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Free Running DCO or Digital Oscillator Synths?
Old 4 weeks ago
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Rezisehtnys's Avatar
Free Running DCO or Digital Oscillator Synths?

Tried searching again and couldn't come up with anything, so I'm either terrible at using the search engine or for some reason I'm the first to ask about these things... Anyway... My question is what DCO or digital oscillator synths have free running oscillators, or have the option? I know plenty that have "analog feel/error/slop", but that's randomized tuning. I know the SY77 allows you to set operator starting phase point, or set them to free running, but aside from that I'm not aware of any others.

I ask since I've found that the vast majority of the time I prefer free running over phase synced, and I suppose it's why I've always felt cold on the DCO and digital synths I've owned when compared to listening to VCO synths. I always attributed tuning drift as to why since that's what everyone talks about when they say VCO are better and sound more alive, but it's definitely free running oscillators to me and maybe a little tuning drift furthers that fullness and liveliness. There's a huge difference in how the SY77 sounds just solely on the operator phase relationship, so I don't think I'm that crazy. So any other digital synths that offer this, or is it normally a VCO synth only deal to have the oscillators free running?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Yul
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Prophet 08 / Rev 2

Jx-8p

Deepmind maybe

probably a few others too
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Old 4 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yul View Post
Prophet 08 / Rev 2

Jx-8p

Deepmind maybe

probably a few others too
Ahh that explains why my JX-8P is the one DCO synth I've liked and kept then since it always sounded like it was free running compared to other DCO and VA synths I had at the time, but I thought I was imagining it and trying to justify my reasons for preferring it over newer gear. Yay not crazy!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
DCO or digital oscillator
DCO is not a digital oscillator.
DCO is a digitally controlled (analog) oscillator.
And it is free running, it doesn't just start oscillating when you press a key.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
free running oscillators
Nearly all software Virtual Analogs have it as default oscillator behavior.
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Old 4 weeks ago
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I assumed that all DCOs were free running, as they are slaved to a clock at all times...your key press is just gating the VCF/VCA and telling the oscillator what pitch to play.
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Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Ultranova let's you choose between free-running and phase-reset
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Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Prophet 12 gives you the option of key reset or free-running. And phase reset on a fast bassline is pretty useful IMO.
Old 4 weeks ago
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So all true DCO, actual analogue waveform generation with digital clocking for tuning, should be free running then. Makes sense. I guess the other DCO synths I've used aren't true DCO, or they've phase synced the oscillators to each other somehow even though they're still free running as a group? Like on the JX-8P I can have two oscillators set to the same tuning, and they'll still phase against each other some, but on the Bass Station II(said to be DCO) if I do the same there's nothing in terms of phasing between them. So this is why I'm confused.
Old 4 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
Like on the JX-8P I can have two oscillators set to the same tuning, and they'll still phase against each other some, but on the Bass Station II(said to be DCO) if I do the same there's nothing in terms of phasing between them.
I guess it is caused by differences in precision of calculations needed to keep the oscillator in tune between the 80s and the 10s.
Old 4 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
So all true DCO, actual analogue waveform generation with digital clocking for tuning, should be free running then.
They are free running unless the synth deliberately resets the phase of the oscillator on each note-on. Some synths do this to make bass notes punchier. Doesn't matter if it's DCO or VCO. Minitaur has switchable phase reset for example, which is ideal, since you can choose whether you want it or not depending on the sound you're after.

Digital oscillators, depending on how the firmware/software is written, may be allocated as needed, so they would tend to start at the same phase when they are instantiated. This is especially true in softsynths where optimizing CPU usage is important.

A digital VA with a smaller fixed number of voices is more likely to have free running oscillators.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Ahh ok. I like options and it's nice to be able to choose, like on the SY77 certain sounds work better having the operators phase synced. I wish the Bass Station II gave the option, maybe in a future update.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Samplers. The thing we can no longer have real implementations of anymore. They are all by design free running oscillators. Some of the better machines gave powerful features like sample start modulation and start offsets. Some of the fattest sounds in my arsenal are sampled instruments using said features. The more zones you make the better it is. For actual instrument patches I sample all the white keys. Let transposition deal with the flats and sharps.

Too bad nobody wants to put out a real hardware sampler anymore....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Yul
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
Like on the JX-8P I can have two oscillators set to the same tuning, and they'll still phase against each other some, but on the Bass Station II(said to be DCO) if I do the same there's nothing in terms of phasing between them.
Audible phasing has nothing to do IMO with free running or not. Free running has more to do with clicks at the start of a note. In your example it's rather a question of tuning precision. You might hear some phasing on some unisons/supersaws with phase locked oscs at the start of the note but you would need many oscs stacked. Try it on software with stacked oscs and tweak free running or not.
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Old 4 weeks ago
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What is meant with free running? After the phase trig (clock reset) the DCO are again clock driven , DCO's are not real oscillators and they are not cold. Where does all this coldness nonsense cumin from really? Its very similar to "man made climate change bull crap" , climate change have always changed and a VCO always change to what climate there are inside the box due to change in temperature! LCO driven DCO's do the same but in a group they are sometimes in phase for a brief moment as long as they are not octaves apart but modern DCO's have so high resolution (32 bits) they never have to be in phase.... unless you want them to!.....or not........it depends.................sometimes..........or not..............maybe........not.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yul View Post
Audible phasing has nothing to do IMO with free running or not. Free running has more to do with clicks at the start of a note. In your example it's rather a question of tuning precision. You might hear some phasing on some unisons/supersaws with phase locked oscs at the start of the note but you would need many oscs stacked. Try it on software with stacked oscs and tweak free running or not.
I don't have any software or a computer to run it at the moment, but I do have the SY77 that lets you choose. It sounds more spread out and full when the operators are set to free running, like they're not trying to fight for the same space like when they're phase synced. Maybe phasing wasn't the best way to describe it. I suppose maybe free running has different parts of the waveform playing on each oscillator at the same time, so you don't get that locked together thing going. At least that's how I picture it in my head based off the SY77.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollowman9 View Post
Samplers. The thing we can no longer have real implementations of anymore. They are all by design free running oscillators. Some of the better machines gave powerful features like sample start modulation and start offsets. Some of the fattest sounds in my arsenal are sampled instruments using said features. The more zones you make the better it is. For actual instrument patches I sample all the white keys. Let transposition deal with the flats and sharps.

Too bad nobody wants to put out a real hardware sampler anymore....
Interesting, such a sampler would probably change how I feel about them.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
I don't have any software or a computer to run it at the moment
Search Android store if you have a compatible smartphone.
There are some nice synths there.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollowman9 View Post
Samplers. The thing we can no longer have real implementations of anymore. They are all by design free running oscillators.
All the samplers I've tried don't have free running oscillators. The oscillator (sample) plays back from the same place every time a key is pressed and stops when the key is released, unlike a vco or dco.
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Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
vlz
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The REV2 allows you to set free running or key reset for both oscillators and LFOs.

A free running sampler is not something I ever came across. Can easily be implemented in software, but it would not work for some applications where the sound is expected to always start at a certain point.

It would be ever so funny though to implement a rompler with free running oscillators and then give it to your gigging friend to play his pianos at a wedding.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
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I presume that oscillator sync would synchronise the oscillator at start as well as subsequent cycles. It would have more effect if the oscillator was free running if not synced.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sapro View Post
I presume that oscillator sync would synchronise the oscillator at start as well as subsequent cycles. It would have more effect if the oscillator was free running if not synced.
Osc sync resets the slave when the master completes it's cycle.
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