Waveforms: Amplitude, Wavelength, and Envelope

A Waveform (see our lovely video for a visual) is just a fancy representation of a sound wave. You will use this waveform to better understand how the different filters (plugins) work in OBS. To add, what exactly is a soundwave? A soundwave is the result of vibrations in the air. To better understand, we should discuss compression & rarefaction.

Whenever air is pushed forward from a speaker, this will be the compression of a soundwave. Whenever air is pulled back, causing the molecules to separate more, you have rarefaction. In relation to the waveform, the areas that move above the center line would be the compression (high pressure); whenever areas appear below the line, you have the rarefaction (low pressure) part of the wave.

Wavelength refers to the duration of the waveform. The bottom line of a waveform, which is a measurement, also relative to the time of the waveform.

Amplitude refers to how loud the audio is. The taller parts of your waveform are louder than the shorter & your peaks and valleys will determine your maximum volume & amplitude. The measurement, decibels (dB), measures perceived loudness of a particular soundwave. OBS has a built-in loudness (dB) meter as well. Please view our companion video showing a visual representation of these meters, how to study them, and how to get better sound results.

Envelopes can be measured with the acronym ADSR (attack, decay, sustain, release). We are going to focus on attack & release today. Most of the OBS filters only focus on these.

A fast attack allows a waveform to go from 0 amplitude to about full amplitude immediately. Your fast release goes from full amplitude to 0 amplitude quickly. Playing around with your envelope allows you to structure your attack & releases. A long attack & short attack increase from & decrease to 0 longer, but smoother. View our companion video for a visual demonstration & how to use OBS for help.

The main takeaway is that when looking at your soundwaves, they are there to help you understand what the OBS plugins do. Remember, settings are not a one size fits all. You want to tailor your settings & plugins to your voice & tonal structure.

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