Device Details


Name | Version: Phase Distortion Synth 1.1
Author: pechmann
Device Type: Instrument
Description: Currently this synth doesn't seem to be working with Live 10. Please back up your project if you decide to try it out in that version. Using the synth in Live 9 shouldn't be a problem.

This is my (first, finished) synthesizer. It is a polyphonic wavetable synthesizer using various techniques of phase distortion in a feedback loop. It's got some virtual analog filters and a 5x8 modulation matrix, as well.

To see what each control element does, refer to Live's info view; the device is fully annotated. I've also included a diagram to explain the signal flow. (The sections in the "Oscillator" and "Filter/Pitch" tabs are more or less signal-path-explicit.)

As a starting point, I would suggest turning up the "Post-Filter" knob in the "Phase Feedback" section, then maybe play with the filter settings.

I used various bits and pieces from the gen~ examples included with Max and from the forums. In particular, the filters are not my work but were created by Andrew Simper, the ICST and Dominique Wurtz, and ported to Gen by stkr, Peter McCulloch and Oli Larkin.

The device takes a while to load, especially with greater polyphony. There is, I guess, hope this will change with a future Max update.

The device is free. If you'd like to reward me financially, that would of course be greatly appreciated; you can do so here:

Version 1.1 contains fixes for dropping audio files to the Phase Transfer and Waveform buffers.


Live Version Used: 9.0.6
Max Version Used: 6.1.6
Date Added: Jan 14 2014 12:30:40
Date Last Updated: Jun 06 2019 16:05:13
Downloads: 17282
License: AttributionNonCommercialShareAlike
Average Rating (14)

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Device File: Phase Distortion


Thanks for sharing!
wow!!!! thnxs!!
wow, thanks!
Hi Pechmann.
I'm discovering your synth, and I'm quite excited, awesome work !
I guess in a few hours I'll take some time to understand some of its concept but for the moment I'm just having great fun.
Well done!
Thanks Crampe,
let me know if there is anything I can explain or clarify.
Well, sure there are things to clarify, but with this kind of audio toys I like to scratch my head around what's not obvious.
But, here's one question I didn't explored and like the answer without head scratching:
I find that I can save my wavetables if I "draw" them with "instructions", great. But, is there a way to save a pencil-drawn wavetable ?
Congratulation, those envelopes! the modulation tab! the layout, the feedback routines... huge !!!!
And the sound of course. Unique synth.
Hey Crampe,
thanks! Exporting a pencil-drawn waveform works fine for me in that the audio file does contain the waveform. But there was a bug where dropped audio files would be applied incorrectly. Maybe that made it seem like it didn't export properly? Should be fixed now (version 1.1)
Hey Crampe,
thanks! Exporting a pencil-drawn waveform works fine for me in that the audio file does contain the waveform. But there was a bug where dropped audio files would be applied incorrectly. Maybe that made it seem like it didn't export properly? Should be fixed now (version 1.1)
Exporting the wavetable did already work. But of course I didn't thought about just dropping the file to load it :-)
BTW, so now I guess that it's the only way toward it. No way to save a (pencil-drawn) user wavetable in the device itself as part of a preset ? If you use a custom waveform, save a preset of the synth, you have to drag the saved (exported) waveform each time you load this preset (I mean ableton device preset here, inside the browser). That is not the most convenient thing, but...

Don't know if I'll test the 1.1 version tonight, I might need to go to sleep at some point.
I'm totally blown away by your synth ! Noise machine from hell !!!
Awesome work. Sounds great and works a treat! Thank you.
Beautiful synth, incredible sound. Thanks for sharing this spark of genius!
I've been playing this synth now for two days and it really is incredibly versatile and keeps producing beautiful sounds. Thanks again!
amaaazing... :D
It's one month later and I'm still impressed, tweaking, finding new sounds and possibilities. Really an amazing synth. I've compared it as a pure wavetable synth with other commercial products and it really sounds much better. Thank you again!
For some reason i can't get this to make a single sound! what am I doing wrong?
Do you see any error messages in the Max window? (Right/Cmd-Click on the device title bar, "Open Max Window") On the device UI, do you get the phase ramp and sine waveform displayed as in the screenshot?
this device is amazing.
So much control, a love to work and play with.

