Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

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Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by everythingcontinues » Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:13 am

Hi all!

Pretty new to the forum. Had been lurking a while. Started my physical modular journey in January, 2020.

I am increasingly interested in fixed filter banks; I've watched and listened to a gaggle of demo videos and sounds produced with these devices, and the results that can be gotten out of them are very much in the wheelhouse of sounds I'm interested in.

My main trepidation in taking the plunge is this: Given the fixed nature of the frequency bands available in a given module (let's presume I'm not willing to invest in more than one), do results start to get a bit same-y over time? Or, supposing the source material going in varies enough, is this not an issue long-term users have observed? Are there other options in the modular world that provide that complex, highly-modulatable, "filtered frequency dancing" effect but with any more versatility?

Obviously, mileage will vary on what constitutes "same-y" (e.g. a sawtooth VCO into an LPF could be described as such, but most of us are probably still doing it). I think with these I'm more sensitive to it given the size, cost and limited nature of what it does. I have no fundamental issue with one-trick-pony devices, assuming the trick is impressive enough (initially, I am impressed enough) and doesn't get old after consistent application.

For context, the leading contenders I'm considering are Frap Tools' Fumana and Verbos' Bark Filter. A key use-case I have in mind is running all sorts of sounds through the Instruo Arbhar and heavily modulating filters to get some complex, evolving soundscapes over long periods of time. I'm getting good mileage out of this from an Arbhar > SSF Stereo Dipole > Intellijel Rainmaker chain, but feel like an FFB in addition to or replacing the Stereo Dipole would give me a lot more dimension in the frequency shaping domain.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by Agawell » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:57 am

sounds like a great idea

I don't have either one of these, or anything like them, but I just took a quick look on modulargrid and tbh if I bought either a fumana, or a Bark Filter - i'd want a lot of extra modules in order to make the most of it - mixers (matrix, panning), vcas, envelope generators, general utility modules - I'd probably end up spending at least the same (almost definitely more) as the original cost of the module in support modules to dedicate to it - and I already have way over 100hp of utility modules in my racks - and I'd expect to use at least the same again (probably more) rack space for that too - so a really hefty investment if you ask me - especially so early in your journey, when you almost definitely do not have a host of utility modules that you could - I think you may be very frustrated by one of these modules on their own

If I was looking to add this sort of functionality I'd probably get a used Make Noise fxdf, a quad cascading vca, a matrix mixer (or a 4ms VCA Matrix?) and a panning mixer and whatever extra envelope modules that I needed to run these and have a play first to see if I liked it - the vca, mixers and envelopes etc will always be useful, if you don't already have them or similar

the used fxdf will give you a low cost taster and you can always upgrade to a more fully featured one if you decide that you really like it - also it will give you an idea of how many other modules you will actually need to fully utilize however many channels of fixed filter bank you have (and the rest if you get a more modulateable filter bank such as the ones you mentioned)

if you don't like the fxdf after all, or you decide to upgrade you can always sell it for about the same you paid for it used and any support modules you bought specifically for it will always be useful with your other modules - this may be doable for the less than the price of either of the 2 modules you mentioned - instead of at least double
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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by mdoudoroff » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:19 am

One option you could consider, instead, is the Rossum Morpheus. It’s not a fixed filter bank, but it plays in pretty much the same spectral sculpting territory. It’s not a 1:1 comparison, for sure. You could argue Morpheus is more flexible, due to the vast array of complex filter models and the CV control, but it’s a different way of working. Morpheus is certainly smaller (maybe too small—it has been noted that the knobs are too damn close together) and cheaper. It’s also stereo.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by luketeaford » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:37 am

Agree with the Fxdf suggestion. One of the things that is cool about fixed filters is it's kind of hard to predict exactly how it will sound. Of course putting any kind of filter before it with resonance or like a notch is enough to change some of the familiar territory. It is more dynamic sounding than you might imagine because of the input.

