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In Software
Sound Design

By Varun Nair

A Sound Design Tool

On 07, Nov 2011 | 5 Comments | In Software, Sound Design | By Varun Nair

It’s been about a month and a half since I started using Max/MSP and it’s been a whole lot of fun with many sound revelations. It’s also been responsible for the lack of time to do anything else!

After the ‘Design Toolbox – Flangers’ post I put together for and further inspired by Steve Urban’s comment about trying to find something similar to Logic’s Signal Generator in Pro Tools, I decided to make an application in Max/MSP. What started off as an idea for a simple signal generator – which I planned to have ready in a day – ended up as a signal generator + mangling tool + recorder + rewire application. I had to force myself to stop work on it (for now) because I would add a new feature/fix every time I played around with it – the pitfalls of being both the user and creator. On the whole, it’s a very simple app. Ideally I would like to compile it into a VST/RTAS/AU plugin, but that is currently beyond my grasp. I primarily designed it to work rewired with a DAW, although, it can run standalone.

So, to cut to the chase:

What does it do?

It’s a signal generator that generates sine/triangle/square waves and white/pink noise. It also does sweeps anywhere in the audible frequency range over a custom time period with any of the three oscillators. BUT to make it fun you can also draw in a pattern and customize the sweep to create all sorts of sounds [Freq Follow]. You can further ‘effect’ the output of any of the three modules (oscillator, sweep or frequency follow) with an amplitude/ring modulator and amplitude follow tool for drawing out an amplitude envelope over a custom time range. You can also record the output to a wav/aiff file if you choose to run the app in standalone mode.

Alternatively, you can rewire it with your favourite DAW and insert any sort of modulation plugin in to your rewire channel to create all sorts of cool noises (which is more fun and primarily why I created this app).

Here are a few videos to show what the app can be capable of. You can skip to the second one (rewire) to see/listen to the more fun stuff. iMovie was being a total pain as usual and because of which both video and sound quality suffered a bit:




SigGen – Rewire on Vimeo
SigGen – Standalone on Vimeo 

Download: SigGen (OSX - Intel)

Thanks to Gervais Harry for feedback on features and Ana Roman for help with the GUI design.

Feedback/thoughts/bugs are most welcome!!

I plan to integrate a MIDI controller assignment layer and a few more ideas/fixes when I find the time. There are a few other apps (more specific and complicated in application) in the pipeline – hopefully I will have them ready sooner than I think I will.

Happy designing!

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  1. Any chance of getting this application in a Windows format? Thank you.

  2. Varun Nair

    Possibly, can’t give a date for it yet though! If you need it soon for any reason get in touch me.

  3. Love your generator. Question: once you have created a sound you like how can you save the setting and create a library of sounds you can come back to later. I tried the save and save as and it does not save the profile to open later. thanks

    • Varun Nair

      Hey Richard! Thanks for trying the app out. There’s no way of saving the setting in this version. The ‘save’ and ‘save as’ are just dummy options. This app deserves an update but I haven’t been able to give it time.

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