Essay: Spectral Wave Explorations

  • Hello all,


    I have been in the process of auditioning and determining the potential personal usages of each of the TI2’s 62 (64 if you count the Sine and Tri waves) Classic Oscillator Spectral Waves, since they do not come more pragmatically identified than just simply being numbered. I thought I would share with the forum at least some of the underlying common characteristics of these waves that I’ve discovered so far for those of you curious about this feature of the TI2.


    Firstly, I’m amazed at how deceptively versatile the Spectral Waves really are once you start trying different basic approaches to playing them. Simply changing the Amp Envelope between a fast attack with a short decay to a slow attack with some sustain can sometimes alter the personality of a wave dramatically. Likewise, playing single notes or two-note chords versus multi-note chords can give different impressions. More on this in a moment.


    Also, I am assuming these are indeed single cycle waves, but surprisingly, many of them appear to be “pitch sensitive” somehow, with contrasting timbres across the keyboard, behaving more like index keytracked wavetables. In fact, you can somewhat simulate wavetable index modulation with these kind of spectral waves by applying various filter cutoff modulations. I found that a slow triwave bipolar poly LFO assigned to a Bandpass filter works great for creating nice evolving pads and wave width modulation tones, while a Lowpass filter seems to emulate more steppier wave sequencing functions quite well.


    If you’ve never gone through the waves before, at first blush you’ll find a nice variety of spectra, some of which are good basic building blocks for creating a more developed patch, and some of them which are practically patch ready to start with. I have found a diverse collection of good candidates for pianos, organs, bells, vocal formants, flutes, saxophones, clavinets, harpsichords, strings, and even bassoons, marimbas, and kalimbas. But wait…there’s more!: harmonicas, accordions, clarinets, pan flutes, and also a few that are just plain hard to pin down. Granted some of their potential usages might be a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but some of them are really spot on. And of course, they can also be used to create totally new and innovative synth tones. Different programmers will have their own ideas about what each wave might be good for.


    My advice for auditioning the waves is to first hear them in their raw form using just one oscillator pitched at standard Middle C (requiring an occasional octave transpose shift), an open filter, no resonance, and just a touch of dual Unison detune with pan spread to make it more pleasant to listen to without adversely coloring them. Then start trying the different amp envelope settings mentioned above. Again, you’ll also be surprised at how your perception will change of what a wave sounds like depending on the amount of notes used in a chord, playing those same notes individually, and when running single notes up the keyboard versus running back down. Then when you start comparing the harmonics of one spectral wave with other similar ones (and then fractalizing down to different timbres within the same wave across the keyboard) looking for an identifying characteristic - it all inevitably turns into an exponential amount of crosschecking, backtracking, and endless rabbit trails! But after a while you’ll finally be able to take all the notes you’ve made (no pun intended) and begin constructing a comprehensive baseline of consistent terminologies. The wave images available on the Access downloads page or an oscilloscope provide some help, along with some necessary breaks to clear your ears, as I’ve noticed that not giving my hearing an occasional chance to “re-initialize” would lead to false impressions. I did find a few waves with a weird jumpy EQ response in the upper middle register, as if overlapping waves were competing with each other to sound out (hope it’s not just my machine!), and to a lesser extent some aliasing, though that has been stated somewhere as an intentional artifact of the Classic Mode oscillators where the Spectral Waves are located.


    Do I have a favorite wave that stands out above the others? You betcha! Wave #52- because it is a really good single wave emulation of the PPG Wave wavetable #27 Formant Vocal, arguably the most iconic synth voice of early ‘80s Tangerine Dream and a major influence for me. Other highlights include wave 15 for another PPG style vocal formant, wave 5 for a very close approximation of acoustic piano, and for the aforementioned evolving wavetable pad simulations, spectrally rich and diverse waves 13, 19, 48, and 54.


    I have really enjoyed exploring all the facets of the TI2 as much as I like using it on my recording projects. I hope this essay of my Spectral Wave research may inspire some of you to also explore them further and hopefully increase your Virus’ flexibility for you. Thank you for reading!


