SPL Transient Designer (2023)

dynamics processor

  • signal processors

VonPaul White

ReleasedOctober 1998

SPL Transient Designer (1)

SPL is known for making highly specialized audio processing tools, and their latest product is no exception. Paul White tries to unravel the mysteries of the Transient Designer dynamics processor.

SPL is best known for its somewhat odd Vitalizer line, but even they are at a loss when it comes to describing the Transient Designer. It offers a new kind of dynamic control, and while related to both the compressor and expander, it cannot be said to be both. On the outside the box is fairly conventional with balanced XLR audio inputs and outputs and SPL's signature blue front panel, but this simple exterior belies the complexity of what's going on inside. The circuitry is based around VCA gain control technology, but the process involves a lot more than just compression - it can change the envelope of a sound, but it's not an envelope generator, and although you can use it to add punch to a mix , he is certainly not an amplifier. It's perhaps best to think of the Transient Designer as a "results-oriented" device, since what matters is what it accomplishes, not how it accomplishes it.

From the user's point of view, the Transient Designer is disarmingly easy to use - each channel only has an Attack knob, a Sustain knob and a Bypass button. Two additional buttons are provided to allow channels 1/2 and 3/4 to be linked as stereo pairs for processing stereo signals, and each channel has a signal present LED that lights up at input levels above -40dB. In fact, it's what you don't see that gives the clue as to how smart this box really is. There are no meters, no threshold controls, no ratio controls, and no makeup gain controls. The operation is independent of the input level, and the two controls are so cleverly combined with the internal magic that the adjustment can be made entirely by ear.

So what does it do exactly?

SPL Transient Designer (2)

The basic idea behind the box is to give the user direct control over the attack and sustain characteristics of natural sounds, and while this sounds far from revolutionary, you only need to play with the device for a few minutes to realize that the Transient Designer is a very powerful creative tool. For example, you can take a fatless, slack recording of inconspicuous drums and choose a really hard attack, or conversely, take a very percussive sound and soften the attack. You can also use the Sustain knob to edit the decay portion of sounds, and for drums you can tighten the sound for a quick, dry decay, or you can make them sound like you've got the dampers taken from the kit. It's like having the remote control over the amount of damping tape taped to the eardrums after recording. Also, because the process is level independent, the effect is consistent whether the input signal is loud or soft, and of course you don't have to use it just for drums. How can all this be achieved with only two controllers?

The secret is something SPL calls Differential Envelope Technology (a registered trademark of course!) that uses two envelope generators for attack and two more for release. On the attack side, one generator closely follows the original signal amplitude, while the second does the same but with a slower attack. Subtracting these envelopes creates a control signal that can be used to either increase or decrease the audio level, depending on whether the Attack knob is turned clockwise or counterclockwise from its center position. A similar methodology is used to derive the release control envelope. The result is that all attack transients can be cut or boosted by up to 15dB and sustain can be boosted or cut by up to 24dB.

The audio signal path is exceptionally clean with a THAT 2181 used as the gain control. High-quality input and output stages with laser-trimmed resistors are designed to produce minimal distortion and exceptionally high common-mode rejection (CCMR). Relays completely bypass the channels when the unit is off or when the channels are bypassed, and the dynamic attack/sustain time constants respond to the dynamics of the input signal to deliver a musically natural result over a wide range of input material.

design transients

So much for the science, but does it really leave your hair clean and shiny? To get Transient Designer working, all you have to do is patch it into an insert point and make sure you have enough input levels for the signal LED to flash. With both the Attack and Sustain knobs set to mid-position there is no effect when you turn on the process, but as you advance the Attack knob percussive sounds become more assertive with a quicker attack. On the other hand, if you turn the Attack control back from the middle, the attack of the original sound decreases, but is still reasonably natural. The effect is definitely at its best with drums or percussion, but percussive bass lines also respond well to treatment.

