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Let's Talk Oscillator Phases

#1
Let's Talk Oscillator Phases

Hi all! Recently, I've been playing with my copy of Massive that I picked up during NI's end of year sale. I really enjoy digging into it. Most of my experience has been with digital and FM synths on which it's harder to understand the signal path and the way the sound is shaped. On Massive, those qualities are a little more clear, and it's fun to try to match patches in youtube demos of other synths.

I was working through Cuckoo's Nord Modular demo and ran into a frustrating problem. The patch I was working on used ring mod, and the sound of the note would change and become more nasal without any change in the patch from me. After some digging, I found that the problem was in the oscillator phase of the modulation oscillator. I know very little about this aspect of sound design, but my assumption is that the oscillator is free-running, so when I played a note I would catch the oscillator at a different level each time I played it. Today, I realized this affects even the audio oscillators in Massive, and if you want consistency, you have to use the "restart via gate" option in the oscillator control section.

Is my assumption right? Do oscillators in synths run freely without input from the keyboard or sequencer? Does playing a note exclusively make the oscillator audible unless you control the oscillator phase with a gate?

Also, how do you feel about that? Does it frustrate you? Or do you feel that the unpredictability of the oscillators makes the sound more organic? Personally, I want my patches to sound identical if my input is identical, but this may be a level of control that's only possible on digital synths. Are there analog synths that let you restart the oscillator?

submitted by /u/xzzxzz
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