Os­cil­la­tor

Computer Music - - Make Music Now / Hands-on With Korg Electribe Wave -

The sin­gle wavetable os­cil­la­tor is sur­pris­ingly pow­er­ful, and in­cludes mul­ti­ple mod­i­fiers for ex­tend­ing the tonal range of the fac­tory waveta­bles. Above all, we should con­sider that ev­ery wavetable con­sists of mul­ti­ple waveform in­dices, so while sweep­ing it with an en­ve­lope or LFO pro­duces the hall­mark an­i­ma­tion ef­fects of wavetable syn­the­sis, you can also use in­di­vid­ual in­dex waves to serve as the ba­sis for a new sound – es­pe­cially in con­junc­tion with the Uni­son ameni­ties and Mod Types.

There are six dis­tinct Mod Types for ad­just­ing the tim­bre of any given wavetable, and each is unique. Let’s take a closer look at their ap­pli­ca­tions…

> SYNC

Synth vet­er­ans will recog­nise this op­tion as iden­ti­cal to ‘hard sync’ from many du­aloscil­la­tor ana­logue synths. Here, it im­parts a bright, flanger-like ef­fect that strongly em­pha­sises dis­crete har­mon­ics as the depth is swept or mod­u­lated.

> XMOD

Short for cross-mo­du­la­tion, Xmod serves as a form of bi-di­rec­tional FM when found on ana­logue synths. For new­com­ers, it may ap­pear chaotic and gritty at first, con­ceal­ing the ef­fect’s mu­si­cal po­ten­tial. To achieve more con­sis­tent tonal be­hav­iour, try set­ting the depth to 20, then use the fol­low­ing Mod Pitch val­ues: 45, 54, 64, 71, 83, 99, and 127. These will add har­monic com­plex­ity and a bit of de­tuned ‘beat­ing’, but will also work for harder leads and basses.

> VPM

Whether you call it Vari­able Phase Mo­du­la­tion or FM, the un­der­ly­ing ap­proach is the same. This Mod Type is per­fect for re­cre­at­ing vin­tage Yamaha sounds, es­pe­cially when com­bined with fac­tory wavetable #13 (Sin Boost). Here, set the depth to 40, then scan through the var­i­ous Har­mon­ics val­ues. You may be sur­prised by just how many recog­nis­able DX sounds you’ll end up en­coun­ter­ing!

> NAR­ROW

This squeezes the wavetable, re­plac­ing the x-axis with a zero-value flat line, let­ting you turn any wavetable into a pulse-like shape. The Depth knob con­trols the pulse-width here.

> RE­FLECT

This mode func­tions sim­i­larly to Serum’s Mir­ror Warp op­tion, and mod­i­fies the waveform ac­cord­ingly. The out­put is en­tirely de­pen­dent on the se­lected wavetable, but can be quite mu­si­cal and im­pres­sive when mod­u­lated.

> SUBOSC

This adds a tra­di­tional sub-os­cil­la­tor, based on a si­nu­soidal waveform that can be tuned to the fun­da­men­tal, an oc­tave or two be­low the main os­cil­la­tor. While it may be ob­vi­ous that this is ex­tremely help­ful for bass sounds, it’s also nice for adding body to waveta­bles that sound too bright and thin. Even with­out these ad­di­tional mo­du­la­tion tools, the raw waveta­bles of­fer a lot of power and flex­i­bil­ity, thanks to their abil­ity to be mod­u­lated by ei­ther the en­ve­lope or mo­du­la­tion gen­er­a­tors. That said, it’s cru­cial to note that all mo­du­la­tion is bipo­lar, with both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive depths avail­able from the sources. This means it’s pos­si­ble to set up en­velopes and LFOs that per­form coun­ter­in­tu­itively. A good rule of thumb when se­lect­ing waveta­bles is to keep your base in­dex po­si­tion at 50%, then grad­u­ally ap­ply mo­du­la­tion and watch the mo­tion of the wavetable as you make fur­ther ad­just­ments. This will help avoid ‘dead ranges’ in your mo­du­la­tion.

Uni­son

Un­like many soft­synths, the Electribe Wave’s uni­son sec­tion doesn’t im­pact CPU util­i­sa­tion too heav­ily. In fact, you can use mul­ti­ple in­stances of four-voice de­tun­ing with­out hit­ting the ceil­ing, as long as you’re on a rel­a­tively mod­ern iPad (Air 2 or higher is a good bench­mark for con­sis­tent per­for­mance).

