Why is the Digitone clicking?


#121

I don’t get it somehow. I just spent a couple of hours trying to ‘declick’ a bass sound.

Played with every envelope, every trig and phase option, lfo triggering, and voice settings…And was still getting inconsistent unexpected clicks when triggering notes close together. I can understand this if I was triggering the same voice owing to an expected ‘reset’ of amplitude - but I can’t understand why successive notes on different voices seem to cut the previous note off with a click at times.

Answer (for this track) - stop triggering notes close together.

Really not sure I have this stuff bottomed out on this machine at all! I usually can get exactly the exact level of consistent clickyness (or non-clickyness) I want from a polysynth!

:confused:


#122

When these successive notes (on the same track) have the same note value than these are not played by different voices (even if there are voices left), but the same voice gets re-used (= cuts off still sounding previous note).

It’s one of the strangest limitations of the Digitone.


#123

Now that really is unexpected - thanks for pointing this out. I am pretty sure that’s what’s happening… bit of a strange ‘design decision’ that. Can’t think of any other synth I have seen this kind of ‘feature’ on.

Surely worth correcting in the firmware. @Ess?

:smiley:


#124

I was asking Elektron about this when I got mine. They say it will probably not change since it will involve a lot of work. But there are people at Elektron who also think this is a problem so maybe it will happen if more people are asking them directly.
The problem is not many people seem to know about this, when I was writing here everyone told me it was a user error even when I wrote that Elektron agrees with me. Probably because there are many other ways you can do to make it click.


#125

It seems that this behaviour contradicts the way the envelopes are supposed to work in the manual - there’s no stipulation about playing the same voice doing odd things. Therefore I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t considered a bug to tackle.
I find that voice sharing produces odd results too, dunno if it’s a factor for anyone else. Suppose you’re using velocity to control level in all 4 parts and suppose you’re triggering your notes from an Octatrack sequencer, I find that suddenly unmuting a track with deliberately low velocities has spreads those low velocities amongst the notes received by other tracks. It’s like the sharing part isn’t working right somehow.
I should do more rigorous testing I suppose but it usually goes unnoticed as most of my patterns have a comparable spread of velocities.


#126

It’s completely barmy. And yeah there’s loads of ways to make clicks on the machine, the annoying thing is here is one clicking case that should be totally avoidable for the experienced user.

Ok -it’s possible to workaround by changing the sequence to make sure no notes overlap (once you know what’s happening), but it’s no wonder the machine has a reputation for clicking - my guess is this reputation is hurting it in the marketplace more than elektron should feel comfortable with.

John


#127

It’s a pretty common way to handle polyphony actually, especially in digital synths where the phase of the oscillators are typically reset per each note trig (e.g Ableton Operator has this as its default setting)

This solution is quite good for most use cases and actually causes less issues than cycling voices regardless of note trigger - but ideally it would be an option for the user to set. Not sure if this is possible with our structure at the moment, but I would also like to be able to select between voice retrigger or not.

I usually don’t have any issues with clicking at all, but I’m pretty well-versed with the unit. Would be nice to not have to think about it of course, but partly why it can happen is because of how versatile the synth engine is. In most cases it’s not an issue at all, but you can run into clicking if you’re configuring things in a certain way.

There should be a lengthy response from me regarding this further up in this thread.

EDIT: here is another instance Sound Quality / Characteristics: Digitone vs. Volca FM


#128

This whole thread totally reminds me of this waldorfian post/faq (http://faq.waldorfian.info/faq-browse.php?product=ra):

Q: Why do some synths produce clicks?

A: Chapter 1: The click in theory

A click is produced when a very fast level change in the audio signal
occurs. You can easily check that on your home stereo when you play
back a CD and switch the Source Selector back and forth between CD
and a source that doesn’t play anything.

The brightness of the click depends on the speed of the level change.
The faster the level changes, the brighter is the click. So, the
level change speed can be compared with the cutoff of a lowpass
filter. There is an easy formula for it:

Let’s consider a level change from full to zero (or from zero to
full) output from one sample to another on a machine that uses
44.1kHz sample rate. So, we first transfer the sample to milli
seconds:

1 sample equals 1/44100 second, which is = 0.02267573696ms.

To calculate the cutoff frequency of the click, just use this formula:

Cutoff (Hz) = 1000 / Level Change Time (ms)

which in the example results in:

44100Hz = 1000 / 0.02267573696ms

Whoops? This the sampling frequency and, err, very bright.