    Cheers!, :)

    GESchwalm




    Presented by

    Rapturenaut Digital Christian Studio

    Houston, Texas

    "glorifying God through electronic music"

  • Thank you very much!


    Number 5 is indeed very good to approximate a piano sound.


    Short time after I first got my Virus, I started a list with instrument characteristics for the spectral waves. Never thought anybody could be interested in this, but since the topic came up, here it is. I added your findings about 05, 15 and 52.


    Virus Spectral Waves Characteristics

    01 Sine
    02 Triangle
    05 Piano
    07 Vocal
    08 Strings / Violin
    09 Acid
    13 Piano
    14 Glockenspiel
    15 Vocal (PPG)
    16 Steel Drum
    17 Cembalo
    19 Wood / Oboe
    20 Electric / Guitar Disto
    21 Cembalo / Strings
    22 Strings
    23 Bass / Strings / Vox
    24 Spinett
    26 Wood / Clarinet
    27 Cembalo / Cello
    28 Orch. Brass
    29 Orch. Woods, Cello, Bass, E. Bass
    30 Vibraphon
    37 String
    38 Trumpet, Trombone
    41 Bag Pipes / Spinett / Guitar
    42 Bells / Glockenspiel
    43 E. Piano
    44 Bassoon / Bell / Music box
    45 Phone Line (Sine ocatave + 5th)
    46 Glockenspiel / Koto
    47 Organ
    48 Organ
    49 Organ
    51 Bass
    52 Cembalo; Vocal (PPG #27); String/Vocal
    53 Glockenspiel / Glass
    54 Piano/String
    55 Piano
    56 Piano
    57 Dirty Saw (root + upper octave 5th); Bell
    58 Bell
    59 Cembalo (fat) / Sitar / Koto; Bass
    60 Cembalo/Strat (mid heavy); Bass
    61 FM
    62 FM
    63 FM
    64 FM/String


    Maybe we can use this as a starting point and build a list with descriptive characteristics of all the spectral waves.



    Virus Waves.xls 20190113.zip

    Files

    Bass Player and Synthesist.
    Virus TI2 Darkstar | Virus TI2 Desktop | Moog Sub 37 | Blofeld |Machinedrum | Monomachine | Analog Four | MPC Live | NI Maschine
    Mac OS X 10.14.6 (Mojave) | Cubase Pro 10 | Ableton Live 9.6 | Logic 10.4 | MainStage 3.4 | NI Komplete 12 | RME Fireface UFX+

    Edited 5 times, last by oliAtBass: Fix typos; Updated List; Fix attachment ().

  • Simply Fantastic!

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    -Steinberg Cubase 10 + Steinberg CC121 Controller
    -Steinberg MR816 CSX + Behringer ADA8200
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    -Virus TI2 P0lar
    -Waldorf Pulse (1)
    -Waldorf Blofeld
    -Yamaha AN1x
    -Yamaha Reface DX
    -Clavia Nord Modular G1 Expanded
    -Axoloti
    -Maschine MK3

    -Elektron Octatrack MKII

    -Arturia Beatstep
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    https://soundcloud.com/daksha

  • Maybe we can use this as a starting point and build a list with descriptive characteristics of all the spectral waves.

    Thanks Oli for your list! When I finally get through with my spectral wave auditions, I will add more of the highlites of my own research and hopefully we can indeed get a community list going, allowing us to compare individual impressions of as many of the waves as possible. Being the completest that I am it has been somewhat of a tedious task, but I have learned a lot about a large variety of musical instruments, researching which ones are appropriate to giving a wave a familiar identity, other than just using very generic descriptions as I could only give some of them.


    I'm very glad that several of you in the forum enjoyed my lengthy essay! :)

  • That's great guys, well done! Spectral Waves are one of the most underrated aspects of the Virus TI for sure. Check out the factory RAM-C DX7/organs emulations, a blast! I'm only starting to explore them now myself. I did find that they make a great starting point for a Vocoder carrier sound too by the way. ;)

  • WOW this is hard, many wave shapes can sound different in many ways depending on what octave your in or filter modes you're using. I found these possible candidates for certain sounds I'm looking for.


