Single Oscillator Synths.

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
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shaft9000
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Post by shaft9000 » Mon Nov 12, 2007 9:02 pm

1 OSC patches are the "secret weapons" of electronic music.

beginners are often under the impression that more osc=fatter. To an extent that can be true thanks to detuning, but it is not always the answer.
When creating basslines and sound fx 2 oscillators become problematic. A single "boring" trinagle wave will fill out the bass and provide much more consistent fundamental tone than a bunch of saws ever will. MOST of the funkiest basslines are 1 osc only. When 2 oscs are used, the fundamental tone becomes momentarily out of phase and often dissapears. A lot of FX sounds use no audio osc and rely on filter self-oscillation instead. Sine waves, no less.
Big 2-osc sounds lack the potential dexterity and usefulness of simple 1 osc patches. Snappy filter modulation sounds MUCH better on an analog synthesizer using one osc instead of two. In a big mix with other instruments it's even moreso.
In my experiences all VA's fudge the phase/detuning phenomena, due to the limitations of signal bandwidth and the 'absolute' nature of digital; whereas a good VCO/DCO will sound as if it is "breathing" or oozing frequencies in the most delightful way. New synths that really have this quality are the Moogs and DSI synths, as well as lots of oldies.
You need a VCO synth or at least a digitally-controlled analog oscillator to hear the phasing and really make the most of it. Most if not all VAs do a pale imitation of osc phasing; not much better than a ROMpler in this regard.
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Post by OriginalJambo » Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:17 am

Many people speak the truth in this thread - shaft for one. At first I never though a one oscillator synth would be useful, but then I bought a PolySix. ;)

The trump cards of these synths are usually in the form of two options you may have - a sub oscillator and PWM.

A one VCO synth with a sub will do pure and deep bass like nobodies business whilst PWM will often give an impression that there's two oscillators beating against each other.

Between these features you'll realise that some 1 oscillator synths can sound plenty powerful - the Roland SH-09 is a sterling example.

However when you only have one oscillator I don't think VCO becomes a huge benefit. When it has nothing to beat against what's the point of choosing an oscillator that drifts?

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Post by Mixolydian » Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:20 am

Shaft9000 - I agree 100%.

One of the reasons I bought another Yamaha CS-10 (after selling one) was because of the incredible bass it makes. I have a Novation BassStation keyboard, which is an excellent 2 osc mono, yet the CS-10 can go lower, clearer, and punchier with its one oscillator. Plus the CS-10 does an absolutely beautiful flute.

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Post by Box » Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:34 am

OriginalJambo wrote:However when you only have one oscillator I don't think VCO becomes a huge benefit. When it has nothing to beat against what's the point of choosing an oscillator that drifts?
I meant for polyphonic synths when playing chords etc...
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Post by Bitexion » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:41 am

There are many sounds you don't want to use 2 oscillators on. Sometimes you don't want that "fatness" or beating. Just a pure tone, like a trumpet sound.

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Post by gfriden » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:53 am

Pretty tough to get useful polyphony out of the Mono/Poly though. Unless there are any M/P owners out there that know something I don't... Come to think of it, that probably means most of them. :wink:
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Post by Sir Ruff » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:32 am

Mixolydian wrote:Shaft9000 - I agree 100%.

One of the reasons I bought another Yamaha CS-10 (after selling one) was because of the incredible bass it makes. I have a Novation BassStation keyboard, which is an excellent 2 osc mono, yet the CS-10 can go lower, clearer, and punchier with its one oscillator. Plus the CS-10 does an absolutely beautiful flute.
Let's not kid ourselves. sure 1 osc may suit the job 50% of the time, but then the rest of the time, you'll be thinking, gosh I wish I had another oscillator! The moog bass sound would not be what it is with only 1 oscillator.

so in this case, sure, a CS-10 is phat, but a CS-15 would be phatter, if only cos you have the option of turning the 2nd oscillator off!

i think this whole post is way too arbitary in what we are trying to argue about. a "one" oscillator synth is NOT the same as one oscillator + sub-oscillator synth, is NOT the same as a two oscillator synth... a single VCO oscillator VCO will sound phatter than a DCO one.... Xpander would rather have an SQ80 than a single VCO monosynth...

what was the question? :roll: :)
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Post by Tyler2000 » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:56 am

I'm surprised how little the Junos have been mentioned. Maybe it's the sub-osc. Solid synths, anyway. I use single osc. settings on my MG-1 and ESQ-1 all the time. Single osc can be fine. Maybe it's not for you.
so what do I put down here now?

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Post by Box » Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:03 pm

Tyler2000 wrote:I'm surprised how little the Junos have been mentioned. Maybe it's the sub-osc. Solid synths, anyway. I use single osc. settings on my MG-1 and ESQ-1 all the time. Single osc can be fine. Maybe it's not for you.
I like some of the single osc sounds I can make on my Korg. I guess I'm wanting to emulate 2 osc synth with a 1 osc synth which I suppose wouldn't work. Since I can't afford Oberheim I was hoping for Akai AX series to fill the gap. :P
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Post by 23 » Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:11 pm

I just couldn't resist.
One word.....

ACID

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Post by mirt » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:39 pm

lots of time when i'm playing by myself i like big polyphonic sound with two detuned vco's, realy big sound, but when i'm recording it apear that there is no place for this huge drones and i prefere only one vco.

i think that ther is big diference between vco's in polys, i can compare my crumar trilogy and akai ax80 both have two vco's, akai have more modulation options but sound is thiner.
imo synths like trilogy, prophet 5 or jupiter 4 was made like monos with added polyphony.
junos, polysix, ax and all late polys it was totaly different philosophy of sound.

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Post by JUGEL » Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:46 pm

I thought the AX-80 had DCO's ??

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Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:21 pm

In general, the second oscillator usually only provides a bit more timbral variety, and the possibility of detuning (except in the case of the CS-80, where the second oscillator is its own full voice). Neither timbral difference nor detuning necessarily means a patch will be fat. If a single-osc poly sounds "thin" it usually just means that you are expecting to hear detuning and are not. You seem to be condemning all single-oscs because they cannot create one specific sound that you desire.

I also completely agree with Shaft.

All of my analog polys are single-osc. I seem to do okay. : )

Regarding monophonics:
Many of the greatest Minimoog basses are single-osc.
The SH-09 does not need its sub-osc engaged to create a big sound.
Fat is NOT the sound of two oscs beating against each other. Fat is pleasant oscillator distortion mixed with pleasant filter distortion, and can be had from a single osc.
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Post by Zamise » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:42 pm

Box - They don't come up much but have you considered an OB-SX? They are cheaper and still have the Oberheim sound to them, if you can find one. I like mine, it sounds pretty dang good, really clacky keys tho, and you can still probably fit a nice single osc synth on top of it too.
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Post by Uncle Screwtape » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:44 pm

Ya know, I have learned that my K-1 can really make some amazing sounds, and I think it's one of the most "limited" synths I've ever seen. Once I learned to translate the terms used on the controls (Traveler=Filter, Bright=Resonance, etc), it became much easier to "program" and get what I'm looking for. I'm selling it now, but expect I will end up replacing it.
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