In :
import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt


# Wavefolding¶

For today's article I'd like to take a look at wavefolding. For those who are unfamiliar, wavefolding is an interesting type of distortion that can be found in several notable analog synthesizer circuits. The general idea behind wavefolding distortion is that as the signal grows larger it eventually reflects over itself. There seems to be a lot of mystery about wavefolding in what I've found on the internet, so I'm hoping to clarify some things here by breaking down some typical digital wavefolding techniques, and then introducing a couple of my own modifications on the standard techniques.

Note that I won't really be touching on analog wavefolding circuits in this post, for more information on that subject, I recommend this blog post by Keith McMillen as well as this DAFx paper from 2017 which provides an insightful discussion of the Buchla 259 wavefolder circuit.

## Standard Digital Wavefolding¶

The typical method for implementing a digital wavefolding effect is to modulate the input signal by another wave, often a triangle or sine wave. This means that the static curves we're used to looking at for nonlinear effects will be simple triangle or sine waves.

In :
def tri_wave(x, freq, fs):
p = float((1/freq) * fs)
x = x + p/4
return 4 * np.abs((x / p) - np.floor((x / p) + 0.5)) - 1

def sine_wave(x, freq, fs):
return np.sin(2 * np.pi * x * freq / fs)

In :
fs = 44100

plt.figure()
adsp.plot_static_curve(lambda x : tri_wave(x, fs/2, fs), gain = 5)
plt.title('Triangle Wavefolder Static Curve')

plt.figure()
adsp.plot_static_curve(lambda x : sine_wave(x, fs/2, fs), gain = 5)
plt.title('Sine Wavefolder Static Curve')

Out:
Text(0.5,1,'Sine Wavefolder Static Curve')

When we apply this simple wavefolding technique to an input sine wave, we get back the expected "folding" behavior.

In :
N = fs / 50
n = np.arange(N)
freq = 100
x = np.sin(2 * np.pi * n * freq / fs)
y = sine_wave(x,  fs/2.5, fs)
y2 = tri_wave(x, fs/2.5, fs)

plt.plot(x)
plt.plot(y)
plt.plot(y2)
plt.legend(['Dry', 'Sine Folder', 'Tri Folder'])
plt.title('Folded Sine Wave')

Out:
Text(0.5,1,'Folded Sine Wave')

## Modified Wavefolding 1: Saturation¶

The first modification we'll make to the traditional digital wavefolder is to sum the outputs of a saturating nonlinearity and a wavefolding nonlinearity. Although I haven't compared the two on a mathematical level, I've found through my own listening tests that this architecture sounds a little bit more similar to a typical analog wavefolder, especially for large amounts of folding.

In :
import SchemDraw
from SchemDraw import dsp
import SchemDraw.elements as e

d = SchemDraw.Drawing(fontsize=12)
L1 = d.add(dsp.LINE, d='right', l=1, color='white')

d.draw()


The diagram above shows the signal flow for the saturating wavefolder, where "WF" denotes the wavefolding nonlinearity. For the gain "G", I typically use somwhere between -0.5 and -0.1. Below we show the static curve and sine wave response for a saturating wavefolder with a hyperbolic tangent saturator, a sine wavefolder, and G=-0.2.

In :
def sine_tanh(x, G, freq, fs):
return np.tanh(x) + G * sine_wave(x, freq, fs)

plt.figure()
adsp.plot_static_curve(lambda x : sine_tanh(x, -0.2, fs/2, fs), gain=5)
plt.title('Saturating Wavefolder Static Curve')

y3 = adsp.normalize(sine_tanh(3*x, -0.2, fs/2.5, fs))

plt.figure()
plt.plot(x)
plt.plot(y)
plt.plot(y3)
plt.legend(['Dry', 'Wavefolder', 'Saturating Wavefolder'])
plt.title('Wavfolder vs. Saturating Wavefolder')

Out:
Text(0.5,1,'Wavfolder vs. Saturating Wavefolder')

While the modified structure may seem only marginally different from the original wavefolder, watch how the response changes for a large input:

In :
N = fs / 50
n = np.arange(N)
x = 2.5 * np.sin(2 * np.pi * n * freq / fs)
y = sine_wave(x, fs/2.5, fs)
y3 = adsp.normalize(sine_tanh(3*x, -0.2, fs/2.5, fs))

plt.figure()
plt.plot(y)
plt.plot(y3)
plt.legend(['Dry', 'Wavefolder', 'Saturating Wavefolder'])
plt.title('Wavfolder vs. Saturating Wavefolder For Large Input')

Out:
Text(0.5,1,'Wavfolder vs. Saturating Wavefolder For Large Input')

## Modified Wavefolder 2: Feedback¶

Next, let's modify our saturating wavefolder by adding a nonlinear feedback path.