Other than voice count, the two other pa­ram­e­ters are self-ex­plana­tory: De­tune and Spread, with Spread dis­tribut­ing the de­tuned voices across the stereo field.

Am­pli­fier and En­ve­lope Gen­er­a­tor

The Amp and EG sec­tions are quite ba­sic, with a choice between gate (in­stant at­tack, full sus­tain, and in­stant re­lease) or en­ve­lope mo­du­la­tion of the am­pli­fier. While there’s no ded­i­cated sus­tain level pa­ram­e­ter, when the de­cay pa­ram­e­ter is set to max­i­mum, it tog­gles on full sus­tain – ideal

for pads and swells that re­quire a soft­ened at­tack and longer re­lease, but can some­what limit the func­tion­al­ity of the en­ve­lope gen­er­a­tor for wavetable or fil­ter sweeps. For­tu­nately, the mo­du­la­tion gen­er­a­tor, as we’ll see later, off­sets this lim­i­ta­tion greatly. The Electribe Wave’s fil­ter is ex­traor­di­nar­ily straight­for­ward, with res­o­nant low-pass, high­pass and band­pass modes avail­able. Mo­du­la­tion can be ap­plied to the main en­ve­lope gen­er­a­tor, in ei­ther pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive amounts, but there’s no key­board track­ing for cut­off at the time of writ­ing.

By switch­ing the am­pli­fier to gate (no en­ve­lope), you can ap­ply cut­off mo­du­la­tion via the EG with­out af­fect­ing the vol­ume of your patch, which is use­ful when de­sign­ing basses, leads and TB-303-style sounds.

IFX/EQ

In ad­di­tion to syn­the­sis tools, ev­ery sound in­cludes ded­i­cated high- and low-shelv­ing EQ, plus an in­sert ef­fect. The broad ar­ray of ef­fects in­cludes nearly ev­ery com­mon pro­ces­sor you can think of, rang­ing from mo­du­la­tion (cho­rus, flange, en­sem­ble and phaser), sev­eral de­lays and re­verbs, and even com­pres­sion and dis­tor­tion ef­fects.

That said, there’s also an ar­ray of un­usual ef­fects that blur the line between syn­the­sis and pro­duc­tion tools. Pump is handy for EDM-es­que sidechain bounc­ing. Slicer is a go-to for au­to­gat­ing and chop­ping, while Grain Shifter is op­ti­mised for glitch tech­niques. On the syn­the­sis side, the Comb Fil­ter is good for flang­ing and mod­el­ling tricks, while Talk­ing Mod of­fers a cus­tomis­able for­mant fil­ter.

IFX pa­ram­e­ters can also be an­i­mated by Electribe Wave’s mod­u­la­tors…

Mo­du­la­tion Gen­er­a­tors

Electribe Wave’s dual Mo­du­la­tion Gen­er­a­tors have iden­ti­cal fea­tures, and can serve as ei­ther

COM­PUTER MU­SIC

LFOs or one-shot de­cay en­velopes, depend­ing on which waveform is se­lected. The first four op­tions come un­der the cat­e­gory of stan­dard fare – saw, square, tri­an­gle, and ran­dom (S&H) – while the last mode is a sim­ple saw-like ramp shape that will com­plete its cy­cle even af­ter the key is lifted, depend­ing on which LFO re­trig­ger type is se­lected.

What’s more, all of the LFO shapes can be mod­i­fied via each gen­er­a­tor’s Shape pa­ram­e­ter, which is bidi­rec­tional and de­liv­ers slightly dif­fer­ent re­sults based on the depth and po­lar­ity of its set­ting. Here’s a quick sum­mary of how each of them works in con­junc­tion with the Shape pa­ram­e­ter.

SAW­TOOTH

Neg­a­tive set­tings con­vert the saw­tooth from a down­wards ramp to an up­wards one, while pos­i­tive set­tings in­vert the waveform be­fore ap­ply­ing this trans­for­ma­tion.

> SQUARE

This op­tion func­tions as a clas­sic pulse-width mod­u­la­tor, let­ting you dial in rhyth­mic, gated, ‘on-off’ ef­fects, with the Shape pa­ram­e­ter de­ter­min­ing the du­ra­tion of the gate.

