What exactly is phase and why do you need to know how phase offset works? Here’s the answer…
The phase offset function is an essential part of a (subtractive) synthesizer that you can usually find in the oscillators area or unison section.
What are oscillators?
An oscillator is a function of a synthesizer where you can generate an audio signal. The audio signal, aka “soundwave” or “waveform”, can be shaped and tweaked to produce a unique sound. So, an oscillator is the absolute starting point of your sound design process. Thus, it’s very important to understand all the settings that come with it, such as phase offset.
How to use phase offset
Now that you know how voices work, we can go to the phase offset function. With the phase offset, you can change at which position of the waveform the generated sound starts. You see, each musical sound is merely a constant vibration. Therefore, by changing the phase offset, we can actually determine at which point in that vibration the signal needs to begin.
This way, you could let it begin anywhere from 0 to 360 degrees, whereby 360 degrees means one full oscillation. Thus, 180 degrees for example means shifting the starting position forward by half an oscillation.
Mind you though, offsetting the phase only really shows when you’re using multiple oscillators or voices that have different phase settings. So, different phases go together to produce richer or wider sounds.
Choose a phase offset that sounds interesting
If you want to give yourself a nice demonstration, enable two oscillators with the same settings. However, simply give one or the other a different phase position. This way, you will hear your entire sound change in terms of phase relation.
Ultimately, it’s your job to determine the phase for each oscillator to find interesting results. From there, 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 I don’t want you to miss out.