Why does a square waves sound detuned when in the lower range ?

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goldplate
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Why does a square waves sound detuned when in the lower range ?

Post by goldplate » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:24 am

Why does a square wave sound detuned when its pitch is in the lower range ? A typical example is with a SH-101 sub oscillator. I initially thought it was an inner flaw, but doing some bassy squary chords on my Novation Peak made me found this seemed to be universal.

Then the next question is how to workaround this to get some better sounding squary basses...?

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Navs
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Re: Why does a square waves sound detuned when in the lower range ?

Post by Navs » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:59 am

I've heard this too - on an MC-202. I wonder if it's instrument specific, given the similarity between the two Rolands. Have you measured it with a tuner, is it off or is it just our ears?

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wuff_miggler
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Re: Why does a square waves sound detuned when in the lower range ?

Post by wuff_miggler » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:51 am

it happens to me all teh time.
i cant find the article to explain it...ffs.

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ersatzplanet
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Re: Why does a square waves sound detuned when in the lower range ?

Post by ersatzplanet » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:01 pm

Does it happen with a digital VCO? Though square waves are basically only odd harmonics, they may sound off tune, but it should be the same no matter what frequency you are playing. It would be interesting to see if it is really off, with a frequency counter, or just perceptually off.
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wuff_miggler
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Re: Why does a square waves sound detuned when in the lower range ?

Post by wuff_miggler » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:50 pm

happens to me with VSTs. so yeah prety sure same thing with DCOs. (sorry talking on op's behalf )

äggmedskägg
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Re: Why does a square waves sound detuned when in the lower range ?

Post by äggmedskägg » Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:24 pm

I checked with a digital oscillator, and it happened to me as well. But when I filtered out the harmonics it stopped happening, and I think it starts happening because the fundamental becomes to week because of either lack of bass in the speakers, or if your system can handle it, because it goes so low that your ears start saying "That's not a note, it's just vibrations". I'm not sure which is the case in my system, but that point is around C1 for me.

C1 with a sinewave doesn't sound out of tune. C1 with a squarewave totally does. An A1 sinewave has no pitch. I don't know if it's my ears or the subwoofer that is to blame. :-) So I'm leaning towards the theory that what you are actually hearing is the first odd harmonic.

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wuff_miggler
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Re: Why does a square waves sound detuned when in the lower range ?

Post by wuff_miggler » Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:29 pm

nice one äggmedskägg that sounds spot on.

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Re: Why does a square waves sound detuned when in the lower range ?

Post by cg_funk » Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:32 pm

äggmedskägg wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:24 pm
I checked with a digital oscillator, and it happened to me as well. But when I filtered out the harmonics it stopped happening, and I think it starts happening because the fundamental becomes to week because of either lack of bass in the speakers, or if your system can handle it, because it goes so low that your ears start saying "That's not a note, it's just vibrations". I'm not sure which is the case in my system, but that point is around C1 for me.

C1 with a sinewave doesn't sound out of tune. C1 with a squarewave totally does. An A1 sinewave has no pitch. I don't know if it's my ears or the subwoofer that is to blame. :-) So I'm leaning towards the theory that what you are actually hearing is the first odd harmonic.
Yeah, I think it's the sound of the fundamental dropping out of your hearing-range. When you go below audio-range, you start hearing the just the higher ODD harmonics only, and then it doesn't sound all in-tune. So another strange psycho-acoustic trick you can do on modular.

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