Waveshaping with Norton Amplifiers: Modeling the Serge Triple Waveshaper
The Serge Triple Waveshaper (TWS) is a synthesizer module designed in 1973 by Serge Tcherepnin, founder of Serge Modular Music Systems. It contains three identical waveshaping circuits that can be used to convert sawtooth waveforms into sine waves. However, its sonic capabilities extend well beyond this particular application. Each processing section in the Serge TWS is built around what is known as a Norton amplifier. These devices, unlike traditional operational amplifiers, operate on a current differencing principle and are featured in a handful of iconic musical circuits. This work provides an overview of Norton amplifiers within the context of virtual analog modeling and presents a digital model of the Serge TWS based on an analysis of the original circuit. Results obtained show the proposed model closely emulates the salient features of the original device and can be used to generate the complex waveforms that characterize “West Coast” synthesis.