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Waves Element Workshop Part 1 – The Oscillators

a screenshot of the Waves Element synth in Logic Pro X

In part 1 of a new series of Free Waves Video Tutorials on how to use the Element 2.0 Virtual Analog Synth, Eli Krantzberg shows you how the Oscillator section works, and how to use them to build a simple synth bass sound.

Waves Element

a screenshot of the waves element synthesizer

Classic analog style subtractive synthesis. That’s where everything begins. It contains the basis that most synthesis is built on. And Element from Waves is a fantastic place to start. Two oscillators are used to generate raw waveforms. They are combined in interesting ways by either blending them or modulating one waveform with the other. They are then run through filters. And finally through some effects and to an output amp stage. Various parameters can be modulated either with envelopes or LFOs. And Element even features a simple and elegant fun to use built in arpeggiator.


The oscillator section is simple, but effective. The waveforms sound sharp and crisp and offer simple controls for various ways of altering them; including frequency modulation (FM), ring modulation, phase modulation, pulse width modulation, and more. The portamento section is simple to grasp and set up effectively for great sounding monophonic style effects.


The filters as well are intuitive and easy to get your head around. There are four basic filter types, accompanied by a dedicated envelope to alter the characteristics of the filter over the duration of each note.


The LFO section offers all the important basic cyclical wave shapes that are used to automate the movement of various parameters (assigned in the Mod Matrix) and can be easily synced to the tempo of the host DAW.


The arpeggiator is great for generating interesting rhythmic patterns, particularly when the step sequencer portion is employed for odd number patterns. Add to this the ability to offset the pitch of the individual steps, and you have a great tool to create some interesting sequential patterns!

In these four videos, I’ll look at the basic uses of these functions so that you can get up and running with subtractive synthesis principles that you can use and apply to almost any software synth. Look at Logic’s ES1 afterwards, and see how you can put it’s awesome sounding filter to work for you! And don’t overlook using the EXS 24 filters, LFO, and modulation matrix to beef up some of the factory preset synth sounds.

Video – Waves Element Workshop Part 1

Pricing, Demo, Reviews

Waves Element 2.0 Virtual Analog Synth, based on ‘Virtual Voltage’ technology, includes five integrated effects, a 16-step sequencer, MIDI learn for all synth controls, and a massive preset library. It’s currently priced at $119,-.

For more info, reviews or a to download a demo, visit Waves Element.

Video Transcript

Element is classic old-school polyphonic subtractive synthesis. It works with 2 oscillators over here. And we tune them in Semitones from here and in Cents from here. We can choose between different waveform types. We have sine wave, saw wave, triangle and pulse. When we have Pulse enabled, we have a Pulse Width knob.


Let’s start shaping some sounds. We can set the octave here, and right now it will sound pretty bland. So let’s tune this one down, and I’m going to mix them in so you’ll hear them both together. We can start by detuning one of them. Already we have something. Play a little bass part.


Now here we can toggle between Voltage Controlled Oscillator or Digitally Controlled. When it’s in VCO Mode, the oscillation starts at a random phase and it adds some jitter to the pitch. So this is great if we dial in some of this Sine Mod Control. It’ll modulate the first oscillator with a sine wave. So that adds interesting nuance to it.

FM Knob

Now we can modulate the second oscillator, with this FM knob. It’ll control the amount of frequency modulation that modulates this by Oscillator 1. And, we can add some phase modulation. So this controls the amount by which the phase of Oscillator 2 is modulated by Oscillator 1.

Sync Knob

It gets interesting when we use this Sync knob. It synchronizes the triggering of the second Oscillator to the rate of the first Oscillator. So when it’s on, these pitch controls over here don’t actually tune the Oscillator, they change the timbre of it in relation to Oscillator 1.

Sub Oscillator

Now here we can dial in a sub-oscillator which will be a triangle waveform an octave below Oscillator 1. We can add in noise. Or some ring modulation. That controls the ring modulation of Oscillator 1 and 2 together. We can blend the two with this, and here we have a Mono mode which will allow it to act monophonically. And we can use Unison mode here to thicken and double the voices.

Portamento & Legato

I can dial up some Portamento to get a glide between the notes. And use Legato to have it only trigger the Portamento effect when notes extend all the way to the next note. Or, when this is off, it will always trigger it. So it’s only when they overlap versus always.

So those are the Oscillators in Waves Element!

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