Buzz Zone Manual

Buzz Zone is an easy to use polyphonic synthesiser plugin with sophisticated wavetable and sample engines and a bank of flexible multi-segment envelopes to shape the sound in any direction you desire. Perfect for huge pads and soaring leads

The synthesiser features two powerful engines that can be layered together for a variety of complex sounds and textures. The ‘Synth’ engine features a great sounding 'wavetable' oscillator with a unison function for buzzy, harmonically rich timbres, hence the name! The ‘Sample’ engine can be used to layer additional textures or transients over the sound.

Tooltips Help System

The plugin features a built in 'Tooltips' help system. When 'Tooltips' is enabled hovering the mouse over any control on the GUI will display a small pop-up window with a description of the function of that control. To enable tooltips select 'Show Tooltips' from the 'Settings' menu (the icon with 3 horizontal lines at the top right corner of the GUI).

Controls

The plugin's knobs can be finely adjust by holding the 'Command' key on MacOS or the 'Alt' key on Windows computers.

You can double-click (or double-tap on iOS) on the knob's label or the area just below the knob to type in exact values.

Some knobs have small triangles just to the right which will display a menu for that function, for example the Filter Resonance knob has a menu to choose the filter type. Tip: you can quickly select the next item in the menu without needing to open it by right-clicking (or control-clicking) on the triangle, or shift-click on the triangle to select the previous item.

Synth Engine

The Synth engine is based on two sophisticated wavetable oscillators that can be layered together with a selectable pitch interval between them.

The two oscillators are mixed together and passed into a versatile 'Filter section' with 16 different filter modes.

Each of the Synth engines ‘Main’ 6 knobs can be modulated by it’s own dedicated envelope, selected using the triangle buttons above each control.

The 6 'Main' knobs of the Synth engine are:

  • Pitch: Adjusts the pitch of the Synth engine
  • Unison: Sets the amount of unison effect. The unison effect blends together an additional six detuned copies of the wavetable oscillator to create a thick, chorus effect. Use the lower 'Detune' knob to set the amount of detuning
  • Position: Sets the current wavetable playback position
  • Filter: Sets the cutoff frequency of the synth engine's filter
  • FM Depth: Sets the amount of FM style modulation from a separate modulation oscillator. The pitch of the modulation oscillator is set using the knob below this one
  • Level: Sets the level of the Synth engine

Each ‘Main’ knob has a tweak knob below it. The 6 'Tweak' knobs of the Synth engine are:

  • Harmony (below Pitch): Sets the level of the harmony oscillator. Click on the small triangle to the right of the knob to select the interval (relative difference in pitch) of the harmony oscillator
  • Detune (below Unison): Detunes the voices of the unison effect. If the 'Harmony Interval' is set to 'Unison' then this control also detunes the harmony oscillator for extra thickness!
  • Offset (below Position): Offsets the wavetable playback position of the harmony oscillator
  • Resonance (below Filter): Controls the resonance of the filter (in some filter modes this control may have an alternative function, see descriptions of the filter modes below)
  • FM Pitch (below FM Depth): Sets the pitch of the modulation oscillator
  • FM Feedback (below Level): Controls the amount of internal FM 'feedback'

Sample Engine

The Sample engine features a mono sample player with stereo detune, a dedicated 'Filter section’ and FM. 

The 3 'Main' knobs of the Sample engine are:

  • Sample Pitch: Adjusts the pitch of the Sample engine
  • Filter: Sets the cutoff frequency of the Sample engine's filter
  • Level: Sets the level of the Sample engine 

Each ‘Main’ knob has a tweak knob below it. The 3 'Tweak' knobs of the Sample engine are:

  • Detune (below Sample Pitch): Detunes two layered sample voices for a thicker, chorus effect
  • Drive (below Filter): Controls the amount of drive
  • FM Depth (below Level): Sets the amount of FM style modulation (modulated by the output of the Synth engine)

Envelopes

There are 9 versatile 'multi-segment' envelopes, one for each of the plugin's main knobs. You can select the current envelope to edit using the triangular buttons above each knob. All 8 envelopes run simultaneously at the same speed, triggered by incoming notes. A small white dot moving along the line will show the current playback position. The playback speed of the envelopes is controlled by the Speed knob.

