Of all forms of sound synthesis, subtractive synthesis is one of the oldest and still
certainly one of the most employed today. It is this method that was developed toward
the end of the 60’s on analog synthesizers like the ARP, Oberheim, Yamaha, Buchla,
Sequential Circuits (Prophet series), Roland, Korg (MS and PS series), Bob Moog’s
creation and many others. This concept of synthesis is still used on most current digital
synthesizers, complementing sample reading or wave tables, which progressively
replaced the analog oscillators of the first synthesizers in the 80’s. The ARP2600, or even
your own ARP2600 V are among the best illustrations of the enormous possibilities of
subtractive synthesis.
6.1 The three main elements
6.1.1 The oscillator or VCO
The oscillator (Voltage Controlled Oscillator) is the starting module (with the noise
module which is often classed among the oscillators) for the creation of a sound on an
analog system.
It will generate the initial sound signal. We can think of the oscillator like a violin string
that once stroked or plucked, vibrates to create its sound.
The oscillator settings on the ARP2600 V
The main oscillator settings are:
The pitch is determined by the oscillation frequency. You can set the frequency of
the oscillator with 2 controllers: first, the RANGE selector which determines the
fundamental frequency it is expressed in feet- : Low, 32, 16, 8, 4, 2; the highest
number (32) brings the deepest tone, inversely, the smallest number (2) brings the
highest tone. Secondly, the detune setting (“FREQUENCY) lets you tune the
oscillator more precisely.
The waveform which determines the harmonic richness of the audio signal. On the
ARP2600 V, four waveforms are available:
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