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A Simple Audio Wobulator.

(31 Votes)
1.0 (Updated 15 years ago)
June 01, 2006
Reaktor 5 or lower
Instrument Other


I was inspired to make this "Wobulator" after watching the BBC TV program "The Alchemists Of Sound" about their Radiophonic Workshop.

Their Wobulator was used for making Sci-fi special effect noises for programs like Dr Who.

Traditionally a Wobulator is just a sweep generator (Ramp waveform), used in conjunction with an Oscillator and Oscilloscope, for testing and measuring the frequency response of filters, amplifiers and transmission systems etc.

On the BBC program they implied it was an "Engineering" device used to test the acoustics of a studio. A vague and inaccurate description.

My simple wobulator is just a multi waveform LFO used to pitch modulate a sine oscillator. To adjust the width and range of the sweep I have added controls to set the Start and End pitch.

The Wobulator can be used to make many of the Sci-fi sound effects of the period including, Distress beacons, weapons, lab and spaceship type background sounds etc.

Although this is a very simple ensemble, I thought I would share it with you as I have found it quite interesting, and amusing, to play with. I hope some of you will too.


Peter Whiting
13 years ago
Hi Matthew, I'm glad you could make use of the wobulator. The Dalek Voice Processor was in the user library for a while but I took it down again in case of copyright issues. My processor was based on ring modulation for the basic effect but also included dual pitch shifters to enable other interesting vocal textures.
Thea Cochrane
13 years ago
I've used this to do some sound effects for Doctor Who-related projects (not television though). As for the Daleks... ring modulate a voice with a square-wave at about 30Hz, then add a bit of overdrive. The rest of it is in the performance of the actor.
Peter Whiting
15 years ago
Cheers Tom. The Daleks are on their way, but have not touched down yet! Or in other words, it’s not quite ready for upload :)
Thomas Watson
15 years ago
WOW, sometimes the simplest ideas are truly the best. Great fun :) Please share the dalek voice processor with us, nothing is too cheesy for me (i live in france, we eat a lot of cheese)!
Peter Whiting
15 years ago
Hi Christine, Hi Greg, Thankyou for taking the time to comment. I am glad you have had fun with this. Thanks Rick, I like the Randomise button idea. I am really into this Radiophonic Workshop type stuff at the moment. Did you checkout my WobuFilterV1. I have also been working on a simple Dalek voice processor, but it may be just too cheesy (so my say sad) to upload it.
Rick Scott
15 years ago
very fun to be able to make classic scifi sounds with the twist of a knob or two (or, in my case, the click of a randoMize button). keep these 50s scifi machines coming!
greg graeff
15 years ago
a coupla auto lfo'z and some FX...can create zum kool stuff...thanx a bunch!!! proving the KISS principle is indeed a reality
Christine Webster
15 years ago
Excellent, thanks for sharing. I like simple stuff.
Peter Whiting
15 years ago
Hi Donovan, I like to keep things simple and prefer purpose built tools. They did a lot of cool things with very simple tools back in the late 50s and 60s, and with my ageing brain keeping things simple is not so stupid. :D I was very interested to hear about the air raid sirens, they used to test the ones around here fairly regularly until about 15-20 years ago. I like the eerie sound they make when they are a half a mile or so away and the change in wind direction makes the sound fade in and out. I wonder if they sound the same here in as they do over with you. The old ones here start very slowly and gradually wind up to speed, then they sound constantly for a while before dropping in pitch a bit only to wind up again with the cycle repeating. From memory they looked like a motor with a round housing at each end of the shaft where the siren vanes were. I also like the similar sound that big electric motors make when they wind up to speed, a combination of both a high and low pitch whine which both increase in pitch together. Thanks for the comment and the very interesting ramble :) Cheers !
Donovan Stringer
15 years ago
Hah! Sometimes the simplest things are the coolest. :D I'll tell you one thing I've always wanted to make but never did, and that's attempt simulating a genuine air raid siren..It's not as simple as a sine wave LFO, there's a long pause in the upper curve of the pitch that hangs for a good couple of seconds before dropping back down that I've never come close to figuring out how to emulate. The city that I recently moved away from, Columbus GA, is right next to Ft Benning, the home of teh Infantry, and every Saturday afternoon they fire up a shitload of these sirens I guess to keep the wheels greased, but the coolest thing is you hear them start all over and the distance takes them way out of sequence and shift pitches. It's a very cool sound, and I heard it every Saturday for four years; more than enough time to sample them, but I don't have a field kit, so I lost the opportunity. Maybe this is something you might be able to work up, as you're in the general neighborhood? By the way, this sounds REALLY cool with Laserbrew inserted after it! Cheers(sorry for the ramble), D