Are you a synth-buff looking to level up your sound design game? Well, mastering the concepts of wavetable synthesis could be the next step in the development of your sound design skillset.
Read our guide and get some free wavetables, samples, and presets at the end!
What Are Wavetables & How Do They Work?
“Wavetable Synthesis” is a technique used to generate unique and evolving waveforms from a series of frames (waveforms) stored within the wavetable. This technology has been in use since the 70’s but has gained popularity and been expanded upon in recent years. One analogy to understand wavetables would be a flip-book. The flip-book would be the wavetable, and each page within that book would be a waveform. Flipping through the book (wavetable) at a fast pace would produce a morphing or evolving waveform.
The wavetable frames are selected and cycled through using a “position parameter,” typically mapped to a knob or slider on the synth. In Serum, this knob is labeled “WT POS”. Different modulators like envelopes and LFOs can be used to control this knob, in return, moving or cycling through the wavetable. This movement creates variation in the tones and timbres produced by the synth, giving the sound a unique morphing effect.
Many wavetable synthesizers give you the ability to import your own custom wavetables. Typical wavetable imports rely on WAV files, but Serum has the ability to import PNG image files, turning simple pictures into not-so-simple sounds! We’ll link a video at the end of this article to show you how to utilize this function.
Upon importing, you’ll likely want to do some editing to yield a more usable wavetable. Luckily, Serum has an extremely powerful wavetable editor built right into the interface. When I say powerful, I don’t mean that lightly. You could spend weeks working with this editor and still have new areas to explore.
Serum also gives you the ability to internally resample audio to produce a new wavetable. It’s incredibly easy – Just click on the menu, then click “resample to OSC”. Serum will render one bar of the entire synth’s audio output, convert it to a wavetable, and load it into the respective oscillator. Serum even has a text-to-speech wavetable generator. Simply type one or more words into the formula parser found in the wavetable editor. Make sure to include quotation marks around your selected words. Serum will then convert the text into a gritty robotic-speech wavetable. Results with this method may vary and often need a bit of further editing to get a clearly audible speech wavetable.
Here are some additional videos on the subject of creating and editing custom wavetables in Serum:
Virtual Riot – Creating wavetables in Serum using samples with Virtual Riot
Ghost Hack – Create Awesome Serum Wavetables from Audio Files!
ARTFX – How to make perfect wavetables!
Noteable Wavetable Software Synths:
Free Serum Wavetables from Psymbionic
Now you have a broad understanding of wavetables and are ready to start experimenting with them! Check out this free pack of wavetables by renowned bass music producer Psymbionic.
Psymbionic presents Shapeshifter, a selection of 128 free wavetables made from the Intellijel Shapeshifter Eurorack module. These wavetables come in two forms: “raw 16 cycle” and “Processed 256 cycle”. Shapeshifter is perfect for a multitude of electronic music genres including dubstep, trap, riddim, future bass, and more.
All included wavetables are immediately importable to most wavetable synths such as Xfer Serum, Ableton Wavetable, and Kilohearts Phase Plant. Download these free wavetables and get to work!
Other Free Production Resources
Outside of Serum wavetables, we have sample packs and presets for any genre. Everything from dubstep to future bass, we have the tools to help you achieve your sound design goals. Check out our wide collection of sample packs, presets, stems, and more. We also have FREE packs! Download one of our many free resources today and start creating your next big hit!