Low-frequency Oscillation (LFO)

Low-Frequency Oscillation, also known as LFO, is an electronic frequency that usually falls at the far end of the audio range. This frequency typically falls below 20Hz, so it’s practically impossible for the human ear to hear it. Experts commonly use an LFO to create effects within the electronic music production universe. Low-frequency oscillation creates a rhythm pulse or sweet that often modulate synths, as well as to delay audio equipment. It can work as an envelope generator—and all synthesizers involve at least one of them.

Low-Frequency Oscillation: a History

The term “low-frequency oscillation” emerged around the 1960s. The effect itself came into life by accident. Since then, almost all syncs have at least one LFO, for they are capable of increasing sound alterations and producing a repeated control signal. These oscillators generate a diversity of waveforms that usually have an upper-frequency limit that reaches above 100Hz and falls below 1Hz.

LFOs might or might not have voltage control over its frequency. For this reason, a low-frequency oscillator with voltage control over its frequency is an VCLFO. The waveforms generate at a fairly low pitch, so producers use these slowly vibrating waves to modulate a parameter in a sampler, a synthesizer, or an effects processor.

LFO, Vibrato, and Tremolo

On the one hand, when modulating the pitch of an audio oscillator with an LFO, vibrato, another effect, emerges. You can also produce this effect by adding control input to a VCO. On the other, when modulating the volume of an audio oscillator with an LFO, an effect known as tremolo comes to light.

Low-frequency oscillation: the Parameters 

Low-frequency oscillators have a variety of controllable parameters on most sound modules and synths. These involve different waveforms such as routing options, rate control, and tempo sync. You can set LFOs to different frequencies; with this, the producer is able to create changing slow-moving waveforms. By doing so, the user can give the impression of aliveness when linked to multiple parameters of a sound. 

Within the electronic music universe, musician take advantage of low-frequency oscillation rather frequently. For instance, dubstep, drum, and bass involve LFOs when synchronized to the tempo of the track. As a result, this creates a wobble effect. The wobble effect became quite popular, so producers began applying it to other forms of electronic dance music.

LFO: Conclusions

Musicians, producers, and engineers often use LFOs to enhance synthesizers. They are common in the movie industry by offering several sound effects in films. Similarly, low-frequency oscillators are also typical for producing a variety of effects within electronic music. The reason is they provide a unique gradual sensation of the sound becoming closer and clearer to the listener. When using a high-rate, peculiar rippling sounds emerge.