What exactly is LFO amount and why do you need to know how to adjust the amount of an LFO? Here’s the answer…
The LFO amount function is an essential part of a (subtractive) synthesizer that you can usually find in the LFO area.
What are LFOs?
An LFO stands for Low Frequency Oscillator and, just as an envelope, it can create a movement with your sound. Whereas an envelope will produce a single or one-time motion, an LFO can produce a repeating motion. This way, an LFO can modulate or vibrate your sound based on a wave pattern.
The modulation can take many forms, depending on your design. Thereby, you can create different types, such as a volume modulation, panning modulation, pitch modulation or filter modulations. But also, you can choose when the modulation should happen, how fast the modulation should be, and which shape the modulation should have.
So, for example; if you’d select a pitch LFO, you can move the tone of your sound up and down repeatedly at a certain rate. In the same way, if you’d select a panning LFO, you can move the sound between the left and right speaker sequentially at a certain speed. This way, you can set your sound in motion very flexibly, depending on the effect you wish to produce. Thus, it’s very important to understand all the settings on the LFO area, such as the LFO amount.
How to use LFO amount
The LFO amount, sometimes called gain, controls the intensity of the sound modulation. It dictates how extreme the modulation occurs. This way, a higher amount results in a stronger modulation and a lower amount results in a weaker modulation. So, the more you open this knob, the higher the intensity.
LFO amount direction
Though, usually you will find the LFO amount knob going in two directions, whereby the center represents a zero value, which means no modulation. By choosing between left or right, you dictate in which way the modulation occurs. This way, the behavior of the LFO will completely invert if you move the parameter to the opposite side. So, the orientation of the LFO amount sets the direction for the movement.
If you lost me hear, don’t worry. Let me just give you an example. Let’s say you want to make a pitch modulation. Therefore, you select “pitch” as the target and you open the LFO amount to the right. Great, the tone of your sound first goes up and then goes down repeatedly.
However, instead of choosing right, you now orientate the LFO amount to the left. Suddenly, the tone of your sound first moves down and then moves up repeatedly. So, the modulation has been inverted.
More than one LFO amount?
As a side note, be aware that some synthesizers, such as Sylenth1, can have two different amount settings. One to define the direction and amount for the target, and one for the general amount of the LFO. In that case, you need to tweak both to produce a result. Once you’re happy with the result, you can tweak the other settings, which we will explore next in the complete “Synthesizer for beginners” series.
Synthesizer for beginners
The “Synthesizer for Beginners” series is a huge collection of quick lessons about sound design and synthesis. Each lesson explains one part of how a subtractive synthesizer works, which is vital to know if you’re an electronic music producer.
Most people have the attention span of a butterfly and therefore miss all the important tips later in my videos and posts. Still, I don’t want you to miss a thing and that’s why you will see these short clips on Screech House. Each short clip explains a bite-sized topic from one of my longer videos. This gives everyone the chance to focus solely on what they need and thereby also saving a lot of time.
Today’s short clip is from the 4-part “Synthesizer Explained” video course. Watch the full episodes here:
The “Synthesizer Explained” video course is now finally available as an exclusive guide. This easy-to-read book is jam-packed with valuable info about the essential basics of sounds design, including practical tips and bonus cheat sheets.
Since the day of release, many people have already read it. But if you haven’t, click this link to get your copy: Synthesizer Explained.
Make sure to get it now, else you risk being too late and miss out.