Hi all,

I'm totally new here. Bear with me!

I write and record "damaged pop music." I'm looking for a way to create never-before-heard percussion sounds by taking a sound source of near-constant volume and harmonic mix (say white noise, for illustration) and applying the envelope of a real percussion instrument to it. I'd also like to apply filtering that follows the envelope to give it a weird artifact or changing shimmer.

An example is this track (skip to ~3:00 when it gets noisy, and especially right at 4:09): https://thevictoriousairborne.bandcamp.com/track/the-flare-was-your-eyes Those are distorted cymbal hits (and vinyl record nonsense), but I want to take that as a sonic "what if" and see what happens when I try to recreate it (and surpass it, of course).

It seems modular is the best (only?) way to expand my capabilities here.

At a high level, what functions do I need to do something like this? I'm thinking:

  • Envelope follower to extract the envelope from a percussive audio signal (which won't actually be heard)
  • VCA controlled by the envelope follower to gate/boost the audio signal that will supply the final percussion sound
  • VCF controlled by the envelope follower to do weird things to the "heard" percussion as the envelope decays

Does this make sense? (assume I have preamps and such for input and output of audio)

Anything I'm missing conceptually?

Thank you!


Sounds heavily compressed/limited to me. Might want to add something like that to your signal chain.


Four words. Snappy-Low-Pass-Gates!


Sounds heavily compressed/limited to me. Might want to add something like that to your signal chain.
-- farkas

Thanks farkas, appreciate the input. I'll probably handle that with outboard gear or in the DAW (this is strictly for recording). Cheers!


Four words. Snappy-Low-Pass-Gates!
-- pigrabbit

Thanks for the input! I looked that up and it sounds fascinating. Apparently this is a good one? https://pittsburghmodular.com/lifeforms-dynamic-impulse-filter

Any other thoughts? Does this sound like a good mix of functions to start 1) applying the envelope of one sound to another source, and 2) filtering the resulting audio following the original envelope?

Thanks everyone!


If this is what you mean, I've been doing the following:

Play any old Audio sample on loop via Disting (or other sample player, or any Audio input to be honest)

I'm using the Patching Panda Punch VCA which has its own decay envelops on its 2 Channels to create an evolving or changing percussion track which I've been triggering with Euclidean sequences which i can control via CV to that it changes over time.
Punch is a great little VCA with its Accent input too so you can get a groove pattern playing that too, it also has Envelop Outs with an Invert switch so you can send that to a Filter to further tweak your sound.

Punch also works great for Acid Synth lines.

I've also used my ALM PipSlope to make an AD envelope to do the same thing coupled with a regular VCA.

The other module i would recommend for this is the Befaco Percall, I don't own it but you can make anything into Percussion with that and it also has Choke so it will shut off the Open Hat with a Closed Hat etc.

As you say you could use an envelope follower which is listening to some other percussion track to get Triggers, gates and a Decay envelope out of it.


The other module i would recommend for this is the Befaco Percall, I don't own it but you can make anything into Percussion with that and it also has Choke so it will shut off the Open Hat with a Closed Hat etc.
-- wishbonebrewery
Thank you, that looks seriously awesome.

As you say you could use an envelope follower which is listening to some other percussion track to get Triggers, gates and a Decay envelope out of it.
-- wishbonebrewery

OK, that's what I was wondering. But I'm still struggling to grasp the basic (starting) signal flow when there is no oscillator involved. Will this work conceptually? Or do I ALSO need to extract a gate signal from the envelope source and feed that to a gate between "continuous audio source" and the VCA?

Audio source -> VCA -> VCF -> final audio output
Envelope output -- ^ ------^

I'm trying to get into this as cheap as possible haha. And add stuff later.

Thank you!


Your signal flow there is correct.

The VCA and Envelops are combined in the Patching Panda Punch and the Befaco Percall, you can build both from DIY kits if you don't mind a bit of soldering, the Punch is a very easy build.

I seem to recall someone on here recommending a https://www.modulargrid.net/e/4ms-company-percussion-interface and https://www.modulargrid.net/e/4ms-company-percussion-interface-expander which they said would like you turn an audio input into a modulation source, might be worth having a look at.


This terrain is difficult for me, I would like others with more knowledge to present their ideas


Something new that’s popped up recently is the Landscape.fm Noon. It’s a passive filter topology that can produce very complex and delicate sounds. Passive filters are capable of a broader response **for varied inputs than active filters IMO. I wonder if this is because they are less prone to resonate, dunno. Interestingly the only passive filter in eurorack is the aging Trouby Organ Filter that was built to transform organ voices into woodwinds. Rossum Morpheus has these types of filter profiles but I hear it distort when used for percussion duties (as an effect or pinged), which can be 🤗 or 😶


Befaco's Percal is insane for this... and it has choke groups


OK, so I never tried this, but maybe can try it and confirm it:
What about having a Rectifier or half rectifier applied to and audio sample, and treat that as an Envelope? A slew can be applied to "round the lines" if necessary, or not.


I made a drawing of the waveform transformation but I don't know to to upload the picture


After a quick scan of this thread, I would toss in a few "left-field" ideas for consideration:

-- agree with the point above on snappy low pass gates, more generally, an envelope with really great control over very short parameters would suit you well

-- reminds me of the Dave Smith Instruments Tempest forum chain particularly https://stimresp.wordpress.com/tempest-recipes/ ... I suggest you scan that thread. It has a ton of useful information about perc synthesis

-- lately I've gotten into more digital modular OSCs and they are astonishing. Qu-Bit Electronix Scanned Organic Wavetable VCO and several of the Noise Engineering products are really blowing my mind. NE-BIA is used for perc but several others would be good too including LIP. Those paired with a snappy perc envelope / filter would be great. SSF Tryptich as processing to add a ton of filth is also worth considering. The Xaoc Leibniz Binary system components are also things I'm considering to go into sonic outer space.

The takaways here would be i) a good perc envelope will be key ii) there's a ton of other sonic space you can look at, particularly on the OSC or FX side, to take you into undiscovered country for perc sounds.

Good luck, enjoy!