In :
d = SchemDraw.Drawing(fontsize=12)
L1 = d.add(dsp.LINE, d='right', l=1, color='white')

L2 = d.add(dsp.LINE, d='right', l=1, color='white')

d.draw()


This modification will add an interesting texture to our nonlinearity. In particular, it will add a little bit of movement, almost like a resonance, that reflects the behavior of the wavefolder. It's a little bit difficult to describe, but an audio example will be provided later on.

Below we show the dynamic response of the saturating feedback wavefolder in which both the feedforward and feedback nonlinearities are $\tanh$ functions, the wavefolder is a sine wave function, and G = -0.5.

In :
class WaveFolder:
def __init__(self):
self.y1 = 0
self.fb = lambda _ : 0
self.ff = lambda x : x
self.wave = lambda x : x

def process(self, x):
z = self.ff(x) + self.fb(self.y1)
y = z + self.wave(x)

self.y1 = y
return y

def process_block(self, block):
out = np.copy(block)

for n, _ in enumerate(block):
out[n] = self.process(block[n])

return out

In :
WF = WaveFolder()
WF.ff = lambda x : np.tanh(x)
WF.fb = lambda x : 0.9*np.tanh(x)
WF.wave = lambda x : -0.5*sine_wave(x, fs/2, fs)

plt.title('Saturating Feedback Wavefolder Dynamic Response')

Out:
Text(0.5,1,'Saturating Feedback Wavefolder Dynamic Response')

## Antialiasing¶

Wavefolders are notorious for having a pretty gnarly harmonic response, which can result in some serious aliasing distortion if not handled properly. First, let's look at the harmonic response for the traditional digital wavefolder, for both sine and triangle waves.

In :
plt.figure()
adsp.plot_harmonic_response(lambda x : tri_wave(x, fs/2, fs), gain=2)
plt.title('Triangle Wavefolder Harmonic Response')

plt.figure()
adsp.plot_harmonic_response(lambda x : sine_wave(x, fs/2, fs), gain=2)
plt.title('Sine Wavefolder Harmonic Response')

Out:
Text(0.5,1,'Sine Wavefolder Harmonic Response')

So first off, note the shape of the harmonic structures for both wavefolders: in both cases the 5th harmonic is the most prominent, even more so than the fundamental. We also see that the triangle shape has an almost unbounded harmonic response, which looks like it might lead to a ton of aliasing. While I personally don't like the triangle wavefolder very much, if you would like to use it I recommend using a method called BLAMP (I'm serious that is actually what it's called) to "round" the corners of the triangle function. You can read more here.

Next let's take a look at the harmonic response for the saturating wavefolder, again with sine wavefolding, $\tanh$ saturation, and G=-0.2.

In :
plt.figure()
adsp.plot_harmonic_response(lambda x : sine_tanh(x, -0.2, fs/2, fs), gain=2)
plt.title('Saturating Wavefolder Hamornic Response')

Out:
Text(0.5,1,'Saturating Wavefolder Hamornic Response')

Not too much of interest going on here, the harmonic response is almost indistinguishable from a standard $\tanh$ nonlinearity. Finally let's examine the feedback saturating wavefolder, again with feedforward and feedback nonlinearities as $\tanh$ functions, the wavefolder as a sine wave function, and G = -0.5.

In :
WF = WaveFolder()
WF.ff = lambda x : np.tanh(x)
WF.fb = lambda x : 0.9*np.tanh(x)
WF.wave = lambda x : -0.5*tri_wave(x, fs/2, fs)


Text(0.5,1,'Feedback Wavefolder Harmonic Response')