A ‘Loop’ button is positioned at the bottom right corner of the envelope. When this button is enabled the currently displayed envelope will be looped. When loop is enabled a ‘Loop Speed’ control will appear below the button that allows you to increase or decrease the speed of the loop relative to the main envelope 'Speed' knob.

The 3 envelopes for the 'Sample' section have an extra button that appears under the ‘Loop Speed’ control when looping is enabled: 'Envelope Restarts Sample', when enabled the sample is restarted whenever the envelope loops back to the beginning.

The synchronization mode for all of the looping envelopes can be set on the ‘Options’ page. There are six available synchronization modes:

  • Off: No synchronization, loop speed is linked to the speed knob, envelopes are retriggered by MIDI notes
  • Free: Free-running envelopes (not retriggerd by MIDI notes), the loop speed is linked to the speed knob
  • Retrig: Loop speed is synchronized to the host's tempo and retriggered by MIDI notes
  • Locked: Loop speed is synchronized to the host's tempo and their playback position is locked to the host's transport
  • Pitch: Loop speed is synchronized to the pitch of incoming MIDI notes, great for wild audio-rate modulation!
  • Chaos: In this mode The loop position is synchronized to a random / chaotic signal

Note: in non-looping mode the playback speed of the envelope isn't linear across its path. The playback speed is faster at the start of the envelope and slows down towards its end, thus allowing you to focus on the more important transient (initial attack portion) of the sound. Enable ‘Loop’ if you require linear envelope playback speed.

Tip: you can snap the nodes to a horizontal or vertical grid by holding down shift or control when dragging.

Filter Modes

The Synth engine features 16 different filter modes, the modes can be selected using the small triangle next to the filter’s tweak knob. The following modes are available:

  • 4 Pole: Basic resonant filter with internal saturation
  • Ladder: 4 Pole ladder filter based on the filter of the Mini-Moog synthesiser
  • OTA: 4 Pole filter based on the Roland Juno 106
  • Sallen Key: A characterful 2-pole filter
  • State Variable: A clean 2-pole filter with no saturation
  • Acid: Based on the filter from the Roland TB303
  • Bandpass: Frequencies above and below the filter frequency are filtered
  • Highpass: Frequencies below the filter frequency are filtered
  • Vowel: A filter that simulates vocal vowel sounds, the ‘Filter’ control sets the vowel
  • Multi Notch: Steep notches are carved out of the frequency response of the sound. The resonance can be ‘excited’  to simulate a pipe or drum
  • Comb Filter: A very short tuned delay with feedback and damping, used to create a flangey, resonant effect or ‘excited’  to simulate a plucked or bowed string
  • Crusher: Simulates the D2A (digital to analog) stage of a vintage digital sampler, with lots of jitter and gritty sample rate reduction.
  • Frequency Shifter: Shifts all the frequencies of the sound up by the same amount resulting in a somewhat dissonant, often bell-like sound 
  • Ring Modulation: Uses a separate oscillator to modulate the level of the sound, creates harsh, harmonically rich sounds
  • Wavefolder: An accurate model of the Timbre section of the Buchla synthesiser. The filter shapes the sound by folding the peaks back down adding rich harmonics 
  • Chorus: A chorus effect that can be feedback to full resonator territory, goes from subtle widening to wild dissonant clangs!

The Sample engine features a reduced selection of filters, with the addition of a special ‘Vocoder’ mode. The vocoder mode routes the output of the sample into a special filter bank connected to the output of the Synth engine. Band pass filters and envelope followers fed by the Sample engine control the levels of the filter bank, imprinting the tonal character of the sample on to the output of the Synth engine. Try drag and dropping a vocal sample or breakbeat into the Sample engine and playing some chords in this mode for the typical 1970s vocoder sound!

When Vocoder mode is enabled the Filter, Drive and Detune knobs have the following functions:

  • Filter = Frequency offset: Offsets the frequencies of the filter bank for formant shifting effects
  • Drive (tweak knob) = Resonance: Sets the amount of resonance of the filter bank ’s filters
  • Detune (tweak knob) = Spread: Sets how spread out the frequencies bands of the filter bank are. When the control is at minimum the bands are spread 1 octave apart, when it’s at maximum the bands are spread 1 semitone apart

Harmony Modes

There are 13 different harmony modes which can be selected by clicking on the small triangle next to the Harmony knob. The first 6 modes simply select 6 different intervals for the Main and secondary 'Harmony' oscillators.

