Version 1 Oscillators

 

(Many thanks to John Cooper at PlanetZ for allowing me to swipe the pictures used here (and many others) from his site. Thanks again to Paul van Der Valk for his advice and proofreading of this page.)

 

(NB: There are different versions of most Oscillators, with more or less functionality, which in turn use more or less DSP power. Nearly all Oscillators offer versions with various levels of pitch modulation.)

 

The conventions used by Creamware in naming the v1 oscillators are as follows:

M1 - Oscillators with the M1 suffix have an exponential pitch modulation input.

M2 - Oscillators with the M2 suffix have 2 pitch mod inputs - one exponential and one linear.

Oscillators with no such suffix have no Pitch mod inputs.

See here for further explanations on Pitch Mod and the difference between exponential & linear modification.

 

The percentages shown with each Oscillator type represent the percentage of one Sharc chip that one voice of each module uses.

 

Basic Oscillators

The Pulse, Sine, Saw and Square oscillators are the most basic of the Oscillator modules, distinguished, as their name suggests by the different shape of the waveform they generate. 

This sample (128k) will give you some idea of the difference between these wave forms. It is a short pattern played in a basic Multi Oscillator patch, scrolling through the Sine, Saw, Saw Up and Square waves.

(In this 'pure' form the difference between Saw Up & Saw Down is not noticeable.)

In very, very general terms, sawtooth waves are useful for brass and string sounds, square waves good for woody sounds such as clarinets, and pulse waves good for reedier instruments like oboes & bassoons.

 

Each basic Oscillator has controls for Fine and Coarse tuning, the Pulse Oscillators are further distinguished by having an Input for a Modulation source for the Pulse Width.

As with the other Oscillators, there are different types of each of the modules according to their Modulation possibilities.

 

See here for an explanation of Pulse Width Modulation.

 

Pulse Oscillator (4.6%)

Basic Pulse Oscillator, with input for Pulse Width Modulation source

Pulse Oscillator M1 (7.2%)

As above, but with an input for a Pitch Mod source

Pulse Oscillator M2 (8%)

As above, but with two inputs for Pitch Mod sources - one exponential, one linear

Saw Oscillator (3.5%)

Basic Saw Oscillator

Saw Oscillator M1 (6.2%)

As above, but with an input for a Pitch Mod source

Saw Oscillator M2 (7%)

As above, but with two inputs for Pitch Mod sources - one exponential, one linear

Sine Oscillator (2.1%)

Basic Sine operator

Sine Oscillator M1(5.8%)

As above, but with an input for an Exponential Pitch Mod source

Sine Oscillator M2 (6.6%)

As above, but with two inputs for Pitch Mod sources - one exponential, one linear

Square Oscillator (3.2%)

Basic Square Wave Oscillator

Square Oscillator M1 (5.8%)

As above, but with an input for an Exponential Pitch Mod source

Square Oscillator M2 (6.6%)

As above, but with two inputs for Pitch Mod sources - one exponential, one linear

Multi Oscillators

These are modules which allow you to choose between any of the above Oscillators' wave shapes. Very useful when initially designing a patch, but more heavy on DSP usage, so once you've decided on a single Oscillator type to use it is best to replace the Multi Osc with one of the Single Oscillator modules above. However, you may want to be able to switch between different Oscillators for different presets, in which case you would retain use of this module.

Multi Oscillator (4.9%)

Offers each type of Oscillator from the group above - Sine, Triangle, Saw Up, Saw Down, Pulse, with Pulse Width Mod input.

Multi Oscillator M1 (7.2%)

As above, but with an input for Exponential Pitch Modulation.

Multi Oscillator M2 (7.8%)

As above, but with an input for Exponential & Linear Pitch Modulation.

Multi Oscillator Noise (4.5%)

All the basic Wave types + Noise.

Multi Oscillator M1 Noise (8.6%)

As above, but with an input for Exponential Pitch Modulation

Multi Oscillator M2 Noise (8.5%)

As above, but with an input for Exponential & Linear Pitch Modulation.

