5.16 TripleOscillator

The TripleOscillator plugin is a synthesizer which generates sounds by combining the waveform of up to three function generators.

TripleOscillator

5.16.1 Plugin Settings

The first panel controls the way the oscillators interact with each other. The available settings are:

  • PM (Phase Modulation): phase of oscillator is modulated (i.e. phase locally changes left/right) by sub-oscillator

  • AM (Amplitude Modulation): output oscillator and its sub-oscillator is multiplied

  • Mix: the waveforms are added (default)

  • Sync (synchronized): the waveform of the first oscillator is restarted with the frequency of the second one (the waveform of the second one does not matter in this mode)

  • FM (Frequency Modulation): frequency of oscillator is modulated (i.e. phase globally changes left/right) by sub-oscillator

The next three panels are the settings for the three oscillators.

  • The waveform generated (pictures)

  • Vol (Volume): amplitude of the waveform. Set to 0 when you don't want to use this oscillator.

  • Pan (Panning): affects the stereo panning of the oscillator

  • Crs (Coarse): frequency of the oscillator relative to the note played in semitones

  • FL and FR: fine-tuning of the frequency for the left and right stereo channel

  • PO (Phase Offset): phase offset of the waveform relative to the other oscillators

  • SPD (Stereo Phase Offset): phase offset between left and right stereo channels

5.16.2 Waveforms

5.16.2.1 Sine

The "purest" sound. Useful for organ-like instruments. Due to a sine wave being only one exact frequency, normal frequency filters have little effect on sine waves.

5.16.2.2 Triangle

Similar to sine, although a lot less smooth. Useful for string instruments.

5.16.2.3 Sawtooth

A very sharp, "synth-like" sound. Useful for string instruments and generic "synth-like" instruments.

5.16.2.4 Square (Pulse)

The typical sound of vintage arcade games. Sounds much less old-fashioned when combined with other waveforms. Be cautious, as the square wave will sound a lot louder than the other waves.

5.16.2.5 Moog-like Saw

Sounds similar to saw, but can also be used for some organ-like sounds. The shape is due to a historic glitch in the analogue circuitry of the original Moog synthesizer.

5.16.2.6 Exponential

If used correctly, it can be used for softer synths.

5.16.2.7 White Noise

Useful for creating drum beats and other effects like wind (you might prefer to use Kicker for synthesized percussion instruments).

5.16.2.8 User-defined

Double-click to use any sound file as a waveform

5.16.3 Tips

  • The best results are reached by combining different waveforms with different chorus settings.

  • Most sounds created by a TripleOscillator sound boring and dull without an Envelope.

  • If yo want to know more about basics of sound synthesis you may read this awesome article by Beau Sievers - http://beausievers.com/synth/synthbasics/

5.16.4 Making Patches

If you find all your instruments sound like an Atari 2600 (unless that's what you were going for), these guidelines for creating patches that sound like familiar musical instruments or sounds will help you. These instructions are intentionally a bit vague, so you can easily adapt them to the type of music you want to make. When making patches, it often helps to have a BB track playing the sound over and over as you edit.

When creating instruments with different generators, not just TripleOscillator patches, there are a few unwanted events that may occur. The most frequent problem is "clicks". The instrument sounds pretty much ok, but there's a distinct "click" artifact every time the note plays. Clicks are annoying, but most can be easily removed. The start-event clicks are the easiest.

  1. Open the ENV for VOLUME

  2. Set AMT to maximum

  3. Set ATTACK to just a little over 0 (try 0.04)

Listen to the sound. If your click artifact didn't change a little, then the click is from the "termination" of the sound. Here the situation is more difficult. You may be able to remove the click by giving REL <= 0.05.

Annother annoying problem is "noisy crater" randomly occurring in longer notes. This is often caused by too high ! in respect of either the cutoff Frq or the actual chosen filter. These type of artifacts can be seriously difficult to remove without changing the quality of the sound. Often success versus fiasco depends on minute alterations in Q.

If you are not familiar with terms like LFO, filters and resonance-Q amount, you should now go to the section Working with Instruments and read the paragraph The Env/LFO/Filter tab. All the basics (and more) are explained there.

5.16.4.1 Synth Bass

We'll start with your basic synthesized techno bass sound, because this is a relatively simple patch to start learning your way around the TripleOscillator. Start with a fresh TripleOscillator with the default sine wave patch.

  1. Start on the "PLUGIN" page and change the waveforms. Try some different combinations: a square, a triangle and a sine wave are a good combo, or set them all to saw or moog-saw.

