Reference samples provide a scientific way of approaching sound design.

For many complex sounds, it's almost impossible to guess the right configuration of parameters and values to get that particular timbre. Using a sample as reference is a way to avoid the process of trial and error.

When a sample is loaded into Cycle, it visualizes the sound entirely so that you can identify patterns in either the spectral domains or the time domain, which you are then able to mimic.

Load a Sample

There are two ways to load a sample - use the File > Load Reference Sample... dialog, or drag and drop a sample file onto the interface.

Unfortunately due to patents Cycle is not able to load mp3s, but most other formats are supported including PCM wav, OGG, and AIFF.

Pitch Tracking

If you've previously saved a pitch envelope file for this sample, then Cycle will use that instead of attempting pitch tracking.

Otherwise, after loading the sample, Cycle tries to estimate the pitch envelope of the sample.

It will create a curve in the wave pitch envelope based on this estimation.

Often for higher notes this tracking is not perfectly accurate, but you can edit this envelope until the visualized patterns simplify.

The process is: try to get horizontal patterns in the time domain. If the patterns do not appear to phase in or out of the window over time, then the pitch has been accurately tracked and it will be easiest to model.

How To Use

  • Load a sample.
  • Fix the pitch tracking envelope if necessary.
  • Identify any patterns you see: are there patterns in the time domain that look simple to copy? Are there patterns in the harmonic magnitude spectrogram? The phase spectrogram?
  • Use Cycle's workflow tools to copy the patterns. You can use the w key to flip back and forth between viewing the sample's visualization and that of the synth sound.

Adjusting across key scale

Optionally, if you want to incorporate key scaling to make the sound more natural at different pitches:

  • Be in synth mode (click the line icon under 'surf view' in the general controls area)
  • Click the red x-axis button.
  • Use the Axe tool to chop the lines at the pitch of the sample you just modelled. This will be like a keyframe at that pitch.
  • Load another sample of the same instrument at a different pitch
  • Perform the first three steps again, making another key frame at the new pitch.
  • Deselect key linking so that you may move the vertices along the key-scale independently.
  • Place the morph position's key slider to the new pitch.
  • Adjust the existing points to fit the new sample data.

The same process can work for adjusting a sound across the modulation morphing range.