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Sound Synthesis
A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals. Synthesizers typically create sounds by generating waveforms through methods including subtractive synthesis, additive synthesis and frequency modulation synthesis. These sounds may be altered by components such as filters, which cut or boost frequencies; envelopes, which control articulation, or how notes begin and end; and low-frequency oscillators, which modulate parameters such as pitch, volume, or filter characteristics affecting timbre. Synthesizers are typically played with keyboards or controlled by sequencers, software or other instruments, and may be synchronized to other equipment via MIDI. Synthesizer-like instruments emerged in the United States in the mid-20th century with instruments such as the RCA Mark II, which was controlled with punch cards and used hundreds of vacuum tubes. The Moog synthesizer, developed by Robert Moog and first sold in 1964 ...
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Electronic Musical Instrument
An electronic musical instrument or electrophone is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical, electronic or digital audio signal that ultimately is plugged into a power amplifier which drives a loudspeaker, creating the sound heard by the performer and listener. An electronic instrument might include a user interface for controlling its sound, often by adjusting the pitch, frequency, or duration of each note. A common user interface is the musical keyboard, which functions similarly to the keyboard on an acoustic piano, except that with an electronic keyboard, the keyboard itself does not make any sound. An electronic keyboard sends a signal to a synth module, computer or other electronic or digital sound generator, which then creates a sound. However, it is increasingly common to separate user interface and sound-generating functions into a music controller (input device) and a music synthes ...
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Vacuum Tube
A vacuum tube, electron tube, valve (British usage), or tube (North America), is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes to which an electric potential difference has been applied. The type known as a thermionic tube or thermionic valve utilizes thermionic emission of electrons from a hot cathode for fundamental electronic functions such as signal amplification and current rectification. Non-thermionic types such as a vacuum phototube, however, achieve electron emission through the photoelectric effect, and are used for such purposes as the detection of light intensities. In both types, the electrons are accelerated from the cathode to the anode by the electric field in the tube. The simplest vacuum tube, the diode (i.e. Fleming valve), invented in 1904 by John Ambrose Fleming, contains only a heated electron-emitting cathode and an anode. Electrons can only flow in one direction through the device—from the cathode to t ...
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Software Synthesizer
A software synthesizer or softsynth is a computer program that generates digital audio, usually for music. Computer software that can create sounds or music is not new, but advances in processing speed now allow softsynths to accomplish the same tasks that previously required the dedicated hardware of a conventional synthesizer. Softsynths may be readily interfaced with other music software such as music sequencers typically in the context of a digital audio workstation. Softsynths are usually less expensive and can be more portable than dedicated hardware. Types Softsynths can cover a range of synthesis methods, including subtractive synthesis (including analog modeling, a subtype), FM synthesis (including the similar phase distortion synthesis), physical modelling synthesis, additive synthesis (including the related resynthesis), and sample-based synthesis. Many popular hardware synthesizers are no longer manufactured but have been emulated in software. The emulation c ...
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Digital Synthesis
A digital synthesizer is a synthesizer that uses digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to make musical sounds. This in contrast to older analog synthesizers, which produce music using analog electronics, and samplers, which play back digital recordings of acoustic, electric, or electronic instruments. Some digital synthesizers emulate analog synthesizers; others include sampling capability in addition to digital synthesis. History The very earliest digital synthesis experiments were made with computers, as part of academic research into sound generation. In 1973, the Japanese company Yamaha licensed the algorithms for frequency modulation synthesis (FM synthesis) from John Chowning, who had experimented with it at Stanford University since 1971. Yamaha's engineers began adapting Chowning's algorithm for use in a commercial digital synthesizer, adding improvements such as the "key scaling" method to avoid the introduction of distortion that normally occurred in analog sys ...
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Yamaha DX7
The Yamaha DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first successful digital synthesizer and is one of the best-selling synthesizers in history, selling more than 200,000 units. In the early 1980s, the synthesizer market was dominated by analog synthesizers. FM synthesis, a means of generating sounds via frequency modulation, was developed by John Chowning at Stanford University, California. FM synthesis created brighter, "glassier" sounds, and could better imitate acoustic sounds such as brass. Yamaha licensed the technology to create the DX7, combining it with very-large-scale integration chips to lower manufacturing costs. With its complex menus and lack of conventional controls, few learned to program the DX7 in depth. However, its preset sounds became staples of 1980s pop music, used by artists including A-ha, Kenny Loggins, Kool & the Gang, Whitney Houston, Chicago, Phil Collins, Luther Vandross, and Billy Ocean. Its ...
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Standardization
Standardization or standardisation is the process of implementing and developing technical standards based on the consensus of different parties that include firms, users, interest groups, standards organizations and governments. Standardization can help maximize compatibility, interoperability, safety, repeatability, or quality. It can also facilitate a normalization of formerly custom processes. In social sciences, including economics, the idea of ''standardization'' is close to the solution for a coordination problem, a situation in which all parties can realize mutual gains, but only by making mutually consistent decisions. History Early examples Standard weights and measures were developed by the Indus Valley civilization.Iwata, Shigeo (2008), "Weights and Measures in the Indus Valley", ''Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (2nd edition)'' edited by Helaine Selin, pp. 2254–2255, Springer, . The centraliz ...