Chapter 2: The click in the real world

Now, how could this knowledge help you and what has it to do with
Waldorf synthesizers? Easy:

When you play a sine wave sound, only the base frequency (the
fundamental or the 1st harmonic) is present. That means, when you
play note A=110Hz, no other frequencies are involved except this
110Hz oscillation.

Now, what happens when you abruptly cut the sine wave to zero when it
just is at its maximum level? You get the same effect as with your
home stereo.
From one sample to the next, the waveform is brought from maximum to
zero, resulting in the forementioned bright click.

The same applies when the opposite happens. On Waldorf synthesizers,
you can setup the oscillators so that their phases start randomly
when a new note is played. So, you never know at which level the sine
wave is when you hit a note.
Consider it would be at the maximum level, you would get an immediate
change from zero to maximum when the amp envelope’s attack rate is
set to 0.

BTW: the effect is the same, when you have a bright waveform but
filter it so that it is very hollow.

Chapter 3: In which situations does the click occur on my Waldorf synth?

There are several situations when you can get a click and when you
know where they happen, you can try to prevent them:

  • Amp Envelope Attack. On digital Waldorf synthesizers like the MWII
    and the Q, the Attack rate can be as short as 1 sample. This means
    that the amp volume of a note can change from zero to maximum in one
    sample, or in ms: 0.02267573696ms. This results in a very bright
    click.
    On the Pulse, we chose a minimum attack rate of 1.9ms, resulting in a
    click with a maximum cutoff of around 526Hz. When you own a Pulse,
    you probably know of the 1.9ms number from the user’s manual, because
    that’s the update speed of all CVs that are used in it.
    So, when you hear a click on note start every now and then, just
    increase the Amp Envelope Attack rate until you don’t hear a click
    anymore.

  • Amp Envelope Release. Here, the same as with the Attack rate applies.
    When you hear a click when you release a note, increase the Amp
    Envelope’s Release rate.
    If the click still persists, you should also check the Release rate
    of the Filter Envelope. Maybe the filter closes very fast, which can
    result in a click, too.

  • Voice Stealing. We know that this is the most annoying situation.
    But, the click helps you: When you hear a click at a certain position
    in your song, you know that a voice stealing happened and you can
    easily shorten or delete notes in the editors of your sequencer.
    When you count the notes and say that they don’t exceed the maximum
    number of voices of your synthesizer, just keep in mind that other
    notes might still be in their release phases and therefore have to be
    added, too.

  • Mono mode. In Mono mode, a click might occur when any envelopes
    (Amp or maybe Filter, too) are set to retrigger on new notes. When
    the Attack rate of a sound is greater than 0, they are brought to
    zero so that they can go up to their full level again. This rapid
    change to zero results in a click.

  • Unisono sounds. Here, a click might occur even heavier. Unisono
    sounds easily exceed the maximum number of voices and because they
    steal not only one but several notes at once, a click can be a
    lot more present. It is louder and happens more often. You should
    check several points on unisono sounds to lower clicks as much as
    possible: are the envelope rates set to reasonable values, are the
    oscillator phases set to free, is filter keytrack set to 0% (because
    this can also be a rapid change) and so on.

Chapter 4: Why does my synth xy (insert product name here) produce no clicks

Should I really answer that? Because it is slooooow.
Some japanese manufacturers (I don’t say names here) prevent voice
stealing clicks by fading out voices slowly before they start new
notes. Hey, brillant idea, why doesn’t Waldorf do that? Because it
ends up in a very bad MIDI timing (and those japanese synths are
well-known for that).
Furthermore, most of these synths are sample-based, which means that
their attack behaviour is stored in the sample that they should play.
So, a click on note start is also not possible because the sample
somehow gradually fades from zero to maximum.
If those synths allow you to change the sample start position, they
hopefully produce clicks, too (if not, they also have slow envelopes
which we don’t hope).

A couple of days ago, someone mentioned the Matrix 12 producing no
clicks on retriggering envelopes. Yes, that’s correct, because the
Matrix 12’s minimum attack rate is around 20ms. Or in other words:
its envelopes are among the slowest you can find in a synthesizer.
The same applies to all synthesizers of the Matrix series, because
they all used Curtis chips that had an automatic smoothing filter to
prevent steppiness. The older Oberheim synths like the 4-Voice were
better here.
Also, the Waldorf Microwave and the Waldorf Wave used those Curtis
chips, but when the Attack rates of the envelopes were set to 0, this
smoothing filter was temporarily switched off, resulting in an abrupt
change. Attack 1 there is the same as minimum attack on a Matrix
synthesizer.

