Envelope Tool not working?

Hi, I am a not-so-beginner Audacity user. Have been using the envelope tool for years and I have got the hang of it without much problem. :wink:

Recently, I have updated my Audacity copy to Version 2.3.0 on my Windows 10, but I think I have broken its envelope tool. No matter how I pull the handles on the track, the volume just stays the same. Since I have used the tool for years in the older version, I am pretty sure I am doing the correct thing with the tool, but I am just not getting any result with the volume changing. It’s not just the playback that doesn’t show the effect, but also after I have exported the track to a MP3 file and played with another player - the volume didn’t change either.

Don’t know if any setting has been accidentally changed during my upgrade, which causes the envelope tool stop working.

I saw this post: https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/applying-envelope-tool/51578/3
I don’t know if the OP has experienced similar problem. After seeing no effect from the envelope tool, he then was confused and was asking how to apply the effect. (I am just guessing) :smiley:

I just tested the Envelope tool on 2.3.0 on my W10 laptop and it works fine on there for me, adjusting the volume as expected on playback.

Also tested exporting the Enveloped track and re-importing it - this had the correct volume changes rendered.


Do you see the envelope?

How many tracks are there in the project?

A screenshot might help. See:

I only see one track.

Yes, I do see the envelope. Like I said, I have been using the tool for years on the older versions, so I guess I am doing the correct things like I used to…

As we can’t see your computer, please post a screenshot (instructions included in my previous post).

I think I found out why. It’s not that the tool is not working… but it becomes a lot less sensitive than the older versions.

It seems that I have to pull the handles significantly lower than before to achieve a noticeable decrease in volume.

I don’t know why this is.
2019-02-07 11_34_58-Window.png
If you see the attachment here…

  • Around 2:45-2:55, the change of volume is almost not noticeable…
  • Around 3:20-3:25, the audio is still pretty loud and clear after such envelope change.
  • Around 3:25-3:30, the fade out works like how it used to from 70% to 0% in the older version.

This feature has not been changed in many years, but I think I can guess why it appears to be different.

Short version:
I suspect that you previously had your Audacity Preferences set to display audio tracks as “Waveform (dB)” rather than the default “Waveform” view. (See “Default view mode” https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/tracks_preferences.html)

Long version

A curious fact about hearing, is that “loudness” is not “linear”. The difference in loudness between a sound that is 0.1 high on the vertical scale, and a sound that is 0.2 on the vertical scale, is much greater than the difference in loudness between 0.9 and 1.0. The way hearing works, changes in loudness are closer to a “logarithmic” scale than a linear scale.

A small change in amplitude (vertical height) at low levels has a big effect on loudness, whereas a small change in amplitude at high level has only a tiny effect on loudness.

By default, Audacity shows track waveforms on a linear scale (+1 down to -1), but there is also an option to display tracks on a logarithmic scale. See: “Waveform” (linear) and “Waveform (dB)” (logarithmic) options in the Track menu: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/audio_track_dropdown_menu.html

When the “Waveform (dB)” scale is selected, then changes in amplitude are much more like the changes in volume that we hear.
The downsides of “Waveform (dB)” view are:

  • It distorts the appearance of waveforms (eg. triangular waveforms no longer look triangular),
  • It’s more complicated,
  • Depending on the vertical zoom settings, it can make background noise look worse than it really is,
  • It’s difficult to see how close a peak in the waveform is to clipping.

Thank for your reply and explanation. That was very kind of you.

As for the linear vs log matter, yes, I am aware of that feature/view in Audacity too. Your explanation seems valid and makes perfect sense.

However, despite I have been a frequent Audacity user, I have rarely switched to Waveform (db) view in the past. If I have been using the Waveform (db) view in the past, I would have known, because they do look very different. :wink:
waveform linear vs db.jpg
Although I agree with your reasons behind, I still “feel” that the tool’s sensitivity has changed (speaking of staying in Waveform(linear) view). I have been using this tool for years for almost every project. Before the upgrade, I got so used to this tool that I could already “visualize” the loudness in my head for how much I have pulled the handles without actually played the track to check. I don’t know how to explain but I could “feel” something is different now.

I didn’t upgrade Audacity very often. I can’t remember what the previous version I used was, but it was definitely not that ancient… My previous version was still version 2 though… I don’t know if it is the case that I had been using a version with a envelope tool bug all the time and now probably something has been fixed… May be the envelope tool was, by default, working in a log scale before and now BAM it magically got fixed and works in linear scale. :smiley:

I’ve been using Audacity for about 10 years, and despite the fact that I would personally like to see some changes to this tool, it hasn’t changed in that time.

Perhaps worth checking if your sound card has any effects enabled. Some sound card provide “enhancements” to make playback sound less bad on tiny PC speakers. If you find any sound effects / enhancements, turn them off to hear what it really sounds like.