Spectre Digital Synthesizer v2
Now at version 2.1!
It’s a sad fact that there are no proper additive or FM synths around now, and so here’s another area where Reason could excel. Thor’s FM oscillators are very cool, but are hard work and suffer from the limited modulation routing and audio/cv ins and out required for viable 4+ operator synthesis. Of course, all additive and FM programming is perhaps not for the faint-hearted, but are a sound designers wet dream.
So taking inspiration from three classic additive synths – the RMI Harmonic Synthesizer and Kawai K5 and K5000 – and of course the Yamaha FM synths, here my ideas for a full-on digital Reason synth, codename Spectre.
Selecting this mode puts you in additive territory. Depending on the processor power that might be available in the real world, I’ve set this model up as a two DCO synth, with up to 64 partials (harmonics) per oscillator.
It might also be feasible to link both oscillators and have a single Oscillator with 128 partials. Added this as an option in the DHG Window
As with the original RMI, you can select the harmonic type on which your partials will be based via a series of buttons, while moving into Kawai territory each partial can be processed separately, with it's own envelopes. In effect, each partial could be thought of as a sample in NN-XT: each harmonic can be manipulated with unique settings, however this may mean that it's not fully automatable, as MattHG points out below. I would however expect the actual partial levels on the main screen to use some kind of automation. Maybe, for example, it would be possible to route an LFO/Filter to DHG, similar to things selig did with the VocoSynth; in this situation, the partials on the main screen should be animated so we can see what's going on at least.
Clicking on a partial via the Touchscreen will highlight it and, like with an NNXT sample, its individual options can be displayed and edited in the Advanced Programming section."
In FM mode I've proposed a 12-Op section. (I see no point in limiting the number of Ops to just that of a DX7... the FS1R had 8, which should be considered the benchmark number, but we might as well push for more!) .
On the touchscreen you always see an overview of all the operators (ones' not used are greyed out); additionally there are four extra Ops - one for each Harmonic Generator, and 2 from audio inputs). Selecting an Op from the overview will show you a graphic representation of what FM is coming into that Op from elsewhere. You can switch the detailed view from what is coming into the Operator, or what is going out, and edit those FM amounts either way.
The long black bar underneath the main screen is a virtual ribbon controller
I'd like to see a voice section that's a little more robust than anything currently available in Reason. Thors' voice section is pretty good, and those should be carried over, but I'd still like to see a dedicated Glide option, plus legato glide, and all that stuff - in the FM realm those would be very handy for articulations. Heh, maybe even go a stage further and be able to set any partial or OP to trigger on release... oh, Hell yeah.
Parameter copying - all parameters from one partial/OP should be copy-enabled, to be pasted to any other partial/OP (select target and Paste Current) or all partials/OPs (Paste All), This is important! A randomise partials might be nice too for the HG section.
Version 2 is much closer to what I originally had in mind - I hadn't really finished it when I first posted the thread; I fully expect eXode to take full blame for rushing me!! (j/k).
I hope it's now a little clearer.
The FX section has been dumped, but there is now a dedicated section to Ring Mod between the two oscillators [EDIT - or the two audio inputs!], and a new Unisono section. The Advanced Programmer and MBRS sections are now seperate, and would be more like the Combinator sections, ie, each can be opened independently. The MBRS section will probably be the same size as the TS8450, but inside it should scroll, so there are plenty of routing options.
LFO 1 is pre-wired to Osc 1/FM Operators. LFO 2 to Osc 2, LFO 3 is global. There are lots of waveforms - all the Thor and Mal at least. More would be nice! It should also be clearer now that there are effectively six envelopes, and all this can be rerouted as required through the MBRS. (I seem to have missed Delay knobs on LFO 1 and 2)
The advanced FM Op controls are only via the Oscillator One / FM Operators section, while both Filters can be used. The Filters are now fully selectable through at the very least the full range of what is available in Thor. Personally I'd like to see more options there, too. (Added a PPG LP (SSM chip) for starters; could also add Curtis (Oberheim) and EDP (Wasp)) Again it is important to note that all Operators can programmed independently of each other. In the main window I've removed the carrier/mod thing since it was never meant to be there originally, as that's controlled via the FM In-Out Amount section. The Wave type next to the title has been changed from "Sine" to "VS25" - basically I'm suggesting something similar to SubTractor, a whole load of wave types.
Harmonic Generator wave buttons - these now feature WM and Analog buttons beneath: the former will add width modulation based on the pre-wired LFO rate/shape, while Analog will convert the waveforms from a pure digital wave to an analog modelled wave, with a very subtle auto detune (so Spectre becomes a two-osc VA synth as well!). If the FM Ops are enabled, the wave selector buttons/WM/Analog buttons are disabled on Osc 1. These would still be available on Osc 2, however.
The other really big change, which I had in the back of my mind when I did the OP but didn't iterate on since I wanted to understand it better with further investigation on my K5m, is the envelope stages. I now present the full-on 8-stage envelope: up to 20s delay [NN-XT's 10s I find limiting), the attack, four "segments", of which S.4 is the sustain, and two release envelopes, which enables proper release velocities to be created within the synths (this is only just about possible at the moment by having a high filter env sustain and very low filter env release, but having a two-stage release makes this a lot easier and more versatile). I'd also suggest the possibility of being able to change between linear and exponential envelopes - you can see what I had in mind by comparing the envelopes of Osc 1 and Osc 2.
At the bottom of the Osc Env window I've added Single or All edit modes: single will only change the Op selected in the main window, All will change all Operators to the current Osc Window view.
Finally, I've added Tempo Sync (so the delay, attack, and S1-3 are sync'd), and Mono Env buttons, so you can switch between polyphonic and monophonic envelopes.
The one thing I didn't yet include was the FFT, but I think that would have to be handled via the main screen (if it's even possible to include it in the synth at all). (Added it as an Edit Window Mode on the DHG Window, plus a DFT button underneath the DHG Wave selector buttons, which will route that oscillator into the DFT, which is last in the signal chain by default; DFT would likely be global, not per Osc).
Blue edits for the Backside!
Right, lots of possibilities here: Global sequencer in, and individual sequencer in for the Oscillators. 12 Mod CV controllers, including those to automate the frequencies of the two DHGs and the DFT.
8 Audio ins, 2 stereo pre-routed to Osc 1 and 2 respectively: this allows for Ring Mod of both audio inputs to each other, or a single audio input to an oscillator (VA, FM, or DHG).
16 Audio outs, again, 2 stereo. By default both Oscillators use 1/L-2/L. Press the OUT 3L/4L button next to Oscillator 2's Level knob, and Osc 2 will output from the second stereo pair instead.
CV - lots and lots. Like with audio, no repeat of coming up short like Thor. The first four CV outs are pre-routed from the three LFOs, which gives us a number of "quick" options, like dragging LFO 1 > Ring Mod, without using slots in the MBRS matrix. These CV outs would be over-ride-able via the MBRS.
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Last edited by JiggeryPokery; 2012-01-22 at 12:30.
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