Know Sound Design: Advanced Wavetable Design

December 22, 2016

Last month, I showed you how to create simple wavetables using XFER Records Serum. Now, we’ll build on those tutorials to create a complex wavetable in Serum that evokes the crystalline morphing characteristics of the iconic PPG Wave 2 synthesizer by legendary designer, Wolfgang Palm.

Step 1. Starting with Serum’s Init preset, click on the pencil icon next to the default sawtooth to open the wavetable editor.

Step 2. Select the first sawtooth index. Then, in the harmonic editor at the top of the window, raise the level of the first bin to 75%-90%. This turns the original sawtooth into a sine wave, reflecting the edited harmonics. From there, raise the level of one or two more bins (but no more). This will create the starting wave for your wavetable with an organ or bell-like character.

Step 3. Click the second index, which will copy the first waveform and its harmonics. Add a few more harmonics without changing the levels of any of the previous harmonics.

Step 4. Repeat this process, gradually adding more harmonics for each wavetable index. Do this a few more times, until your final index is richly textured.

Step 5. Now click on the Morph pulldown menu and select Morph - Crossfade. This will generate interpolations between each of the indices, creating a complex wavetable that morphs smoothly as it increases in complexity.

As with last month’s CZ-esque wavetable, turning Serum’s WT Pos (wavetable position) knob adjusts the morph and allows you to modulate your original wavetable with envelopes and LFOs. To take the instrument a step further, dial in a touch of unison detuning for added depth.

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