Iteration 1

This Web-based Synthesizer allows you to experiment with timbre in the browser. It consists of four oscillators and one noise source, each routed to its own amplitude envelope. Oscillator 1 also controls the overall envelope - all other oscillators (including noise) are routed through Oscillator 1.

I wanted to replicate one of my favorite features of synths like Ableton’s Operator— the ability to loop envelopes, letting you create detailed rhythmic textures. In addition to the base harmonic, volume, detune, wave type (sine, triangle, square, or sawtooth) and ADSR envelope, each oscillator also has a loop control, which determines the interval at which the envelope repeats.

Since the focus was on timbre, I only added limited options for controlling the notes being played. The synth plays a sequence of 7th chord arpeggios in a set scale that can be changed by moving the mouse left and right. You can also change the octave by pressing Z and X. There are three “voices” meaning that three notes can be played at the same time.

Iteration 2

In an alternate version I added visualization and control over the synth’s tuning. Each oscillator’s waveform is graphed in a circle. Since all oscillators route through the first oscillator, the top left graph represents the sum of all four - the output waveform.

You can control three synth voices to make chords and switch between Just and Equal temperaments to see and hear how they are different. It is especially noticeable on the tonic chord, in this case A Major. There are audible pulses with Equal temperament, whereas Just temperament produces a smooth harmony. You can clearly see this in the graphs as they go from fluctuating to very even.