Become a member
Become a member

or
Continue with Google
Log in
Log in

or
Log in using a Google account
learning

Synth Effects

Sound synthesis, sound design and audio processing - Part 13

The previous two installments delved into the magical world of MIDI, including its modes, messages, and parameters. Now, in this and the following articles we'll take a look at the effects types that are typically found on synths.

View other articles in this series...

Let’s start with an effect we already evoked in the previous article, namely…

Pitch Bend

This effect, as we already mentioned in the previous article, is one of the most widespread.

Les effets dans la synthèse sonore

The pitch wheel allows you to modify the pitch of a note in real time. It’s a continuous-type effect. Do note, however, that on certain devices the wheel is replaced with a touch strip or keypad. This allows you to hit certain values directly depending on where you touch the strip or keypad.

00:0000:00

Unison

On synths with several oscillators, the Unison function allows you to make the different oscillators work together in order to create a fatter sound. This “fatness” effect can be emphasized by modifying different parameters.

The most common are the detuning of one or more oscillators or spreading sounds across the stereo field, if you have a synth with stereo outputs. Like any stereo effect, you should make sure that the mono mix doesn’t create any phase problems (read the second article from this series to review that issue).

Do note that certain virtual-analog (VA) synths ─ which have strictly digital oscillators, DOs, as we saw in article six ─ provide waveforms, like the SuperSaw, that reproduce this detuning effect between multiple waveforms.

00:0000:00

Portamento/Glide

The portamento effect reproduces the frequencies between two notes. It corresponds to the Glide parameter commonly featured on synthesizers. This parameter often has two modes: Mono and Legato.

The Mono mode produces a portamento effect, regardless of the length of the notes or whether they overlap or not, as you can hear in the following example. The sequence starts without portamento and finishes with the effect enabled.

In this audio example, you can hear a melody composed of notes played one after the other, first without and then with portamento in mono mode:

00:0000:00

Legato mode only works with overlapping notes. Like the previous example, the next one starts with a musical sequence without any effect where the 5th and 6th note, as well as the 10th and 11th, overlap. Consequently, even if the portamento effect is active, it only manifests itself on the aforementioned notes.

00:0000:00

Vibrato

Les effets dans la synthèse sonore

Vibrato is an effect consisting in very fast pitch variations of a waveform’s fundamental frequency.

In the following example, the vibrato effect increases gradually and ends up fading out.

00:0000:00

Tremolo

Tremolo, for its part, is an effect obtained by very fast variations of the amplitude of a waveform.
The example evolves exactly as the previous one:

00:0000:00

Keyboard Tracking

As we saw in the seventh installment of the series, a filter’s cutoff frequency can be fixed with a potentiometer or it can be controlled by an LFO to make it vary over time. In both of these cases, the notes played on the keyboard while the filter is active will be subject to the latter’s action..

Les effets dans la synthèse sonore

Take for example a low-pass filter whose cutoff is fixed at a given frequency. It will not let through any notes whose frequency is above the cutoff. To remedy that, Keyboard Tracking lets the cutoff frequency change depending on the note played. This allows you, for instance, to retain the fundamental frequency of each note, regardless of its pitch, while filtering out the overtones.

In the following example, you’ll first hear the sequence without any effect, followed by the same sequence with a filter, but without keyboard tracking, and finally with keyboard tracking

00:0000:00

In the upcoming article, we’ll see other effects that are pretty common on synthesizers, like flanging and even Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), which we already mentioned in part four.

← Previous article in this series:
Understanding MIDI Modes and Messages
Next article in this series:
More Basic Synth Effects →

Would you like to comment this article?

Log in
Become a member
cookies
We are using cookies!

Yes, Audiofanzine is using cookies. Since the last thing that we want is disturbing your diet with too much fat or too much sugar, you'll be glad to learn that we made them ourselves with fresh, organic and fair ingredients, and with a perfect nutritional balance. What this means is that the data we store in them is used to enhance your use of our website as well as improve your user experience on our pages and show you personalised ads (learn more). To configure your cookie preferences, click here.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies
Cookies not subject to consent
These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies. Example: cookies that help you stay logged in from page to page or that help customizing your usage of the website (dark mode or filters).
Google Analytics
We are using Google Analytics in order to better understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.
Advertising
This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :) We are using Google Ad Manager to display part of our ads, or tools integrated to our own CMS for the rest. We are likely to display advertisements from our own platform, from Google Advertising Products or from Adform.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies
Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine. The website cannot function properly without these cookies. Examples: cookies that help you stay logged in from page to page or that help customizing your usage of the website (dark mode or filters).

Google Analytics

We are using Google Analytics in order to better understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it. When this parameter is activated, no personal information is sent to Google and the IP addresses are anonymized.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :) We are using Google Ad Manager to display part of our ads, or tools integrated to our own CMS for the rest. We are likely to display advertisements from our own platform, from Google Advertising Products or from Adform.


You can find more details on data protection in our privacy policy.
You can also find information about how Google uses personal data by following this link.