A single cycle is a collection of samples of arbitrary length, i.e 640 samples (AKWF original) up to 2048 samples (Tone2 Icarus, etc).
Samples can be a.) in time-amplitude domain like Wispair or in b.) frequency domain, for instance thorns wt and thorns spectral filter.
A wavetable file representation can vary from synth specific formats to the most common format: all slots are packed into a single wave file, i.e. slot 1 takes samples 1-2048 then slot 2 from 2049 to …
The “position” parameter denotes the current playback position in the wavetable, i.e. the slot that the synth uses to playback.
Single cycle playback means to play just a single cycle of a given WT, without modulating the “position” parameter while playing back a note.
So if your WT consists of the following slots with a single cycle each: sine, triangle, square and your position parameter is 2, you’ll hear a triangle, if it’s 3 you hear a square in the example.
Scanning through a WT is the process of modulating the position while you playback a sound.
If you modulate the position to go from 1 to 3 then you hear first a sine, second a triangle, third a square.
Scanning can be continuous or stepwise, consider your position is not 1 or 2 but 1.4. Then you are inbetween “pure” slots.
In stepwise scanning you still hear the pure sine.
In continuous scanning you hear a blended waveform sine and triangle.
All “traditional” synths with “traditional” waveforms can be considered WT synths with n=1 and position fixed to 1.
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