Envelope generator: Difference between revisions

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*[http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec99/articles/synthsecrets.htm Synth Secrets, Part 8: More About Envelopes]
*[http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec99/articles/synthsecrets.htm Synth Secrets, Part 8: More About Envelopes]
*[ What are all the ADSR's out there to build?] on electro-music.com
*[ What are all the ADSR's out there to build?] on electro-music.com
* Muff's Modules & More Forum:[http://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=83193 CEM3310 equivalent circuit]
=== Kits ===
=== Kits ===
*MFOS [http://www.musicfromouterspace.com/index.php?CATPARTNO=NONE&PROJARG=ADSR001%2FADSR001.html&MAINTAB=SYNTHDIY&VPW=1150&VPH=777 ADSR Envelope Generator]
*MFOS [http://www.musicfromouterspace.com/index.php?CATPARTNO=NONE&PROJARG=ADSR001%2FADSR001.html&MAINTAB=SYNTHDIY&VPW=1150&VPH=777 ADSR Envelope Generator]

Revision as of 19:10, 10 May 2013

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The amplitude over time of an ADSR envelope. Only the positive half of the signal is shown.
Sound synthesis techniques often employ an envelope generator that controls some parameters of a signal or control voltage at any point in its duration.


Most often the envelope generator is an ADSR (Attack Decay Sustain Release), which may be applied to overall amplitude, frequency, or filter. It is usually triggered by a gate signal from the keyboard.[1]

The contour of an ADSR envelope is specified using four parameters:

Attack time
The time taken for initial run-up of level from nil to peak, beginning when the key is first pressed.
Decay time
The time taken for the subsequent run down from the attack level to the designated sustain level.
Sustain level
The level during the main sequence of the sound's duration, until the key is released.
Release time
The time taken for the level to decay from the sustain level to zero after the key is released.

A common variation of the ADSR on some synthesizers, such as the Korg MS-20, was ADSHR (attack, decay, sustain, hold, release). By adding a "hold" parameter, the system allowed notes to be held at the sustain level for a fixed length of time before decaying. The General Instrument AY-3-8910 IC included a hold time parameter only; the sustain level was not programmable. Another common variation in the same vein is the AHDSR (attack, hold, decay, sustain, release) envelope, in which the "hold" parameter controls how long the envelope stays at full volume before entering the decay phase.

Certain synthesizers also allow for a delay parameter before the attack. Modern synthesizers like the DSI Prophet 8 have DADSR (delay, attack, decay, sustain, release) envelopes. The delay setting determines the length of silence between hitting a note and the attack.

When it controls a VCA these together form an envelope shaper.[2]


For shorter envelopes at higher pitch, as happens in acoustic instruments, a master CV is taken from the same voltage as used for VCO pitch.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Synthesizers.com Q109 Envelope Generator
  2. ^ Synthesizers for musicians by R A Penfold, PC Publishing, 1989, ISBN 1870775015, p.21
  3. ^ Description of the Serge Extended ADSR Envelope Generator

Further reading

  • The Complete Guide to Synthesizers by Devarahi, Prentice Hall, 1982, ISBN0131606301, pages 74-91

External links



Readily available analogue IC and discrete component based

CEM IC based