**Intense Tech with Defense Mech – LSDj Wave Synth Deep Dive Part 2**
-Posted November 8th, 2018 by [DEFENSE MECHANISM](https://defensemech.com)
*Note: [traducción al Español por Pixel Guy encontrado
Hello and welcome back to Intense Tech! Join in as we explore the features of LSDj in depth with the
ultimate goal of helping you, the reader, level up your understanding of the program!
In this tutorial we’ll continue covering what one needs to understand the Wave channel synth! [Last
covered Signal, Volume, Filter, Cutoff, and Q. This time we’re specifically getting into the wave
synth parameters of Dist, Phase, Vshift, and Limit. We’re going
to show you how to add some real noisy crunch to your wave sounds! By the end you should have a
great idea of how to get any kind of sound out of the wave channel,
from a silky smooth lead to a gnarly crunchy bass.
If you like this article, please check out the corresponding [LSDj Learning Lab video series about
the wave channel!](https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfhdj6Qak_ehuZgnwhiz9akZnTMsDeNpy)
In part 1, I talked about how different filter
settings affect what harmonics are produced in the wave channel.
As we have seen, the more cycles we have of a waveform in the wave frame, the higher the harmonic
that will be produced. In fact, the number of cycles corresponds
to the number of the harmonic that will play.
If you’ve taken a look at the settings on your own or read the LSDj manual, you might have found
another way to change the number of cycles: by changing the Phase.
The Phase parameter in LSDj compresses the shape of the waveform horizontally. When the Phase type
is Normal, increasing the Phase value above 0 will compress the
entire waveform, adding samples at volume 0 at the end. In this way, it is analogous to changing pulse width,
aka duty cycle. In fact, a common technique to get a smoothly modulated pulse lead (commonly
associated with the C64 SID, for example) is to set the Signal to
Square, keep Phase type set to Normal, set the start Phase value to `00`, and the end Phase to `1F`
(or 1E in version 4).
![SID lead with Phase Normal](../media/normal-phase.gif)
For an interesting vocal-like lead, try this with Triangle instead of Square.
If we change the Phase type to Resync, we’ve just given ourselves another way to add new overtones
similar to changing the Cutoff of the wave. Resync, instead of
compressing the waveform once and adding 0-value samples at the end, repeats the waveform until all
32 samples are filled.
(Note: in version 4 of LSDj, Phase `1F` is usually silent, so this waveform would have to be input
You can also experiment with Resync2, which like Resync repeats the waveform to fill the wave frame,
but does not compress it. This normally has the effect of
lowering the volume, as when you only loop a part of the waveform, it typically doesn’t reach as
high or low as it normally would. However, additional harmonics
are still created in the resulting waveforms.
Up to now, our changes to the waveforms have resulted in a fairly clean sound. Overtones have a
smooth, clear sound. But what if we really want to add some grit?
We’re gonna have to get down and dirty to make our sine wave turn into something like this:
The last frame of the synth above is what pure noise looks like in the wave channel. The noisier the
waveform gets, the more the overtones are combined differently
to add more grit. Here’s an example of what 16 different frames of pure noise sound like:
So how do we add this noise to our waveforms? One way is by essentially adding extra “notches”. This
can be done manually, like adding some extra grit to a normal
Dist (Distortion) type also affects wave noise content. Distortion in LSDj refers to what happens
when the waveform exceeds the available dynamic range, that is,
what happens when increasing a waveform’s Volume or Q takes it beyond the maximum volume. As you’ll
recall, volume is represented by the values 0-F. If the peak
volume of the signal goes higher than F or lower than 0, the Dist type of the waveform dictates how
The default Dist type, Clip, chooses to just “clip” those values at 0 and F. It’s as if we just
shave the top and the bottom right off. The more we increase the
volume of our sine wave, the more and more it starts to look and sound like a square wave.
Remember that a square wave adds extra odd overtones to the sine wave sound, so this is one
The next option, Fold (introduced in version 6), “mirrors” what those volumes would be across the
top and bottom.
Now, instead of chopping off those components of our sine wave that peak over the top and bottom,
that “excessive” volume is folded back onto the main waveform.
Compared to the deep square-like sound of Clip, this is much higher and more resonant with upper
overtones. It’s also quieter than Clip because fewer samples are
at the very top and bottom of the dynamic range. However, you could increase the Volume or Q and let
the samples fold back and forth multiple times to add more
The last option, Wrap, will carry any loudness past the top and wrap the next sample upwards from
the bottom, and vice versa. Compared to Clip and Fold, it’s
characterized by a harshness and buzz in the resulting sound. It tends to be louder than Fold
because it distributes more samples evenly throughout the entire
dynamic range, although it’s usually not as loud as Clip.
