Anatomy of a synth

Now let’s look at Clearsynth and understand few of those knobs and buttons.

Guess what? We already know what some of them are! Look at the UI of Clearsynth below. It has several panels (boxes) that hold knobs and buttons.

Which of these panels are familiar?

Yes. Oscillators and Filters. We have learnt about them in previous posts.

Notice that the Oscillators panel has two sub-panels. As the panel name says, they are Oscillators 1 and 2. This means that there are two sound sources that are generating the raw sound. For now, let’s focus on Osc 1: the sub-panel on the left.

Among the four buttons you see in this panel, select the very first button. Leave the octave knob as it is.

Since we are ignoring Osc 2 for now, we need to turn it off, to make sure sounds from it do not affect the final sound. For this, we’ll use the “Mix” panel in the middle.

The knob here decides how much of sound from each oscillator will be sent to the filter. If the knob is turned to the middle exactly, then both Osc 1 and Osc 2 will have equal volume. To turn Osc 2 off, turn the knob all the way to the left. Also, make sure you turn off the sync button. I’ll be talking about this button later.

Now, go to the Filter panel. Turn the cutoff knob all the way to the right, and the res knob all the way to the left. I’ll be explaining these later too, but essentially what we are doing here is turning off the filter, so that it does not affect the sound in any way. This way, the sound you’ll hear is the raw unfiltered sound from Oscillator 1.

When you are done with the changes, ClearSynth should look like this:

Play some notes and observe what you hear. You’ll be hearing a smooth tone. Somewhat like a telephone beeping sound.

Now, select the other three button in the Osc 1 panel, and hear the sounds. Notice the characteristics of each sound.

As you must have guessed by now, these are 4 types of sounds generated by the oscillator. The oscillator here is capable of producing 4 types of waveforms.

  1. Sine wave
  2. Saw wave
  3. Triangle wave
  4. Square wave

The squiggly lines on the buttons are actually how the waveform looks. Each waveform has a charecteristic sound that you’ve just heard. When you program the synth, you get to choose the sound that Osc 1 makes, by selecting one of these buttons.

Well… congratulations! You’ve already learnt to make 4 sounds from Clearsynth! To be honest, there is no subtractive synthesis happening yet, as we’ve turned off the filter, and we’re hearing the oscillator sound directly. We’ll do some sound chiselling in the next post.

Note: The four sounds you’ve just generated are also available as presets.  In the list, they must be the first 4 presets, immediately after the default preset. The presets have the same name as the waveform.Load them if you’re having trouble with the steps above, or if you just want to check them out.


0 Responses to “Anatomy of a synth”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email to subscribe and receive email notifications when new tutorials are available.

Join 85 other followers


Blog Stats

  • 82,876 hits

%d bloggers like this: