Transient Designer 4

The Original.

The Transient Designer is a dynamic tool that allows re-shaping transients and envelopes.

The Transient Designer has changed my working life.

Ryan Hewitt (Red Hot Chili Peppers/Stadium Arcadium, 4 Grammys)

With just two knobs you can accelerate or slow down attacks and prolong or shorten sustain of all audio signals.


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The Transient Designer provides a revolutionary concept for dynamic processing rendering controls such as Threshold, Ratio and Gain superfluous. The Transient Designer provides a very elaborated automation, so while the processing going on inside the box may be very complex, the user has to deal with just a pair of intuitive controls.

In nearly every aspect the Transient Designer is different from conventional dynamic processors such as compressors. You don't need to know how the Transient Designer works in order to be able to use it effectively, but if you're at all curious as to what goes on inside the box ... read this.

Differential Envelope Technology (DET)

SPL's Differential Envelope Technology is the first analog solution for level-independent shaping of envelopes allowing transients to be accelerated or slowed down and sustain prolonged or shortened. The degree of dynamic processing required to do this couldn't be duplicated even using a chain of several conventional compressors, yet only two controls per channel are required to allow the user to completely reshape the attack and sustain characteristics of a sound. Attack can be amplified or attenuated by up to 15dB while Sustain can be amplified or attenuated by up to 24dB, enabling weak drum sounds to be made much more percussive and powerful, or for over-percussive transients to be softened. All necessary time constants (Attack, Decay and Release) are automated and optimised adaptively in a musical manner according to the characteristics of the input signal. This results in natural sounding signal processing and fast operation.

DET maintains identical envelope processing from quiet to loud signals without the need to adjust any external parameters. In a conventional compressor system for example, low level signals (underneath a threshold setting) would be excluded from processing. Both DET parameters (Attack and Sustain) work in parallel and do not influence each other.

How does it work?

The Transient Designer uses envelope followers to track the curve of the natural signal so that optimum results are guaranteed regardless of the input signal's dynamics. Because of the level-independent processing inherent in Differential Envelope Technology (DET), manual threshold adjustments are not required.

Further information can be found in the Tech Talk PDF (Manuals at bottom of this page).
One of the most interesting applications of the Transient Designer is processing drum and percussion sounds, both from samples to live drum sets:

  • The attack of a bass drum or a loop can be emphasized to increase the power and presence in the mix.
  • The sustain period of a snare or a reverb-flag can be shortened in a very musical way to obtain more transparency in the mix.
  • Recording a live drum set, toms or overheads can be shortened without physically damping them.
  • Miking live drums is considerably faster and easier, because the apparent 'distance' of the microphone can be corrected by varying the ATTACK and SUSTAIN values.
  • The Transient Designer is a perfect partner to noise gates in live drum miking.
  • Corresponding adaptively to the duration of the original signal, the sustain can be shortened more musically than with tightly adjusted release times, effectively reducing crosstalk.
  • When recording live drums or other instruments on a HD recording system, the Transient Designer prevents time-consuming removing of crosstalk signals on the hard disk.
  • It is possible to create unusual dynamic effects, including new and interesting pan effects. If, for example, a mono loop is patched through two channels of the Transient Designer panned hard left and right in the mix, such that the left channel is processed with increased attack and reduced sustain while the right channel is adjusted in the opposite way, a very special stereo loop sound is created. You have to try this to appreciate what it sounds like, but expect to hear a lot of unusual stereo movement.
  • By reducing attack and increasing sustain, signals that are too up-front sounding can be moved back into the mix. Additionally the FX parts of 'too dry' signals are strengthened.
  • Drum sounds are easier to integrate into the mix. If the acoustic level of a snare is expanded to approximately +4dB by increasing the attack value, the effective increase of peak levels in the overall mix is merely about 0.5dB to 1dB.
Effect sounds and sample libraries benefit from more punch and more power useful when working on TV commercials or movie soundtracks. 'Out door' recordings often suffer from poor microphone positioning. The Transient Designer can help create the effect of re-positioning the mics during the mix.
Used for processing guitar sounds, the Transient Designer softens the instrument by lowering the attack. Alternatively, increasing the attack lets the sound jump to the front of the mix, which works particularly well for picking guitars.

Highly distorted electric guitars are already highly compressed, leaving them with minimal dynamic range. This can obscure the note attacks, but increasing the attack setting clarifies the individual notes. High distortion also prolongs the sustain, broadening the sound. Reducing the sustain setting counteracts those effects.

Increasing the sustain period of miked acoustic guitars produces clearer audible stereophonic sounds. Reducing the sustain value can help dry up the sound.
When recording choirs, the effect of too much 'ambience' can be reduced by using a lower sustain setting.

Reversely, not enough room can be added by turning up the Sustain control.
Frequently keyboard and sample sounds are intensively compressed leaving little of their original dynamic range. Increasing the attack brings back the natural dynamics so the sounds need less space in the mix and are easier to pick out, even at lower levels.

With the help of the Transient Designer 'budget' drum machines can provide sounds and grooves that sound far more powerful and dynamic than the original untreated sounds.
  • The mother of all transient tools
  • Attack, Sustain – that's it.
  • 4-channels – 2x stereo link
  • The attack of a bass drum or a loop can be emphasized with a single control to increase the punch and the penetration in the mix
  • Sustain of a snare or room-sound can be shortened very musically to clean up the mix for more transparency
  • Acoustic or electronic instruments become 'in the face' sounds or can be smoothened with lower attacks
  • De-verb capability! Less Sustain shortens reverb flags of any sound (more elegant than gates do)
  • New panorama effects based on different dynamic effects per channel – try this with loops for example
  • Amplify or reduce the picking sound of an acoustic guitar
  • Hold the sound of the strings longer
  • Actuate the piano pedal “electronically”
  • Turn down the slap bass a notch or give it even more attack

Joe Chicarelli

"It is truly one of the most unique pieces of gear any mixer can have."

Ross Hogarth

"I am a huge Transient Designer fan and use it on every project I do
... nothing else does what it does."

Ed Cherney

"I love my Transient Designer, I need more channels!"
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Audio Examples


Less Attack

More Attack

Less Sustain

More Sustain

Right-click on image to download HiRes.
Input & Output
  • Instrumentation amplifier, electronically balanced (differential), transformerless
  • Nominal input level: +6dB
  • Input impedance: = 22kOhms
  • Output impedance: < 600Ohms
  • Max. input level : +24dBu
  • Max. output level: +22,4dBu
  • Minimum load ohms: 600Ohms
  • Relay Hard Bypass
  • Power Fail Safety
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz - 100 kHz
  • (100 kHz = -3 dB)
  • CCMR (common mode rejection): - 80dBu @1kHz
  • THD & N: 0,004% @1kHz
  • S/N CCIR 468-3: -89dBu
  • S/N A-weighted: -105dBu
Power Supply
  • Toroidal transformer: 15VA
  • Fuse: 315mA
  • Ground-Lift switch
  • Voltage selector
Dimensions & Weight
  • WxHxD: 482 x 44 x 237mm; 19" x 1.73" x 9.33"
  • Weight: 3,4kg; 7.5lbs

0dBu = 0.775V. Subject to change without notice.

Transient Designer Plus & Transient Designer Plugins