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Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

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Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby BillB » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:09 pm

So, with the release of Korg’s wavestate, this would seem like a good time to clarify all these wave-thingies.

What are the key differences between the hardware ‘wave’ synths?

Ensoniq transwave (VFX ...SQ1... TS12 .... Fizmo)
PPG Wave, Microwave
Korg WaveStation (and Wavestate
Waldorf Blofeld
And more... Access Virus TI, Prophet X, Nord Wave.... others?
Novation Peak, Summit, Ultranova, MiniNova...

Are they all doing essentially similar things, or are there some distinct techniques being applied which result in unique textures being available?

I understand that Vector synths (Prophet VS, Yamaha SY22/33) cross-fade between sound sources and, whilst this results in changing textures, it is quite different to outputting or morphing through a sequence of waves.

There is a good SOS advice article here from our lovely Hollowsun, but it only goes so far, and looks at the main digital synth techniques.
https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advi ... -synthesis
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby desmond » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:43 pm

Also, "Wave table" seems to be a phrase that can mean many different things, depending on the product, it can mean digital oscillators with a selection of waves, or it can mean an oscillator that takes a table of multiple waves that you can sweep/modulate through in realtime.

Vector Synthesis (SCI VS, Korg) was just the mixing of up to four sources under envelope control.

Wave sequencing (Korg) was the ability to define a list of waves/samples, together with other parameters like duration, pitch, looping etc, which an oscillator could play through.

Transwaves, and the Microwave/PPG stuff tend to be variations on the sweepable wavetable approach, sometimes machines would corssfade, sometimes there would be no smoothing with harsh steps.

So there are a bunch of things going on, which are product dependent. In general, the category usually means some group of digital waveforms that an oscillator can select from, and move around within, but the technologies and waveforms used, and the resultant sounds, varied, and thus different machines would have different characters...
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby The Elf » Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:14 pm

Yeah, it can mean different things in practice, but the basics are the same. The old Wavestation could scan through huge chunks of waves to create rhythms and the like, while the Peak is about shifting through in tiny amounts to create tonal movement.

TBH the provision of wavetables in the Peak still leaves me pretty cold.
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby N i g e l » Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:02 pm

For me, PPG [ or modern Waldorf variant] is the true definition of a wavetable synth.
Invented in a time when digital memory was small and expensive.

Each oscillator wave type is actually "N" variants, on a theme, of a single cycle waveform, that can be selected by a LFO or envelope or velocity or whatever.
eg recreating a filter sweep by having a table of waves with reducing harmonics.

I love this old wavecomputer demo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGgM0R_Tpxc

I was outraged when Soundblaster cards claimed to be a wavetable synth even though it was just a sample player, playing back one long wave ! Marketing depts eh.

Lets not forget the upcomming ASM Hydrasynth [currently vapourware, always availble in < 4 weeks !]
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:46 pm

The Elf wrote:TBH the provision of wavetables in the Peak still leaves me pretty cold.

I tihnk Paul Nagle summed things up well in his review of Novation's Peak:

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/novation-peak

"These wavetables should not be confused with the more complex tables found in Waldorf or PPG synths. Novation’s have far fewer waveforms with gentle transitions in between. In total, there are 17 tables, each containing a mere five waves. Initially, this felt pretty underwhelming (after all, the Ultranova has twice as many), but if you’re a ‘glass half full’ sort of person, you’ll come to see the movement and variety as welcome partners for the analogue waves."


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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby BillB » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:22 am

“ it can mean digital oscillators with a selection of waves” ...thus Nigel’s annoyance

“or it can mean an oscillator that takes a table of multiple waves that you can sweep/modulate through in realtime.”

So is it essentially the same technique use in the WaveStation, Ensoniq Transwaves, PPG and Waldorf synths, with the main difference being the the types (or shapes) of wave and the length of the wavetable?
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby The Elf » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:46 am

Novation added 43 more wavetables in 1.2.

Still nothing there that gets my juices going, but others seem to like them.
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby N i g e l » Mon Jan 13, 2020 6:40 pm

BillB wrote:And more... Access Virus TI, Prophet X, Nord Wave.... others?

The Nord Wave is of the "digital oscillators with a selection of waves" variety, although it has a large FLASH memory so can act as a Rompler. Particularly usefull as the Wave can access Nords extensive Mellotron sample library.

There was also a Cheetah module MS800, I never had one but was always intrigued as programming was said to be "like knitting fog"
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby BillB » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:28 pm

N i g e l wrote:The Nord Wave is of the "digital oscillators with a selection of waves" variety, although it has a large FLASH memory so can act as a Rompler. Particularly usefull as the Wave can access Nords extensive Mellotron sample library.

