Sunday 3 January 2016

Sweeping wavetables using .WAVs

Previously I've blogged about 'Waivy', the simple swept wavetable glimpse into the forthcoming update to Waverne. 

Well, as I was playing with Waivy, it struck me that instead of fixing the wavetable with the carefully compiled fixed version that I'd included, it might be interesting to allow .WAVs to be used instead, and so 'Sweeper' was born. 

Simple and fun (and with free 'Frasier' references), Sweeper is a variation of my recent 'Waivy' plug-in, but adapted for use by those people who like to use their own .wavs instead of pre-compiled wavetables. 

Sweeper allows you to use the default wavetable (different to the one in Waivy, of course) or drop your own .WAVs onto the waveform display and then select the part of the waveform that looks interesting (and sounds interesting). The separate 'Wave' control allows finer selection, and the 'Sweep' control allows dynamic wavetable sweeps in real-time, as per various synthesizers of the past. 

Please note that M4L and Live are a little bit selective in their import of AIFFs, and so only .wavs can be used in this plug-in. (Sound of people converting AIFFs into WAVs...)

Also note that the obvious use: extracting waves from loops, turns out to be somewhat less than anywhere near as brilliant as I had hoped, so don't be disappointed. (Sound of people not converting AIIFs into WAVs...)

Because Sweeper is deliberately simple, the envelope is an 'AD' 'contour-like' shape, which isn't as limiting as you might expect, and remember that this is a preview! Also there isn't any filtering, which can make Sweeper a little brittle in sound, but this is easily overcome by adding a filter, and Ableton Live makes this very easy:

The 'Auto Filter' remains one of my favourite effects in Live, and in this case, it allows you to do more than just remove some of the harsh top-end, it also allows you to dynamically filter the output of Sweeper using the LFO. Adding all of this functionality into Sweeper would have made it much more complex, and when you can add 'Auto Filter'....

As always with early versions of my M4L devices, you may need to do some tweaking of settings to get the best results. In particular, the 'Wave' and 'Start' controls tend to interact and you may need to adjust them to get the wavetable sound you want, instead of a metallic buzzing. Alternatively, if you want nasty metallic buzzing, then Sweeper does it by accident too!

Anyways, as a free 'explore me!' plug-in, Sweeper has lots of scope for making some very nice sounds, plus some dreadful aliased sounds as well -  and which is which all depends on your taste...

Sweeper is available for download from

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