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Elysa - The New Nvelop

Elysia - The New Nvelope Interview with Dominik and Ruben 11/25/2012 Pan60: So, guys, let's chat about this. What an awesome tool to have in this format! Give me a little background information. Dominik: I don't know how much of this is common knowledge, but Ruben is actually the inventor of differential envelope processing. The first tool that actually implemented this technology was designed by him in 1999. If you ask me, it has been one of the very few real innovations we see in analog audio these days. Most new analog product today is based on existing designs, but certainly not this one. In the following years, quite a lot of software companies used the basic idea and implemented it into their plugins. But again, many of these were more or less copies of the original design. They just missed the chance to make things better. And this is exactly what the nvelope 500 does. It's a radical new approach, providing substantial improvements which make envelope processing more effective and better sounding than ever before. Pan60: This is most certainly a serious innovation! Ruben is the inventor, how cool is that? Not only a cool product for us 500 format freaks, but from the man himself. Ruben, where did the idea for the nvelope come from? Ruben: After all these years, the basic idea was to shift envelope processing to its next level by some serious updates - both in terms of the process itself, as well as the audio quality going with it. The completely new detectors are very fast and accurate, and the whole circuitry has been embedded into a dual band topology. As a result, the nvelope 500 triggers better than anything we know of. It behaves very musical, without generating unwanted artifacts. Like all other elysia products, the audio path of the nvelope 500 is based on fully discrete circuits running in constant class-A mode. This results in a really nice quality of sound: transparent, wide, open and punchy without crossover distortion. As a result of the above, the nvelope 500 is capable of processing complex stuff and even sum signals. This is one of its biggest strengths, and certainly something unique so far. Pan60: So, how does the nvelope work, what is it actually doing? Ruben: Well, the short version goes like this: At first, the nvelope 500 generates an envelope from the audio signal it is being fed. This envelope gets converted in a way that makes it possible to detect transients for attack processing and post-oscillations for sustain processing. This information is used to create control voltages, which are finally used to control VCAs in order to raise or reduce the specific parameter. While this sounds pretty straight-forward, the technical measures to implement all this into analog circuitry are very complex. The nvelope 500 actually uses more than 600 components to work its magic... Pan60: What makes it such a handy tool? Why will engineers want and inevitably need one? Dominik: The nvelope 500 is a dynamics processor that can change the character of a sound by altering its impulse structure. More specifically, for example drums can be made to sound more aggressive and punchy by accenting the attack, or tones that are already overly aggressive can easily be tamed. Other useful applications would be on picked or slapped bass, edgy guitar or any kind of piano recording. Generally speaking, the nvelope 500 works optimally on audio signals with a significant/percussive attack structure. As a balance to the attack shaping, the sustain parameters offer control over room sound and space. An instrument or a reverb tail can sound tighter by reducing its sustain, or can gain more depth/make a signal sound longer by increasing it. The nvelope 500 is a great tool for shaping individual signals, but it can be an indispensable resource in mixing situations as well. It effortlessly helps you to bring a sound to the front with more attack and less sustain… or it blends  gently into the background by reducing its attack and increasing its sustain. To sum it up: This thing gives you a bunch of very useful dynamics processing options which other processors, including compressors just can't offer. Pan60: The EQ - Wow! Worth the price alone, tell me about the EQ. What type is it? How wide or narrow? Is there anything you can think of worth mentioning? Ruben: The EQ mode is actually a nice side effect of the dual band topology of the nvelope 500. The first concept didn't even have this as a feature. However, during the development process we noticed that it would not be too complicated to just bypass the dynamics sections... and so the EQ was born. This is also the reason why one might find the provided frequencies a little bit odd at first, as they have been tuned to ideally match the impulse shaping process. What is also special about these shelving type filters is their widely overlapping frequency ranges. Still the EQ mode is anything but a gimmick, as it really does a nice job on many occasions and just sounds sweet. Also, it is one of the very few equalizers I know of which can be linked for stereo operation. All in all, it's a very useful addition to this flexible dynamics tool. Pan60: You have some cool videos on your website showing just how versatile the nvelope can be. It covers a lot of ground. Are there any cool secret tricks you care to chat about? Maybe something not yet covered? Dominik: There is an amazingly vast range of things you can do with the nvelope indeed. We've already mentioned impulse shaping and EQ functions alone will give you many hours of experimenting pleasure while getting deeper into the concept of the unit. But there is even more... I remember the first reactions of Denis Goekdag, one of our beta testers. After receiving the unit and having played with it, he called and told me, for more than an hour, how he