Episode 009 - Oscillator Sync

Published: Jan 05, 2016 by Adam Anderson

In this episode, we'll take a look at an advanced topic: oscillator sync. If you've enabled it on your synth but heard no difference in your sound, come figure out why. Or, if you just don't remember what it does, come have a refresher.
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Download the episode mp3 here.
Show Notes

Oscillator Sync Defined

Oscillator sync simply synchronizes the period of one waveform with that of another. What does that mean? Basically, the synchronized waveform restarts its wave each time some other waveform completes a cycle.

The naming may differ on some synthesizers, but typically there is a “master” oscillator (often OSC 1) which controls the cycles of the “slave” oscillator (often OSC 2). In order for oscillator sync to have any kind of audible effect, the slave oscillator must be tuned higher than the master. And, it must not be tuned to octave multiples of the master.

Listen to the podcast for examples of what it sounds like.

More Study

Fred Welsh’s book, Synthesizer Cookbook: Synthesizer Programming, Sound Analysis, and Universal Patch Book, is an excellent reference on using oscillator sync to produce sounds that couldn’t otherwise be achieved.

Looking for the ESQ-1 example patch we created near the end of the episode? Here it is: oscillator sync example for Ensoniq ESQ-1.