Highly Customizable Distortion with the Sample Scanner Unit

This is a quick video demo on how to add some very shape-able and customizable distortion to any input signal using the new sample scanner unit. Hope this sparks some fun ideas!


Really fascinating stuff. I’m excited to dive into this and try it with fuller sounding samples. Would I be wrong in assuming this kind of how Audio Damage Shapes works?

Honestly I know nothing about that module. It is similar to how the Intellijel Shapeshifter works when you set the Mod A input up to scan the current wave table rather than having it use it’s internal ramp wave to scan it.

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Finally got around to watching this one. Awesome :heart_eyes:
You can tell when you are manually manipulating the input gain that if there was an envelope doing that for you instead you would get some interesting textures that depended on the envelope stage. Same for having an envelope control certain aspects of the EQ3 or any filter.


i’m interested in using the module for wave-shaping distortion… the digital distortion hear sounded pretty nice, but it was unclear how it was working – could use a scope with this video.
i am now going to record some piston honda samples… thanks

i wouldn’t go as far as saying i understood the sample scanner, i learn in fits and starts… but yeah i liked playing with a piston honda sample i chopped up in audacity. i think i may have brought out its signature morphing sound? not sure… i am modulating the phase, with the same wave as is running the sample scanner, modulated by an lfo and random

i then clipped it to hell, which sounded fairly nice actually

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That’s a really interesting complex tone you got there!

As far as understanding what you’re doing with the Sample Scanner, I would recommend watching this video made by Seth Shafer starting at 8:45. It’s about the Intellijel Cylonix Shapeshifter. He explains what what is now called the “shaper” function in the Shapeshifter.

When you have the Sample Scanner unit in the ER-301 set up the way we have it here, you’re doing the same thing. He does a really nice job of explaining it complete with graphs and a scope but without getting super mathy.

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thanks Joe, thought I got it from the documents pretty easy, but it didn’t seem to be doing what i would expect on the screen…

Hey Joe, first post here, I’ve been watching your videos before taking the big leap and getting the er-301, very helpful and informative, and they show the huge potential of this module!

I’ve been looking for distortion ways in the er-301, and your video and post came up; watching your video I kinda got the practice, but not the theory behind it; now that I’m watching the Shapeshifter tutorial you posted it seems to me that the sample scanner is doing to our wave something similar to the phase distortion in the old casio CZ series, something like “reading” the sine wave at different speed depending on the sample scanned? with the amount controlled by the input level and the phase that changes the actual shape of the sample – that changes the speed of the reading of our sine wave, thus our harmonic content.

Am I right or is it an approximation? (I’d like to be right just to imagine the possibilities in this domain!)

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Hey, welcome, @carlosbigne! I don’t really know enough about the CZ series to say if it’s doing the same thing or not - it might be? I think what you’re saying sounds accurate.

My mental map for it is more like a lookup table. The Y value of your input waveform determines what value will be looked up (X axis in the sample scanner waveform). And the Y value of the sampled waveform at that point X is what is output.

So if you have feed a linear ascending ramp into the sample scanner at unity gain, you should get whatever sample is loaded in the sample scanner back out. If you load a linear ascending ramp into the sample scanner, you should get whatever wave form you’re feeding in back out.

I think we’re maybe saying the same thing here a little differently.

One thing I don’t think I showed the video is that you can also modulate the phase of the sample scanner’s waveform while you’re scanning it with an input signal. Wild, huh?

Wild indeed!

I think we are saying the same thing but I’m looking at it the other way around (in my idea, wrongly, it was the sample that said “read this value” to the sine osc); I guess I’ll make my tests whenever I’ll get my hands on a 301, here I’m just speculating!

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So i have been reading about distortion, specifically diode distortion, and it made me think back to this thread. I am interested in recreating somewhat traditional soft clipping and distortion. If my goal is to transition into clipping the positive and negative portion of the waveform would I want to use a sample that is close to a saw but with with the negative and positive extremities sloping off (sort of a mix between a saw and a sin)?

Sorry for necroing the old thread but I have been pretty interested in waveshaping after doing some experiments with audio rate switching.

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Here’s a clipping from the Korg Kronos Parameter Guide. It’s MOD-7 synth has waveshaping capabilities, and a lot of built in wave tables for doing so. The manual depicts the waveforms along with their names and descriptions. Here are the diode waves. Perhaps this helps?



This is so incredibly helpful. I was hoping to find exactly this type of chart.

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I’d be very interested if you find a way to generate wave tables like these.

Who was it (and where was it) that put together a Python script for making single cycle waveforms from equations? …or was it from Excel spreadsheets? Did I dream that? Was it here? :thinking:

That is one thing I have been thinking about the sample scanner. It is so hugely powerful but it is pretty difficult to create nice samples. I have been interested in doing sample scanner based logic and math functions (like making a linear to exponential/log converter) but haven’t found a really good way to make the samples in the first place.

I think it would be so extremely useful to have some slightly more math and programmer adjacent tools, like a way to enter a function or equation that you could sample the range of or something.

Also you mentioning wavetables just makes me think of the things you could do with the sample scanner with multiple samples and a scan parameter, like the single cycle unit.


I’ve been able to successfully make wavetables for the ER-301 using:

  • Excel (or google sheets?) and Audacity
  • Javascript (nodejs and an audio library I found)

I could prob do some kind of tutorial on one of these methods if there’s interest (and after re-learning it myself :wink:). I was just wondering if anyone had found a better/slicker/faster way.


I have done the same using Python, there’s a pretty simple .wav library. I currently have a simple script I customize for each different function but I have been wanting to make it a more general-purpose tool that can use anything in the “math” package.

I have been using a distortion mapper based on the tanh() function (pretty common for cheap distortion in the box) and it sounds pretty nice.

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