For 'Fixed' and 'FM' modes the pitch of the harmony oscillator is disconnected from the pitch knob and the envelope, which means you can use the pitch knob and the envelope to set the interval between the 2 oscillators continuously. In 'AM', 'Ring Modulation' and 'Filter FM' modes the pitch of the main oscillator is disconnected from the pitch knob and the envelope, the pitch knob and the envelope only control the pitch of the harmony oscillator in these 3 modes.

The modes are:

  • Filth: The  harmony oscillator is pitched an octave and a 5th above the main oscillator, the effect is quite subtle as the pitch of the harmony oscillator is closely related to the natural harmonics present in the main oscillator 
  • Third:  The  harmony oscillator is pitched an octave and a major 3th above the main oscillator
  • Minor:  The  harmony oscillator is pitched an octave and a minor 3th above the main oscillator
  • Octave: The  harmony oscillator is pitched an octave above the main oscillator
  • Unison:  The  harmony oscillator is at the same pitch as the main oscillator, the 'Detune' knob will subtly detune both oscillators from each other for a rich chorus effect.
  • Sub: The  harmony oscillator is pitched an octave below the main oscillator
  • Fixed: In 'Fixed' mode the pitch of the harmony oscillator is disconnected from the pitch knob and the envelope, which means you can use the pitch knob and the envelope to set the interval between the 2 oscillators continuously
  • FM: In 'FM' mode the main oscillator is 'FMed' by the secondary 'Harmony' oscillator (FMed means the phase of the main oscillator is modulated, in the same way that classic 80s FM synths like the Yamaha DX7 do). Turning the Harmony knob to the right increase the amount of FMing and also blends in some of the signal from the harmony oscillator
  • AM: In 'AM' mode the main oscillator is modulated using 'Amplitude Modulation' by the harmony oscillator (amplitude Modulation means using the signal from once oscillator to control the volume of another). Turning the harmony knob to the right blends in some of the signal from the harmony oscillator
  • Ring Modulation: In 'Ring Modulation' mode the main oscillator is modulated by multiplying it's output by the output of the sub oscillator (rather than the harmony oscillator that is used in AM mode, see Sub mode below for a description of the sub oscillator), resulting in harsh, dissonant overtones being added to the signal. Turning the harmony knob to the right blends in some of the signal from the harmony oscillator
  • Filter FM: In Filter FM mode the output of the harmony oscillator is used to modulate the cutoff frequency of the filter, the harmony knob controls the depth of the modulation. In this mode if you turn up the ‘Stereo Width’ knob it will mix in the harmony oscillator and pan it to the right channel, with ‘Stereo Width’ set to zero the harmony oscillator will be muted and you will only hear the main oscillator. The synth engine's ‘Pitch’ knob and envelope only affect the harmony oscillator, not the main oscillator (unlike the 'FM' and 'Fixed' harmony modes where the ‘Pitch’ knob and envelope only affect the main oscillator)
  • Sub: In 'Sub' mode the harmony oscillator uses a special sine-wave based sub oscillator rather than a wavetable, this can be useful to beef up the sound by reinforcing the fundamental frequency. The shape of the sub oscillator can be modified using the 'Offset' control. The sound of the sub oscillator can also be modified using the 'FM' and 'Feedback' controls, the amount of modification is also controlled by the ‘Offset’ knob. In the 'Sub' modes you can think of the ‘Offset’ knob as a kind of 'colour control', with the oscillator producing a clean sine wave when the ‘Offset’ knob is at zero, with more and more colour and modulation produced as the knob is increased. Note the output of the sub oscillator is connected after the filter therefore the filter has no affect on it
  • Low Sub: Low Sub mode is the same as Sub mode except the sub oscillator is an octave lower

Sample / Wavetable Drag & Drop

You can drag a sample or wavetable files onto the sample and wavetable menu areas to load your own sample and wavetable files. The wavetable engine uses standard wavetable filrd (2048 samples per frame) of any length.

Randomization

There are 2 menu options in the 'Preset Menu' to create random variations of the current preset:

  • Randomize Preset—Completely randomizes all parameters of the current preset. The envelope nodes are not randomized
  • Mutate Preset—Adjusts all parameters of the current preset by a very small amount, subtly changing the sound in a random way

Clicking the dice icon at the top left hand corner of the GUI will repeat the last used randomization function (either 'Randomize' or 'Mutate') which is handy to quickly create variations of a sound. Note: although the envelope nodes are normally excluded from the randomization, holding down the ‘Option’ key while clicking the dice will include these, for more extreme results.