The Release knob has a wider range than the Attack knob, and moving the knob counter-clockwise makes the sound drier, tighter, and has a faster release time. If you push it too far, the sound will take on an "extended" characteristic, but with careful application you can take the ring out of a poorly tuned drum kit and still make it sound natural. Turn the control clockwise and the sound of the drums will be amplified. Some of you may think that you can create such effects with any good compressor, but that's not entirely true. Of course, if you're dealing with a single drum hit, you can use a compressor to modify the attack and release characteristics, but when the next hit is at a radically different level, the effect of the processing changes. With the Transient Designer, every percussive sound gets the same treatment, regardless of level, and that's the secret of both its sound and ease of use. In fact, there's so much bandwidth that you can take a kick drum sound and either sharpen it to sound like a heavily processed drum machine kick, or you can pull back its attack, lengthen its release, and flatten it make it sound like "bouncing basketball" electronics kick. Likewise, you can take an electronic kick and modify it to sound almost like a real acoustic kick.

It's easy to use, it can seriously reshape percussive sounds, and it's difficult to make the Transient Designer sound anything but musical, but are there any negative points? Well, you have to be careful when recording to a digital target, because when you add more attack to a sound, you increase its peak level. This is the opposite of a normal fast attack compressor which is designed to reduce the dynamic range of a sound. This really isn't a problem, just be aware of it, and in some cases the subjective level of the treated sound is lower than the untreated sound due to the extra headroom needed. On the other hand, you can lower the peak level of an overly aggressive drum sound and increase your subjective level for a given headroom, so it all depends on how you use it. What's really great is that you can instantly check different settings by simply moving two knobs - no need to constantly adjust thresholds, select ratios, or fiddle with attack and release times. Additionally, because of how the Attack and Release controls work, you have the ability to apply different degrees of compression or expansion to the Attack and Decay portions of your sound without having to worry about signal levels.


Although you get four full channels of processing, the Transient Designer doesn't exactly come cheap, but most people who have heard it have been seriously impressed with the results. What it can achieve goes far beyond what can be achieved with an ordinary compressor, much like the SPL Vitalizer takes sound shaping beyond the traditional equalizer. The Transient Designer is most effective on drum tracks or rhythm sections - editing entire mixes is, as you might expect, often less successful, although percussive synth sounds generally respond well. Even if you're just recording ballads you could still use one to buff up your drum tracks, but once you move into dance music or anything else with a strong rhythmic element, the Transient Designer quickly moves out of the luxury category and onto the must- have list. This is a unique processor that you need to hear to appreciate, but be warned - don't play with one unless your credit card can back up what your ears are telling you!


  • Easy to use.
  • Consistent results regardless of input signal level.
  • Exceptionally musical.


  • Just the price!


This is a unique dynamic processor that gives the user direct control over the feel of percussive material. The price is not high, but there is nothing comparable on the market.


What does SPL transient Designer do? ›

Hailed as a “secret weapon” by some of the world's best sound engineers, the Transient Designer allows direct processing of attack and sustain of any audio signal. This tool gives you full control over important sound elements of your mix, whether it's snare, overhead, room mics, piano or other sound sources.

What's a transient shaper? ›

A transient shaper is a tool that shapes the attack and sustain of a sound—how long it takes for a sound to reach its maximum amplitude and how long it remains at its maximum amplitude before decaying.

What does transient master do? ›

TRANSIENT MASTER is indispensible for mixing drums, guitars, pianos, plucked strings — anything with intrinsic attack. It gives you another axis to work on. As well as panning left and right, you can position things quite precisely at the front or back of a mix without juggling volume levels.

Is a transient Designer a compressor? ›

Technically, a transient shaper is a dynamics processor like a compressor, except that it's not affected by incoming signal level. In more practical terms, it allows you to independently accentuate or reduce the attack and sustain portions of a sound, which can be really handy.

What does SPL stand for in audio terminology? ›

Sound pressure level (SPL) is the pressure level of a sound, measured in decibels (dB).

What is a transient tool? ›

A transient shaper is an essential mixing tool. These dynamics processing plugins control the transient response and envelope curve of an audio signal. Use them to shape dynamics, remove reverb and mic bleed, add punch, extend the impact of any sound, and more.