    09 Acid

    13 Piano

    37 String

    47 Organ

    48 Organ

    49 Organ

    51 Bass

    52 String/Vocal

    54 Piano/String

    55 Piano

    56 Piano

    58 Bell

    59 Bass

    60 Bass

    61 FM

    62 FM

    63 FM

    64 FM/String

  • Updated the list with bobborries findings.


    Also, I started an Excel list with all these entries. See attachment.

    Bass Player and Synthesist.
    Virus TI2 Darkstar | Virus TI2 Desktop | Moog Sub 37 | Blofeld |Machinedrum | Monomachine | Analog Four | MPC Live | NI Maschine
    Mac OS X 10.14.6 (Mojave) | Cubase Pro 10 | Ableton Live 9.6 | Logic 10.4 | MainStage 3.4 | NI Komplete 12 | RME Fireface UFX+

  • Is there an attachment I'm missing?

    Fixed! Wasn't aware that with the new Forum software, an attachment tag must also be added to the message body.

    Bass Player and Synthesist.
    Virus TI2 Darkstar | Virus TI2 Desktop | Moog Sub 37 | Blofeld |Machinedrum | Monomachine | Analog Four | MPC Live | NI Maschine
    Mac OS X 10.14.6 (Mojave) | Cubase Pro 10 | Ableton Live 9.6 | Logic 10.4 | MainStage 3.4 | NI Komplete 12 | RME Fireface UFX+

  • Hello everyone!,

    After some delays with other projects, I have finally finished my own list of my personal impressions/opinions of what each of the Spectral Waves sounds like and might be good for, and I am now presenting from my insanely detailed list a user-friendly distilled version featuring all 64 of the waves here. I trust you will find my assessments mostly plausible as I invested a quite amount of time and effort trying to be as objective, consistent and accurate as possible. Keep in mind many of these descriptions are dependent on a few variables (all with open filter and no effects) such as transpose setting, keyboard octave placement and playing style, amp envelope settings, and hopefully these should become self-evident according to the wave’s name and during execution.



    Spectral Wave Descriptions

    1. Sine

    2. Triangle

    3. (a) Electric Piano

    (b) Organ/Soft Saxophone/Flute

    4. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Reed Organ

    (c) Saxophone/Flute

    5. Piano

    6. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Formant Vocal

    7. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Formant Vocal

    8. (a) Double Octave Formant Piano

    (b) Double Octave Saxophone/Strings/Organ

    9. (a) Soft Piano

    (b) Soft Organ

    10. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Bass Harmonica/Formant Organ/Formant Flute

