Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
Karbon L. Forms
KVRian
1151 posts since 10 Jun, 2004 from Inverness, Scotland

Post Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:28 pm

I've been thinking about a hardware synth and was looking at the Behringer Neutron, and I was wondering to myself: Why are the Osc tune knobs so big? Are they used in performance? Why is the filter freq so small in comparison? Surely that's a better candidate for enbiggenment? (I'm a Stephan Bodzin fan) I figured a big knob is easier to adjust finely, which is fair enough.

Which led me to think... On any synth, hard or soft, is all that tuning range absolutely necessary?

In my (limited) experience of reading/watching tutorials and looking at presets, I see the same things used all the time...

1. Detuned a wee bit
2. An interval, almost without fail a fifth (+7) or fourth (+5) (which may itself be detuned)
3. Entire octaves up or down.

So to me, a fine knob and semitone and octave control makes most sense (e.g. Serum) and tucked away so you don't nudge it by accident.

So, in the Minimoogs and Neutrons and such like, most positions on this large, prominent and easily accessible knob are musically useless (or niche at least)? Is fast access to discordant sounds important?

There must be something I'm missing. Is it from times of yore when you'd be constantly tuning the thing in a live context?

Looking at a Sub 37, that seems to make more sense, relatively small Osc controls and a walloping great filter freq. (I only see one +/- 7 osc freq control so not sure how that works on 2 oscs)
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"Hell is other People" J.P.Sartre
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moshimoshi
KVRist
84 posts since 18 May, 2016

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:40 pm

Depends what you're doing, and what kind of imagination you have for sound design. If you're using FM or sync functions an osc pitch knob is actually a portal to lots of different timbres. With a modular, all manner of stuff is possible. Some of my fav oscs have had 12-turn pots for the pitch. And for some grizzled old synth heads like me, waggling the cutoff is the most boring thing you can do on a synth :tu:

Karbon L. Forms
KVRian
1151 posts since 10 Jun, 2004 from Inverness, Scotland

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:52 pm

FM. Good point. But I'm mostly referring to subtractives.

So what are the cool kids waggling these days?
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"Hell is other People" J.P.Sartre
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imrae
KVRian
531 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:22 pm

It's easier to adjust a larger knob precisely. While an oscillator tuning knob is not wiggled as often as some others, you tend to want precise control!

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foosnark
KVRAF
4530 posts since 9 Jan, 2003 from Saint Louis MO

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:43 pm

Karbon L. Forms wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:28 pm
I've been thinking about a hardware synth and was looking at the Behringer Neutron, and I was wondering to myself: Why are the Osc tune knobs so big? Are they used in performance? Why is the filter freq so small in comparison? Surely that's a better candidate for enbiggenment? (I'm a Stephan Bodzin fan) I figured a big knob is easier to adjust finely, which is fair enough.
Karbon L. Forms wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:52 pm
FM. Good point. But I'm mostly referring to subtractives.

I think part of it is tradition. Big means important, and people sort of expect that design language.

Part of it is that yeah, big knobs are easier to make fine adjustments on.

It's common to have a big coarse knob and a small fine knob, but I find myself preferring the coarse knob most of the time and only go for the fine one if I need to minutely tweak the beating between oscillators.

One of the things that slightly annoys me about the Microbrute is there is no coarse tuning knob, and just a tiny, awkward fine tuner on the back -- meant to make the thing match other synths that are also tuned to A440 or similar. If you've carefully dialed in an exponential FM patch on a modular, you want to be able to freely transpose everything else because getting the relative frequencies EXACTLY right while shifting down by 183 cents or whatever is kind of a nightmare.

Noise Engineering has an interesting approach for their digital oscillators -- an endless rotary encoder which is push for coarse, don't push for fine tuning. It takes more getting used to than a big coarse knob but has the advantage of safety from accidental bumps :)

moshimoshi
KVRist
84 posts since 18 May, 2016

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:50 pm

Karbon L. Forms wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:52 pm
FM. Good point. But I'm mostly referring to subtractives.
But what about sync? It's one of the most basic things you can have in a subtractive synth osc section. And FM doesn't necessarily mean a DX7, you can do it on, for example, an Arp odyssey which is one of the classic subtractive monosynths.
So what are the cool kids waggling these days?
That would be telling :lol: :hihi:
Last edited by moshimoshi on Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

moshimoshi
KVRist
84 posts since 18 May, 2016

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:52 pm

foosnark wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:43 pm
One of the things that slightly annoys me about the Microbrute is there is no coarse tuning knob, and just a tiny, awkward fine tuner on the back -- meant to make the thing match other synths that are also tuned to A440 or similar. If you've carefully dialed in an exponential FM patch on a modular, you want to be able to freely transpose everything else because getting the relative frequencies EXACTLY right while shifting down by 183 cents or whatever is kind of a nightmare.
Use a static DC voltage into the CV in to offset? Obviously not as nice as having it on the synth but having some external cv bits can be useful when up against these limitations.
Last edited by moshimoshi on Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

moshimoshi
KVRist
84 posts since 18 May, 2016

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:52 pm

double, I always hit quote instead of edit

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foosnark
KVRAF
4530 posts since 9 Jan, 2003 from Saint Louis MO

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Wed Jan 23, 2019 4:28 am

moshimoshi wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:52 pm
Use a static DC voltage into the CV in to offset? Obviously not as nice as having it on the synth but having some external cv bits can be useful when up against these limitations.
That's a fine idea, and I'm annoyed I didn't think of it :dog: Habits from the way I use it I guess. I still usually think of the Microbrute as separate from the modular unless I want to FM it or something.

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CrystalWizard
KVRian
692 posts since 10 Jul, 2008 from Orbiti sw usa

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Wed Jan 23, 2019 5:53 am

It certainly depends of what you are making. Perhaps more tradional stuff needs less reange? When i do “science fiction” i like really wide tuning sweeps. Some of my modulars have concentric pots so outside is coarse/ inside is fine tune. I’ve also had one concentric and one superfine 12 turn. When i make reaktor synths i often add a very wide range tune knob.
gadgets an gizmos...make noise
https://soundcloud.com/crystalawareness

Karbon L. Forms
KVRian
1151 posts since 10 Jun, 2004 from Inverness, Scotland

Re: Question for synth gurus re oscillator tuning.

Post Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:06 am

I was watching a video on the IK Uno. The osc tune nob, when it's around 0 it uses fine increments for detunery and as you move away from 0 it switches (or morphs?) to semi-tones.
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"Hell is other People" J.P.Sartre
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