Wavetable synthesis is a technique used in wavetable synthesisers to create natural tone-like sounds. A wavetable is a file or memory device that represents a sound or piece of music. The sound of an existing instrument or wave is sampled and parsed into a sequence of circular tables, samples or wavetables, each one having one period or cycle per table. A popular example of a wavetable synthesiser is Serum, which is a high-quality sounding and workflow-orientated wavetable synthesiser. This is the synthesiser I will be using to create a lead synth sound.
As it stands, the default sound that Serum uses is that of a standard saw-tooth wave and the default patch looks and sounds like this when played on a middle C note within the plugin:
To go from here and create a lead, the default wave shape on oscillator A is changed to the ‘basic shapes’ preset and changed to a square wave. It is then also pitched down an octave so as to add some weight and thickness to the sound. The second oscillator is then also turned on and set to a the basic shapes preset and is placed as a sin wave. The MONO and LEGATO buttons are also set to on in the voicing section and porta is set to around 50ms. This creates some glide between note changes which is usually customary in a lead synth and sounds and looks like this going through various notes:
Now, to get more of a synth lead sound, several things are played around with to create this. First off, the B Oscillator is also changed to a square wave and B Unison has 5 voices added. This creates multiple voices for the single MIDI note and adds more depth to the sound. The wave is then detuned so as to add some minor pulsing sounds to a single note. A filter is also added to add some shape to the sound. To add this bounciness, an envelope is turned on and given a 60ms attack 415ms hold, 500ms decay, a small -47dB sustain and a short 410ms release time. This is then dragged onto the cutoff off the filter and adds more depth and bounce to the sound. Finally, a small MIDI sequence is added to create a rhythmic pattern. Here is the final look of the synth and a how it sounds in its final form:
It isn’t the best synth lead sound and I have only a small amount of experience with wavetable synths, however it does the job!
Rise, S. (2017). Wavetable Synthesis | The Synthesizer Academy. Synthesizeracademy.com. Retrieved 14 December 2017, from http://synthesizeracademy.com/wavetable-synthesis/
Serum Tutorial – KSHMR & Tiesto Secrets Synth Lead. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 14 December 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bri0pxsZ0Y8
XferRecords.com | Home of the Xfer Records VST Suite. (2017). Xferrecords.com. Retrieved 14 December 2017, from https://www.xferrecords.com/products/serum