Attack Softener is an effect that fades the beginning of each note you play to remove the attack transient. This allows you to make synth-like sounds with almost any instrument (guitar, bass, piano, etc.)
How Does It Work?
It functions similarly to a transient shaper. Unlike a transient shaper though, it can bring the volume of attack sounds down to near zero quickly enough to silence the pick sound of an electric guitar in very fast music.
What Is It Use For?
It works with any instrument but we really like to use it with electric guitar. We recommend the following effect chain: Guitar -> Attack Softener -> Compressor -> Reverb. The combination of the attack softener and compressor is especially nice because the compressor keeps the volume balanced when playing clean solos but heavy compression intensifies the pick click noise, making it inappropriate for many styles of music. With the Attack Softener placed before the compressor you can get a nice, even clean solo tone that doesn't have punchy hard pick sounds. This allows you to play solos with a clean tone, where normally you would have to use distortion or overdrive to get sustain, now you can get that distorted "light touch" feel without the harshness of distortion.
More Technical Explation Of How It Works
A transient shaper creates two volume envelopes. One rises immediately and falls slowly; the other rises slowly and falls slowly. The difference between these two envelopes indicates how far the volume should be reduced to silence the attack. However, changing the volume very quickly usually causes noise in the sound because of volume changes that happen naturally during the sustain part of the notes. This plugin is different from ordinary transient shapers because it combines several new methods to help it differentiate between real attack transients and other volume changes, and it uses dynamic filters that adjust the response time to ensure that it can respond quickly without introducing audible clicking sounds when the volume changes.
Is There Any Other Effect Like This Or Is It Something New?
EHX makes a pedal called Attack / Decay that does something similar. There are several other pedals that also do swell effects. All of them are designed for long fades and slow playing except the EHX one, which can operate faster by separating each new note onto its own audio channel using spectral processing. That spectral note separation distorts the tone signficiantly. This Attack Softener plugin is the only effect we are aware of that handles fast picking while preserving the original tone of the instrument.
Extremely adaptive envelope detection automatically gives good results without the need for complex configuration.
The soft attack is much faster and more effective than the attack setting on transient shapers.
Attack sound is smooth and natural. Appropriate for acoustic or electric instruments.