What Is the VolumeShaper in Android?

VolumeShaper is an audio effect plugin developed by Cableguys that allows users to shape and modulate the volume of an audio signal in real time. It was first released in 2014 and has seen several major updates since then, with the latest version being VolumeShaper 6 (according to Cableguys).

VolumeShaper works by dividing the incoming audio into three adjustable frequency bands – low, mid, and high. Each band has its own volume modulator that allows you to create rhythmic, pulsating effects by modulating the volume in time with a beat. Some key capabilities and features include:

  • Drawable volume LFOs for each band that can sync to tempo
  • Sidechain input to trigger the LFOs from an external source
  • Envelope followers to modulate volume based on level
  • MIDI input to trigger from MIDI notes
  • Ducking and pumping effects
  • Per-band mute, solo, and bypass
  • Oversampling for high-quality processing

In summary, VolumeShaper gives musicians and producers an intuitive way to rhythmically shape and modulate the volume of a track to create dynamic, pulsating textures and effects.

How VolumeShaper Works

VolumeShaper is an audio effect plugin that shapes the volume of an audio signal over time in order to increase dynamics and musicality. It works by applying an envelope to the volume level, allowing you to create rises, falls, and pulsations in volume.

Technically, VolumeShaper functions as a plugin that uses automation to increase or decrease the gain level at specific points in your audio. This is different from a compressor which reduces dynamic range by lowering gain when the signal goes above a threshold. VolumeShaper allows you to precisely shape transients and tailor the envelope, rather than just compressing peaks.

You can draw in customized volume curves within VolumeShaper, enabling surgical dynamic control. The plugin analyses the incoming audio to allow the volume envelope to respond to features in the waveform. This allows you to emphasize certain parts dynamically while retaining clarity by attenuating only what is needed.

Compressors and limiters work broadly on the entire signal, while VolumeShaper enables a more transparent shaping that targets just the desired sections needing volume adjustment. This surgical approach prevents over-compression and harsh pumping effects.

VolumeShaper Features

VolumeShaper’s main features revolve around its envelope shaper, which allows users to shape the amplitude of the audio over time. Key parameters of the envelope shaper include:

Attack – Controls how quickly the envelope ramps up to full volume at the start of a detected transient. Faster attacks accentuate the initial transient impact. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy8-T_Un0Hw)

Release – Controls how quickly the envelope fades out after the detected transient. Longer releases create more volume swell and sustain.(https://www.cableguys.com/volumeshaper-4-manual)

Depth – Determines how much the envelope affects the volume. Higher depth settings create more drastic volume shaping effects. (https://www.cableguys.com/volumeshaper)

Curve – Changes the shape of the envelope for creative effects. Options include logarithmic, exponential, and S-curve shapes. (https://www.cableguys.com/volumeshaper-4-manual)

Overall, VolumeShaper’s envelope shaper allows for detailed volume shaping to accentuate or attenuate transients, create ducking effects, and more. The attack, release, depth, and curve parameters provide significant creative control over the envelope’s behavior.

Using VolumeShaper

Adding VolumeShaper to an audio track in an Android application requires a few steps. First, create a VolumeShaper object and set the desired amplitude control points using the VolumeShaper.Configuration class. For example:

VolumeShaper.Configuration config = new VolumeShaper.Configuration();
config.setCurve(new float[] {0.f, 1.f,  5000.f, 0.7f, 10000.f, 1f}, new float[] {0.f, 1.f});

This sets up a configuration that fades the volume from full volume down to 70% at the halfway point, then fades back to full volume at the end over a 10 second duration.

Next, create a VolumeShaper object using the configuration:

VolumeShaper shaper = new VolumeShaper(config);

Then apply the VolumeShaper to the audio track when playing back the audio:


This will shape the volume of the audio track according to the amplitude control points defined in the configuration. Parameters like duration, curve shape, number of control points can be adjusted to achieve different volume shaping effects like fades, crossfades, ducking etc.

See the Android Developers reference for more details on using VolumeShaper.

VolumeShaper Use Cases

VolumeShaper can be useful for a variety of audio production and accessibility needs. Here are some examples of where VolumeShaper shines:

Podcasting – VolumeShaper is great for evening out volume differences between multiple podcast hosts. The volume shaper effect can help boost quieter voices and tone down louder voices for a consistent listening experience.

Music Production – Music producers can use VolumeShaper as a creative effect on individual tracks or the master bus. Sidechaining elements like pads and bass to the kick drum can create rhythmic pumping effects. VolumeShaper’s fine control over volume modulation is handy for dance music builds and drops.

Accessibility – People with hearing impairments can use VolumeShaper to selectively boost soft sounds that would normally be difficult to hear. Key frequencies like human speech can be isolated and amplified while keeping other sounds at normal volume.

Audio Books – VolumeShaper is useful for evening out volume differences between narration, dialogue, sound effects, and music in audio books. Automating these volume changes makes for a more comfortable listener experience.

Gaming – Game sound designers can use VolumeShaper to add dynamic layers to sound effects. For example, gun shots could pump to the rhythm of the gun fire animation for extra impact.

