Wub Wub 2.0 with Multiple LFOs
By Francis Preve
Thu, 22 Aug 2013

In previous columns, we’ve covered using LFOs for everything from dubstep “wubs” to Dutch house sirens. So if you’ve been following along at home, you should have a solid grasp of the essentials of tempo-synced LFOs.

This month, we're going further down the rabbit hole and exploring the possibilities of using multiple synced LFOs to create hyper-rhythmic effects that can make even a basic synth patch do groovy tricks that would be hard to replicate without resorting to time-consuming automation tactics.

Application 1: Filters


In dubstep, it’s incredibly common to use a sine or triangle LFO—applied to filter cutoff on a bass patch—to create that classic (some might say hackneyed) wub-wub bombast. Things get way more interesting when you apply two or more different LFOs to the same filter cutoff destination, especially if you use different note-value rates and waveforms. Here I used Reason’s Thor to apply dual LFOs to its Ladder filter—one with a downward sawtooth and the other with a sine wave—then changed the tempo of the sine wave LFO as the patch played.

Application 2: Pitch


Using the same technique described above, I applied the two LFOs to the pitch of a single oscillator, and then varied the tempo of the sine wave again. Note: With pitch modulation, a little goes a long way, so I throttled back on the LFO amounts for each.

Application 3: Advanced Techniques


Once you get the hang of working with multiple LFOs, it’s time to experiment in earnest. Sticking with Thor, I created a dual-oscillator patch that relies on hard sync on oscillator 2 to create harmonic sweeps. From there, I added a sawtooth to the amplifier gain to create a retriggering effect, then played with the rate of the LFO on oscillator 2’s pitch, thus syncopating the harmonic rhythms.

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