> TRI­AN­GLE

Pos­i­tive val­ues make the an­gles con­vex, while neg­a­tive of­fers a more con­cave, spiked waveform. If you’re look­ing to use a sine-like mo­du­la­tion shape, set­ting the Shape pa­ram­e­ter to its pos­i­tive max­i­mum will get you most of the way there.

> RAN­DOM

Both po­lar­i­ties ap­ply smooth­ing to the ran­domly stepped tran­si­tions. With ex­tremely slow LFO rates, ap­ply­ing a tiny bit of mo­du­la­tion to pitch, cut­off, or wavetable po­si­tion will sim­u­late ana­logue ‘drift’ and give your patches a more or­ganic flavour.

> ONE-SHOT

Since the app only of­fers up one en­ve­lope gen­er­a­tor for amp, cut­off, and wavetable po­si­tion, this op­tion is a true god­send. The Shape knob is in con­trol of the slope of the de­cay/re­lease, de­liv­er­ing tight, per­cus­sive ef­fects when it’s in com­bi­na­tion with an ex­po­nen­tial curve.

The Speed knob in­cludes a BPM sync but­ton, and a Key switch that tog­gles LFO phase re­set. When off, the LFO cy­cles con­tin­u­ously. Key 1 re­sets the LFO start with each voice, whereas Key 2 re­sets the LFO for all voices.

It’s cru­cial to keep the above pa­ram­e­ters in mind when work­ing with the ex­ten­sive rout­ing choices. In ad­di­tion to ex­pected des­ti­na­tions like pitch, cut­off fre­quency, amp, pan­ning – and of course, wavetable po­si­tion – there are three note­wor­thy tar­gets that of­fer dra­matic pos­si­bil­i­ties for tim­bral ma­nip­u­la­tion: IFX Edit1, IFX Edit2, and OSC Mod Depth.

The IFX mo­du­la­tion op­tions are stand­outs, as they let you morph un­usual ef­fect pa­ram­e­ters like dis­tor­tion amount, EQ set­tings, and ring mod fre­quency and/or bal­ance.

While those are clearly use­ful for an­i­mat­ing your patches, there are a few des­ti­na­tions that de­liver re­sults that aren’t eas­ily recre­ated via tra­di­tional syn­the­sis meth­ods.

Mo­du­lat­ing wet/dry bal­ance is an ex­cel­lent trick for re­verbs. Start by set­ting the bal­ance to 100% dry, then ap­ply a tempo-synced down­ward ramp saw­tooth with Key 2 re­trig­ger­ing the LFO. This tech­nique gives rhyth­mi­cally-pulsed re­verb washes that turn into cloud-like tonal clus­ters, be­com­ing more dense as you play. The Clus­ter Pulse pre­set in Korg’s At­mo­spheric pre­set pack demon­strates this ef­fect. Re­verb is just one pos­si­bil­ity for rhyth­mic wet/dry mo­du­la­tion; the Grain Shifter is an­other great can­di­date, as are cer­tain de­lays.

Other pow­er­ful op­tions in­clude mo­du­lat­ing the slicer (ap­ply mo­du­la­tion to hold time for syn­co­pated ef­fects), dec­i­ma­tor (try a slow tri­an­gle wave on the fre­quency pa­ram­e­ter), or comb fil­ter fre­quency (for a highly con­trolled flanger ef­fect). An­i­mat­ing ei­ther of the Talk­ing Mod’s pa­ram­e­ters is handy for vo­cal tricks à la Daft Punk.

Drums

The Electribe Wave also in­cludes an x0x-style drum ma­chine with up to eight sam­pled drums, in­clud­ing two mono­phonic choke groups (A and B) for con­vinc­ing hi-hat be­hav­ior. While the pri­mary drum pa­ram­e­ters are ba­sic – de­cay (or gate Time), Pitch, Level, and Re­verse – the in­clu­sion of in­de­pen­dent IFX inserts on ev­ery drum ex­tends its flex­i­bil­ity im­mensely. Since this ar­ray of ef­fects is ba­si­cally the same as those in the synth en­gine, here’s a quick guide to set­ting up the inserts on a de­fault kit for a pro­fes­sional sound.

