starting to happen. E.g. the dominion and some of the Moog synths have continually variable waveshapes. They just morph between the standard shapes, but it´s a start.
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Normie ➡️
Strap an Eventide across those 4 waves and have your great grandkids get a hold of mine when they get through the first two of them after exhausting the possibilities.
I've just asked them and they're not keen
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #17
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing ➡️
The thing that's exciting me now is what Modal is doing with their dark magic they call "NCOs" These numerically controlled oscillators seem to have such high resolution as to be rendered with no perceptible aliasing what so ever. The result sounds, to me, like someone figured out how to make analog waveforms in the style of digital ones. Now, to me, I don't care if there's frogs inside creating the waveforms. If it's good it's good.
The idea is (probably) rather old. Once you need separate D/A-converter for each oscillator anyway, you might as well use a variable sample/conversion rate. This was (probably) done on the PPG Wave:

Wavetable oscillators
(scroll down a bit)

If you play e.g. at a 440 Hz Pitch/Frequency you can use any sample rate, that is a multiple of 880Hz and you will not get anharmonic aliasing. Let´s e.g. use 4.4 kHz. Nyquist frequency would be 2.2 kHz, so the the sixth overtone at 2.64 kHz would cause aliasing. Thanks to the custom sampling rate, it will however fold back to 1.76 kHz, which is exactly the 4th overtone of 440 Hz. You will therefore get a variation of the harmonic contend due to aliasing, but no anharmonics.

If you now want to play a note at 392 Hz (should be G), you would change the sampling rate to 1.96 kHz (or 2352 Hz) and you are fine again. It is quite cool.

The drawback: To do FM you would have to do a modulation of your clock speed. This is probably a lot more tricky than doing straight phase modulation.

You can work around this, if you have small integer multiples for frequencies and you do phasemodulation. In this case your sample rate should be an integer multiple of the greatest common divisor of your frequencies and you should be fine, since all harmonics in the resulting wave are multiples of that (if i didn´t mess up the math). BUT: fast envelopes for the modulation amount might reintroduce anharmonic aliasing...
Old 10th May 2015
  #18
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🎧 10 years
Well, for 20 years now there have been digi oscs in an analog architecture, vca vcf, producing good results.

But there is a lot you can do, both in your synth and with subsequent processing. Pulse width modulate a saw wave and audio rate modulate the filter and you're going to get some JACKED up waveforms. They're all just wiggles dude. Go make some music.
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #19
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing ➡️
The thing that's exciting me now is what Modal is doing with their dark magic they call "NCOs" These numerically controlled oscillators seem to have such high resolution as to be rendered with no perceptible aliasing what so ever.
A rose is a rose and an NCO is a DCO. Call it what you want. Perhaps Modal has a better implementation or maybe not. But there is no new technology or magic here.
Old 10th May 2015
  #20
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🎧 5 years
You wanted an analog, you got an analog... No guitar player complains that their instrument won't sound like an organ right?

Imho "analog synths" are over the years becoming a new classical instrument. The Two-osc-four-waveforms-substractive architecture is like the 6 strings guitar of its time. There are other types of guitars with this one being the most common.
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #21
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jallmodikon ➡️
You wanted an analog, you got an analog... No guitar player complains that their instrument won't sound like an organ right
I have an FX processor with a preset where the guitar sounds like an organ ... I guess at least one guitarist complained
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing ➡️
The thing that's exciting me now is what Modal is doing with their dark magic they call "NCOs"
It's hardly dark magic, it's just sampling where pitch change is done by varying the sample rate (rather than by varying the read pointer increment size), which is how it was always presented in introductory articles on sampling back in the day.

The OSCar had "NCO"s in 1983 for example, Chris Huggett just didn't feel the need to invent a name for them, probably because he didn't see them as anything special... after all, they're sampling 101.
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #23
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bald Eagle ➡️
A rose is a rose and an NCO is a DCO. Call it what you want. Perhaps Modal has a better implementation or maybe not. But there is no new technology or magic here.
Wait, i was under the impression that DCO's were basically analog oscillators but controlled digitally while NCO's are digital oscillators (controlled digitally).
Old 10th May 2015
  #24
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🎧 5 years
I, agree, lets hear a rhombus, or trapezoid wave, I'd settle for an octagon wave.
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #25
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Help! I've only got 3 colours of paint! What the hell am I supposed to do with that?
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by monomer ➡️
Wait, i was under the impression that DCO's were basically analog oscillators but controlled digitally while NCO's are digital oscillators (controlled digitally).
Correct, DCOs are digitally timed but analogue shaped. (Typically speaking that is, there are oscillator designs that blur boundaries, such as the EDP Wasp is a DCO but deriving its timing not from a fixed crystal oscillator like in a Juno, but actually from a VCO).

NCOs are just one way of implementing Digital Oscillators, and far from being a new invention are actually sampling 101. Your analogue chorus does the same thing, varies pitch by varying sample rate.

All Modal have done is invent a new name for their choice of digital oscillator, but from a marketing perspective I can understand it, because people have an unfortunate tendency to assume that all oscillators a certain moniker (be it DCOs, VCOs, Digital Oscillators, whatever) share certain characteristics, and the effects of aliasing on playback of a variable sample rate oscillator (what they call an NCO) are totally different to those of a fixed sample rate variable read step oscillator (the former is actually imaging and inherently harmonic, the latter enharmonic).
Old 10th May 2015 | Show parent
  #27
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Bald Eagle's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by monomer ➡️
Wait, i was under the impression that DCO's were basically analog oscillators but controlled digitally while NCO's are digital oscillators (controlled digitally).
You are basically correct... I was just making a general comment to make a point. I apologize, I should have clarified by statement.
Old 10th May 2015
  #28
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🎧 5 years
I was relieved to find out that my DSI Pro2 has "meh" and "super meh" waves. I'm going to start the meh-core genre with it.
Old 10th May 2015
  #29
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🎧 5 years
Good video showing analog continuous oscillators. Doesn't contradict the OPs discussion, but I find it interesting.

http://youtu.be/-ZHw7r2a1K4

(and please, excercise some internet self control and don't chime in on how you think Marc is a w*nker - it's quite annoying)
Old 10th May 2015
  #30
Deleted d3a268b
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Variable *ANALOG* VCO Waveshapes - As seen in Moog SUB 37 and Prophet 6 (etc). Just to add to the crowd who've already said it.
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