Qtorial 14: Experimenting with Amplitude in QSynth!

by Abby @ Quaver on March 5, 2012

in Qtorials,QuaverMusic.com

Join me today in welcoming back the great Jeremy Ruff, QuaverMusic.com’s Website Coordinator and master of all things tech.

Today he’ll take us even deeper into the world of sound-creation with Quaver’s QSynth!

Take it away, Jeremy!


Hello again!

In my last visit to the blog, I introduced you all to QSynth and a few of the ways you can work with synthesized sounds.

As we looked at last time, the waveform setting adjusts the shape of the soundwave, and the amplitude knob turns the volume of the tone up or down.  You can really notice changes to these parameters by listening to just a single tone.  The remaining settings, however, are best experienced when you combine two tones together.  

Let’s Explore the Amplitude & Phase Settings:

To explain Phase, it helps to think of the oscilloscope like a graph.  

  • The x-axis measures time
  • The y-axis measures amplitude.

At first you might think that having a negative number for amplitude is crazy: a sound can’t be less than silent, can it?!  But what that amplitude number is actually describing is the motion of a speaker over time as it is playing the sound.

When the amplitude is positive the speaker is pushing toward you, and when the amplitude is negative the speaker is moving away from you.  

When the line of the wave is at the zero amplitude point of the graph, the speaker is at its resting position, even if it is just for a moment!

Now, see how the sound wave crosses at zero time and zero amplitude?  That is the starting position of the sound wave (and speaker) when you press a key in QSynth.  Move the phase knob to the left.  See how the zero point adjusts to the left?  This won’t change the way the tone sounds though: try it and see!

So why did we include the Phase knob if it doesn’t do anything??

The magic happens when you adjust phase when there is more than one tone playing.  See, the individual tones add together mathematically to produce a single tone!

  • First adjust Tone 1’s amplitude to 5 and its phase to be all the way to the left (negative).
  • Now turn on a second tone by clicking the “unmute” button to the left of Tone 2, then set its amplitude to 5 as well.  This will let us get a good look at what’s going on.
  • Now: slowly turn the phase knob all the way to the left.  Notice how the amplitude increases!

What do you think will happen if you turn the knob all the way to the right for a positive wave shift?  Try it and find out!

Did you ever think there was this much science behind sound?

Experiment with different waveforms and phase changes to get some really crazy sounds!  Tweak it until you love it, and post a picture of your creation on Quaver’s Facebook Page!  Then join us next time when we’ll uncover even more QSynth secrets!

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