I recently completed a voicing assignment for the new Pro 3 synthesizer from Sequential. This is their new mono synth that carries on the tradition of the legendary Pro 1 and popular Pro 2, but the Pro 3 mixes things up a bit by incorporating a wavetable oscillator along with two analog oscillators. The filter section has three selectable types including popular low pass circuits and the Oberheim SEM filter circuit. Pictured above is the prototype unit used for developing factory programs for the instrument.
For several months now, I have had the opportunity to experiment with prototype and see the instrument become complete. Sequential asked if I could contribute some tables, and I was little reluctant. Other than generating basic mathematical functions as LUTs, I don’t have much experience developing wavetables, unlike the hardcore experts, Robert Rich and Drew Neumann. They created the real bread and butter wavetables included in the Pro 3. The Sequential Team and Dave gave me some room to just experiment a bit and see if I could come up with anything usable.
There are no commercial products available for the specific task of developing wavetables. While any decent editing application would work, I wanted something that would let me control windowing and audition at different playback rates to simulate oscillator scan rates. I ended up making a max/msp patch that allowed me to import and time compress audio files, make small edits and modulate harmonics, then export to WAV files for transfer to the Pro 3. While it was pretty easy to create some basic tables, the content from Drew and Robert was superior to what I was producing.
I ended up going back to my 808 sample library and flew in the bass drum, the snare drum, the clap, cowbell, hi hat, etc. After massaging the sounds a bit, we imported them as a 16 individual tables into the Pro 3 and what started coming out was completely different from anything we’ve heard before. It was like a weird revelation that a crude 1024 sample file could still capture the vibe of an iconic sound which could then become a voice in synthesizer patch.
The “Sequential” wavetable is a sample of my voice. This was another experiment to see if it would be possible to create a set of speech based wavetables that could be modulated to say something … and still be somewhat musically useful in timbre generation. I don’t know about the latter objective, but it was an interesting challenge to pick out the right sections of a sample that would intelligibly reproduce consonants and vowels when scrolling through the 16 wavetable sections.
On the surface, the Pro 3 seems like “just another subtractive monosynth,” but it’s pretty surprising the range of sounds you can create with this combination of nice analog oscillators and the wavetables. All of the classic monosynth type sounds are easily available, but with the flexible mod sources and routings, the sequencer, and effects, the results seem like this is more than just one voice.