What is transient in mixing? ›

Transients are the short burst of energy that you hear at the start of any sound. The loudest of transients are things like drum hits where the crack of the stick on a drumhead sends a loud sound wave out to the microphone.

Why use a transient shaper? ›

The Transient Shaper lets you control the attack and decay of a track. Optimal for drum mixing, but also a perfect tool to give a vocal track clarity and presence.

How long do transients last? ›

Transients might disappear one second after you set them, or 24 hours, but they will never be around after the expiration time.

How do you shape a transient? ›

6 Tips for Shaping Drum Transients
  1. Know the parts of every sound wave: ADSR. ...
  2. Capture audio and set EQ with transient energy in mind. ...
  3. Enhance transients while setting full-band compressors. ...
  4. Try upward expansion to enhance transient attack. ...
  5. Use Multiband transient shaping. ...
  6. Modern transient shaping control.
30 Nov 2017

What is an example of transient? ›

lasting for only a short time; temporary: A glass of whiskey has only a transient warming effect. The city has a large transient population (= many people who are living in it only temporarily). shortHe received a short jail sentence.

Does Studio One have a transient shaper? ›

Studio One doesn't have a transient shaper plug-in…in theory. In practice, there's a zero-latency, artifact-free transient shaper that's ideal for emphasizing the attack in drum parts (and other percussive sounds as well, from bass to funky rhythm guitar). Here's how to do it.

What plugins do I need to master? ›

Here are a few of the best mastering plugins you can get:
  • Waves – Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain.
  • Eventide Elevate Bundle.
  • iZotope Ozone 9.
  • Brainworx bx_XL V2.
  • Brainworx bx_masterdesk.
  • UAD SSL 4000 G Bus Compressor.
  • FabFilter Pro-L 2.
  • FabFilter Pro-Q 3.
5 Jan 2022

Does Ableton have a transient shaper? ›

Transient Machines is a Max for Live Pack that allows for deep sound-shaping possibilities. Modelled after the transient designers found in professional recording studios, Transient Machines is a versatile tool for reshaping the dynamics of drums, loops, and much more.

Is transient shaper the same as a compressor? ›

The main difference is that compressors are fundamentally threshold-dependent devices whereas transient shapers are not.

What is the difference between SPL and loudness? ›

The perception of loudness is related to sound pressure level (SPL), frequency content and duration of a sound. The relationship between SPL and loudness of a single tone can be approximated by Stevens's power law in which SPL has an exponent of 0.67.

What is the difference between SPL and dB? ›

For example, the faintest sound a young person with normal hearing can hear at 2,500 Hz is 0 dB SPL. In contrast, at 20 Hz (a very low frequency sound), the sound needs to be much louder at 72 dB SPL in order to just faintly hear it.
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Is a higher SPL better? ›

SPL stands for sound pressure level and is also commonly referred to as efficiency and sensitivity. This parameter represents how loud a speaker is. A higher SPL equates to a louder speaker.

What are the different types of transients? ›

According to a definition provided by the IEEE 1159-2019 standard, there are two types of transients: impulsive and oscillatory. A sudden and non-power frequency change in the voltage or current or both, which is unidirectional in polarity, is classified as an impulsive transient is called Impulsive.

What is a transient process? ›

A nonsteady process, or transient process, is one where at least one of the process variables changes with time. Modeling a transient process usually involves a differential equation.

What is the difference between harmonic and transient? ›

Both harmonic and transient regimes are considered. In harmonic response, natural frequencies and loss factors are studied, while in transient response, where the external force is an impact, displacement and acoustic pressure are analyzed.

What is the difference between steady and transient? ›

A state of a whole system containing a flow being balanced and that does not vary over time is called steady state. On the other hand, a state being unbalanced and that varies over time is called transient state.

How do you reduce transients? ›

Thus an obvious choice to attenuate and control these unwanted transients is to use a low-pass filter section between the source and the load. Low pass filters, such as an LC filter, can be used to attenuate any high frequency transients and allow the low-frequency power or signal to pass through undisturbed.