would use the nvelope as a compacting tool and as an alternative to his many compressors. You can hear the results of this on our website, by the way. Another thing I did not really realize, until I started using the prototype myself, is how great the nvelope performs as an expander! I was working on an over-compressed electronics track, and suddenly the formerly flat sounds started to jump into your face again. It really gives you a different, very controllable and useful grip on the dynamics of your material. Pan60: Some may look at the nvelope and feel it is more of a specialized tool then maybe others. I think it will be right at home in any lunchbox or rack. Do you have any thoughts on this? Dominik: I do agree that this processor is more on the special side than many others. People are mainly used to preamps, EQs, compressors and the usual FX like reverbs etc. The nvelope does different things in a different way, and this is something one has to look into a little bit in order to fully understand the idea. I am of the opinion that it pays off to spend a little time and look at this processor a bit closer, simply because it lets you do things no other audio processor would. We have made some videos available on our website which will shine more light on the potentials and the fun you can have with this unit. However, I also agree that many users would benefit nicely from having our impulse shaper in their racks. If you ask me, it might make more sense than looking at the fourth or fifth compressor to be added... but, then again, this also sounds like a nice idea. Pan60: As always, I love the elysia build quality. What goes into delivering this build and doing so at a price people can afford? Ruben: Right from the beginning we wanted to make great sounding products which also please the haptic or tactile and visual senses. The alpha compressor is the earliest example of this philosophy. The main question became how to make this approach more affordable. Over the years, we have gained a lot of manufacturing experience, which is the very basis for this. And we have invested quite a lot in technical infrastructure, like our Audio Precision system with lots of custom measurement and testing routines. This has made our company very efficient in terms of production. Also, choosing and sometimes changing our suppliers has been a long process, and today both our customers and we profit from this to a large extend. Finally, it is also the sheer will to deliver something of notable quality. For example, choosing to design and produce a custom aluminum knob instead of using a standard plastic one from the catalog means more effort, but it's so much worth it in the end. Pan60: Now that elysia has brought a couple of products in the 500 format to market, what are your thoughts as to the future of the 500 format? Dominik: It has been a very interesting experience, and the 500 series format has certainly been doing good for us. The xpressor 500 was a type of experiment to see how this would develop. To be honest, we did not expect the great success the unit had right from its beginnings, at least to its full extent. Since we have joined the game, which has not been long, many more manufacturers have released 500 series modules, as well. And this is a trend I see remaining strong for the future. It's fun to work on this, and it gives you the opportunity to offer something of good quality at reasonable prices. Talk about prices, the recent development is not 100% clear to me. The overall prices for 500 series seem to have lowered a bit within the last years. However, I have noticed that some manufacturers have recently raised their prices slightly, while others seem to be successful with a bargain approach. Time will tell. One thing I would definitely call a trend is the growing acceptance of the format over here in Europe. It's certainly not as strong as in the States, at the moment, but I get the impression that the European's love for these tiny colorful processors keeps growing steadily. Pan60: You guys always seem to have something cool in the works. Do you have anything you can share or tease us with? Dominik: You are so right about this! We will finally do something many people have asked us for: A discrete class-A stereo EQ at an affordable price, both in 500 and rack format. In fact, the first development stage is almost done, so we should receive the PCBs for the very first prototype soon. Of course, it's going to take more time for additional fine-tuning, beta-testing, more fine- tuning, serial production and so on, but we are very confident will will be able to release this one in the first half of 2013. Now, I can confirm that some nice elysia special features will be on board, too. So everybody looking for a fully linked (!) stereo equalizer with a reasonable price tag, please keep an open eye on our progress… Pan60: Oh no! You're killing me! EQs are such awesome tools to have! Guys, as always, I love what you have done: ) The build, your attention to detail, and adamant dedication to service, coupled with products that sound great and just rock, make you a manufacture that I have no issues recommending. I'm giving you a big, big thumbs up! The NVELOPE is no exception. This is one very cool product! This is a tool I feel EVERY 500 format slut can benefit by having this in their rack. Home "rum," Guys. I have nothing negative to say. I do want to say that I seldom give a full on endorsement to a product. Mostly because we all have different taste, likes and/or dislikes. With so many pre choices, I say, try and choose what you like. Get the tool that works for you. In this case, I am endorsing the NVELOPE as an amazing 500 format tool. It's unique in the 500 format, as well as a sign of some innovative thinking. Big thumbs up, guys! Keep up the good work: ) pan
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