Getting to Know the Ultrabeat Synthesizer Section

Ultrabeat’s sound engine is optimized for creating electronic and acoustic drum and percussion sounds. It combines several synthesis approaches—phase distortion, sample playback, FM (frequency modulation), and physical modeling—to create tones. You can even use an audio side-chain input as a sound source, if desired. The sound engine provides truly comprehensive modulation functions—allowing nearly every aspect of Ultrabeat to be modulated.

The Synthesizer section is the heart and soul of Ultrabeat. Each drum sound in a kit is an independent synthesizer and has its own set of synthesizer parameters—its own Synthesizer section.

The interface and signal flow of Ultrabeat’s synthesis engine are based on classic synthesizer designs. If you’re totally new to synthesizers, it might be best to start with Synthesizer Basics, which will introduce you to the fundamentals and terminology of different synthesis systems.

If you look at the Synthesizer section from left to right, you’ll recognize the layout and signal flow of a subtractive synthesizer. First, the basic tonal material is created by the oscillators, noise generator, and ring modulator. A filter then takes away certain frequencies from the raw sound, followed by volume shaping—envelopes.

Note: Whereas the structure and layout mirrors classic subtractive synthesizer designs, Ultrabeat incorporates a number of different tone generation (synthesis) methods, including frequency modulation, component modeling, sample playback, and phase distortion. These provide unique qualities that massively expand the range of sounds you can create.

Figure. Synthesizer section.

The details of Ultrabeat’s functions and their importance become more apparent when you look at the three-dimensional nature of the interface and recognize the different levels from front to back. The following descriptions refer to the third dimension, so keep this in mind while reading and exploring Ultrabeat’s interface.

The large, round, elevated Filter (and Distortion) section is in the center. Its placement and design are both symbolic and practical, as the filter plays a central role in Ultrabeat. The Filter is discussed in Getting to Know the Ultrabeat Filter and Distortion Section.

The Filter receives its signal from the following sound sources:  Oscillator 1, Oscillator 2, the noise generator, and the ring modulator. The outputs of these sources are represented by the three round objects and the smaller, rectangular ring modulator section to the right, that surround the Filter.

One level down—from front to back—each of the sound source output objects provides controls that determine how modulation sources, such as the LFO and envelopes, affect the sound source. All modulation sources are discussed in Working with Modulation in Ultrabeat.

Each of the sound sources that adjoins the filter also features a small signal flow button (red, when active). This is used to determine (and indicate) whether the signal of the associated sound source should proceed through the Filter or bypass it—before being routed to Ultrabeat’s Output section.

The Output section is shown to the right. Signals sent from the Filter can pass through two equalizers and a stage for stereo expansion or panoramic modulation. You can also set up the initial output level and trigger behavior in this section. See Using the Ultrabeat Output Section.

The output of the drum sound is then sent to the Assignment section mixer (see Getting to Know Ultrabeat’s Assignment Section).