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What exactly is phase randomness or retrigger and why do you need to know how to create random phases? Here’s the answer…

The phase randomness (or retrigger) function is an essential part of a (subtractive) synthesizer that you can usually find in the oscillators area.

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 randomness or retrigger.

How to use phase randomness or retrigger

The last major setting on the oscillator’s section is the phase randomness function, often also called “retrigger”. By changing the retrigger, you change the random phase distribution of all the available voices. So, either each voice starts at a random position of its waveform or they all start at the same fixed point. Of course, depending on the amount of phase randomness you give it if your synthesizer provides this option.

Just as the other phase settings, you will need to have at least two voices for it to work. Also, giving your voices random phases results in a stereo sound, whereas having the retrigger option enabled, produces a mono sound. That is, if you don’t use any of the other oscillator settings that can create a stereo effect.

Phase randomness or retrigger based on outcome

I know it can be a little bit challenging to understand, so just see it in action. Simply tweak the retrigger or phase randomness knob on your synthesizer. But in the end, it’s your job to use random phases or not based on the type of sound you wish to create. Once you’re happy with it, 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:

Synthesizer explained!

Synthesizer Explained Cover

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.

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