Sampling & Aliasing: Square Example

For the following example, a sawtooth with 20 partials is used without band limitation. Since the builtin Web Audio oscillator is band-limited, a simple additive synth is used in this case. At a pitch of about \(2000 Hz\), the aliases become audible. For certain fundamental frequencies, all aliases will be located at actual multiples of the fundamental, resulting in a correct synthesis despite aliasing. In most cases, the mirrored partials are inharmonic and distort the signal and for higher fundamental frequencies the pitch is fully dissolved.

Pitch (Hz):

Output Gain:

Time Domain:

Frequency Domain:

Anti-Aliasing Filters

In analog-to-digital conversion, simple anti-aliasing filters can be used to band-limit the input and discard signal components above the Nyquist frequency. In case of digital synthesis, however, this principle can not be applied. When generating a square wave signal with an infinite number of harmonics, aliasing happens instantaneously and can not be removed, afterwards.

Band Limited Generators

In order to avoid the aliasing, band-limited signal generators are provided in most audio programming languages and environments.