Playing with ADSR Envelopes




I’m trying to get into the realm of playing with ADSR envelopes and, so far, have had limited success. I want to do things like turn drones into gongs or cymbals for production elements.


I’ve tried applying fades, but I struggle to make them sound like natural decays as opposed to just a sound fading away. Using reverb mitigates that pretty well, but if anyone has any other tips I’d be very grateful.


Where I’m really struggling though is to get sharp attacks right. I’ve tried automating the volume of my sounds to make rapid fades of anything from 3 to 12 DB, but they just end up making it sound like the sound starts with an artifact.


I have also played with Plug-in alliance’s Nvelop Transient shaper plug-in and an automated  pitch shifter to rapidly decrease the pitch of the first tiny portion of the audio.


I thought about using automated multi-band compression, particularly if I was looking for a more bassy attack as in a gong but haven’t tried that yet. If anyone has any tips on things to try or knows the whereabouts of any tutorials on the subject, how the volume of the first tiny portion of a percussive sound relates to the rest etc, I’d really appreciate it.


Thanks a lot.


One thing that has been used for ages (in synthesis) to get metallic, bell-approximating sounds is a ring modulator. I tried it in Alchemy (used to be Camel Audio but now part of Logic X) in conjunction with some drone samples and I think you can get some interesting results. Multiple ring modulators in conjunction with a fast attack and very slow release time can get you in the vicinity, but results will vary a lot based on the sample you use. Go to town on reverb and other effects after that. However, the added harmonic content from the ring mod is very useful. Here is a little writeup on how to do it in Alchemy. You can load in a sample instead of using the sine waveform that’s in the article.

I’m sure you can use this idea in other environments.


Creating attack where there is none is maybe a bit like trying to boost frequencies with EQ when there is nothing there to boost… For a gong or cymbal, the way the attack effects the blooming of harmonics is very complex… I would suspect you need to layer your drone with something that does have attack, and then try some very complex but natural sounding filtering automation on the drone

Question and answer is powered by