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What do you do with a complex envelope generator?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author What do you do with a complex envelope generator?
pugix
Quoting from discussion about the value of ADSR envelopes:

WaveRider wrote:
I find funny that most who said don't need adsr wish for a more complex enveloppe.

Well if you don't need an adsr and are happy with ar what would you do with a complex enveloppe?

at least with adsr you have 2 levels you can use, to isolate the pluck from the sustain... that's a start.

Someone saying, I have plenty of adsr, I make full use of them, now I would like to try a more complex EG... I can understand that better...
hmmm.....


btw to fully use ADSR, you need to also control gate length
adsr and short triggers are not very useful


I have one complex envelope generator, the Encore UEG.

http://pugix.com/synth/encore-universal-envelope-generator/

Mostly I use the UEG as a complex LFO or as an 8 step CV sequencer. I never seemed to imagine what to do with a complex envelope, which can be defined as:

A voltage that is triggered, starts at zero, then moves to an arbitrary number of set voltage points, before returning back to zero. The shape of the curves between points, the time of transition between points, etc., can all potentially be specified or controlled.

Feel free to discuss my definition, too. I'm not sure I see a place for a gate in that definition. At what stage would the gate do something, since the concept of sustain would be two points at the same value.

One question we can ask is: What complex envelope modules are available. And we can read the docs, watch videos, etc., to learn how their designers thought they should be used. That's cool.

But I'm wondering if you are in the habit of deploying complex envelope generators and what you do with them. What do you trigger or gate them with? And what do you control with them?
Joe.
pugix wrote:
One question we can ask is: What complex envelope modules are available.


Patch your own It's peanut butter jelly time!

You can use a burst generator to step through a sequencer, and the output run through a Slew.

Another way is utilising Envelopes, or slope generators, that have "End of rise" (EOR) or "End of Fall" (EOF) outputs: Triggering secondary envelopes using EOR (and potentially EOF outputs*), and then mixing all of the envelope's outputs together, is a another way of constructing your own complex envelope generators thumbs up

I like using them, gated modulation can be fun, but sometimes you want to trigger a one shot modulation that has a predictable or repeatable outcome (usually a weird filter sweep, or PWM).




*if you're using 3 or more envelopes, and you get the first to trigger #2 with EOR, and #3 with EOF, and mixing all 3 envelopes together etc)
R.U.Nuts
I have three VCS like slope generators (Maths and Doepfer A-171-2). What I do is modulating the rise- and fall-times with differnt CVs. Sometimes just subtle so each "hit" has a slightly different character or dramatic so some notes sound like short plucks while others make long swells or reverse audio like effects by lengthening the attack time and shortening the decay.
I also mix envelopes with LFOs that are set to very little amplitude to get some subtle sound between two envelopes and to add or subtract the LFO to/from the envelope voltage.
nickgrys
My favorite way to use the Verbos VMS is as a complex envelope like in this demo:

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=119265&highlight=
calaveras
As I mentioned in the other thread. I find ADSR to be underwhelming when using it to control modulation of parameters. The example I gave there was travel through a wavetable.
For one thing ADSRs have some arbitrary limits. You have one peak value, arrived at when attack reaches it's maximum. Everything after that is various flavors of downhill. Yawn.

It's interesting to use a step sequencer like the RYO Penta as a function generator. I run it through a slew sometimes. And usually end up constructing a patch with a clock divider and two VCAs (or VCA and LPG). This allows me to not just have the Penta going all the time, instead only when the gate opens up the VCA for the Pentas signal to hit the LPG (or VCA or some other target).

When I'm really trying to worry myself, I try to get a ratcheting effect worked in so that the sequence is faster at one end or the other.

I like the idea mentioned in the previous thread of using a burst generator. I may try that mixed in with a plain AR for a more interesting envelope.
pugix
It's cool thinking of ways to patch a complex envelope. But what's being controlled? VCA, LPG, and VCF are natural candidates. How about oscillator pitch?

Putting the envelope through a quantizer should produce a sequence of pitch values. And if the quantizer can generate a trigger on each output change, that could be used to trigger a normal EG. Then by CV of the parameters of the complex envelope, patterns could be generated that would different in significant ways from an ordinary step sequencer.

