Pulse wave

A pulse wave or pulse train is a type of non-sinusoidal waveform that includes square waves (duty cycle of 50%) and similarly periodic but asymmetrical waves (duty cycles other than 50%). It is a term used in synthesizer programming, and is a typical waveform available on many synthesizers. The exact shape of the wave is determined by the duty cycle or pulse width of the oscillator output. In many synthesizers, the duty cycle can be modulated (pulse-width modulation) for a more dynamic timbre.[1] The pulse wave is also known as the rectangular wave, the periodic version of the rectangular function.

The shape of the pulse wave is defined by its duty cycle d, which is the ratio between the pulse duration (τ) and the period (T)
Duty cycles

The average level of a rectangular wave is also given by the duty cycle, therefore by varying the on and off periods and then averaging these said periods, it is possible to represent any value between the two limiting levels. This is the basis of pulse-width modulation.


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