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Microprocessor
A microprocessor is a computer processor where the data processing logic and control is included on a single integrated circuit, or a small number of integrated circuits. The microprocessor contains the arithmetic, logic, and control circuitry required to perform the functions of a computer's central processing unit. The integrated circuit is capable of interpreting and executing program instructions and performing arithmetic operations. The microprocessor is a multipurpose, clock-driven, register-based, digital integrated circuit that accepts binary data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and provides results (also in binary form) as output. Microprocessors contain both combinational logic and sequential digital logic, and operate on numbers and symbols represented in the binary number system. The integration of a whole CPU onto a single or a few integrated circuits using Very-Large-Scale Integration (VLSI) greatly reduced the cos ...
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Sequential Circuits Prophet-5
The Prophet-5 is an analog synthesizer manufactured by the American company Sequential. It was designed by Dave Smith and John Bowen in 1977, who used microprocessors, then a new technology, to create the first polyphonic synthesizer with fully programmable memory. This allowed users to store sounds and recall them instantly rather than having to reprogram them manually; whereas synthesizers had once created unpredictable sounds, the Prophet-5 moved synthesizers to producing "a standard package of familiar sounds". Between 1978 and 1984, about 6,000 units were produced across three revisions. In 1981, Sequential released a 10-voice, double-keyboard version, the Prophet-10. Sequential introduced new versions in 2020, and it has been emulated in software synthesizers and hardware. The Prophet-5 has been widely used in popular music and film soundtracks. Development The Prophet-5 was created in 1977 by Dave Smith and John Bowen at Sequential Circuits. At the time, Smith h ...
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Sequential Circuits
Sequential is an American synthesizer company founded in 1974 as Sequential Circuits by Dave Smith. In 1978, Sequential released the Prophet-5, the first programmable polyphonic synthesizer; it became a market leader and industry standard, used by artists including Michael Jackson, Madonna, and John Carpenter. In the 1980s, Sequential was pivotal in the development of MIDI, a technical standard for synchronizing electronic instruments. In 1987, Sequential went out of business and was purchased by Yamaha. Smith continued to develop instruments through a new company, Dave Smith Instruments. In 2015, Yamaha returned the Sequential Circuits trademark to Dave Smith Instruments, which rebranded as Sequential in 2018. In 2021, Sequential was acquired by the British audio technology company Focusrite. History 1974–1980: Founding, first products and Prophet-5 The engineer Dave Smith founded Sequential Circuits in San Francisco in 1974. The first Sequential Circuits product w ...
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Modular Synthesizer
Modular synthesizers are synthesizers composed of separate modules for different functions. The modules can be connected together by the user to create a patch. The outputs from the modules may include audio signals, analog control voltages, or digital signals for logic or timing conditions. Typical modules are voltage-controlled oscillators, voltage-controlled filters, voltage-controlled amplifiers and envelope generators. History The first modular synthesizer was developed by German engineer Harald Bode in the late 1950s. The 1960s saw the introduction of the Moog synthesizer and the Buchla Modular Electronic Music System, created around the same period. The Moog was composed of separate modules which created and shaped sounds, such as envelopes, noise generators, filters, and sequencers, connected by patch cords. The Japanese company Roland released the Roland System 100 in 1975, followed by the System 700 in 1976 and the System 100m in 1979. In the late 1970s, modul ...
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Minimoog
The Minimoog is an analog synthesizer first manufactured by Moog Music between 1970 and 1981. Designed as a more affordable, portable version of the modular Moog synthesizer, it was the first synthesizer sold in retail stores. It was first popular with progressive rock and jazz musicians and found wide use in disco, pop, rock and electronic music. Production of the Minimoog stopped in the early 1980s after the sale of Moog Music. In 2002, founder Robert Moog regained the rights to the Moog brand, bought the company, and released an updated version of the Minimoog, the Minimoog Voyager. In 2016 and in 2022, Moog Music released another new version of the original Minimoog. Development In the 1960s, RA Moog Co manufactured Moog synthesizers, which helped bring electronic sounds to music but remained inaccessible to ordinary people. These modular synthesizers were difficult to use and required users to connect components manually with patch cables to create sounds. They ...
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Noise Generator
A noise generator is a circuit that produces electrical noise (i.e., a random signal). Noise generators are used to test signals for measuring noise figure, frequency response, and other parameters. Noise generators are also used for generating random numbers. Theory There are several circuits used for noise generation. For example, temperature-controlled resistors, temperature-limited vacuum diodes, zener diodes, and gas discharge tubes. A source that can be switched on and off ("gated") is beneficial for some test methods. Noise generators usually rely on a fundamental noise process such as thermal noise or shot noise. Thermal noise generator Thermal noise can be a fundamental standard. A resistor at a certain temperature has a thermal noise associated with it. A noise generator might have two resistors at different temperatures and switch between the two resistors. The resulting output power is low. (For a 1 kΩ resistor at room temperature and a 10 kHz bandwid ...
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