MIDI Learn

You can assign incoming MIDI CC (Continuous Controller) messages to any of the the instruments knobs using drag-and drop like this:

  1. Enable 'MIDI Learn' mode from the 'Settings' menu
  2. Turn a knob on your MIDI controller
  3. Drag and drop the CC number that appears in the top section of the GUI onto any of the knobs to make the assignment.

MIDI CC assignments are automatically saved for all instances of the plugin and can be reset using the 'Reset MIDI Learn' menu item in the 'Settings' menu.

Options

Click on the cog icon to show a list of different options for the current preset, the available options are:

  • MIDI Resets Oscillators: When enabled incoming MIDI notes will cause the phase of the oscillators to reset
  • Filters Follow Pitch: When enabled the cutoff frequency of the filters (of both engines) follows the pitch of the incoming MIDI notes
  • Samples Follow Pitch: When disabled the pitch of the samples will be fixed, whatever note is played
  • High Quality Filters: Use high quality filter algorithms. Disable this to if you want to use less CPU resources
  • Legato: When enabled and polyphony is set to 1, overlapping MIDI notes will not re-trigger the envelopes, allowing notes to glide smoothly between pitches. It can also produce interesting results in other polyphonic modes
  • Glide: Causes the notes to smoothly slide from one pitch to the next
  • Polyphony: Sets the maximum number of notes that can be played. In 'Stack' mode all 5 voices play simultaneously
  • Looping Envelope Sync Mode: This menu allows you to select one of five different synchronisation modes for looping envelopes: no synchronisation, free-running, retriggered, locked to the host's transport or synchronized to the pitch of incoming MIDI notes (see the 'Envelopes' section for a more detailed explanation of these four modes)
  • Velocity To Volume: Sets how much MIDI velocity affects the volume of the sound
  • Velocity Modulation Destination: This menu allows you to choose a destination to modulate using the velocity of incoming MIDI notes
  • Velocity Depth: This knob next to the 'Velocity Modulation Destination' menu sets how much MIDI velocity affects the selected destination
  • Invert Modulation: There are small arrows next to all of the modulation 'Depth' controls, when enabled (arrow points downwards) the modulation will be applied negatively to the selected destination (decreasing rather than increasing it's value)
  • Modwheel Modulation Destination: This menu allows you to choose a destination to modulate using MIDI modwheel messages (there are 2 separate slots available for modulation modulation)
  • Modwheel Depth: This knob next to the 'Modwheel Modulation Destination' menu sets how much MIDI modwheel messages affect the selected destination
  • Aftertouch Modulation Destination: This menu allows you to choose a destination to modulate using MIDI aftertouch messages
  • Aftertouch Depth: This knob next to the 'Aftertouch Modulation Destination' menu sets how much MIDI aftertouch messages affect the selected destination
  • Pitchwheel Modulation Destination: This menu allows you to choose a destination to modulate using MIDI pitchbend messages
  • Pitchwheel Depth: This knob next to the 'Pitchwheel Modulation Destination' menu sets how much MIDI pitchbend messages affect the selected destination
  • Pitchbend Range: Sets the maximum number of semitones that the pitchbend wheel can bend the notes up or down

iPad Version

The iPad version of the app is identical to the desktop version, except in how presets are handled.

On the iPad the presets are stored on a special 'sandboxed' (hidden and secure) folder that can be accessed from both the standalone version and the AUv3 plugin version. This special folder can not be accessed by the user using the iPad's 'Files' app.

To make it easier to share and backup user presets the app will automatically backup all newly created presets into a folder that can be accessed using the 'Files' app: "On My iPad/Thump One/Exported Presets". Every time you launch the standalone version of the app it will backup any newly created presets that were created either in the AUv3 or the standalone version of the app.

Zip compressed folders of presets can be imported using the "Import Zip File...' menu item. There is also an ‘Import Zip File…’ menu item in both the sample and wavetable menus that also allows you to import folders of sample and wavetable files.

You can save your own presets using the 'Save Preset As...' menu item and typing the name of the new preset. You can save your presets into separate folders by simply typing the name of the folder and then a 'slash' character, for example typing something like "My Kicks/My Big Kick"