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BasicSynth Paperback – October 25, 2008
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I recommend the book to anyone who is interested in exploring the code and concepts that are used to create digital synthesizers.
I have not used the book to its full potential, since I'm still a novice with both the equations and concepts of actual DSP as well as programming. However it has helped tremendously to understand some of the basic concepts of DSP without unnecessary jargon as well as given me a clearer look into how a computer program actually represents some of the seemingly complex equations.
The later chapters can get extremely complex in subject, but keep in mind this book is not meant as a replacement for DSP books, but rather a supplement. For a good place to start I recommend Richard G. Lyons "Understanding Digital Signal Processing".
One of the really great aspects of the book is that the code is presented in a very clear fashion such that it is easy to identify what the functions in the excerpts are doing. Not only that but frequently Mitchell provides example code that is a literal representation of the equation, followed often by multiple versions of that same code in some simplified fashion. This can either be code that is more computationally efficient or other times it's just presented in a way that's easier to read and understand for the would-be programmer. Since programs are not always written with diligent attention to useful comments and formatting, browsing existing code may not be that helpful.
As the other review by Dan Mitchell explains, the book covers many topics including the most common forms of computer generated sound, including FM, subtractive and additive synthesis, as well as filters and common processors like reverb and chorus. There are numerous other topics in the book that are definitely worth your while if the subject matter interests you.
My solitary complaint about the book is that it is currently only fully available in print format. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, for a field that is as fast moving as programming software instruments and effects, it is helpful to be able to update code and concepts if necessary. In defense of the book however, most changes in C++ are minor at this point and unlikely to affect the content of the book and second the subjects the book covers are well-trodden and "old" enough that new innovations in the field will also have little or no effect on what are tried and true methods of sound synthesis.
All in all a fantastic book and make sure to get the example code at [...] when working with the book.
If you're looking to create your own software synthesizer or are just interested in how a software synth works, give this a shot, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.