Sound Theory -

Choosing An Oscillator (VCO)

First off, an electronic oscillator is a sound generator.

We will define the electronic oscillator as a periodic repeating electrical signal (waveform) with a fundamental frequency that produces a peak amplitude. 

For modular systems it is good to note, that an oscillator outputs repeating voltage in the range of -5v to +5v and an oscillator is always oscillating until the system is powered down. 

The frequency of the oscillator determines the pitch, therefore the faster the frequency vibrates, the higher the pitch. 

There are four common waveforms consist of a Sine Wave, Triangle Wave, Square Wave and Sawtooth Wave. There are multiple other waveforms (random wave, etc.) and variations available in different modules but this graphic will break down the differences between the waveforms and the harmonics they produce. 

These waveforms produce very different sounds, and when thinking about building a modular system it is important to think about the sound source, or, in other words, oscillator. 

There are many modules available that produce different waveforms from a single, dual or complex oscillator, and sometimes they take the west coast approach and have multi-functionality.

We feel its always helpful to know how the oscillator will function and the electronic basis behind what the unit is doing before choosing a sound generator. 

Take a look at our sound source section on our webpage and browse through the different approaches to the way each module will oscillate the given waveforms. 



  • Jane

    Ouch that graphic… Triangle wave only has odd harmonics, same as square wave; the difference is their relative amplitude.

  • Brandon


    I am a shark researcher trying to learn about magnetic fields from them. I have been experimenting with them for over a decade and I am looking for help to upgrade my system. Basically I am looking to build a large battery bank, signal generator, Coil.

    I have a vessel and sharks with inspiration to apply it.

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