Sunday 23 March 2014

Wavetables as sound effect sources

I've always been a fan of wavetables. The direct relationship between a block of memory holding waveform information and the resulting sound is useful in lots of ways, particularly if you go beyond the basic 'linear read'.

Previously, I've released some of my early experimentation in M4L with wavetables, and the latest revision is now available: Wavetable Sound Effects 0v04. (from Compared to the previous versions, there are more wavetables, more control over the scanning through the table, and a better user interface that makes it very clear where the LFOs are and what they do. Each wavetable is just 2 seconds in length, but the sound making possibilities are much wider than this might suggest.
As usual with most devices, start off by turning the LFO modulation levels down to zero. In this case there are three: Vibrato for frequency modulation, Rangato (range-ato) for the modulation of the range of table scanning, and Timbrato (timbre-ato) for the modulation of the centre of the table scan. Once you are familiar with the basic operation, then you can return to the LFO modulation and explore how it affects the sound.

Basic operation centres around the main controls, which are in the dark backgrounded area. The Table selection chooses between ten very different sets of audio files (hand-crafted from scratch in Audacity). The Start and Finish controls adjust the region of the wavetable that will be scanned and turned into audio, and the triangle sets the centre of the region - if the white area is outside of the window, then nothing happens (the limits are hard-coded), so there's no need to explore what happens if you do this.

The Freq (uency) control sets the rate at which the region is scanned and thus turned into audio, and the High/Low button on the right controls how quickly this happens. underneath the Freq control is the Shift control, which enables the output pitch to be changed independently of the scanning rate. The sound sometimes vanishes if you set the Shift control too high, so explore the left hand side of the dial first...

The Range control provides more scanning control, and the indicator bar next to it shows the total modulation being applied to the scanner.

That's about it really. Explore and enjoy!
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