Enhancing Transients With Noise Gate

In my blog’s statistics, which I check frequently, I see a lot of search queries like ‘what does Enveloper do?’ or something in that area. For a quick demonstration of what Logic Pro’s Enveloper does, try this approach:

  • Create a track, add a drumloop of your choice. Don’t insert any plugin.
  • Duplicate the track, and copy the same drumloop to it. Add a Noise Gate.
  • Suggested settings for the Noise Gate: Attack: 0ms. Hold: 20ms. Release: 10ms.

Now, solo the duplicate track, and move the Noise Gate’s threshold slider until it starts to pick up only the loudest parts of the loop. Let me illustrate with an audio example:

The original loop:

The noise gated loop:

Next, play everything together, and just dial in, or increase the volume of the duplicate track until you think the loop feels snappier. Here’s the original loop with the noise gated loop added to it. I’m exaggerating it a bit to prove my point:

Enveloper Attack vs. Noise Gate Attack

Now here comes the confusing part: When you’ve got the Enveloper’s Attack Gain slider set to anything above zero and you’re altering the Attack Time knob, you’re changing the lenght of the attack phase, or transient that is being enhanced. With the Noise Gate, when changing the attack, if it’s anything above zero, you’re fading in the attack phase/transient. That’s why I left it at zero: I wanted to leave the transients unaltered. If this doesn’t stick, try soloing the Noise Gated track and set the attack value to something like 40ms. Hear that? Small fade-ins at every transient. Transients kaputt. Not good, in this case.

Simply put, The Enveloper’s Attack time = The Noise Gate’s Hold Time.
Edited 03-21-2012: This statement is false, please read Grant Ransom’s excellent comment below. (Thanks Grant!)

Enveloper Release Is a Different Beast

I can’t use the Noise Gate to illustrate what the Enveloper’s Release Gain slider does, it’s best to just fool around with it until you grasp it. It basically increases or decreases volume after the attack phase is over. Release Time lets you set how long it will boost the volume. I’ll close off with an extreme setting of the Release Gain slider, and Release Time set to 500ms:

Using a Noise Gate to enhance transients is a pretty good alternative to using the Enveloper plugin. Best thing is, you get to process the enhanced bits even further by using EQ, for example. And that brings this method pretty close to the capabilities of third party plugins like Waves TransX Multi plugin. Have fun!

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  • Grant Ransom

    “Simply put, The Enveloper’s Attack time = The Noise Gate’s Hold Time.”
    Um, actually it isn’t. The nearest you’d get is to set A to zero and use a very fast Gate H and/or just the Release, so that you get a trailing slope – without a flat phase/period of set amplification..With a Gate, you may get a slight pumping effect as the level is raised and lowered – rather than just a a “snap/pop” on the transient: They are intrinsically different processes, though the outcome may be good with either approach. The Enveloper works by generating a VCA-type control signal using a signal subtract across two envelope followers. When lag is introduced to one follower circuit,  and as a transient occurs, this generates a discrepancy between the signals. It can track ANY transients when set up right (threshold is left at -100), the enveloper will always accurately put a slope on the trailing edge of the transient, accentuating it when set up to, whereas a gate will track only those transients which exceed the set threshold. On a loop you may lose HiHats, Perc, Grace notes etc. You can easily get noticeable clicks with the gate too, depending on freq. content of the sounds. You’ll probably have to tweak the hysteresis too.By the way, you don’t need to duplicate the track: You can use the Gate “Reduction” fader to set the sum amount.Being a bit pedantic. 🙂

    • Grant, thanks. Pedanticalness is a beautiful thing. How about I strike through that statement, and refer to your comment?

      • Grant Ransom

        Well sure; if you totally agree with what I wrote or until someone spots an even more pedantic discrepancy in what I wrote! 🙂

        • Grant, I sense that your knowledge exceeds mine here so that would be the right thing to do! Since you wrote “the outcome may be good with either approach” I think this article can still be considered valid. Thanks for adding this crucial info.

    • T_Thrust

      IMO the cool part about using a dupe track instead of the reduction slider is the ability to process the “snap” separately. Wonder how a filterfreak on there or some saturation would sound?

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