What are speaker transients? ›

Transient response is the ability of a speaker to start and stop exactly when the sound going into should start and stop. A bass cab with excellent transient response sounds far more alive and responsive than one with poor transient response and makes it easier to both groove hard and be heard on the gig.

When would you use a transient processor? ›

Where to use Transient Processor? Use it with high Attack settings to give extra snap or punch to drum sounds or with high Release settings to increase the apparent loudness or weight of percussion, vocals or any other sound where you would normally use a compressor.

Where is transient analysis used? ›

Transient analysis calculates a circuit's response over a period of time defined by the user. The accuracy of the transient analysis is dependent on the size of internal time steps, which together make up the complete simulation time known as the Run to time or Stop time.

Should I delete transients? ›

Over the span of months and years, these expired-but-not-deleted transients living inside the wp_options table of the database can begin to slow things down and impede site performance. For this reason, we should remove expired transients to improve WordPress site performance.

How can I improve my transients? ›

Transients can be adjusted using volume automation, EQ, compression/expansion, limiting, clipping and envelope shaping.

How do you detect transients? ›

Detecting Transients in Polyphonic Sounds

Besides, spectral peaks can belong to attack transient, or to noise signals. Two strategies are used : the evaluation of the energy in the signal, with the Center Of Gravity of the Energy (COGE), and the monitoring of the number of peaks in the signal, with a statistical model.

Where are transients stored? ›

Transient values are stored in the wp_options table just like regular options. With transients, an additional option is stored to hold the expiration date. When a transient is accessed, WordPress pulls the expiration date first.

Where do you use transient shaper? ›

As a rule of thumb, use a transient shaper when you're trying to shape the character of a dynamic signal's transients during their attack and release phases.

Does transient mean steady state? ›

What is the Definition of a Transient State? In general, nearly every process or system has both a steady state and a transient state. Also, a steady state establishes after a specific time in your system. However, a transient state is essentially the time between the beginning of the event and the steady state.

What transient means? ›

transient, transitory, ephemeral, momentary, fugitive, fleeting, evanescent mean lasting or staying only a short time. transient applies to what is actually short in its duration or stay.

What is another name for transient? ›

Some common synonyms of transient are ephemeral, evanescent, fleeting, fugitive, momentary, and transitory. While all these words mean "lasting or staying only a short time," transient applies to what is actually short in its duration or stay.

Who is considered a transient? ›

A transient is defined as any person who exercises occupancy or is entitled to occupancy for 30 days or less.

Does Studio One use a lot of CPU? ›

I've just come across from Cakewalk By Bandlab and have found that the CPU usage for Studio One 5 is astronomical! Projects that I could run in Cakewalk at around 25% CPU kills Studio One 5. In fact, even if using half of the VST's from the Cakewalk project, Studio One peaks at 100% CPU usage.

How do I use Studio One as a looper? ›

Loop Recording on Audio Tracks
  1. Set the Left and Right Locators in the Timeline Ruler at the beginning and end, respectively, of the area in which you wish to record.
  2. Click on the Loop button in the transport or press [NumPad /] on the keyboard to engage Looping.
  3. Activate recording manually or via Pre-Roll or Auto Punch.

Does Studio One automatically dither? ›

By default, Studio One has dithering enabled.

Under the Advanced tab you'll find a box checked next to “Use dithering for playback and audio file export.” Studio One will preserve your audio's fidelity at all times during playback and file export as long as this preference is enabled.

