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What is a Transient Designer

The following was written by Sean, a music producer at Audio Assemble. This is a wonderful article for anyone interested in the audio production.

When it comes to most studio essentials, almost every tool we still use today was developed or perfected by the 80s. From convolutions to compressors, nothing really broke ground like Sound Performance Lab’s Transient Designer, which debuted in the late 90s. It was a tool so simple that at first glance its price point was once looked at as a cash grab, but soon an industry standard newcomer would become engineers’ not-so-secret weapon.

Table of Contents

What is a transient?
What exactly is Transient Designer?
What does a transient designer really do?
Why should I use a Transient Designer?

What is a Transient?

To understand what a transient designer is, you first need to understand transients. When a sound starts, particularly an acoustically percussive sound such as drums, a guitar pluck or even hammers striking on a piano, there is a brief moment where the sonic quality of the sound is created; this is a transient. Generally, on a waveform, it would look like a crescendo of amplitude and then quickly fading information.

ProTools users have been used to easily working transients for decades because of the Tab to Transient function as well as the ability to integrate with Midi-instruments.

Even Apple has understood the power of transients to create cleaner edits and mixes with Logic’s new Transient Editor mode.

Even Apple has understood the power of transients to create cleaner edits and mixes with Logic’s new Transient Editor mode.

What Exactly is a Transient Designer?

A transient designer is a dynamic processor that provides a wide scope of control over the Attack and the Sustain of a sound. Due to the nature of what a transient designer does, it has also been dubbed as a Transient Shaper because of its innate ability to carve a sound into a mix by physically shaping it.

Why Does a Transient Designer Really Do?

Transient Designers do the work most compressors can’t. If you are looking for both punch and clarity, a compressor isn’t going to get the job done because of its effects on the rest of the aspects of A.D.S.R. When initially created, SPL’s Transient Designer was based around the Ruben Tilgner’s signal processing concept called Differential Envelope Technology. Basically, the DET allows for additive or subtractive envelope handling in regards to attack and sustain. Because of this exacting control over only the attack and sustain, while leaving the other aspects of the envelope alone, transient shaping moves far beyond sound design and into mix cleanup by utilizing the DET to reform sounds without creating artifacts.

Why Should I Use a Transient Designer?

Though technically a dynamic processing tool, transient designers are a great way to really manipulate your sample library or recordings, and make them your own. Outside of the seemingly endless sound design applications of transient shaping, these straightforward plugins can hold their own when it comes to some of their dynamic relatives like gates and even audio cleanup tools in audio editing software like de-verbs.

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