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Almost every commercially available synthesizer and music synthesis software package operates using these basic principles. With this knowledge and some ingenuity, you'll never have to use a horrible synth preset again.
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Another type of module frequently used to control other modules is the , or . An LFO is just like a normal oscillator, it can have any waveform and amplitude we specify, but it has a very low, sub-audio frequency, producing a very slowly oscillating signal generally used to control other modules within a synthesizer. For example, an LFO might move the volume level of a VCA up and down, creating a tremolo effect. LFOs are like little robots that turn knobs back and forth for you.
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The philosophy behind granular synthesis is that sound can be broken down into very small fragments and combined together to create varying timbres and thus highly complex harmonically structured waveforms. These types of synthesizers take up even more processing power than sample-based synthesizers due to the micro sound-scale on which they operate.
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This method is meant to emulate real instruments by recalling actual samples of those instruments upon striking the keyboard. These types of synthesizers can take up a lot of processing power due to the storage and instant recall of samples.
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There are some problems with our synthesizer design—not the least of which is that because we have no way of controlling the volume of the oscillator, our instrument is always making sound! In order to fix this problem, we need to add a module called a Voltage Controlled Amplifier, or VCA. The function of a VCA is to raise or lower the volume, often called or , of a signal. Essentially, a VCA is a volume knob. Oscillators and other sound generating modules are always making sound, and VCAs are what keep the level down when you're not playing.