The relative significance of spectral and temporal envelopes for the synthesis of orchestral wind‐instrument tones was evaluated by exchange of spectral and temporal envelopes among the wind instruments, by creation of artificial spectral envelopes, and by perturbation of the spectral envelopes. It was found that, for the oboe, clarinet, bassoon, tuba, and trumpet, where the spectral envelope is unique as regards the frequency of its maximum and the range in which the instrument is normally played, this envelope predominates in aural significance over the temporal envelope. Where the spectral envelope is not unique—as for the flute, trombone, and French horn the spectral envelope is equal or subordinate to the temporal one in aural significance. Interfamily confusions are fewer in those cases where the spectral envelope is of predominant importance: about 14% for the clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and tuba anti about 25% for the flute, trumpet, trombone, and French horn. The ratio between identification probabilities of synthetic and natural tones is 0.97 for the oboe, 0.90 for the clarinet, 0.86 for the French horn, 0.82 for the bassoon, 0.77 for the flute, 0.75 for the trumpet, 0.69 for the tuba, and 0.62 for the trombone.