Chapter 5: Conclusion

You know that we at Waldorf could prevent clicks by increasing the
minimum envelope rates or allowing bad MIDI timing. We could also
prevent that the filter resonance can destroy your hearing ability or
that you could play a C major chord. But who are we that we could
decide what you want from a synthesizer. Clicks can even be
musically useful and add a kind of randomness to a song that brings
it to live. A very good example is the bad, ugly, annoying, but
famous and beloved keyclick on Hammond organs.
Recently I bought the latest Art Of Noise album “the seduction of
Claude Debussy” produced by Trevor Horn and played by the creme de la
creme (even including Lol Creme of 10CC and Godley&Creme) of
musicians and I heard a lot of clicks during a couple of tracks. I am
even quite sure that they came from Waldorf synths but I don’t know
if. You can easily imagine that I had a smile on my face.

I hope you now have even more fun with your “clicking” Waldorf synth. ^


#129

Yeah, there are lots of places clicks can come from, sometimes it’s bad programming and pushing a synth beyond it’s voice limits. Other times it’s bad programming of sounds for sure.

That said, I am not sure Waldorf has made any polysynths that reuse the same voice for successive notes of the same pitch, causing clicks, when there are unused voices available and assigned to that duty, as the Digitone does. That source of clicks is basically a bug, or a very questionable implementation of a voice-saving algorithm. :smiley:


#130

Thanks @Ess

The thing I don’t understand is why is there a re-use (and phase reset) for the already sounding voice when there are other voices available and assigned to the duty under this specific case of playing the same note again?

I don’t think that’s normal for digital polysynths (though agreed - Generally phase reset of all operators on note-on for every new note is a standard and quite correct approach, if I’m not mistaken?)

John


#131

@Ess it would be really nice with a list of different examples where clicking issues can be present and solutions for it so that people that don’t know every ins and out of the Digitone (me included) could troubleshoot the issue themselves. And it would be amazing if it’s implemented into the manual.


#132

My own issues with clicks seem to be due to voice-sharing; they came to light with 4 Digitone tracks playing long-attack, long-release pads, all voices set not to reset phase, the envelopes set to continue from existing level etc. etc. My solution has been not to do that kind of thing :slight_smile:


#133

I had a similar issue today with clicks on a bass patch I programmed. All the solutions posted in relation to the issue could not fix it, other than adjusting the voice allocation. I programmed the bass patch to be monophonic, setting the voice allocation to 1. Turning it to (D) dynamic can fix the issue, but then my bass patch turns to mud because it’s polyphonic now.

I love my Digitone and wouldn’t part with it, but it is the most clicky synth I own by a long shot.


#134

See, this is literally what I want to do with a synth…! Might have to consider something else for the pad jobs.


#135

It doesn’t seem an issue if you use just one part for pads and the others for sharp, dynamic, percussive stuff. I guess I should be more analytical and thorough, but I’m still enjoying the long, joyous honeymoon phase.


#136

Trying not to be negative here, I love Digitone.

In my experience, clicking on the machine is reasonably easily manageable - unless you want to play more than one of the same note on the same track. Then it can be a pain.


#137

Yep, you need an eye on the lips of this beauty. There you can see, if there is any voice collision going on on top of that screen.


#138

So I’m getting “voice collision” on a monophonic bass patch even when I’m muting all other 3 tracks? Only 1 voice can be used at a time in this example.


#139

If you only allow one voice, and the release is too long the old tone will not end smooth if you trigger a new one on that track. That can cause problems and I would avoid it if possible. At least I feel it’s this way. I’m getting no clicks, because I monitor that screen and try to avoid those buggers, but not on mono voices - on all of them.
Edit: honestly I hope the digitone mk2 will get 16 voices and 6 or more tracks. It’s a beast, and I’m consider getting a second one in exchange for my digitakt. I can’t remember any other box available right now that does what the digitone do fm wise (easy programming, and that sequencer).

edit2: you are getting clicks with one voice only? hä?


#140

I’ll keep a better eye on things from here on out. I suppose I could parameter lock the note lengths to avoid the voice collision.