What Is Additive Synthesis?

The process of adding sine waves together to create sounds is called Additive Synthesis. This is how it works. 

Sound is moving air. But not all air that moves is sound. Wind, for example, is not heard until it hits something. 

The most fundamental sound is the sine wave. Every sound – whether it is natural or synthetic – is made up of sine waves. 

With nothing but sine waves, you can create any waveform. The process of adding sine waves together to create sounds is known as additive synthesis. 

Many synthesizers use additive synthesis  #

Additive synthesis is used on many digital synthesizers and VST-synths. 

Pipe organs use the same principle. In a pipe organ each pipe produces a sine wave of a different pitch.  By controlling the amount of air to each pipe, the organ controls the individual amplitudes of each sine wave. 

Pipe organs can create sounds that are harmonically similar to other instruments. In a way, they look a lot like synthesizers.

RAZOR by Native Instruments uses additive synthesis to create it’s unique sounds.

Subtractive synthesis, the counterpart of additive synthesis  #

The counterpart of additive synthesis is subtractive synthesis. Robert Moog’s legendary 1969 Minimoog works on this principle. 

Subtractive synthesizers offer a variety of oscillator waveshapes, like sine, square, triangle and sawtooth. 

With the oscillator you can generate more harmonics than needed, and subtract the unwanted frequencies for the perfect sound. Therefore it’s called ‘subtractive synthesis’. 

These are great additive synthesizer VSTs #

Do you want to get started with additive synthesis? Then these are interesting VSTs. 

👉 Falcon by UVI. This synth supports a lot of synthesis options, including additive synthesis. 

👉 Harmor by Image Line combines additive and subtractive synthesis.

👉 Native Instruments Razor delivers detailed, dynamic additive synthesis. In their own word: sharp as a RAZOR.

Check more interesting articles:

These Are The Best Juno 106 / 60 VST Instruments
These Are The Best Roland Juno 106 / 60 VSTs #

With its rich, full and fat sound, the Roland Juno-106 and Juno-60 are legendary synthesizers. These are the best Juno 106 / 60 VST emulations. 

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