Upper Partials

Published On: September 17, 2021Tags: , , , ,

We’ve discussed the importance of upper partials and retaining a clean envelope (ADSR) to preserve rhythm, dynamics and transient information in previous newsletters. Let’s refresh our memories:


Upper Partials attack section of ADSR envelope graphWhen you first press a key the Attack refers to the time it takes for your sound to go from silent to the loudest level.


Upper Partials decay section of ADSR envelope graphThe Decay time controls how long it takes for your sound to go from the initial peak of your Attack to the sustain level.


Refers to the level during the main sequeUpper Partials sustain section of ADSR envelope graphnce of your sound. It’s the level that your sound maintains when you hold a note.


Upper Partials release section of ADSR envelope graphControls how long it takes your sound to return to silence after the key is released. A longer release time means a longer fade out.

Reducing Noise?

We now know that good articulation improves the attack transients in musical playback to provide the dynamics of a live performance. But what about the tonal characteristics, the timbre, the voice?

Real instruments have fundamental notes plus overtones. The overtones provide the unique timbre of the instrument and complete the sonic musical experience. Synthesized instruments frequently lack the full harmonic overtone structure, as a result, the sound will be lifeless.

So now, what do you think happens when your room fails to “settle down” between sonic events, in other words: exhibits poor articulation?

Observe below how the reverberant noise floor level exceeds many of the harmonic overtones:

Upper Partials music sound level and noise floor graph

Excessive reverberance in your listening environment masks many of these upper partials, rendering the music lifeless, much like a poorly executed synthesized instrument. Golden ears and tin ears alike can discern this gross difference. When the objective is to recreate the experience of a live musical performance, few things could be worse.

Where does the “running reverberant noise floor” come from? The uncontrolled buildup of sound in the front of your listening space, or “head-end”, is the number one culprit. Wall, corner, and ceiling reflections in the bass range create a din that clouds all subsequent sounds generated by your speakers.

Reducing the running reverberant noise floor un-masks the upper partials, restoring musicality to your system, providing a life-like listening experience. TubeTraps are the number one tool for controlling the head end of your room through their fast-acting attenuation of low-frequency sound waves.

Latest Newsletters!

Go to Top