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Wavetable Synthesis 101

Ever wanted to know the ins and outs of wavetable synthesis? Our handy 101 gives you everything you need to supercharge your sonic arsenal with a must-have in any sound designer’s toolbox.

Introduction

What is wavetable synthesis? It’s a question as old as time – well at least as old as 1979! A quick search reveals conflicting information on the subject, and as creators of the critically acclaimed  ARGON Series that offer next-generation Wavetable Synthesis for unrivalled sound sculpting capability, we feel it is our place to take a deep dive into a wonderful world of wavetables and its underlying principles that make it stand out from its Virtual Analogue counterparts!

Have I Ever Used A Wavetable Synthesiser?

The odds are stacked in the favour of yes! If you’ve ever used Native Instruments’ Massive or Xfer’s Serum, you have definitely used Wavetable Synthesis – a form of synthesis sonically characterised by modern, natural and tone-like sounds. Think gnarly lead sounds, thunderous basses and sultry, ever-evolving pads and the chances are you have adorned your tracks with a little flavour of the wavetable variety!

What is a Wavetable Synthesiser?

At its essence, Wavetable Synthesis incorporates a collection of single cycle waveforms organised sequentially on a “Wavetable”; each waveform can be played back on a loop to produce a continuous sound or tone – the higher the note pressed, the faster the cycle of the wave which we perceive as an increase in pitch. Sounds a bit like sampling right? 

So What Makes Wavetable Synthesis Special?

Where it gets really interesting is when we harness the power of the wavetable by seamlessly modulating through the series of waveforms; imagine, as a key is pressed and a modulation source is setup to sweep through the wavetable, the tonality of the sound will change as it morphs sequentially through the different waveforms in the wavetable. Sonically, this method of synthesis generates sounds that evolve over time without any spontaneous or jarring changes as the sound smoothly interpolates its shape into the various waves in the table.

What Type Of Sounds Is Wavetable Synthesis Good For?

From digital synth staples to constantly evolving pads, robotic voices, metallic leads and even harsh bell tones, Wavetable synthesis presents a mind-bending pallet of sounds to speak your creativity and should be in every music producer’s arsenal of tools. Looking to dive into a world of Wavetable synthesisers? 

Enter Modal Electronics’ ARGON Series

Discover the colourful sound of the ARGON series of wavetable synthesisers. Meticulously designed and engineered to perfection, these instruments are a treasure trove for every musician looking to separate from the pack with elegant sonic textures.

Leaning on the heritage of our legendary 00 series synthesisers, the ARGON Series are modern wavetable synths for music performers, producers and sound designers. Fusing a transparent and rich sound, an array of real-time controls, MPE support, a clear structured user interface and integrated performance tools, The ARGON Series are a unique collection of instruments, designed to deliver an unmatched sonic experience.

The ARGON Series’ sophisticated wavetable engine generates thousands of different sonic combinations with its seamless waveform morphing feature. Explore ambient evolving textures, classic pads and modern chords, brutal basses, dark drones and psychedelic noise textures – this truly is a sound designer’s playground. Process and cross modulate the waves using either the 32 static wavetable modifiers and unlock additional wavetable variations. With the ARGON Series, virtually every sonic imagination can be realised with ease.

With all ARGON Series synthesisers, four morphable filter types deliver contemporary and classic options to shape your sounds to perfection. Two flexible audio rate (1x polyphonic) LFOs can be routed to a huge number of destinations using the modulation matrix. Three dedicated envelopes for the filter, amp and modulation sources provide excessive control over dynamics and expression. The ARGON Series’ sophisticated 12-slot modulation matrix supports easy assignments of complex modulation routes to keep the sound evolving.; for complete ease-of-use, 4 common modulation routings are pre-set to free up space for more interesting ideas.

The analogue-style 2-Pole Morphable Filter of ARGON8

Bring performance to a new level with the ARGON Series’ integrated 512-note sequencer, with real-time mode and step mode (64 steps with 8 notes per step) and 4 powerful Animation Lanes; a sure fire means of instilling expansive and complex transitions to sounds in a way that LFOs and Envelopes simply won’t provide. The polyphonic 64 step sequencer enables easy step input for note and animation values to create exciting melodic patterns. Multiple sequencer trigger modes coupled with the powerful onboard arpeggiator (programmable up to 32 steps) and performance features such as Chord hold, Inversions, Transpose, Sustain Latch and the Joystick cement the ARGON Series as a performers and players dream.

MODALapp for ARGON88

Reshape your sounds with the ARGON Series’ on-board stereo effects engine. ARGON8’s 3-slot FX engine enables in-depth programming, combining up to 12 FX algorithms to add character and depth to your sound – available effects include Distortion (waveshaping overdrive) Chorus, Phaser, Flanger (Pos), Flanger (Neg), Tremolo, LoFi, Rotary, Stereo Delay, Ping-Pong Delay, X-Over Delay and Reverb.

The free MODALapp brings the comfort of screen-based editing of all ARGON Series parameters to your computer or mobile device. Available as a standalone app for macOS, Windows, iOS, iPadOS or Android systems and in VST3 and AU plug-in formats, it is the perfect companion for synth enthusiasts looking to deep dive to all sound forming and performance parameters to create their own signature sounds – not to mention a fantastic tool to backup and manage patches and sequences.

ARGON8M – Desktop or Rack Wavetable Synth

The ARGON Series are available in 3 Models, each tailored to suit your workflow – the ARGON8 37-key variant, the ARGON8X 61-key variant and the ARGON8M desktop module.

ARGON8

8 voice 37-key
wavetable synthesiser

ARGON8X

8 voice 61-key
wavetable synthesiser

ARGON8M

8 voice
wavetable module/rack