Envelope detector

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An envelope detector is an electronic circuit that takes a high-frequency signal as input, and provides an output which is the "envelope" of the original signal. The capacitor in the circuit stores up charge on the rising edge, and releases it slowly through the resistor when the signal falls. The diode in series ensures current does not flow backward to the input to the circuit.

Most practical envelope detectors use either half-wave or full-wave rectification of the signal to convert the AC audio input into a pulsed DC signal. Filtering is then used to smooth the final result. This filtering is rarely perfect and some "ripple" is likely to remain on the envelope follower output, particularly for low frequency inputs such as notes from a bass guitar. More filtering gives a smoother result, but decreases the responsiveness of the design, so real-world solutions are a compromise.

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