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Adamwah

Synthesis

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As noticed by Spectrum over at inthemix i posted in a thread but didnt get much response on the question...

"anyone got any links for some descriptions of each synthesis type and how they work?

ive never really taken much interest in what type of synth im using, i just use it..."

ie FM, subtractive and the rest...

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MIXED WAVEFORMS - Many synthesizers allow two or more oscillators to be mixed together. The resultant waveform is simply the sum of the waveforms (ie both added together). The resultant harmonic series would also be the sum of the harmonics.

Some synthesizers only have on/off switches for its various selectable waveforms. Switching on two or more waveforms will produce a new waveform based on the sum of the parts. Below is the harmonic series and amplitudes for a Square wave and Saw wave summed together:-

HARMONIC  F        2F      3F        4F      5F        6F        7F          8F        9F

Square      100%    -      33.3%    -        20%      -        14.3%    -        11.1%

Saw          100%  50%  33.3%  25%  20%      16.7%  14.3%  12.5%  11.1%

RESULT    100%  25%  33.3%  12.5% 20%    8.3%    14.3%  6.25%  11.1%

Oooh a nice example of additive synthesis from a subtractive synth too! :)

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Heya Adamwah, cheers for bringing the topic across here. :)

You said before you tend to not get involved in the synthesis method, more a case of use what sounds good. What synths are you using?

Perhaps from there we can break it all down using your specific instruments.

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Yup, and pretty much most soft-synths are, being "analogue modelling" synths. Generally analogue = subtractive. Generally speaking, synths that have oscillators and a filter are subtractive synths. i.e. they start out with harmonic-rich waveforms (Saw, Square) and subtract harmonics using the filter to create new timbres.

Generally.

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That is an extremely subjective question! It depends what for and really the question should be is one type best for a given purpose. I definitely think subtractive synthesis is very poor at making realistic sounding synthesised acoustic instruments but great for making synthetic (lol) or "synthy" (lol) type sounds. I don't know too much about many other types of synthesis but from what I know FM synthesis can create great metallic, clangy and bell type sounds.

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interesting... is one particular type of synthesis better then the other?

Short answer - no. Just different. As acid said above, they have different strengths and weaknesses. it's good to noodle with them all and get a feel for what they can do. Me, I'm no hard core programmer but I like subtractive for 'classic' synth pads, basses, pulses, etc I like FM for metallic, hammered and plucked sounds as acid said.  I use samples for 'realistic' instruments, and finally granular for complex warbling, pulsing time-varying stuff.

There's nothing wrong with going for a method that suits your working style too - some simple enjoy the immediacy of subtractive synths whilst others love to pore over complex FM operators or build their own patches in Max or Reaktor. There's synths for noodlers and synths for geeks - it's a beautiful thing! 

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