Major thank you for this unique synth.

Many of you are commenting how great this device is, yet it has no ratings. Why aren't you also rating this device highly if you think this device is good?

Just trying to understand why no one seems to be using the ratings feature on this site but it's a popular feature of every other site.
Precfect. I love it. Thanks. :)
I'm still amazed by this wonderful synth.
That's great to hear. By the way, I have to caution against updating Max to version 6.1.8, as this introduces a bug that can cause some problems especially related to the envelope times. On the other hand, loading time is greatly improved now, so everything should be working nicely when a Max 6.1.9 update comes.
Thanks for creating this awesome synth. I'm excited to dig in more. Already used it to create some SFX for a project
I'm late to the party, but I really enjoy this synth after only playing with it for a few minutes. Can make some crazy sounds with this one....
Synth is fantastic!
Under Live 10 there is an issue: Live crashes immediately when removing an instance of the device from a midi track.
Also when opening the device in the Max 8 Editor and unfreezing it, Max crashes.
Hey tonwelle,
unfortunately I can't reproduce the crash on my system. It sounds like a Live/Max problem with your configuration. It's probably best to contact Ableton support about it. (Maybe check out the Live beta 10.0.2b2, there seem to be some M4L-related fixes in the changelog.) Hope this helps.
Hey tonwelle!
The same with problem with me in Live 10.
Please fix! This is such a fantastic synth.
I can't wait to try this one!!
thanks in advance!! will it work properly in Live 10?
kind regards.
Awesome synth, and the note-specific tuning is a fantastic feature
Hi pechmann,
the crash happens also with Live 10.0.2b8 (the latest beta). Is there a way to rebuild the synth using live 10 and max8? I have contacted Ableton support, but they asked to contact You. So: no solution.
Hey guys,

if you are experiencing crashes with the device in Live 10, please try with the repacked version at

Does this version still produce the crashes?

Thanks for your help,

Hi Martin,
I still experience the crash in Live 10.0.02 with the repacked version.
Hi again Martin!

Any updates regarding the crash in Live 10?
I still experience the crash you see.

Best regards
Hey jorgen96,
there's a new version of the synth that I'm slowly getting ready for posting on here. Hopefully that version doesn't produce the crashes -- I don't have any other idea what the cause of the crash might be. You could also try asking Ableton support about it, saying I can't the reproduce the crash in order to debug. (After all, using Max for Live for building synths shouldn't be something that crashes Live at all.) Sorry I can't help more at this point.
That's super to hear Martin!
Hopefully it will fix the bug :)
I sent a crash report to Ableton, with the 1.1.1 version and the way to reproduce the crash (simply load the Prepared Piani.adv for example).
Hope it will help.
I'm currently run the 10.0.4 version of Live.
Hi Martin!

How is the updated version of the synth coming along?
I can't wait to be able to use it you see!

Best regards
I'm going to bump this! :)
I wanted to check this synth out. Loaded it into a project in Ableton 10.0.6
I tried to load a preset and it crashed out the project. Problem is now I can't even delete the instrument off of the project without crashing. So the project is borked.
Hey mbreeson, sorry to hear that. If it still helps, what you could do is take any .amxd instrument (say "DS Kick.amxd"), create a copy of that, rename it "Phase Distortion Synth.amxd", and replace my file with that one. When you load the project, Live will try to load the DS Kick in place of the Phase Distortion Synth. This will not really work, but it shouldn't crash Live.
5 years of support. Great sense of responsibility pechmannj, I hope you are fine! Having read mbreeson's post I guess I should avoid this plugin, since it can mess up projects? That would be a real bummer.

Best regards!
Hey ronnymonte, unfortunately I can't really comment on issues with Live 10, as I'm still stuck with Live 9. I am fairly confident that the fix I suggested in the comment above works, i.e. Live sets can be recovered if the Phase Distortion Synth bugs out (by replacing the .amxd with a diffent one and naming it 'Phase Distortion Synth.amxd'). Though problably better to be safe than sorry! Still looking at updating the synth by the way, just can't find the time...

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