Which compressor is best for mastering? ›

Best Mastering Compressors: Top 9 Units For Your Mastering Studio! (2022)
  1. Manley Variable Mu Stereo Limiter Compressor. ...
  2. Tube-Tech SMC2B. ...
  3. Shadow Hills Industries Mastering Compressor. ...
  4. Bettermaker Mastering Compressor. ...
  5. Elysia Alpha Compressor. ...
  6. Crane Song STC-8 Stereo Compressor/Limiter. ...
  7. SPL Iron Red.
18 Oct 2022

What skills are worth mastering? ›

Six skills worth mastering to future-proof your career and retain your value in the job market
  • Life Skill 1: Improve your Digital Literacy. ...
  • Life Skill 2: Think critically for success. ...
  • Life Skill 3: Hone your creativity. ...
  • Life Skill 4: Develop emotional intelligence. ...
  • Life Skill 5: Think like an entrepreneur.
31 Aug 2021

How do I use a Spleeter in Ableton? ›

  1. unzip spleeter.zip and add the spleeter/ folder to your Places menu in Ableton.
  2. put spleeter.amxd onto any audio channel.
  3. select any audio clip in Ableton by clicking on it (don't just highlight a segment)
  4. make sure docker is running.
  5. press the start button in the spleeter device and wait.

Does Ableton have a pitch shifter? ›

Shifter is the new version of Frequency Shifter for Live 11.1, and comes with a bunch of added features that make it an even more flexible tool for music production: real-time pitch shifting, an LFO display, stereo width controls, a dedicated envelope follower and in-built sidechaining for MIDI pitch control, to name ...

What does a transient plugin do? ›

A transient shaper is an essential mixing tool. These dynamics processing plugins control the transient response and envelope curve of an audio signal. Use them to shape dynamics, remove reverb and mic bleed, add punch, extend the impact of any sound, and more.

What is SNR Designer? ›

Senior Designer is an intermediate level job. In this job role, you have to conceptualize original and unique designs and illustrations. It also includes tasks like pitching ideas, creating drafts and collaborating with a team. It is a stepping stone if you are looking to make a career in design.

What is transient in fl studio? ›

Transient Processor is a dynamics processing plugin. The Transient Process allows transient peaks to be amplified or suppressed. Likewise the decay of transients can also be sustained or suppressed.

What does a SR creative Designer do? ›

Senior Designer responsibilities include:

Overseeing all design projects, from conception to delivery. Designing original pieces, including illustrations and infographics. Reviewing junior designers' work to ensure high quality.

Is it safe to delete transients? ›

It can cause performance issues over-time and cause the options database table to group. So ideally you would want to delete expired transients on any of the MainWP Child Sites you manage to improve performance.

Do I need a transient shaper? ›

As a rule of thumb, use a transient shaper when you're trying to shape the character of a dynamic signal's transients during their attack and release phases.

What is SNR in engineering? ›

The signal-to-noise ratio is typically measured in decibels and can be calculated by using a base 10 logarithm. The exact formula depends on how the signal and noise levels are measured, though.

How many years of experience do you need to be a senior designer? ›

Once your portfolio is together, you can begin applying for jobs and gain experience. It takes about five to six years of graphic design experience to obtain a senior designer position. Consider advanced certification. Obtaining advanced certification may help to distinguish you as an expert in graphic design.

What is the difference between a designer and a senior designer? ›

New designers often don't think beyond the brief

In contrast, senior designers have the deeper knowledge and experience necessary to challenge and, where appropriate, to work beyond the brief to produce a design with greater functionality or improved user flow.

What are transients in mixing? ›

Transients are the short burst of energy that you hear at the start of any sound. The loudest of transients are things like drum hits where the crack of the stick on a drumhead sends a loud sound wave out to the microphone.

What are the different levels of designers? ›

8 Types of Designers You Could Be
  • Graphic Designer. Using visual elements such as typography, color, and image, graphic designers communicate ideas to the world. ...
  • Information Designer. ...
  • Experiential Designer. ...
  • Interaction Designer (IxD) ...
  • User Experience (UX) Designer. ...
  • User Interface (UI) Designer. ...
  • Web Designer. ...
  • Game Designer.

Is lead designer higher than senior designer? ›

Generally, in the United States, it goes like this: after two years Associate Designers become Mid-level Designers; after four years they become Senior Designers; after six they become Lead Designers. Not to mention the recent phenomenon of designers who acquire a Senior title less than a year after school.


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