Good to know - let's ignore that then.

N i g e l wrote:There was also a Cheetah module MS800, I never had one but was always intrigued as programming was said to be "like knitting fog"
Let's ignore that too :headbang:

Still intrigued to know more about the differences between the 'real' wavetable synths. Appreciating that there will be differences in character, perhaps more glitchiness in the older models (although the PPG linked from Nigel's first post sounded gloriously smooth) if you just want the shifting textures of a wave sequence, are they all broadly the same, or really different?
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby desmond » Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:07 pm

There's also a big difference in character depending on how the waves are transitioned. For example, all something like a wave sequence is is a list of samples, either played one after the other, or cross-faded (mixed between) - and the Wavestation is using two voices when you have a cross-fading wave sequence step to achieve this.

Whereas other approaches actually morph the waveforms as they move through a list (either in real time, or precomputed). So you can, in something like Zebra, choose say a sawtooth as the first wave, and something more spiky as the last wave, and then compute a morph between them, so the wave table consists of intermediate waveforms it will move through.

You can do things like this on the PPG Wave 2 + Waveterm too - create a starting and ending waveform then computer the steps between them, and use that as a standard PPG wavetable to move around in.
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby N i g e l » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:28 pm

The big picture must be the actual Wavetables ? Waldorf/PPG have a similarity because of the heritage but I dont know about the other synths - do they have proprietory waves & user waves or are they also using the PPG heritage.

Here are some FFTs of the PPG waves.

http://unofficial.waldorf-wave.de/wavetable.html

There are quite a few that look like the corner of a plowed field though a wide angle lens
i.e. peaky spreadout harmonics that move downto the fundemental as the wavetable is stepped through.


I have a blofeld, still a great V.A, which has different FX, filters, filteroverdrive from say the Microwave II.

Then the blofeld oscillators can have independant wavetables, whereas the Microwave II
uses a common wavetable.

The Microwave ii & a bit, has echo effect [more RAM] whereas the early ones didnt.

Microwave II has 8 notes [16 with expansion] whereas blofeld is dynamic depending on sound complexity.

Microwave ii had digital filters whereas Microwave I had the analogue filter chips like the PPG.

Theres a PPG VST which even lets you turn on LCD backlight whine !

Theres a whole world of minutia out there for the Waldorfs alone !!! [many Waldofers own several models - 'cause they all sound different].

It all down to taste and interest I guess and probably all demoed on youtube
:D :thumbup:

heres one comparing the MW I to MW II,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2l_2krPHu5Q
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby N i g e l » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:45 pm

oh - and also the blofeld has FLASH memory to upload Rompler samples [a bit like the Nord Wave].
This is free on the the kb but the module requires an unlock fee of €90.
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby N i g e l » Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:13 pm

BillB wrote:Ensoniq transwave (VFX ...SQ1... TS12 .... Fizmo)
PPG Wave, Microwave
Korg WaveStation (and Wavestate
Waldorf Blofeld
And more... Access Virus TI, Prophet X, Nord Wave.... others?
Novation Peak, Summit, Ultranova, MiniNova...

And now the Sequential Pro3...

Osc 3 has 32 wavetables with 16 waves each.

more waves to down load ? user waves ? they "dont know yet but are thinking about it"

The sonic state interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1k_4sO0GNY
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby BillB » Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:08 pm

Reading around the web a little, the Blofeld seems to be as good as any in terms of capabilities (no. of wavetables, ability to load new ones etc). So having always thought of it as a capable VA and not having looked at the wavetables, I need to spend some quality time to see (hear) what it can do. Obviously shiny new Wavestates and vintage Ensoniqs are tempting, but good stuff is right in front of me if I just look :shocked:
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby N i g e l » Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:17 pm

the blofeld modulation matrix is extensive too. Great for getting movement into a sound or fine tuning an "instrument".
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby BillB » Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:26 pm

N i g e l wrote:the blofeld modulation matrix is extensive too. Great for getting movement into a sound or fine tuning an "instrument".

Absolutely. There’s at least one decent video on YouTube showing how to modulate the wavetables.
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby N i g e l » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:03 pm

Its also worth checking out the Waldorf Largo or Wave 3.v demos if you dont mind VSTs.
The VST is available with a tryout period for further exploration.
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Re: Wavetable, wavesequencing, transwave....

Postby BillB » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:33 pm

Well, I have a peculiar preference for hardware, but others looking for wavetables ,
and more efficient workflows, may do well with VSTs. :headbang:
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