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Q. What's the difference beween morphing and crossfading?

By Len Sasso
Published September 2003

Is there any real difference between morphing from one sound to another and crossfading? In many cases, the two sound very similar.

Anna Silman

SOS Contributor Len Sasso replies: Morphing and crossfading are really two entirely different processes and apply to different situations. Crossfading takes place between two audio files, typically non-destructively in a sequencing environment or destructively in a sample editor. The effect, of course, is that one sound fades out as the other fades in.

Crossfading between two different sounds.Crossfading between two different sounds.Morphing takes place between two groups of settings for an audio device, either hardware or software. In that case, one sound also dissolves into another, but the intermediate sounds are not simply a mix of the starting and ending sounds.

If you have sequencing software and a synth plug-in that can be automated, here's an experiment to quickly convince yourself that there really is a difference.

Set up a basic oscillator and lowpass-filter patch without any envelope applied to the filter cutoff. Record rather long clips with the filter wide open, then with it relatively closed (but with the oscillator still audible). Now crossfade between the clips over a fairly long period. Next use animation to slowly sweep the filter cutoff across the same range. Compare the crossfade with the animated filter, which amounts to morphing between the open and closed states. Of course, morphing usually involves many more parameters, and the results are correspondingly more complex and interesting.

Published September 2003