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Build waves using formants. Play them back as wavetables.

(140 Votes)
1.1 (Updated 16 years ago)
September 29, 2004
Reaktor 5 or lower


Beta software posted to give people an early look.

What's all this about then? There are plenty of very nice instruments in the user library which use audio tables to let you create your own waveforms. The problem with drawing waves by hand, as anyone who's tried it will know, is that what comes out bears very little relation to what goes in. Having the good fortune to own a Waldorf Microwave II and SoundDiver, I also know the joy of creating waveforms additively. So, some time ago I had the plan of creating an ensemble that would do something similar to the MWII/SD combination. As a side effect I wanted to turn Sparky tables into wavetables to play polyphonicly. Having achieved both of these goals I realised that a) editing 64 partial levels by hand is a right pain. b) wavetables created from Sparky tables sound ace. So I set out to add higher level editing.

A Quick tour. The frequency domain side does what it says on the tin. The top window displays the overall spectrum of the waveform. Individual partials in this display can be edited by hand. Next to this window is a button labelled Gibbs. This adds in the sound of the Bee Gees - only joking. This corrects for something called Gibbs phenomenom - it's a low pass filter with a particular curve which has the effect of removing ripple from waves with strong transients. In the same pannel are diplays for the number of partials, the frequencies of the highest and lowest partial (adjusted to the last midi note played), the partial selected for editing and its level.

Below this display are four groups of controls. The first controls the overall slope. If you move the mouse around inside you'll get an idea of what it does. Y controls the overall level. The x dimension controls the slope in terms of the equation 1/f^x. Interestingly enough a saw waves is composed of all integer harmonics who's levels are given by 1/f. So setting the slope to 1 with everything else zeroed would give you a saw wave where it not for... the other controls in this section. The little display labelled slope tells you this value numerically since sometimes it's important to know. Series - this lets you select the partials affected by slope - ie odd/even/divisible by 5.7/etc. The top number is a divisor, the bottom number is an offset. Play with them you'll see they do odd things. The bar to the right controls the difference in level between the selected and unselected partials, slide this up and down and you'll see what it does. Lastly the zero button does what it says.

Below the slope control are three formant controls. These are all identical. Y controls level again, x controls centre frequency. To the right is another little controller. Y does something like control resonance, X kind of effects the shape of the response. (I could have called these Q and bell.) These two controls interact strongly with each other. After that the formant controls are the same as for slope.

Note that partials can have positive or negative levels. So, one formant can subtract from another formant for example.

Symetry is the only waveform parameter in the time domain. It does something like pulse width - squashes the waveform up.


The idea is you use the time domain and symetry controls to make waveforms. These can be stored as snapshots and then assembled into a wavetable. The slider under the FreqTab display sets the table position. If write is turned on edits in the frequency domain will effect the waveform in the time domain. Turn off write to save CPU and prevent cock ups. To save even more CPU mute the whole instrument.

The instrument in the middle doesn't work yet. When it does it should morph between formant settings. Anyway it doesn't work yet so don't get excited.

At the bottom we have a synthesiser. This is still work in progress but here's an outline. You have four of my new multi modulator things. Is it a sequencer, is it an envelope, is it something else entirely. Anyway these modulate the wave position via a four way XY mixer. Only one waveosc is wired up since this is work in progress.

There you go. One day it will be finished and have snapshots and everything.


ant stewart
16 years ago
Possibly one of the best looking synthesisers ever, sounds really good, if only it was as easy to control as it looks! I tried some of the presets in the wavemaker but it all sounded to the same, and the other instruments should have some presets. I just have another read and play to see what it does and I really hope the final version has as much power as the GUI.
Norman Wilson
16 years ago
I seem to have a talent for making Reaktor crash. I've seen unstable behaviour myself, but if the software crashes it's NI's bug and I can't do a lot about it. I can submit a bug report to NI but I wouldn't bet on anything getting fixed in a hurry.
Zip Boterbloem
16 years ago
Hm. Crashes sometimes when I choose snapshot #1, the saw. Other presets crash too. Skewed Buzz, for example. Mac OSX.3.5. Reaktor 4.1.3.
Norman Wilson
16 years ago
Dotted 8ths against 16th triplets and all that.
gabriel mulzer
16 years ago
didn't vote but this could become one of my favourite synths
Phil Durrant
16 years ago
the looping envelopes alone, are worth a 10 vote.
Benjamin Suthers
16 years ago
oh yes. this is good.