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Boring synth stuff

‘Fake’ Wavetable Synthesis in FL Studio

In wavetable synthesis, oscillators aren’t constrained to a single, static shape. In normal, subtractive synthesis, each oscillator can usually only output a sawtooth or square or whatever wave, while wavetable synthesis has dynamic, morphing waves. Each oscillator has a ‘table’ of ‘waves’, a bunch of different waveforms that are pretty much the same, but different, like a pure sine wave with harmonics being gradually added. The position of the oscillator in it’s wavetable, like which wave of the whole bunch it’s making at the moment, can be modulated with an LFO or envelope or whatever. In Reason, this can be done with Thor or Malstrom. In FL Studio, Sytrus could be sort of forced into something similar, but there is a better, weirder way.

The Layer channel in FL Studio works just like it says on the tin; it controls a bunch of different instruments with one channel. This is very useful for ‘layering’ together sounds, like a bunch of crappy orchestral soundfonts or a bunch of snares layered together. Whatever midi data is sent to the layer channel goes out to all of its ‘children’. The layer channel itself only has a few controls, setting the children, randomness and crossfading. When the crossfade button is pressed, only one of the layers children will be audible at a time, and the FADE knob will crossfade between them. When the knob is at its leftmost position, only the first will be audible and rotating it will crossfade between each of the children, depending on their order in the step sequencer window. The FADE knob, like everything else in FL Studio, can be automated with any of FL’s bazillion automation options. If I add a Fruity Envelope Controller channel, and make it one of the children of the layer, I can automate the FADE knob with an envelope and LFO and everything else inside the envelope controller. Layer channels seem to be smart enough to know that the envelope controller doesn’t actually make any sound, so it is unaffected by the crossfading. A single envelope controller has 4 envelopes, LFO’s and some other stuff that can be individually assigned to anything in FL.

FL’s lowly sampler channel can be used as a cheap, ghetto oscillator. This is how the 3xosc works, and all you have to do is find or make some single-cycle waveforms, pop them into a sampler channel and mess with the CRF knob. In the packs folder of FL Studio, there is a bunch of these in the Shapes folder. With a bunch of different samplers with different shapes and an envelope controller as children of a layer, I set the first articulator on the envelope controller to control the fade knob, and crossfading happened according to the envelope. Since there’s 4 articulators in th envelope controller, a different envelope could be set to the cutoff frequency of a filter that all the samplers are sent to, or something. The children of the layer that are being crossfaded between don’t necessarily need to be single-waveform oscillators, more interesting things would happen if each was a super complex synth by itself, with it’s own filter envelopes and stuff.

Although this is sort of neat, it’s also kind of a very obtuse way of doing this. I don’t think I’ll ever do this much, except when recording synths to use in samplers.

Since WordPress doesn’t like me, here’s a sound example on soundclick.

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