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Old 20th November 2009

BTW, many don't know but one killer Wavetable synth is the Ensoniq TS-10 (and ASR-10). What they call a Transwave is nothing less but a Wavetable with 128 positions. The real magic is that you are not limited to:
  • single cycle waveform, you can use much larger(!) snippets
  • user loadable / built wavetable
Problem is, there are no custom (or any kind of) wavetables for it, just few transwaves. Transwaves are similar to wavetables. Single transwave is made out of 128 individual single cycle waveforms. But what makes it different from wavetables is that one transwave is usually made out of two major waveform frames (first and last cycle in the waveform). Between lies the morph of these two frames. That’s how transwaves are smooth compared to wavetables.

Technically speaking, TS-10/12 does feature wavetable synthesis, but unfortunately there is no software for creating wavetables so one would need to make it ‘manually’ with standard waveform editing software. Considering there are total of 128 waveforms, this can be a big work. Also, every cycle must begin and end at zero amplitude. This ensures smooth playback of each individual frame, since any amplitude difference between start and end point at such short loops alters the harmonic content or totally shifts it into wrong pitch.

However, once you build it, the result can be quite impressive. In fact it is possible to gain much higher quality (longer cycle waves, more hi-fi sounding) than on a standard wavetable synthesizers. This is because a single transwave can be as big as RAM size in your synth / sampler. For example 1 MB transwave (a wavetable in this case) contains a single frame with a size of 8 kB. In the days of PPG, 8 kB was the size of the whole wavetable!!!