Wavefolders are one of those things I thought I understood for a very long time (it’s like weird distortion, right?), but it wasn’t until I got to play with a Buchla Music Easel that I finally understood why they’re useful for more than making a sputtering, fizzy mess. As Joranalogue brilliantly states in the docs for their new wavefolder, the Fold 6, they’re best thought of as the opposite of a filter --- they add harmonics rather than subtract. Once I figured that out, I became a bit obsessed. I’ve tried many, many wavefolders in Eurorack since then, including ones from Random*Source, Intellijel, Bastl, and Doepfer, but I have to say the Fold 6 might be my favorite. It’s smooth without being dull, it has very wide sweet-spots, and if all you had was a sine wave, a modulation source, and this, you’d still have a huge amount of potential patches at your fingertips.
The first thing to note is that the Fold 6 is an analogue wavefolder, specifically a 6-stage diode wavefolder. That isn’t necessarily novel for Eurorack, but the Fold 6 allows you to run those stages in series or parallel, based on which of the two outputs you use (“main” or “alt”). This gives you some nice tonal variation right off the bat, which can be further shaped by a symmetrical soft clipper (the shape knob), and a DC offset (the symmetry knob), both of which can drastically alter how the wavefolding works with an incoming signal. With just these three controls, you can get everything from a distorted VCA to PWM-like movement to FM-sounding blips to, yes, the sputtering, fizzy distortion that you may know and love.
The first thing I always try with every wavefolder I get my hands on is to see if it works as a VCA without a ton of bleed or harshness. I picked this trick up after using an Intellijel Shapeshifter, which has an analogue wavefolder that can be used as a dirty VCA in a pinch. At any rate, with the Fold 6, if you keep the “Fold” knob at minimum and modulate fold via an envelope, the Fold 6 works as an interesting VCA that can simultaneously add a ton of FM-like harmonics via the amount of incoming modulation. This is possible because the Fold parameter at minimum value silences the output, without any bleed. If you like making donks and 2-op FM basses, I highly recommend trying this sort of patch out because it’s a nice variation on those classic types of sounds.
The second thing I always try with wavefolders is to see what they sound like with a drum machine run through them. It can be tricky to get usable sounds with some wavefolders because gain-staging into them can have a narrow sweet spot and not all wavefolders do well with complex sound sources. However, the smoothness of the Fold 6 makes it ideally suited for complex sources, and you can be a bit more subtle by using the “alt” output. For me, the incoming signal’s dynamics were still crucially important in how the Fold 6 distorted, so I would recommend playing around with running a compressor or another clipper before the Fold 6, and then possibly using the wavefolder in parallel with the dry signal so you can mix some dynamics back in. If you go to these lengths, you can get some really unique, layered distortion that can also tame or nullify transients depending on how much dry signal you add.
I previously mentioned PWM-like sounds are possible with the Fold 6, and that’s possible by modulating the symmetry parameter. Modulation via an LFO, for example, gives nice, subtle movement to a pulse waveform that’s great for lead and string type sounds, but has a slightly different character than typical PWM. Of course, you can go even further by playing with the fold and shape controls as well.
For such a small and simple seeming module, the Fold 6 can do a ton of different things and I really can’t recommend it enough. If you’re a hardcore wavefolder aficionado, I should state my bias in that I like my wavefolders more on the smooth side, and I definitely prefer analogue over digital in most cases, so take that for what it’s worth. Also, if you’re trying to chase the wavefolding sound of a Buchla, I don’t think this sounds quite like it, but it has its own character that is no less useful.
4 HP +12v 40mA -12v 40mA