When you set Dist to Wrap and increase the volume, many sample values are wrapped repeatedly since
they exceed 0-F many times. This creates many instances where
samples jump across a large portion of the dynamic range. When you increase Volume or Q, you can
cause the waveform to wrap in unpredictable ways, so it may be
difficult to dial in a precise sound. You’ll just have to experiment and hear how the various upper
overtones will color the sound, but in general it
will sound harsh, rich, buzzy, and crunchy.
To recap what we’ve learned so far:
- If your waveform looks like a sine, square, or triangle wave with 1 complete cycle contained
entirely within the wave frame, its sound will be clear and smooth. At low octaves it will have
plenty of bass.
- The more repetitions of a wave cycle that are within the wave frame, the higher the frequencies
will be produced in the resulting notes. The number of repetitions corresponds to the harmonic
of the note in the harmonic series that will be produced.
- The more noise that occurs within the wave frame, the less clear it will sound, and the more the
sound will be colored by the upper overtones, giving it a buzzier, ringier tone. At low octaves
it will have less emphasized bass and a harsher, rougher, crunchier sound.
- Ways of adding higher frequencies include manually adding “notches” into the waveform, setting
higher Cutoff values and increasing the Q for emphasis, changing the Phase type and increasing
the values, and adding Dist of different types while increasing the Volume or Q.
Alright, so we’ve got a really noisy waveform! Now what? Maybe it’s TOO noisy! What if we like the
sound of it, but we want to tame it a bit while still keeping
its character mostly intact?
I’m so glad you asked! Another new feature added in version 6 is the ability to Limit the volume
AFTER the initial Volume, Cutoff, Q, and Phase are applied. The
value applied in Limit restricts the samples to a volume range, for example setting Limit to `F`
allows all volumes 0 through F, but setting Limit to `5` only
allows volumes 5 through A (10 in hexadecimal), so values that would reach below 5 or above A are
kept constrained within that range according to the current Dist
This is an incredibly helpful feature, because as we have seen, it’s easy to reach the maximum
available dynamic range in the Wave screen even if our Volume values
are set very low. Additionally, the Game Boy doesn’t help us much, because it only allows 4 hardware
volumes in the Wave channel: 100%, 50%, 25%, and 0% (off).
When we are Clipping or Wrapping our waveforms and constantly reaching volume range all the way from
0-F, the wave channel has the unfortunate tendency of often
being too loud at 100% volume but too quiet at 25% or 50%. Thankfully, now we can still choose to
distort our waveform to get some richness with added overtones,
but with a much fuller control of range of volume. To help us even more, we have the ability to
choose one volume range at the Start point and another volume range
at the End point. This will let us smoothly transition from loud to quiet or vice versa, as shown
here with Limit starting at F and ending at 4.
To close, we have the Vshift, or Vertical Shift, feature. This parameter lets us shift the samples
in the waveform upwards. In previous versions of LSDj, Vshift
functioned similarly to Wrap distortion such that as the waveform shifts vertically, after it
reaches F it wraps around starting again at 0. This made it possible
to choose Clip Dist, increase volume, and still add wrapping with a change of Vshift to introduce
some harsher sounds. Like Wrap, increasing Vshift often results
in unpredictable changes, but it can be fun to experiment with.
In version 6 of LSDj, Vshift follows the current Dist setting. With Clip, Vshift will squash the
waveform towards the ceiling as the value increases. This, like
Fold and Resync2, has the effect of making the waveform quieter.
Set to Fold, it will again mirror across the top. With Vshift set to `FF`, the original wave will be
Set to Wrap, it will wrap around from the bottom.
Hopefully by now you’ve gotten a much better grip of how the Wave Synth works in LSDj! I hope this
has helped you to fearlessly explore all kinds of options and
gives you a good idea of what kind of parameters you need to adjust when looking for a particular
sound, but also I hope that it helps you experiment to find a new
sound that you haven’t heard before! See you next time!
I hope you enjoyed this tour through the wave channel synth! Thanks to all my patrons for their
support. If you'd like to offer support, please consider [joining me on
Patreon](https://patreon.com/defensem3ch). It means a lot and it helps me continue to make and host this
content, pay for translations, and get your input on what kinds of articles to write next!
Thanks again for reading, and until next time, this is [DEFENSE MECHANISM](https://defensemech.com),
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