Others

White Noise  (0.7%)

Produces White Noise

Pink Noise (1.9%)

Produces Pink Noise

White and Pink Noise  (2.6%)

Produces White and Pink noise through separate outputs.

Super Noise (8.2%)

A deluxe noise generator with multi-mode filter and envelope generator.

The Filter Mode can be set for low/high/band-pass (or "by-pass" with the Thru setting). 

The Cutoff control sets the filter cutoff or peak frequency. 

The filter cutoff can be made to track keyboard position by connecting the Note input to the corresponding MVC module output. 

The modulation depth and polarity can be trimmed via the Kbd Track control.

The filter cutoff or the amplifier or both at once can be modulated by the envelope. 

FM Operator  (3.5%)

A sine oscillator module with linear pitch modulation inputs and other features to optimize them for FM synthesis. 

FM Synthesis is the technique of using one audio-frequency signal to modulate the frequency of another. 

Read a good introduction to FM Synthesis from Sound on Sound here and here 

EG In can be used to modify the Gain using the output of an Envelope Generator. 

The Mod inputs accept outputs from other sources for Frequency Modulation.

FM Operator FB (3.8%)

As, above, but with the additional ability to create an operator feedback loop - one or more oscillators each modulating the other

U KNOW Oscillator (%)

Used in the Uknow 007 synth, this oscillator actually consists of three oscillators: a pulse oscillator with variable pulse width, a sawtooth oscillator, and a square wave sub-oscillator.

U KNOW Oscillator M1

As above, but with an input for Exponential Pitch Modulation

U KNOW Oscillator M2

As above, but with an inputs for Linear & Exponential Pitch Modulation

WAV Oscillator V1 (3.8%)

Allows you to load up your own samples for use as Oscillators. Allows for fine-tuning of sample, setting of Hi & Lo keyboard ranges.

Waldorf Oscillator (5.1%)

Designed for the Pulsar by Waldorf, this Oscillator incorporates the Waldorf Wavetables for extremely versatile sound creation. See the Waldorf Wavetable manual here for more details.

Waldorf Osc M2 (7.2%)

As above but with input for Linear & Exponential Pitch Mod.

Sync Oscillators

The following are versions of  the regular Oscillators above, but with SyncMaster or SyncSlave variants. The SyncMaster supplies a signal that adjusts the waveform of the SyncSlave to restart with each new SyncMaster cycle.

Normally you would connect the Sync Out of a SyncMaster to the Sync In of the slave(s). Then use a pitch modifier (see under Modifiers) to modulate the pitch of the slave(s) using any modulation signal.

The naming conventions of these modules are as follows:

xxx SyncOsc denotes an xxx Oscillator with a Sync IN input, unless it's a Uknow Oscillator, in which case it's called Uknow SSO

MSO denotes an Oscillator with a Sync Out Output. 

Don't ask me why the Uknow Sync Osc's are named differently! 

In version 1, only the Uknow OSc has a Sync Out variant. In version 2, many more Oscillators have this variant.

Pulse SyncOsc

As Pulse Osc, but with Sync IN

Pulse SyncOsc M1

As Pulse Osc M1, but with Sync IN

Pulsar SyncOsc M2

As Pulse Osc m2, but with Sync IN

Saw SyncOsc

As Saw Osc, but with Sync IN

Saw SyncOsc M1

As Saw Osc M1 but with Sync IN

Saw SyncOsc M2

As Saw Osc M2, but with Sync IN

Sine SyncOsc

As Sine Osc, but with Sync IN

Sine SyncOsc M1

As Sine Osc M1, but with Sync IN

Sine SyncOsc M2

As Sine Osc M2, but with Sync IN

U KNOW MSO

As Uknow Osc, but with Sync OUT

U KNOW MSO M1

As Uknow Osc M1, but with Sync OUT
As Uknow Osc M2, but with Sync OUT

U KNOW SSO

As Uknow OSC, but with Sync IN 

U KNOW SSO M1

As Uknow Osc M1, but with Sync IN

U KNOW SSO M2

As Uknow Osc M2, but with Sync IN 

Pitch Modulation 

What is the difference between Linear & Exponential Pitch Mod?

