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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Electribe Wave’s dual Modulation Generators have identical features, and can serve as either
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.
Negative settings convert the sawtooth from a downwards ramp to an upwards one, while positive settings invert the waveform before applying this transformation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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