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Recycle Wavetables from other synths

Published: 2017-03-29

This week I started writing a couple of articles about wavetable synthesis. In this article I would like to write down an idea when it comes to "borrowing" wave tables from other synthesizers. From this angle I am going to focus on one device in particular. Orbis. Techniques described in this article will require Reason 9.2 as a minimum requirement.

The Orbis Wavetable Synthesizer in Reason is a cheap unique type of wavetable synthesizer. While in comparison to devices like the Vibro Wavetable or the Blamsoft Expanse the Orbis may seem like a little bit limited. There are a few good explanations why this synthesizer might be a bit limited compared to the others. First of, it is an IDT device. There are no Control Voltage cables. The routing is quite limited. And it quite simplistic as a device. Now, this may sound all really negative. However, as it comes to being an IDT device it does something unique while being a wavetable synthesizer. This is one of the few devices in this realm where you are able to morph through different wave forms while using the Oscillator Position knob.

While the synthesizer is quite simplistic by its look and feel, it is also like a device that is easy to pick up and start playing. Kind of like a malstrom, but then with 4 different voices. Just to write down the specs, the device contains the following:

- 4 oscillators
- 14 different wave tables with 128 precision per wavetable (estimate)
- oscillator controls for volume, drive (saturation?), tune, detune, offset (wavetable start position), spread
- Wavetable start position, Start velocity, Start ADSR, Start LFO. Pitch LFO
- 3 different filters which can be used in parallel (LP24, BP6 and HP12)
- filter envelopes and lfos
- master controls (High shelf, Volume, Tune)

Orbis wavetable synthesizer layout

From a device perspective this works pretty linear at this extend. Since you have the oscillator (which is driven by an Amp Envelope to control the volume). This goes through a parallel filter. And then you have a wide range of LFOs to go through the different positions, pitch, and filters. The device works pretty nice as is.

In the following video I will play all wave tables in a sequence. These are all the wave table sounds in this synthesizer played in a sequence:

Breaking the Limitation

Now, here is somewhat where the problem starts to occur. If you compare this with lets say a Malstrom Graintable Synthesizer. This device is a stock device and contains 82 different wave tables. If you compare this device with lets say a another wave table synthesizer like DyingStar (containing almost 130 wavetables). Then well, yeah. That already says a lot. The only good news is that creating sounds using the Orbis is quite a blast, since this is done pretty fast.

While I am not just writing an article, I am writing an article with a purpose. Since in terms of IDT devices like these (in the way this device is setup in particular), there is a new way in to using them.

This technique will require Propellerhead Reason 9.2 at minimum
This will require a synth that can load up wavetables (or samples). In this particular case I am using Expanse as an example.

Lets say you would record the sequence from a wave table synth like this in a sequence where the position goes from 0 to 127. Export that as a wave file. You have in your possession a wave table from an IDT device. Now, I know what your saying: The Orbis Wavetable Synthesizer costs money. However... you can trial a Rack Extension for 30 days and then use that time to export all the wave files (because that is what they are) and export those one by one using this technique.

For a device like the Orbis, it takes you 5 minutes to do this, since all you need is one note. Edit automation on the position knob. Move from 0 to 127. Export the loop. Select the next wave form and repeat this for 14 times. And you wave all the wave tables from the Orbis (and thus all the core sounds from it).

If you have Expanse from Blamsoft, you can record all the samples from this device and import those one by one in to Expanse. And voila. You have just made your "free" library of your own set of wave tables. It is however not legal to publish the core wavetables online with out the consent of the creator of the synth though. But still you are able to use them in your own productions. Personally, I am not really supporting these type of ideas though. I am just saying, it is an option to do just that! Since Reason 9.2 basically allows you to do this (and I am quite surprised to see I am the first one to bring this to the table. No pun intended (ow...). I personally own a copy of the Orbis wavetable synthesizer myself. 

From this angle, exporting wavetables is applicable with devices like the Malstrom Graintable (which requires a bit more work because it contains 82 wavetables). And with Thor the Wavetable Oscillator (32 tables). Even while these are stock devices, they can be useful in a device like Expanse. Now of course similar tricks can also be applicable with lets say VSTs. If you can record VST devices that have "moving" wave tables. You do the same thing in the DAW that supports it. Export it, and import the wave table in Expanse. So you can recycle VST wave forms while doing so. Why not!

The benefit behind this technique would be that you are able to re-use existing wave tables that are out there and re-shape them with the features that Expanse has to offer. And there are quite a lot. But since I just wanted to share this "idea" and write an article about it. Just because I have been quite busy lately, I did want to break the radio silence a bit.

Published on Reason Experts
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Published on Reason Experts
Published: 2017-03-29

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29 Mar 2017 


The Orbis reminds me a bit of the Nautilus bass device. Haven't trialed Orbis yet but as described it sounds like it gives off a similar kind of feel when working with this.
 1 Apr 2017 


the major difference here is that Nautilus is all based on Sine, Saw and Square. The drive in Orbis is similar as the one in Nautilus Shaper. But the waveforms (especially wave table 5) are quite different to the ones in nautilus.

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