As you might know I am a sucker for saturation devices; overdrive, distortion, wave shaping. I love it that saturation adds natural overtones to a signal, make it more rich and complex sounding.
Europa by Reason is a waveshaper synth, it can change the shape of the wave/oscillator. And by changing the waveshape you’re actually changing the harmonics. Europa is not only a great sounding synth it is also a great analytics tool for learning about harmonics, shaping a waveform.
In Europa not only can you change the harmonics of a wave/oscillator you can also add harmonics to it like you would by using an overdrive effect but not in the same way because it will shape all the notes individually. So it will not sound like an overdrive effect because it generates clean additional harmonics per note. Polyphonic chords will sound clean, not dirty and overdriven.
That way I am able to mimic the tones of classic synths, like the Polysix and Prophet 5. But because the oscillators and the filters of the classic analog synths all sound differently from each other balancing the overtones in Europa is the key to succes.
Using the Modifier
Often I used the Modifier of Europa for shaping the waveform. Not only can it Clip the waveform (clipping = distortion = creating harmonics), it also has a super nice section called Harmonics. This section will add harmonics in all sort of ways, creating very rich tones even when using a pure sine wave as Waveform (oscillator) source. You can go crazy on this stuff like I did. Endless possibilities!
Using the Harmonics section
The Harmonics section has a brilliant Odd-Even algorithm to balance the odd and even harmonics in all sorts of ways. Which is superb for changing and balancing the harmonics of the waveform. I use this a lot. The Harmonics section can even do inharmonic overtones using the Stretch algorithm which is creating metallic sounding tones for example.
Europa is a complex synth that can generate very complex sounds. But it is also great for meticulously emulating analog synth sounds. You can really shape the waveform in any way you want and use lfo’s and enveloppes to add a bit of movement to the settings, making them sound like a true analog synth. When making patches for my 80s sound set I used these techniques a lot. Europa might look modern but it can sound truly old and retro.