[sdiy] wanting "good" envelopes, not "bad"

Kenneth Martinez kmartinez at bency.com
Wed Jun 12 16:05:43 CEST 2002

I'm finally resuming work on my synth project...I'd like to finalize the
circuits and design PCBs soon, so this is the time to make any

At this point I'm still planning to use software-generated envelopes, as
they have several advantages - they're easily controlled and
"calibrated" (no hardware trimming needed to get consistency between
multiple envelopes), I can allow several per voice, they can easily be
made multistage or looped, they can modulate any CV without needing
extra hardware summing circuits, etc.  I own some synths with software
envelopes (e.g. Matrix-1000, JP-6, MKS-50, Prophet-600, used to have an
Xpander) and some with hardware envelopes (e.g. Pro-One, Prophet-5,
various Moogs, used to have an OB-8).

I often hear complaints about how software envelopes don't sound as good
as hardware.  Can anyone please quantify what makes the software
envelopes "bad" and the hardware ones "good"?

- Is it the fastest attack and release time?  Certainly some synths like

  the Prophet-600 have a sluggish attack; but the JP-6's minimum attack
  and release times are fast enough to generate an audible pop, and to
  my ears it sounds pretty close to the hardware equivalents.

- Is it the shape of the attack and/or decay?  I know the Prophet-600's
  linear decay isn't popular (it's not my favorite either); but the
  Xpander, etc have realistic-sounding exponential decay.

- Is there some other characteristic I haven't mentioned?

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