Join J. Scott Giaquinta for an in-depth discussion in this video Oscillators and waveforms, part of Up and Running with ABSYNTH 5.
- Next we're going to dive into the oscillator and waveform sections of ABSYNTH. This, like much of ABSYNTH, is pretty deep. But don't worry, we're going to cover the basics here so that you have a good understanding of how it all works by the time we're finished. So let's start by creating a new patch. So first let's click on the Patch tab here at the top. This is the heart of ABSYNTH where you can add oscillators, filters, modulation, wave shapers, et cetera. You'll see that ABSYNTH has one oscillator module activated with the sign wave loaded.
Let's play it. (piano notes) So let me explain what the rest of this stuff is here. First is the menu at the top where you can pick from Single, Double, and a list of other stuff. Right now it's set to Single, which means it's playing a single waveform. Below that is the menu where you can choose from different Simple Waveforms. You'll see that there are a bunch of them. There is Sawtooth, Squares, and so on and so forth. You'll eventually want to go through each of them to see how they sound. Let's pick a few different ones and see what they sound like.
(techno music notes) All right, below that is a menu that says Trans. That's short for transposition. If you click on that, it has three other options: Ratio, Hertz, and Note. These are all different modes of transposition that you can choose from. Right now we're just going to keep it at Trans for simplicity's sake. To the right of this is where you tune your oscillator. Now I'm not a huge fan of this myself, but the guys over at NI have decided that you can't click and drag on the value itself to change it in ABSYNTH.
Instead, they've given you these three little diamonds that you have to click on and drag in order to change the value. The one to the left works in semi-tones, and the ones to the right work in synths, at least when the menu to the left is set to trans. This, of course, will change if you have it set to anything else. You'll have to play with it to get a feel for it. So let's play with the tuning. (varying sounds) You can also type in an absolute value. Let's just set it back to zero.
Below that is Phase. This little button inverts the phase 180 degrees. Then you can set other values of it here. It doesn't really do a whole lot when you're playing with just a simple sign wave. It's definitely more pronounced when you start getting into more advanced synthesis. (music tone) Set it to 90. See, doesn't really make much of a difference here. So moving on, the tab to the right here is the Unison tab. This is where you can tell the oscillator to play multiple voices at once.
So let's set it to eight, and let's see what it sounds like. (musical tone) Then you can adjust the tuning and randomness of the way each voice plays by changing these values here. (musical tones) Okay, so this is where it starts to get a little more complicated. If we set this from Single to Double, that means the oscillator is playing two waves at once. When you select that, you'll see this Mod tab become unmuted.
This is where you'll select the second waveform, but the oscillator will play in tandem with the first. It has the exact same settings as the first page, so let's make some changes. (music tone) Let's choose Sawtooth. (buzzing noises) That's why I don't like those diamonds, they're hard to dial in sometimes. (musical tones) Okay, so let's start over with a new patch again.
Now I'm going to show you some of the waveform options. To the right of the Simple Waves, right here, are the Morph Waves. These are a little more complex in nature, but still pretty simple waveforms. So let's go through a few of those and see what they sound like. (musical tones) Now I'm going to show you something that I think is a pretty cool feature of ABSYNTH. You can draw in your own waveform by going here and clicking new, which brings up a Waveform Editor. You'll see that the Wave tab is highlighted here at the top.
This gives you a few different tools to draw in your own waveform. So let's play around. (musical tone) So let's draw in some different points here. (musical tones) You'll notice also that you can listen in real time as you're modifying the waveform. (buzzing noises) Super cool. So after you've found something that you like, you can click on Patch here at the top to go back to the oscillator view.
I shall also point out here that what I just showed you with oscillator one applies to oscillators two and three here at the right. All you got to is click them to engage them and turn them on. So anything that you do to one, you can do to two and three. They're all identical. Another thing to point out is that you can control the volume of each channel by using the slider down here at the bottom. (buzzing noise) Also, be aware of this tiny little button down here in the bottom left hand corner.
This changes the channel from Mono to Stereo. It defaults to mono when you create a new patch, but let's go ahead and change it to Stereo. You'll see when I do this a small black box appears below the volume slider, which allows you to change the pan position of each channel. (buzzing noise) There you go. That's the very fundamental basis of how oscillators and waveforms work in ABSYNTH. Make sure to experiment here and try some of your own stuff.
Remember, these are just the basic building blocks of your sound, so don't get frustrated or give up too easily if you're getting something that you don't like at first. There is so much more in this synth that will help you sculpt your sound into something way cooler.