Envelope Generators - Uses, Recommendations

I have been wondering about what the function of a envelop generator is in the context of a modular system, and what approaches you employ to keep patches interesting? It seems to be a straight forward -almost utility- module that is necessary for every voice, how many do you have, and what do you like about them? What contexts do you use them (modulation and other tasks)? What characteristics are important?

I think the stasis point for the discussion should be: what should an envelop generator’s role be as far as its function, versatility and its distinct uses? Do you all have any recommendations on EGs that go beyond traditional ADSR and looping functions? How often to you create patches with EGs that have adjustable ADSR parameters?

Depending on the module, they can be interchangeable with LFOs (but unipolar). In my 6U (with a little extra) rig, I have 9 EGs - Just Friends, Maths and a Pip Slope - and I often find I use all of them. They’re one of my favourite modulation sources, and were a big thing for me when I got into modular because none of the fixed architecture synths I had had before then had envelopes where each stage could be modulated. I think you’ll find what characteristics are important to you once you get started, not from what people on here find crucial to their patching. Maths and Just Friends are good for me because they’re flexible, and when you’ve got a smaller rig, multifunctionality is a big deal.

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I also have Just Friends, Maths, and Tides in 6U and those are my favorite modulation sources for the most part. I find that subtle modulation to Intone and Time on JF and Fall length on Maths really makes for some interesting variations in a patch.

I feel like as far as envelope generators go, the maths is pretty ubiquitous. It does that and so much more with the other two attenuverters. I’ve got a maths, peaks, and a quadra in my main 6U rack and that seems to be more than enough. My favorite thing to do is use the maths end of cycle to trigger and envelope on one of the other devices to get side-chainy percussion sounds.

Also plugging an envelope into a sine oscillator with a fast attack and fast-ish decay can get you pretty nice kick sounds, normally if I’m trying to do an acid-y patch I’ll keep one of my dixie II’s free to use that.

Maths seems to be so popular, and for good reason too, it’s super versatile. Do you ever miss having the full control of ADHSR? A complaint that I’ve heard it that you only can really get AR blips/very long AR sweeps with maths.

If I’m trying to have a pad type patch with ADHSR I’ll just use the peaks for that. Wrote a little mod of the whitewhale firmware that allows you to press buttons and control it like the old fourths app.

In a modular context AD is often enough. I would miss my Quadra though with AHD (or ASR?) for playing with a keyboard. another plus for the quadra is logarithmic attack + exponential decay. This is my go to envelope used in every patch. Also like to modulate the decay and attack times, though for me the expander could be half the size, as I hardly ever use the rest.

Maths to me is indispensable for its ultra snappy envelopes, and its general usefulness with the bus, signal input, offset etc. A serious allrounder.

Also have JF in that same 9u, mostly for all over the place movements.

…and peaks in a skiff which I use to finger trigger envelopes or tapping lfo fun.


I would still love to have a small trapezoid env generator (attack-on-decay-off) in eurorack. Started adding it to the dead man’s alternative firmware for MI Peaks a while a go, should finish this…

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Do you mind sharing the mod for WW?

ornament and crime has 4 trigger/cv controllable envelopes/looping envelopes and they are so insanely customizable with the 4 CV ins being routed to just about any parameter


not only that but then you have an very versatile module in a relatively small package


not at all, i’ll try and upload it somewhere later tonight

After just reading through the meta thread on “What this forum is about”, it inspired another question (in relation to EGs) How are you using envelopes in compositions? Do you have specific patching ideas? This doesn’t mean to shy away from gear recommendations, but rather how you utilize this part of the instrument?

As I now read through the posts I realize that this discussion could seem gear-centric, but I am definitely interested in the musical properties and explorations with these tools of creation.

so i forgot to source control the folder i had the mod in, but here’s a github gist of something: https://gist.github.com/zzsnzmn/f062763524f75743ac720e265b1173af

small caveat… it’s tuned like a guitar instead of fourths right now and sends the same data out of each output (the top two rows are unused right now), but if it’s useful enough i can try and make some time this weekend to update it to split channels and maybe set up tuning selections.

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I use some form of envelope or LFO on nearly everything. I like my compositions to evolve in timbre and volume, so some kind of long length function generator is crucial.