making the envelope tool less time consuming

I do a radio show every week and seem to spend a lot of time with the envelope tool adjusting my speech levels, reducing the high peaks and raising the low ones. Which is fine.
My problem is that I spend about half the time on each action putting the envelope tool points back to where they should be.
I usually create 2 points on either side of the portion I want to change, but when making those points I have to be exact when clicking them into existence, on the blue line or the gray/white divide, which is not always possible unless really zoomed in. Then I have to adjust them so they do not affect or change the music volume on the rest of the track, before and/or after.
See screenshot where yellow circled points are in the right place and red are in the wrong place
What I would like is if when setting your points with the envelope tool, the points always snap to the upper blue line.
Screenshot audacity.jpg
this may be possible to do this, but I haven’t found it yet!

thanks Andrew

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It’s a bit difficult to describe, but quite easy to do when you get the hang of it.

Envelope points always have an outer pair and an inner pair.
“Inner” = closer to the track’s horizontal center line.
“Outer” = closer to top / bottom of the track.

Starting with a track with no envelope points, switch to the Envelope tool.

Click near the top or bottom of the track to create an “outer” point, and hold down the left mouse button so that the point can be dragged.

Drag the point inwards a little (towards the middle of the track).

Drag the point slowly outwards until the point appears to be at the top / bottom of the track - keep the left mouse button down.

Observe that you can continue dragging outward a little before the dot disappears.

When the dot disappears, drag back “inward” a little and see that the dot reappears, and you can continue to drag for a few pixels before the point moves away from the top / bottom. - There’s a few pixels above the top of the track and below the bottom of the track where the dot will be exactly at the top / bottom.

I struggle adding control points, too! I want to mark the start and end of a section that I want to modify, WITHOUT modifying the envelope before and after these points! My suggestions for how the tool can work better:

  • Default click to add control point does NOT move the envelope! This way we can click an obvious spot on the waveform, and add a control point there

  • Use a control key with a mouse click to insert a control point AND alter the amplitude at the same time, which is how just a click works currently

  • Have a shortcut and/or button on the Envelope tool to add control points at the start and end of a SELECTION! This way we can use the Selection Tool and playback to find the start and end points of the section we want to modify when we switch to the Envelope tool, and then insert the points exactly where we need them

  • And as someone else mentioned, there should be default control points at the start and end of the whole track, which can be deleted if required. This could also be enabled or disabled in Settings, since some users may prefer to have it off, depending on their usual workflow


fwiw, redesigning the envelope tool to be easier to use and less confusing is something we want to tackle in the near-ish future

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Hey, nice to hear this :slight_smile: . Envelope tool is powerful but have very rudimentary controls. Its too reliant on fine mouse movement (if you want to be precise on Y or X axis), and the amplification values of each point are unknown. As a basic tool it very much needs improvement.

My suggestion for better controls of Envelope Tool are:

  • Three new modifiers - Ctrl, Shift and Alt - to use with the Left Mouse Button, for placing new points, or moving the existing ones. When:
  1. Holding Ctrl + LMB - the point’s position is fixed on Y axis (time), but can be moved up&down to change amplitude.
  2. Holding Shift + LMB - X axis is fixed (amplitude), but can be moved along Y axis (time). When placing a new point, it has amplitude of 1.0.
  3. Holding Alt + LMB - a point is created where the selection is, its position is locked on Y axis, moving up&down changes the amplitude (the same way as Ctrl + LMB). If selection is a range, then it creates two points on the edges, and you control amplitude of both points.
  • A new hotkey - “Insert Envelope control point” - which functions a bit similar to Alt+LMB. Basically the same as this plugin: (but the plugin isn’t perfectly accurate at placing points where the selection is). You press the hotkey, a dialog opens where you input numerically the value for the new point.

  • Numerical values need to be shown when mousing over a control point :exclamation:. When you create, or move a control point, near your mouse cursor should be a small window with the current amplitude value.

  • A text editor approach to modifying, copying and pasting envelopes. (For example, recently i had to move 40 envelope points from one track to another with as much precision as possible. It was a pain to do. :cry: )

… forgot another good feature idea for Envelope Tool:

  • Middle Mouse Button can be used to edit the amplitude of an existing control point. Hover over a point, press MMB, dialog opens where you change the numerical value, press OK. This will be a faster, hands-on way of editing, compared to text editor approach.