Tame Your Terrible Transients: Gibson’s Transient Suppression
Gibson’s unique transient suppression circuit, a switchable option in the High-Performance Les Paul Studio and Les Paul Standard versions, reduces your guitar’s very highest initial peaks (called “transients”). This optimizes the guitar’s output for digital processors and computer audio interfaces because you can feed in more level, which means less noise, less distortion, and more efficient signal processor operation. However, there are other benefits—such as more consistent levels when switching between pickups, and better sustain.
WHY TRANSIENTS CAN BE A PROBLEM
Transients are non-musical spikes (mostly pick noise) that occur for a tiny fraction of a second. To avoid nasty digital distortion, you need to set computer audio interface input levels low enough to handle these transients, which degrades performance (and there’s still a risk of overload if you play more forcefully). Transients also trigger compressors/sustainers before the audio you actually want to compress, which can cause “popping” sounds and other issues. Finally, with distortion and amp sims, distorting these transients can create harsh-sounding harmonics.
Tube amplifiers and tape-based recording absorb these transients naturally, which may be one reason why many guitarists prefer tube amps over solid-state, and analog tape over digital recording. (Note that because amps suppress transients naturally, this circuit is transparent in normal use with amps, even if you leave transient suppression on.)
HOW IT WORKS
Gibson’s Transient Suppression is a simple, passive circuit that requires no batteries. You enable it by turning the blue #5 “DIP” switch inside the guitar’s control cavity to the On position, and bypass it completely by turning the same switch Off. However in most cases, you can simply leave it on.
Although suppressing transients might seem like it would cause distortion, that’s not a problem. The portion of the transient that’s affected is so short there isn’t enough time for your ear to recognize the distortion. Also, the clipping “rounds off” the waveform, like a tube does.
Transient suppression doesn’t produce a tonal change, so you probably won’t even know when it’s enabled. But if you’re playing and hear a more even sound with more level, experience a better signal-to-noise ratio, get a better attack tone out of amp sims, and find that your sustainer and compressor work more efficiently, you’ll know that transient suppression is on the job.