Enveloper

The Enveloper is an unusual processor that lets you shape the attack and release phases of a signal—the signal’s transients, in other words. This makes it a unique tool that can be used to achieve results that differ from other dynamic processors.

Figure. Enveloper window.
  • Threshold slider and field: Sets the threshold level. Signals that exceed the threshold have their attack and release phase levels altered.
  • (Attack) Gain slider and field: Boosts or attenuates the attack phase of the signal. When the Gain slider is set to the center position—0%—the signal is unaffected.
  • Lookahead slider and field: Sets the pre-read analysis time for the incoming signal. This enables the Enveloper to know in advance what signals are coming, enabling accurate and fast processing.
  • (Attack) Time knob and field: Determines the amount of time it takes for the signal to increase from the threshold level to the maximum Gain level.
  • Display: Shows the attack and release curves applied to the signal.
  • (Release) Time knob and field: Determines the amount of time it takes for the signal to fall from the maximum gain level to the threshold level.
  • (Release) Gain slider and field: Boosts or attenuates the release phase of the signal. When the Gain slider is set to the center position—0%—the signal is unaffected.
  • Out Level slider and field: Sets the level of the output signal.

Using the Enveloper

The most important parameters of the Enveloper are the two Gain sliders, one on each side of the central display. These govern the Attack and Release levels of each respective phase.

Boosting the attack phase can add snap to a drum sound, or it can amplify the initial pluck or pick sound of a stringed instrument. Attenuating the attack causes percussive signals to fade in more softly. You can also mute the attack, making it virtually inaudible. A creative use for this effect is alteration of the attack transients to mask poor timing of recorded instrument parts.

Boosting the release phase also accentuates any reverb applied to the affected clip. Conversely, attenuating the release phase makes audio originally drenched in reverb sound drier. This is particularly useful when working with drum loops, but it has many other applications as well. Let your imagination be your guide.

When using the Enveloper, set the Threshold to the minimum value and leave it there. Only when you seriously raise the release phase, which boosts the noise level of the original recording, should you raise the Threshold slider a little. This limits the Enveloper to affecting only the useful part of the signal.

Drastic boosting or cutting of either the release or attack phase may change the overall level of the signal. You can compensate for this by adjusting the Out Level slider.

Generally, you’ll find that Attack Time values of around 20 ms and Release Time values of 1500 ms are good to start with. Then adjust them for the type of signal that you’re processing.

The Lookahead slider defines how far into the future of the incoming signal the Enveloper looks, in order to anticipate future events. You generally won’t need to use this feature, except when processing signals with extremely sensitive transients. If you do raise the Lookahead value, you may need to adjust the Attack Time to compensate.

In contrast to a compressor or expander, the Enveloper operates independently of the absolute level of the input signal—but this works only if the Threshold slider is set to the lowest possible value.