slicedbread, on behalf of The Covert Operators, has released a free Windows utility that generates “endless harmonic oscillators” for Ableton Live’s Simpler and Sampler instruments. (Since this was a released, a Mac build has been made available, as well; see link below.) Even if you don’t intend to use the utility directly, pay attention – The Covert Ops already have a sample pack up full of oscillators, and you can bet the presence of this utility means more will come. (Even Robert Henke was impressed on the forums.)

Live 6 introduced the file format for “Ableton Meta Sounds.” Bjorn Vayner is currently breaking down how the format works, but the short upshot is that you can make oscillator sources that won’t alias for sound design in Simpler and Sampler. The AMS File Utility does more, too – export tunings (even microtuned stuff), and make oscillator variations. It’s sampling for people who like synthesis. In fact, not only is it fun to make additive synthesis-style oscillators dragging individual harmonics, but it’s a total breeze to change the offset and make equal-tempered stuff, negative scales, and other tunings.

Description on the forums:

AMS File Utility for Microtonal/Traditional Tunings

And from the very awesome Covert Operators site, some of the behind-the-scenes action, plus the Mac build (updated with additional links!):

Meta Files: Uncovering the .ams format, Part 1

Meta Files: Uncovering the .ams format, Part 2

Meta Files: Uncovering the .ams format, Part 3

Mac OS X Meta Application

Thanks for reminding us of this, Tony. I’m a bit behind on all this, but better late than never. Since I am lagging, has anyone made some AMS packs since this came out in September?

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  • The Constructs Live Pack we did has over 20 full sets of AMS files. Over 3000 files total.
    I kinda love this format. Turns Sampler into a single Oscillator of Operator but with a custom waveform. And with a second oscillator for modulation to boot.

    I'd love to talk more about this format, but after 3 big articles on the subject, there's not much left to be said.
    I did release the OSX Meta editor though. Its the one I used to make the Constructs pack.
    Its basically a list editor. But it does one thing other editors don't, it exports a full set of 128 files (notes) instead of the 110 which was basically a limitation in Robert Henke's Max patch.
    Its buggy as hell, but I make my files manually so its just part of the process for me.

    I draw the waveform in this applet:
    And I copy down the values into a single AMS text file. Then export it as a full set with the Meta OSX application.

    The biggest unknown thing about AMS files is that you can combine Sines and Cosines. It originally only worked with Sines. By combining Sines and Cosines you can create even more complex waveforms.
    Only my editor takes Cosines in account, except for Live that is.

    This format has been around for about 2 years now. Never been officially acknowledged as a legit feature. But its there and its loads of fun if you're into messing about with short waveforms.

    – Bjorn

  • eGads

    @ Bjorn,

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a sine with a (-) amplitude the same as a cosine of the same (+) amplitude? I don't think the AMS spec lets you phase shift any individual harmonics so this tool does (sort of) allow for cosine additions. By default each harmonic is at zero amplitude and you can move them up (+) and down (-).

  • Yes, a Cosine is a Sine with a negative phase.
    I'm not a math expert, I just know that combining a Sine at the first fundamental with a Cosine at the next harmonic creates a shape that I can't create by just combining Sines. Or at least not that easily.
    And I know that is true because the waveforms I created looked identical to the drawings I made in the Java template.
    Its been trial and error with this feature, but I got it down to a science now.

    The only thing I really miss is a tool that transcribes a fragment of a real sample into an AMS file. But if that ever got into Live, it would probably be part of some time stretching for Sampler feature or something.
    It would make sense, export 128 different sets of the same sample to be played at different notes and stretch values.

    I'm not sure why and how the AMS format ended up in Live. I'm just happy that I can literally draw waveforms to use in Live.

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