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An attenuator is a module or a function within a module that is used to reduce the amplitude of an input signal, such as a control voltage (CV) or audio signal. Attenuators are essential tools for managing signal levels and customizing the modulation depth or intensity of various parameters in a modular synthesizer patch.

An attenuator module typically has one or more input jacks, corresponding output jacks, and knobs or sliders to adjust the amount of attenuation applied to the input signal. The purpose of an attenuator is to scale down the input signal’s amplitude while maintaining its waveform shape and characteristics.

Here’s an example of how an attenuator might be used in a modular synthesizer patch:

  1. A control voltage (CV) from a sequencer, LFO, or other modulation source is fed into the input of an attenuator module.
  2. The knob or slider on the attenuator module is adjusted to set the desired amount of signal reduction.
  3. The attenuated output signal is then sent to another module in the synthesizer, such as controlling the pitch of an oscillator, the cutoff frequency of a filter, or the depth of a modulation effect.

Using attenuators allows a musician to precisely control the intensity of modulation or the level of an audio signal in a modular synthesizer patch. Some attenuator modules also provide additional functions, such as offset (adding or subtracting a fixed voltage from the input signal) or inversion (reversing the polarity of the input signal).

Attenuators are essential components of modular synthesizer systems and are crucial for crafting complex patches and shaping sound in creative ways.