Logic Pro X: Subtractive synthesizer components

Subtractive synthesizer components

The front panel of most subtractive synthesizers provides similar signal-generating and processing modules—coupled with a number of modulation and control modules. The signal-generating and processing modules typically run from left to right, mirroring the synthesizer signal flow.

Figure. Basic subtractive synthesizer signal flow diagram.

Signal-generating and processing components

  • Oscillators: Generate the basic signal. This is usually a waveform that is rich in harmonics. See Oscillators. Many synthesizers provide more than one oscillator, and almost all synthesizer oscillators can generate several waveform types.

  • Filter section: Used to alter the basic signal by filtering out (removing) portions of the frequency spectrum. Many synthesizers have a single filter that is applied universally to all oscillator signals. Multioscillator synthesizers can provide multiple filters, allowing each oscillator signal to be filtered in a different way. See Filters overview.

  • Amplifier section: Used to control the level of the signal over time. The amplifier has a module known as an envelope, which is divided into several elements that provide level control for the beginning, middle, and end portions of your sound. Simple synthesizers generally have a single envelope, which is used to control the oscillator (and filter) over time. More complex synthesizers can provide multiple envelopes. See Amplifier envelope overview.

Modulation and control components

  • Modulators: Used to modulate the signal-generating and processing components. Modulations can be machine-based—automatically generated by a synthesizer component—or can be manually activated by using the modulation wheel, for example. Most synthesizers have a component called an LFO (low frequency oscillator) to provide a waveform that modulates the signal. See Modulation overview.

  • Global controls: Set the overall characteristics of your synthesizer sound, such as tuning, glides between notes, pitch bends, and monophonic or polyphonic playback. See Global controls.

Published Date: Aug 9, 2019
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