This term can have two related but slightly different meanings. A digital oscillator often produces sound by reading a table of numbers in order, jumping from the level described by one number to the next. This table of numbers describes one cycle of a wave, and therefore is often called a wavetable.
Many digital oscillators have multiple wave tables lined up, and can move between these tables – either by jumping suddenly (which the original PPG Wave synths did), or by crossfading between them (what most digital wavetable oscillators today do). Some people refer to each table as a “wave” and a set of individual waves as a wavetable.
(Just to make things even more confusing, some sound card manufacturers such as Creative Labs referred to a sample as a wavetable. But we’ll just ignore them.)« Back to Glossary Index