VolumeShaper vs Other Tools

VolumeShaper has some key differences compared to other common dynamics and volume modulation tools like compressors, limiters, and volume automation:

Compressors work by reducing the volume when the audio signal goes above a set threshold. This makes the loud parts quieter and reduces dynamic range. VolumeShaper doesn’t use a threshold, instead it applies volume changes in a more customizable way based on the envelope follower and curve settings.

Similarly, limiters prevent the signal from going above a set level by aggressively reducing peaks. VolumeShaper allows more nuanced shaping of volume over time rather than just limiting peaks.

With volume automation, the volume changes are manually drawn in by the user as a static automation curve. VolumeShaper generates the curve in real-time based on the incoming audio. This allows more adaptable results that respond to the music.

Overall, VolumeShaper offers advantages over traditional dynamics tools by allowing intricate volume modulation in a musical way. The customizable envelope follower and node-based curve editor give more options to shape the volume changes subtly in time with the rhythm and energy of the audio.

Some key differences are that VolumeShaper has no threshold control, applies volume shaping in real-time based on the audio, and allows very intricate modulation shaping compared to compressors, limiters, or manual volume automation.

As noted in this KVR Audio forum discussion, VolumeShaper provides advanced customizable volume modulation, while plugins like Xfer LFO Tool are more specialized for sidechain ducking effects: https://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=555819&start=60

VolumeShaper Limitations

While VolumeShaper is a powerful volume automation tool, it does have some limitations to be aware of:

VolumeShaper works by rapidly modulating volume, which can introduce audible artifacts like pumping or distortion if settings are too extreme. Care should be taken to adjust the depth, speed, and shape parameters to avoid excessive artifacts. More gradual volume modulation usually sounds more natural.

Since VolumeShaper manipulates overall volume, it is not suitable for tasks requiring more nuanced dynamics processing like compression or expansion. Sidechain compression may be a better choice if you need frequency-specific dynamics control.

VolumeShaper has limited options for shaping the modulation curve compared to full featured envelope followers. While the LFO and envelope follower cover common use cases, some users desire more customizable modulation shapes.

Due to its sole focus on volume modulation, VolumeShaper lacks features some users may expect like EQ, distortion, or reverb. Using VolumeShaper in conjunction with other effects provides more creative options.

In summary, while powerful for rhythmic volume modulation, VolumeShaper does introduce potential artifacts, lacks advanced dynamics controls, provides limited modulation shaping, and omits common effects processors. Weighing its singular strength against its limitations allows selecting the best tool for a given production task.

Best Practices

Here are some tips for getting the most out of VolumeShaper and avoiding common mistakes:

Use VolumeShaper’s split band mode to shape the lows, mids, and highs separately for more precise control. This allows you to create unique curves tailored to each frequency range (VolumeShaper 4 Manual).

Take advantage of VolumeShaper’s unlimited playback mode when mastering tracks. This allows you to tweak the settings while listening to the entire song, not just a short loop (VolumeShaper 4 Manual).

Use VolumeShaper before compression when mastering for more transparent results. Drastic shaping after compression can introduce audible artifacts.

Avoid overdoing it on the Saturate control. This can quickly lead to an overly distorted sound. Use it sparingly to add subtle fullness.

When sidechaining, set the threshold carefully to avoid the pumping effect being too noticeable. Slow attack and release times also help.

Monitor both the input and output when making changes. This helps identify any undesirable effects like muted transients.

Compare your shaped mix to reference tracks to avoid over-processing. Trust your ears if something sounds unnatural.

Other VolumeShaper Features

VolumeShaper provides advanced side-chaining capabilities that go beyond traditional side-chain compressors. It allows you to trigger volume shaping from any track in your project, not just the kick drum. This opens up creative possibilities like triggering from a hi-hat or synthesizer rhythm.

The lookahead feature is another powerful capability of VolumeShaper. It analyzes the audio ahead of time and applies smoothing to create more musical results without unwanted clicks or distortion. The amount of lookahead can be adjusted based on your needs.

Under the hood, VolumeShaper provides control over advanced parameters like the shape of the volume envelope, release curves, and more. This allows advanced users to fine-tune the effect for their exact needs.[1]

Overall, the advanced side-chaining and program-dependent capabilities give VolumeShaper surgical control over volume shaping. It goes far beyond a basic compressor plugin.


VolumeShaper is a powerful audio effect in Android that allows users to shape the volume of audio signals in real time. Some of the key points about VolumeShaper covered in this article include:

  • VolumeShaper works by splitting the audio into frequency bands and applying volume envelopes to each band.
  • Key features include multiband processing, flexible envelope shaping, and MIDI, keyboard and sequencer support.
  • Use cases include ducking, pumping, transitions, creative effects, and precision mixing.
  • VolumeShaper provides sample-accurate, low latency performance on Android.
  • It offers advanced dynamic range compression capabilities compared to basic limiters.

In summary, VolumeShaper is an extremely versatile tool for audio professionals, musicians, podcasters, and anyone looking to sculpt sound in creative ways on Android devices. With practice, VolumeShaper can help produce rich, dynamic effects. This overview covers the key capabilities of this powerful utility. Use VolumeShaper to bring vibrance and professional polish to audio projects.

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