I'm giving myself ideas! Guinness ftw!
wechard
pugix wrote:
It's cool thinking of ways to patch a complex envelope. But what's being controlled? VCA, LPG, and VCF are natural candidates. How about oscillator pitch?


I especially like continuous changes in speed for things like LFOs or the clock rate of a sequence. Anything from really subtle animation through to really radical lurching. Complex envelopes are a great way to make these kinds of changes a bit complicated and interesting, but with repeatability.
pugix
wechard wrote:
pugix wrote:
It's cool thinking of ways to patch a complex envelope. But what's being controlled? VCA, LPG, and VCF are natural candidates. How about oscillator pitch?


I especially like continuous changes in speed for things like LFOs or the clock rate of a sequence. Anything from really subtle animation through to really radical lurching. Complex envelopes are a great way to make these kinds of changes a bit complicated and interesting, but with repeatability.


I know. But I already have one of the best complex VCO/LFOs: Morphing Terrarium.

What's the difference between a Morphing Terrarium and a complex envelope generator? What else but the EG being triggered for one shot? M.T. can even morph the wave under voltage control.
Richie Witch
Like you, I have both the UEG and Morphing Terrarium. When I bought the UEG, the goal was to replicate the multi-segment envelope from my favorite soft synth, Dune 2. It's pretty much identical to the way the UEG works.

If you download a demo of Dune 2 and check out some of the factory patches, you'll find all kinds of modulation ideas for the UEG.
Parnelli
Quote:
It's cool thinking of ways to patch a complex envelope. But what's being controlled? VCA, LPG, and VCF are natural candidates. How about oscillator pitch?


I have used my Pittsburgh envelopes for this very thing. On the one oscillator challenge thread a while back I made a piece called "no filters, eh?" for the challenge using 4 envelopes mixed as CV to drive the oscillator. These envelopes were very short in duration and added together through a 4 channel mixer, each envelope added driving the pitch higher, so I had to muck about with it a while to get the desired results and stay in the useable input range of my oscillator.

I think some long intersecting envelopes of different phasing might drive an oscillator in an interesting fashion, I'll have to find out on my next wiggling session.
pugix
Richie Witch wrote:
Like you, I have both the UEG and Morphing Terrarium. When I bought the UEG, the goal was to replicate the multi-segment envelope from my favorite soft synth, Dune 2. It's pretty much identical to the way the UEG works.

If you download a demo of Dune 2 and check out some of the factory patches, you'll find all kinds of modulation ideas for the UEG.


You are making me want to spend more time with the UEG. Some people even have two of them! I don't do soft synths, but thanks for the tip.
Dave Peck
The UEG is good for making complex filter CV envelopes for things like brass sounds, so you can have a lot of fast complex motion during the first 40 to 80 msec attack 'blatt', with the filter very quickly opening, then closing a bit, then opening more, then closing some more, then finally hitting the sustain portion of the note.

With the UEG set to 'GATED' and "RELEASE' and the loop start set to position 4 and the loop end set to position 7, you can then have some slow rising & falling motion during the note sustain before the separate 'release' segment.

Patching keyboard velocity to the TCV input allows you to use velocity to stretch all of this out on harder keystrikes.

This is one of the kinds of things I was thinking of when I came up with the idea for the module - something that allows you to create very detailed and complex envelopes for those situations where a simple ADSR won't provide enough complexity. Then the other features like the 'loop only' mode to create a complex 4/5/6 segment ramping LFO and other stuff grew out of that original purpose.

And it turns out that the 'loop only' complex LFO is what I tend to use it for the most, often for adding some complex and/or subtle motion to a sound by using it to control things like a VC phaser or wave folder. More interesting than a simple up/down sweep from a standard LFO, more controllable than a random signal generator.
diophantine
I do have a UEG in my Dotcom rig - great module. But pretty much the only time I use it as an envelope I configure it like the VCS3 trapezoid EG.

I find complex envelopes much more useful for pad sounds in polysynths, like the Korg Wavestation, Yamaha DX7, etc. But sometimes they can feel like overkill to configure... at least the WS has macros that are very helpful.

