Synthesizer Basics

Even if you’re not considering building your own rig, this page could be helpful to understand the basic concepts of a synth. This will also help you figure out the many virtual synthesizers for your PC or Mac.  My posts will not focus on the technical side too much. Instead, we’ll explore the musical side of modular. But first, we have to identify the essential building blocks that make up a synthesizer.

Sound – The Voltage Controlled Oscillator or VCO
You need a sound before you can make one.

Filter – Voltage Controlled Filter or VCF
Change the warmth or sharpness of the sound that comes out of that screaming VCO.

Amplifier – The Voltage Controlled Amplifier or VCF
Functions – Some logic that controls the shape and volume of the sound. Common controls are the LFO (low frequency oscillator) that can alter pitch, volume and timbre in a repeating pattern – and the Envelope that works in stages like attack, decay, sustain and release.
Effects – Common effects like the delay, reverb, bitcrusher.