Look at these two graphs. The first shows a linear increase over time - ie the value (whatever it may be, it doesn't really matter for this example) increases in a straight line - the rate of increase remains the same all the time

.

The second graph shows an Exponential increase over time. The rate of increase is increasing, towards infinity (but not beyond, unlike Buzz Lightyear !)

If we are modulating the pitch of a sound, chosing Linear or Exponential will determine whether the change in pitch follows either of these types of increase. For example, if we modify the pitch by connecting the Note Out of an MVC to the Pitch Mod IN, if we choose linear then the increase in pitch will be constant all the way up the keyboard, whereas if we use exponential Pitch Mod then as we get higher up the keyboard the gap between each successive key will get progressively higher.

Listen to these examples (not very interesting, I know, but they serve their purpose):

nomod.mp3 (60k) plays a simple scale with no Pitch Mod.

linmod12.mp3 (60k) is the same scale but with Pitch Mod modulated linearly by Note value, with the modulation set at 12 O'clock. The scale is 'flattened out' (ie, less gap between each note) but the gap between each note is the same.

expmodmax.mp3 (60k) is the same scale but with Pitch Mod modulated exponentially by Note value, with the modulation set at its maximum value. The gap between each note now gets greater as you go up the scale.

A practical use of pitch mod might be to modulate the pitch of a percussive sound with velocity so that the harder you hit the note, the higher the resulting pitch.

So why do we need two types of Pitch Mod, one linear, one exponential?

I'll let Paul van der Valk take over the story:

"Pitch is not linear. If a given tone is at 100 Hz, then the next octave is 200 Hz. The octave after that is 400, thus non-linear (300 Hz would be linear). We perceive pitch changes in relation to this logscale. A quarter tone in octave A is still a quartertone in octave B, even if the interval measured in Hz is different for both octaves.

Log pitch modulation is thus 'linear to the ear' and considered 'normal'. The linear modulation modulates in Hz. This is less 'musical', because at higher frequencies the modulation becomes less effective. But it is useful for stuff like equal detuning. Normally (log), if you detune two oscilators at 1Hz middle C, they will be detuned at 2 Hz in the next octave. With the lin pitch modifier you can get an equal detune effect independent of pitch."

Pulse Width Modulation

The Square Oscillator and the Pulse Oscillator are closely related to each other - the Pulse Operator generates a wave whose shape is Square when the Modulation is zero (12 O'clock) but whose Pulse Width is modulated by the Modulation input.

Look at this diagram - At 50% we have a Square or Block wave. The other settings produce waves where the pulse width is 'stretched' or 'squashed'.

If we take our basic Multi Osc patch from the first page of the Modular Synth description section and add a simple sine LFO to it, we can easily hear this in action.

You can see that we're just modifying the Pulse width using the LFO:

 and here (120k) you can hear the change as the rate of the LFO with is altered with a footpedal. Hear how the change in rate of the LFO alters the character of the sound.

Some more notes from Paul van der Valk:

- the range from 0..50% sounds the same as 50..100% . A 40% pulse sounds the same as a 60%. In the picture you can see that the 25% and 75% are about equal, only reversed in the y-ax. But you don't hear whether something is positive or negative, only that it is a certain distance from the 0-ax.

- for this reason some (most?) implementations of pulse oscilators don't go from full 0..100% but only from 0..50 or 50..100.

- when the ratio nears 100% (or 0%) it becomes so thin that it becomes unaudible. A pure 0 or 100% pulse is in fact a DC offset.

- the pulsar pulse oscilators go from 50 to roughly 90%. You can't turn the pulse width that far away so that it 'disappears'.

Back to Top

Back to Modular Synth Page

Back to Home page