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The Sound of VCO, DCO, and Digital Oscillators

Examining the objective differences in tone of different oscillators


Oscillators:   
If you isolate a single VCO, DCO, or NCO / Digital Oscillator (with sufficient oversampling / anti-aliasing), there really is minimal difference between them.    Most VCOs do have a small amount of harmonic jitter / phase jitter, but its on the scale of fractions of a cent motion.  It's nearly imperceptible.    

Where you do notice a significant difference is when you have multiple VCO oscillators playing together, and this is due to per voice offsets to nominal tuning, which causes phasing between the oscillators that are playing.   VCOs on vintage synths often have variance of multiple cents offsets in nominal tuning per voice, and each voice has offsets beyond that.   This creates that Lush, Organic, Warm tone that people associate with VCOs...  It's primarily due to per-voice, per-osc offsets to tuning.  Some classic/vintage synths will have nominal offsets of +/- 20 cents if you check all oscillators across all voices and up and down the keybed... this is what I measured in multiple Memorymoogs, CS80s, OBXs, Prophets and other vintage synths.  

 

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