  2. Select the "ENV/LFO" page. Turn the filter on to "LowPass", "2x LowPass" or "Moog" and turn the cutoff all the way down. Your sound becomes almost inaudible.

  3. Go to the "CUTOFF" sub-page and turn the envelope on. Turn "Hold", "Sustain" and "Release" to zero. Hear the filter now?

  4. Now start playing with the resonance knob in the "FILTER" section. If you're using the Moog filter, don't turn the resonance past about 0.85 - you've been warned!

  5. Now play some really low notes.

5.16.4.2 Organ

Real organs are basically additive synthesizers: they add together a few dozen simple sine waves to form a complex tone. This is pretty easy to mimic with the TripleOscillator and LMMS' chords.

  1. Start with a fresh sine patch, and using each oscillator's "Crs" (coarse) knobs, place them in 3 different octaves.

  2. Go to the "FUNC" page and turn on chords. Set the chord to "Octave" and set "RANGE" to 3 or 4. Neat, eh?

  3. Play different C's. They sound similar, don't they? That's because most of the harmonics are the same.

  4. For some fun, change on of the oscillators to a triangle wave.

  5. You can refine the sound by changing which octaves each oscillator plays in, or by adjusting their relative volumes.

5.16.4.3 Electric Bass

Electric bass guitars produce a wide variety of tones. This is just your basic bass with no overdrive or anything like that.

  1. Start with a sine patch and mute OSC 1. Turn OSC 2's volume to 100%.

  2. Set "OSC 2 + OSC 3" to PM (Phase Modulation).

  3. Turn on the volume envelope and give it a long decay, very short release and an attack around 1/50 or 1/20 of a second.

  4. Go to the "FX" page and add a TAP Chorus/Flanger effect. This adds an extra layer of richness to the sound.

  5. Now, go back to the "PLUGIN" page and decide where you want OSC 3's volume (that is, the amount of phase modulation between OSC 3 and OSC 2).

  6. Finally, reinforce the fundamental (lowest harmonic) of your sound by turning OSC 1 up just a bit. This is optional. Or you can use a triangle wave. Whatever, it's your sound.

5.16.4.4 Kick Drum

Ok, this is going to sound weird to some, maybe. Why use TripleOscillator to make a kick drum? The answer: because you can. Also, because it can produce some pretty neat sounds! We're going to use a technique called subtractive synthesis here. To make this tutorial easier to follow, I'm marking with [tags] which is the name of the tab you need to be on on the instrument window.

[Plugin] To start with, we'll make some noise. Set all the oscillators to produce white noise. The other settings don't matter at this point, as most of them don't have any effect on the noise generation. Then we'll move on to the Env/Lfo tab. That's where the magic happens.

[Env/Lfo] Here, we're going to set the volume envelope first. Here are good settings for it:

  • Amt: 1 (full)

  • Del: 0

  • Att: 0

  • Hold: 0

  • Dec: 0.248

  • Sus: 1

  • Rel: 0

Ok, try it now. Right now you have a neat little snare drum, kind of a crappy one but still. But read onwards, let's make it into a good kick.

Enable the filter. Select the RC Bandpass (24dB) filter. It is important to pick the right filter, it won't work so well with the 12dB one, unless you wan some weird kick drum... Set the resonance to maximum and cutoff to minimum (that is, 10.0 and 1Hz, respectively). Now, the instrument should sound like a bass guitar that constantly plays the same note. But we're not done yet.

Go to the cutoff envelope, and set these values:

  • Amt: 0.2

  • Del: 0.02

  • Att: 0

  • Hold: 0.05

  • Dec: 0.187

  • Sus: 1

  • Rel: 0

Now listen to the sound. It's a kick drum! How awesome is that? Now we can add some character to the sound. Go back to the plugin tab.

[Plugin] Now, set the first oscillator to saw wave, set the Crs dial to -24, and try playing different notes (C3 - G4 are good). See how the character of the sound varies slightly! You can vary it further by adjusting the volume of the saw oscillator. Try detuning it with the FL/FR knobs. Turn the SPD knob up to give it some stereo effect. You can also try different waveforms to see how they affect the sound. You can even change the second oscillator, it's enough that there's one noise oscillator to produce enough frequencies to subtract from. You can try all kinds of weird things now to create weird, cool and fun bass/kick drum sounds, and you have much more control and fine-tune over it than you have in Kicker.