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Amplitude Envelopes

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by

Garen Hartunian

on 27 November 2013

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Transcript of Amplitude Envelopes

Switch Envelope
This envelope functions like a switch. It is also known as "organ" envelope, because just like an organ, the note starts as soon as the key is pressed and ends as soon as the key is released.
I am going to show how to set correct ADSR values to achieve following amplitude envelope configurations:

Switch
Percussive
Damp Percussive
Sustaining
Quirk

Superwave P8
Amplitude Envelopes

Voltage Controlled Amplifier, or VCA, is a variable-gain amplifier designed to rapidly move all the time by using a specific modulator attached to it. This modulator is configured by an envelope which controls the volume of the amplifier over time. It's a set path that runs every time a key is pressed. This path is defined by 4 parameters:

A
ttack Time
- the time it takes to reach the full value when the key is pressed.
D
ecay Time
- the time it takes to get from full value down to sustained level.
S
ustained Level

- the level at which the note stays while the key is pressed.
R
elease Time
- the time it takes to get from sustained level to zero when the key is released.

These parameters are typically controlled by 4 synthesizer controls labeled ADSR. By setting different combinations of these 4 values we define the envelope configuration which basically sets the desired timbre.

This presentation will demonstrate how to configure some specific amplitude envelopes in Superwave P8 synthesizer. To produce sound samples I used Reaper.
Percussive Envelope
This envelope emulates the sound that's plucked or hit. Even though I am holding the note on my keyboard, the sound decays quickly down to zero, because having the sustained level set to zero lets the decay time control the length of the note.
Superwave P8 is a free powerful synthesizer. For the purpose of this presentation we are going to focus on one of the two amp envelopes
Attack and Release Times are set to zero or very short.
Decay Time doesn't matter in this case.
Sustained Level is set to maximum value.
Damped Percussive Envelope
Sustaining Envelope
Quirk Envelope
Attack and Release Times are set to zero or very short.
Decay Time is medium.
Sustained Level is set to zero.
This envelope creates a piano-like sound that decays away more naturally after the key is released.
Attack Time is very short or zero.
Decay time is longer than in Percussive Envelope.
Sustained Level is set to zero.
Release Time is slightly longer than in previous envelope.
This one is like the sound of playing the violin or blowing into a trumpet. The strong attack is followed by the sustained phase which then fades away naturally, so here we use all phases of the envelope.
Attack Time is very short.
Decay Time is in the middle.
Sustained Level is medium or higher.
Release Time is short to medium depending on how quickly we want the sound to fade away.
By setting the Sustained Level to zero, Release Time very long and Decay Time very short, we can achieve this strange effect of getting a short blip when playing a long note, and a long decay when playing a very short note, which is exactly what you heard on this slide. Believe it or not, I had to hold the key longer to produce the first short blip, while for the second longer sound I just very quickly touched the key.
Attack Time is short.
Decay Time is medium.
Sustained Level is set to zero.
Release time is long.
Conclusion
I didn't use any specific values for the envelope parameters (e.g. milliseconds for A, D R, and level values for S) because usually similar results can be achieved within a reasonable range of values, also because P8 synthesizer does not show measurement units for these controls like some other synthesizers do.

Thank you for taking your time to review this presentation. I tried to make it short but informative. I am new to music production and I learned a lot by just spending some time playing with these amp envelopes. This whole course has been a great experience for me, and I hope for you too.

Good luck!
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