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Understanding waves

How to make that sound...

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KVRer
 
9 posts since 30 Mar, 2013

Postby IDZERO; Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:50 am Understanding waves

Hello guys, I've been producing for a while already. I have never learned the differences of a sine, saw, triangle, etc. I recently had a friend of mine that told me that not learning them keeps me back from making a lot of sounds & understanding other producers sounds. I constantly see people on the forum saying "That's a sine wave." I don't understand how these people know what they all sound like. So that's what I would love to learn. If anyone could help me & show me a way to learn how to know what type of wave a synth/sound is. I would really appreciate this. Thank you very much!! :)

mod edit - moved to Sound Design forum
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KVRAF
 
8919 posts since 12 Mar, 2012, from South Bavaria - near the alps... :-)

Postby Tricky-Loops; Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:10 am Re: Understanding waves

You could try MOscillator by Meldaproduction, it's included in the free bundle. Simply choose a waveform and listen to it. Unlike other complex synthesizers where always some modulations and effects are going on, with MOscillator you can hear the raw waveforms, but you can also modulate them. That way you hear the differences and you learn how to combine them...

http://www.meldaproduction.com/plugins/product.php?id=MOscillator

Here's an interesting tutorial which explains the waveforms and many other stuff:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1997_articles/jun97/synthschool1.html
KVRer
 
9 posts since 30 Mar, 2013

Postby IDZERO; Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:16 am Re: Understanding waves

Tricky-Loops wrote:You could try MOscillator by Meldaproduction, it's included in the free bundle. Simply choose a waveform and listen to it. Unlike other complex synthesizers where always some modulations and effects are going on, with MOscillator you can hear the raw waveforms, but you can also modulate them. That way you hear the differences and you learn how to combine them...

http://www.meldaproduction.com/plugins/product.php?id=MOscillator

Here's an interesting tutorial which explains the waveforms and many other stuff:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1997_articles/jun97/synthschool1.html


Wow man! Thanks a lot! Really appreciate it! :D
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KVRAF
 
10228 posts since 18 Jun, 2008, from Melbourne, Australia
 

Postby ZenPunkHippy; Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:26 am Re: Understanding waves

You need to spend some time listening to the raw output of a single oscillator, without any additional processing (filters, effects etc.). This is how you do it:

1. Initialise a synth so that no preset is active, and choose "sine wave" for the oscillator type
- make sure the filter is open
- make sure all effects are turned off
- make sure that only a single oscillator is active

2. Play and hold a single note
- repeat this for different notes + octaves
- only play 1 note at a time

3. Listen to the tone of the sound coming from your speakers

Now repeat these steps using each of the following instead of a Sine wave:
- Saw wave
- Square wave
- Triangle wave

You will hear a distinct different between each type of wave:

- a saw wave is brighter
- a square wave sounds hollow
- a Triangle is sounds dull
- a sine wave sounds boring (no additional harmonics)

The reason each wave sounds different is because each one contains a set of harmonics or partials related to the root note.

Once you understand the basic differences in character you will find it easier to combine waves (using multiple oscillators) to create more interesting sounds.

Once you've got this down, a basic understanding of how waves interact is useful i.e. adding the same 2 waves of opposite phase will cancel each other out, resulting in silence. When multiple complex wave forms are combined these cancellations create interesting effects.

Peace,
Andy.
KVRer
 
9 posts since 30 Mar, 2013

Postby IDZERO; Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:38 am Re: Understanding waves

ZenPunkHippy wrote:You need to spend some time listening to the raw output of a single oscillator, without any additional processing (filters, effects etc.). This is how you do it:

1. Initialise a synth so that no preset is active, and choose "sine wave" for the oscillator type
- make sure the filter is open
- make sure all effects are turned off
- make sure that only a single oscillator is active

2. Play and hold a single note
- repeat this for different notes + octaves
- only play 1 note at a time

3. Listen to the tone of the sound coming from your speakers

Now repeat these steps using each of the following instead of a Sine wave:
- Saw wave
- Square wave
- Triangle wave

You will hear a distinct different between each type of wave:

- a saw wave is brighter
- a square wave sounds hollow
- a Triangle is sounds dull
- a sine wave sounds boring (no additional harmonics)

The reason each wave sounds different is because each one contains a set of harmonics or partials related to the root note.

Once you understand the basic differences in character you will find it easier to combine waves (using multiple oscillators) to create more interesting sounds.

Once you've got this down, a basic understanding of how waves interact is useful i.e. adding the same 2 waves of opposite phase will cancel each other out, resulting in silence. When multiple complex wave forms are combined these cancellations create interesting effects.

Peace,
Andy.


Really helpful, thanks a lot. Really appreciate it! Have a great day! :D
KVRist
 
497 posts since 14 Feb, 2006, from Berkeley, CA

Postby Winstontaneous; Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:46 pm Re: Understanding waves

Great suggestions here!

You may also want to get an oscilloscope plugin like this, that lets you view waveforms in real time. You'll see where the waves get their names, and you can understand concepts like "Pulse Width Modulation" of square waves much more easily.

As ZenPunkHippy mentions above, a sine wave has no additional harmonics - only one fundamental frequency. This has a number of practical consequences -- sine waves with a fundamental below a loudspeakers' bass cutoff disappear completely; and individual sine waves are essentially unaffected by filters set above/below the fundamental frequency.
User avatar
KVRAF
 
4315 posts since 20 Jul, 2010
 

Postby Sendy; Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:54 pm Re: Understanding waves

In addition to looking at oscilloscopes to see the time-domain (waveshape) of an oscillator, also watch the sound on a spectrograph, sometimes called a waterfall display or spectrogram. This shows a fourier analysis of the sound's components, with bass on the bottom, treble on top, and time moving to the right. The subject of fourier analysis is also quite important to understanding how we hear sound, though you only need to know the basics, and there are lots of good fourier tutorials floating around the web.

From this you can see things that are hard to deduce from the waveform - you see the even harmonics that are in a saw are missing in the square, you see that notes that are consonant have harmonics (which will show as horizontal lines) that line up with eachother (the more that line up, the less discordant it is), you can see the effect of filters and FM very clearly - it really helped me understand FM in particular. You can see the interference patterns in PWM and how very narrow pulses almost act like they're being highpass filtered and phased.

If you can, have the oscilloscope and the spectrograph rolling at the same time, every time you experiment with synths. Try looking at your favourite music this way, as well. For me it was a revelation.
http://sendy.bandcamp.com/releases < My new album at Bandcamp!
KVRer
 
9 posts since 30 Mar, 2013

Postby IDZERO; Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:22 pm Re: Understanding waves

I highly appreciate the help from all you guys! Thank you so much! :D
User avatar
KVRAF
 
8919 posts since 12 Mar, 2012, from South Bavaria - near the alps... :-)

Postby Tricky-Loops; Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:53 am Re: Understanding waves

IDZERO wrote:I highly appreciate the help from all you guys!
Sendy is a gal, can't you see it on her wave form?! :x :lol:

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