Fun with Ratio Offsets

Let’s talk about offsets!

What do they actually do?

Well, you might have used the Detune parameter before - this does virtually the same thing, but using a clever macro mapping, and only affecting certain operators, that is fine tuned to the algorithms and underlying system of the Digitone engine.
This simply adds an offset to the ratio in fine increments, e.g 1.001 (.001 being the offset) - this will introduce a slight drift in the timbre if used for modulation for example.

What the ratio offsets on SYN1 Page 2 offer is a more direct version of that, and this allows for some very specific approaches to sound design.

What is in a ratio?

The Ratio simply takes an input frequency (on Digitone the input is Notes, e.g 440Hz for a middle A) and multiplies it by the value set by you. This means that ratios are relative, and the reason why the ‘shallow’ parameters are handling these mainly in integer values is that this results in a wide variety of musically useful and ‘stable’ timbres, meaning the actual waveform is consistent and does not ‘move’, like the type of waveform you would get from an analog synth, wavetable and so on.

Hold up, this means…

You can now make finely detailed relative detune/drifting, inharmonic sounds with finer control, clusters with additive algorithms, even chords(!) and so on. Each thing has its place, and you will find a use for this in your own sound design with time.

To better get to that point, let’s discuss some cool uses for this new feature!


Two random things I like at the moment to get things started:

Making hihats or other metallic sounds using the (mostly) additive algorithm 7.
Having fine control over frequency in this way allows you to make intricate inharmonic overtones with additive synthesis.

Try offsets 0.00 [C], +.036 [A], +.162 [BI], +.103 [BII], maybe some high pass filtering and play it in higher octaves, with a short decaying envelope. Keep all ratios on SYN1 at 1, Mix at center. This setup is useful for a lot of metallic sounds. Try also applying some modulation, remember that the Digitone can do both additive and fm at the same time!

Making chords

Musical intervals can be represented in ratios, and as such we can use those ratios to make four note chords with the offsets. Take a look at this handy chart:

(Just intonation is very nice, but if you want to keep things ‘standard’, you should try the equal temperament ones)

Again, algorithm 7 since that lets us listen to all the operators at once, Mix at center.
Try this for an m7 chord: 0.00, +.189, +.498, +.782


So happy with this update!

1 Like

Genuinely curious about how the high resolution is stored within a sound/kit or controlled via midi (if possible at the same accuracy)

These additional offset values appear super fine and I am intrigued as to the standard methods used to neatly store these high precision (3 decimal place) numbers

There seems to be many methods, but what would best/efficient practice be for a midi manufacturer; I’m trying to reverse engineer something else with sysex which is effectively storing numbers like 123.456 or possibly 123.4567 and I can readily see how the 123 part is accounted for but the data is packed or handled in a way I can’t quite make logical sense of - just curious how the experts are handling +/- 1000 on one encoder - so each side of the default 0.000 you need a 10bit(1024) range to cover that or a signed 11bit number or ? ?

Also wondering if the .999 either way is handled akin to the 7bit resolution between integer steps on the analogs and approximated on the screen/OB as 0.00 to 0.99 (whilst actually being handled internally as 127 discrete values) or whether it is actually wysiwyg ? I guess given it’s +/- 999 and not +/- 99 there’s some benefit to the extra resolution as it’d have been easier to accurately map external midi control of the offsets which I guess isn’t possible now ?

But mostly curious about best practice, given that MIDI is involved, to retain 10/11/12 bit numbers and how these are stored (only in broad terms) to see if I can make sense of something else + did I say curious ? :wink:

I have to say I thought the design of the original ‘restrictions’ was really clever and well thought out, and musical, but this nicely incorporated tweak has really piqued my interest along with a few other things

We need demo videos of the unleashed off-piste power !


I must confess that so far I have gone totally wild on the ratio offset parameters, blindly looking for new sounds in the same spirit a child faces an open box full of unique candies.

For my defense, I’d say I never had an FM synth so fun to play with (for a Volca FM, I would employ the word “program”).

At some point, promise, I’ll try to get intellectual with that. After the summer, maybe :smile:

Anyway what you’re sharing, @Ess, is extremely interesting, and I appreciate, despite my rogue approach, your initiative about making us discovering what is behind.


Our internal resolution has much higher capabilities than MIDI, so it doesn’t matter - it goes from -0.999 to +0.999 and what you see there is what you get.

Remember that MIDI can have MSB and LSB CCs to form a 14bit value. That’s a range of 0 - 16383.
The offsets can be controlled via NRPN which also offers much higher resolution control than standard MIDI CC.


yes I stupidly forgot that the analogs are handling 14bit numbers so that midi control side is irrelevant, total brain fade there (in my head I added two 7bits as an 8 bit rather than shifting the bits) - I think my issue is that this other manufacturer is handling/packing/splitting the data in a way that is not so logical to me - I wondered about the myriad of ways to store but it’s clear now from how I recall the data for the analogs is stored that this other mystery scheme is quite different - thanks for clearing that up

I can´t wait to update it!!!

Thank you Ess! Love this update.

What happens if we use both “Detune” parameter and ratio offsets?

1 Like

Just what you’d expect - an offset to the offset, hehe. Can be quite nice to tweak the set ratio offsets with detune a bit, especially for some unexpected results.


So, it should be possible to make microtonal music on the DN now, yes?

On the OS update thread @Ess suggested experimenting with the portemento settings I believe constant time and gated and that should help with microtonality.

My memory may have waned on the precise settings, but I experimented with it last night and the results were pretty satisfactory

1 Like

Great thread! I’m gonna have to experiment with this for the last few sounds in the DN soundpack I’m working on (which will be done soon, promise!).

I’d love to be able to set the harmonics on all operators at once so we could get a supersaw :smiley: still though, maybe harmonics + feedback + offset might be enough to get some Lorenzo Senni-like tones.


I would love to hear some long, organic drones made with the DN taking advantage of this new feature…


I feel like messing with offsets is leading to some great bass tones, of you play sounds in low registers (completely unintentional since that’s usually not my thing :slight_smile:)

1 Like

Good for gongs too, Digitone FM gong bath :joy:


been experimenting with control+all and the offsets today and making some extremely sick, very strange pads. great update!

1 Like

Sweet thanks. What if holding Function and turning the knobs brought you through these different ratios. That would be pretty cool!


That’s a great idea! All of the intervals including just intonation like on the Monomachine’s ENS machines.

1 Like