KICK AND SNARE

Com­pres­sion, lim­it­ing, and dis­tor­tion are ob­vi­ous choices for adding punch to these core el­e­ments, but the real gold can be found in Korg’s own Valve Force tube em­u­la­tion, which adds im­pres­sive im­pact and pres­ence.

TOMS

While ap­ply­ing the same pro­ces­sors as kick/ snare will also beef up your toms, these drums of­ten ben­e­fit from a touch of re­verb, es­pe­cially if you’re go­ing for an 80s or rock vibe.

HI-HATS

If you just want your hats to sit nicely in a mix, the high-pass (HPF) ef­fect is a great way to shave off un­nec­es­sary lows that can add au­dio clut­ter. Al­ter­nately, you can crib a page from Gior­gio Moroder and add a flanger or phaser for in­stant retro flair.

TOP PER­CUS­SION

Tam­bourines and shak­ers also ben­e­fit from the same pro­cess­ing as hats, but if you like their orig­i­nal flavour, con­sider adding auto-pan­ning to these in­stru­ments. Note that if you’re ap­ply­ing auto-pan to mul­ti­ple el­e­ments, be sure to give each part a dif­fer­ent rate and depth so they don’t lock into the same po­si­tion as they move across the stereo field.

TUNED PER­CUS­SION, SYNTH HITS, AND SOUND EF­FECTS

This is re­ally up to your per­sonal aes­thetic, with the only sug­ges­tion be­ing to use de­lay, echo, and re­verb with re­straint. Adding echoes to too many per­cus­sion el­e­ments in­stead of en­hanc­ing just one or two can make a mix too dense. While it may sound cool when you’ve got an in­stru­ment soloed, be sure to check these ef­fects in the con­text of your full mix.

As for the drums them­selves, Korg added user sam­ple im­port as of ver­sion 2, so if you al­ready have a size­able col­lec­tion of drum hits – or want to dig into your desk­top DAW li­brary for favourites – the process for im­port­ing sounds is well-doc­u­mented in the man­ual and rel­a­tively pain­less. Or­gan­i­sa­tion is the key here.

Mixer

The Mixer panel lets you see all el­e­ments at once, with faders for each, mak­ing it easy to dial in a co­her­ent fi­nal prod­uct. That said, the MFX (mas­ter ef­fects) are global and switch­able – but not ad­justable – for each track. Ac­cord­ingly, you’ll want to se­lect a mas­ter ef­fect that en­hances the end mix as a whole. For punchy dance tracks, try the com­pres­sion tools or a tiny bit of Valve Force. For more nu­anced mu­sic, adding a very small amount of room or hall re­verb can work won­ders to ‘glue’ your pro­duc­tion to­gether be­fore ren­der­ing.

Speak­ing of ren­der­ing and ex­port­ing, Electribe Wave also of­fers the abil­ity to con­vert your pro­ject to Able­ton Live for­mat, let­ting you be­gin a com­po­si­tion on the road and bring it back to your stu­dio for fin­ish­ing touches. For Live users, this is a huge plus, and adds tremen­dous value to the app.

As well as some great waveta­bles, the os­cil­la­tor has ded­i­cated en­ve­lope mo­du­la­tion for scan­ning in­dices, and you can fur­ther mod­ify the wave with one of six Mod Types

While the Electribe Wave’s en­ve­lope is sim­ple, turn­ing de­cay to max­i­mum ac­ti­vates full sus­tain, for pads and swells

The Uni­son func­tions al­low stack­ing, de­tun­ing, and spread­ing of four voices, for ex­tremely thick tex­tures

The res­o­nant mul­ti­mode fil­ter of­fers low, high and band­pass modes for cus­tomis­ing os­cil­la­tor out­put A Mo­du­la­tion Gen­er­a­tor’s waveform can be shaped, or be­come an en­ve­lope when flipped to one-shot mode Ev­ery synth sound in­cludes its own IFX (in­sert ef­fect), plus a two-band equaliser for bass and tre­ble shap­ing The six Mod Types in­clude sev­eral meth­ods for trans­form­ing a wavetable’s char­ac­ter

The ded­i­cated Mixer page gives you com­pre­hen­sive con­trol over level, pan, mute/solo and FX on/off Each of the eight sam­pled drums in­cludes its own in­sert ef­fect, which de­liv­ers pro­fes­sional re­sults in mix­downs

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