MATRIXSYNTH: Analogue envelope behaviour Minilogue vs. SH-101

Monday, February 15, 2016

Analogue envelope behaviour Minilogue vs. SH-101

Published on Feb 14, 2016 tim

Update: possible fix at 4:05 in this video from Sonic State.

"In this video we demonstrate a problem with Korg's latest dream synth - the fundamental subject of true analogue envelope behaviour, which Korg have failed to employ in this, otherwise brilliant, synth. The incorrect digital envelope is also probably at least partly responsible for the ubiquitous clicking that many people have also bemoaned."

Here's an interesting video. I will admit this one initially stumped me. When I first saw it I thought they were mixing up Multi Trigger vs Single Trigger modes. In Multi Trigger every note played will re-trigger an envelope, in Single Trigger every note continues with the currently triggered envelop - essentially all notes share the currently running envelope until it has been played out. In the video it appears like the minilogue is behaving in Multi Trigger mode (re-triggering the envelope for every note played, thus the Attack phase starts over each time) and the SH-101 in Single Trigger mode (skipping the attack phase and continuing on with the Sustain - that's how I would usual patch up that sort of sound).

And... I was wrong. It took me a while in an exchange in the comments section of the video on YouTube, but they have cleared the fog that shrouded my feeble mind.

So what are they actually talking about? The envelope should actually re-trigger at the last level the Attack reached, not the beginning. Let that sink in. In Multi Trigger mode, it normally doesn't restart at zero on an analog synth, but rather the last level the Attack stage reached. It might sound counter intuitive but I verified this is indeed the behavior on a Voyager set to Multi Trigger. To try it yourself, set your ADSR levels to max and hold a note (on the Voyager make sure the Release switch to the left of the keyboard is ON). You'll notice the swell of the Attack stage. Once it's risen a bit start playing other notes either in legato or staccato. You'll notice that instead of the initial swell of the Attack, the notes will just play. Now set the DSR levels down to zero, but leave the Attack full and try the same. You should now notice that the Attack level swells for every note. This is because the envelope completes it's cycle as soon as you release a note - the DSR stages are zero). When you have longer DSR times and you re-trigger a note in Multi Trigger mode before they end, the note essentially re-triggers at the last level the Attack rather than the start. In Single Trigger mode new notes continue at whatever ADSR stage the envelope is currently at vs. re-triggering it at the last Attack level. A bit confusing? Yes, but that is indeed how it usually works with analog unless a "start at zero" is specifically designed in. How your synth will work will depend on that. So, if Single Trigger mode can get you close enough, then why does it matter? Well in the case of the minilogue, I'm not finding the option in the manual and I do not own one (yet) to go looking myself. If you own one and/or can verify either way, please do. If this video is correct which I'm inclined to believe it is, then there is no way to get a slow attack into a nice smooth or soaring lead line. Think about that a bit. That is quite a big limitation for many. No Pink Floyd for you.

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  1. Cheers for this man, I've had literally dozens of similar exchanges where the end result was that I got unfriended or ignored. You can put my obsession down to the years I spent with a single mono synth and a delay back in the 70s.
    The only slight tweak I'd make to your text above is not to be fixated on the attack level. The envelope stages are just changing voltages and when you release all keys, you're in the release phase until the voltage reaches zero. (If you keep any key down you never reach the release phase and this is where the single/multi triggering comes in for subsequent notes). Regardless, as you say, unless you add extra circuitry to discharge the voltage, an analogue envelope will *always* start any new attack phase from the current level. Cheers!

  2. RTFM - There's a Legato option available via the menu.

    1. RTFP - it's got nothing to do with legato.

  3. "If this video is correct which I'm inclined to believe it is, then there is no way to get a slow attack into a nice smooth or soaring lead line. Think about that a bit. That is quite a big limitation for many. No Pink Floyd for you."

    What about in Poly mode? The video only shows the Minilogue being played in Mono mode.

    1. I was wondering the same thing, in poly mode though wouldn't the envelope reset when the initial voice is triggered again (like you play voice 1,2,3,4,1 again and it starts over?)

    2. Presumably the people who made this video could have demonstrated how this sounds, but didn't for some reason.

    3. In poly mode, it will behave the same as this, except you have 4 voices so it's less noticeable, but still annoying. For example, if you play a 4 note chord with a long release, and strike another note before the release has finished, the first voice form that chord will reset to zero, and so on with subsequent notes. It can become really obvious and ruin the effect of the long release when trying to build up ambience, because notes reset to zero during release all the time.

    4. Makes sense, would still be good to hear it demonstrated.

  4. I just checked on my BS2, unfortunately you guys are right. I'm really curious if that is fixable.

  5. I stuck to mono mode because it's easier to hear. With a poly's voice rotation it would not have been so obvious on the video but it's exactly the same. Read the comments from Sequentix about the Memorymoog.
    Even keeping it simple as we did, the point seems harder to grasp than I expected. We do therefore plan to do a few other videos when time allows, probably starting with explaining about triggering modes. In the meantime I heartily recommend Sound On Sound's Synth Secrets series.



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