However, those sort of pads that come to mind are a lot more difficult in a modular system. You not only need multiple voices, but also some way to sustain gates and control their length. Outside of a polyphonic MIDI-CV converter you are kinda limited in this department in a modular system. (And not everyone wants a keyboard hooked up to their modular; I only like one there to transpose sequences.) Perhaps the best solution is also the simplest: more envelopes. Use envelopes as trigger-to-gate converters, gate/trigger delays, etc. to create the input signals to the complex envelopes.
moremagic
pugix wrote:

What's the difference between a Morphing Terrarium and a complex envelope generator? What else but the EG being triggered for one shot? M.T. can even morph the wave under voltage control.
the EG will probably have different CV response for different portions, and may give more gate outputs. otherwise not a whole lot i reckon

personally i find the lack of voltage control on a traditional ADSR far more limiting than a voltage controlled 2 stage EG mais a chacun son gout
Richie Witch
One of the other things I do with my UEG is plug it into a comparator, like Ladik's Derivator. This converts the wandering CV from the UEG into a series of four different gates that I can use to create interesting patterns. I can then tweak the knobs on the UEG in real time to "play" the gates and create human interference in the machine-driven pattern.

With the output of the Morphing Terrarium being controlled by the morphing series of gates, and the input controlled by a 3-axis chaos generator like Elby Design's Chaotica, you've got a serious party. Drive Chaotica with something like Black Octasource, and you have reached machine bliss. Dead Banana
J3RK
I could see a complex envelope coming in handy with Phase Modulation. Run it into an index VCA to control slow PM, and sum in some audio rate PM or FM on top of that from another VCO perhaps.
defenestration
using a complex cycling envelope to drive a patch can give very interesting results - something like an expanded WMD Multimode Envelope gives you a lot of options for how to make that happen. CV over stage lengths and end of stage outputs are necessary to make this kind of patch sing. drive all your sequencers from the end of stage outputs and send/process the CV every which way. this is just the basics of the patch, lots of ways to go after that
airfrankenstein
I've always been tempted by the UEG but the size of the module was too big for my rig. Recently purchased a Ladik e-480 which corresponds to the function you describe. It's only 8HP but I find it difficult to grasp what exactly is going on.




Dave Peck wrote:
The UEG is good for making complex filter CV envelopes for things like brass sounds, so you can have a lot of fast complex motion during the first 40 to 80 msec attack 'blatt', with the filter very quickly opening, then closing a bit, then opening more, then closing some more, then finally hitting the sustain portion of the note.

With the UEG set to 'GATED' and "RELEASE' and the loop start set to position 4 and the loop end set to position 7, you can then have some slow rising & falling motion during the note sustain before the separate 'release' segment.

Patching keyboard velocity to the TCV input allows you to use velocity to stretch all of this out on harder keystrikes.

This is one of the kinds of things I was thinking of when I came up with the idea for the module - something that allows you to create very detailed and complex envelopes for those situations where a simple ADSR won't provide enough complexity. Then the other features like the 'loop only' mode to create a complex 4/5/6 segment ramping LFO and other stuff grew out of that original purpose.

And it turns out that the 'loop only' complex LFO is what I tend to use it for the most, often for adding some complex and/or subtle motion to a sound by using it to control things like a VC phaser or wave folder. More interesting than a simple up/down sweep from a standard LFO, more controllable than a random signal generator.
Parnelli
I have paired a TT Z4000 with an A-156 as a sort of random note sequencer, and with cv control over each parameter of the 4000 I can change it up with CV. I generally trigger the Z4000 at 1:4 or 1:8 ratio to the 156 so I get a measure or 2 worth of notes out of one envelope cycle.
acidbob
Happy to know I am not the only one loving the UEG smile

Well to be honest I just use it as a normal envelope, for filter or VCA, some panning and mixing as well, but in general for droney stuff, the UEG can also be used to make some really fascinating basslines if you are creative.
acidbob
defenestration wrote:
using a complex cycling envelope to drive a patch can give very interesting results - something like an expanded WMD Multimode Envelope gives you a lot of options for how to make that happen. CV over stage lengths and end of stage outputs are necessary to make this kind of patch sing. drive all your sequencers from the end of stage outputs and send/process the CV every which way. this is just the basics of the patch, lots of ways to go after that


Agreed, I have a Cwejman EG with CV over stages, but I find that its not sounding very musical, so wonder if I should exchange it with the WMD, as they make quality stuff.
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