    11. (a) Soft Piano/Soft Formant Piano

    (b) Soft Saxophone/Soft Formant Vocal

    12. (a) Soft Formant Piano

    (b) Soft Formant Organ

    13. (a) Detuned Bell Formant Piano/Formant Piano

    (b) Detuned Bell Formant Organ/Formant Vocal

    14. (a) Marimba

    (b) Organ

    15. Formant Vocal

    16. (a) Bell Piano

    (b) Pipe Organ

    17. (a) Mantle Clock Bells/Formant Piano

    (b) Formant Bell Organ/Formant Organ

    18, (a) Double Octave Piano

    (b) Pipe Organ

    19. (a) Bell Piano

    (b) Bass Clarinet/Bell Organ

    20. (a) Double Octave Formant Piano/Bell Piano

    (b) Formant Organ

    (c) Double Octave Formant Vocal/Formant Vocal

    21. (a) Clavichord

    (b) Formant Organ/Formant Vocal

    22. (a) Double Octave Formant Piano

    (b) Formant Organ

    23. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Formant Organ

    (c) Formant Vocal

    24. (a) Thin Distortion Double Octave Formant Piano

    (b) Thin Distortion Reed Organ

    (c) Thin Distortion Double Octave Formant Vocal

    25. (a) Soft Piano

    (b) Soft Organ

    26. (a) Electric Piano

    (b) Bassoon/Formant Clarinet

    27. (a) Clavinet

    (b) Pump Organ

    (c) Formant Vocal

    (d) Bass/Cello/Viola

    28. (a) Harpsichord

    (b) Thin Pipe Organ

    (c) Double Octave Formant Vocal

    29. (a) Formant Upright Piano

    (b) Accordion

    (c) Formant Vocal

    30. (a) Double Octave Piano/Chime (Toy) Piano

    (b) Organ

    31. (a) Bell Formant Piano

    (b) Bell Formant Organ/Accordion

    32. (a) Electric Piano

    (b) Formant Organ

    33. (a) Bell Piano

    (b) Bell Organ

    34. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Formant Organ

    35. (a) Electric Piano/Xylophone

    (b) Organ/Soft Bell Organ

    36. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Formant Vocal

    37. (a) Soft Formant Piano

    (b) Soft Formant Organ

    (c) French Horn/Soft Flute

    38. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Reed Organ

    (c) Straight Saxophone/Harmonica

    39. (a) Soft Piano

    (b) Soft Saxophone/Soft Flute

    40. (a) Soft Formant Piano

    (b) Soft Regal (Renaissance Organ)/Soft Flute

    41. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Formant Vocal

    42. (a) Kalimba/Formant Piano

    (b) Soft Bell Organ/Formant Organ

    43. (a) Formant Piano

    (b) Formant Vocal

    44. (a) Double Octave Formant Piano/Bells/Soft Bell Piano

    (b) Formant Organ/Bell Organ/Soft Organ

    45. (a) Soft Bell Piano

    (b) Soft Organ

    46. (a) Bell Piano

    (b) Organ

    47. (a) Tubular Bells/Bells

    (b) Bell Organ

    48. (a) Formant Bell Piano

    (b) Formant Bell Organ

    49. (a) Bell Piano/Bells

    (b) Organ/Bell Organ

    50. (a) Bell Piano

    (b) Bell Organ

    51. (a) Tubular Bells/Bell Piano

    (b) Bell Organ/Organ

    52. Formant Vocal

    53. (a) Vibraphone

    (b) Soft Bell Organ/Organ

    54. (a) Bell Piano

    (b) Bell Organ

    55. (a) Double Octave Bell Piano

    (b) Double Octave Organ

    56. (a) Formant Piano/Piano

    (b) Formant Vocal/Organ

    57. (a) Detuned Distortion Piano

    (b) Detuned Distortion Organ

    58. (a) Double Octave Electric Piano/Formant Distortion Piano

    (b) Double Octave “Bassoon Organ”/Formant Distortion Organ

    59. (a) Formant Clavinet

    (b) Regal (Renaissance Organ)

    (c) Formant Vocal

    (d) Sitar/Hammered Dulcimer

    60. (a) Formant Clavinet

    (b) Regal/Formant Organ

    (c) Formant Vocal

    61. (a) Soft Vibraphone

    (b) Soft Organ

    62. (a) Soft Harp

    (b) Soft Organ/Soft Pan Flute

    63. (a) Detuned Piano/Piano

    (b) Detuned Organ/Organ

    64. (a) Double Octave Piano

    (b) Organ



    Although this has been a rather tedious project, I am excited by how much I have learned; researching the characteristics of a wide variety of musical instruments, training my ears to distinguish the subtle differences between or the similarities of various Spectral Waves, and finding ways to apply them in a useful context. It’s an exercise a highly recommend undergoing at some point with your Virus TI, as some of you already have. And as always, please feel free to share your results so we can continue expanding our community list of Spectral Wave descriptions!


    Cheers!, :)

    GESchwalm




    Presented by

    Rapturenaut Digital Christian Studio

    Houston, Texas

    "glorifying God through electronic music"

  • Updated the Excel sheet with GESchwalm 's findings.


    See attachment above.

    Bass Player and Synthesist.
    Virus TI2 Darkstar | Virus TI2 Desktop | Moog Sub 37 | Blofeld |Machinedrum | Monomachine | Analog Four | MPC Live | NI Maschine
    Mac OS X 10.14.6 (Mojave) | Cubase Pro 10 | Ableton Live 9.6 | Logic 10.4 | MainStage 3.4 | NI Komplete 12 | RME Fireface UFX+