If you're like me, you also patch it for feedback. And there are possibilities for parallel processing individual bands of a sound which is a little more commonly how I'd do it. For example, I usually don't want the lowest bands going into reverb or whatever. I might use the highest band as something roughly analogous to noise and so on.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by synonymist » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:38 am

everythingcontinues wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:13 am
My main trepidation in taking the plunge is this: Given the fixed nature of the frequency bands available in a given module..., do results start to get a bit same-y over time?
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everythingcontinues wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:13 am
Or, supposing the source material going in varies enough, is this not an issue long-term users have observed?
Your premise partly answers both questions. Let me amend the premise to strengthen it: As the source sound for the fixed filter bank varies, and as the sonic context for that also varies, and as your decisions about setting the fixed filter bank vary per that context, the range of possible final outcomes is practically infinite.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by hinterlands303 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:46 am

I had the FXDf for a while but got rid of it in a shuffle. For the way I was using it at the time I realized I could use a bandpass filter and a sequencer to get similar results. However, now that I have a Doepfer a-138m matrix mixer and am experimenting more with feedback I find myself wanting a fixed filter bank again.

Another cool trick with the FXDf that I haven't been able to replicate with a standard band pass filter is crossfading between two bands on different ends of the frequency spectrum.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by mz25 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:51 am

The results like with any other module is directly related to the use you're doing of it and your creativity.

It won't sound always the same since the material you put different material on it with different predominant frequencies !

You can use ffb like parallel processing modules to process only certain frequencies, you can use it on feedback loops or even like harmonic oscillators with some propers others modules.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by DSC » Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:29 pm

hinterlands303 wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:46 am
I had the FXDf for a while but got rid of it in a shuffle. For the way I was using it at the time I realized I could use a bandpass filter and a sequencer to get similar results. However, now that I have a Doepfer a-138m matrix mixer and am experimenting more with feedback I find myself wanting a fixed filter bank again.

Another cool trick with the FXDf that I haven't been able to replicate with a standard band pass filter is crossfading between two bands on different ends of the frequency spectrum.
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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by Wjbratcher » Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:56 pm

I have the fxdf, and I can attest that you need quite a few other modules to really get the goods. A shortcut is the rxmx, which I picked up recently. The tendency with this combo is to get that scanning and striking with the lpg thing you hear in make noise’s demo vids. But it sounds soo good.

I do not have the bark or the fumana, although I have drooled so much over them. The bark has 12 filters, but also VCAs and followers for each channel. Oh and 2 inputs, a cool scanning section, and a couple self-modulating opportunities. So there’s twice as many BPFs as my fxdf and you have A serious powerhouse of ‘support modules’ built in. The fumana goes even further. That’s why they aren’t cheap.

The samey-ness of them possibly could come from the individual choices of bands (and slopes), but, I’ll just say, that even scanning the 6 bands of the fxdf/rxmx, with various frequency-rich sources, is satisfying and not too boring.

I wish I could take a day and try all the FFBs in the world, but I had to settle on just one more in my system, the lowly ajh 914. It sounds so good in demos! I’ll report back on whether it gets to boring running stuff through it or playing with the feedback. After all, it is ‘just’ the Moog 914 center frequencies run into a mixer/crossfader setup. There’s not even individual outs for each band! Did I make the wrong choice?

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by Underwood » Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:27 pm

Not a long term user at all but i've owned the fumana for one week now, and i can't remember when i had so much fun with a single module. There are so many interesting ways of patching it, it's insane.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by namon » Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:44 pm

For myself, fixed filter banks really impacted my playing style. I got my addad601 around the same time as my first matrix mixer, Bob's your uncle.
Was able to start getting the tones and movements that I have been looking for.
The fxdx is a really interesting ffb as well, yet as some others have posted really needs the help from other modules (obviously it's so tiny and adorable!).
Mine might as well be hardwired to a vc8, which is an almost perfect match.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by Tumulishroomaroom » Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:08 pm

I can only speak for the Bark Filter which I have and love dearly. The result don't get samey, although it definitely has a sound of its own. Stuff you pass through it get its sonic imprint. I love the sound of the steep filters. I don't agree that you need a ton of support modules for the Verbos or the Frap Tools apart from a good modulator, there's already a great mixer included, scanning and spectral tilt options. the enveloppe followers also provide a ton of modulation for the rest of your system, but it's best to have a few utilities to get their potential. I also have Verbos Noise & Filter which is based on the same frequencies, it's a bike like the FxDx at 4hp. Super useful and great sounding but completely static, so you'd need a lot of supporting modules there (switches, mixers...).

I'd argue that the Bark filter is a great investment, it's fantastic sounding, very versatile... it can turn one drone into several different things... It pairs well with a lpg to get hits out of individual bands.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by everythingcontinues » Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:11 pm

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful input.

mdoudoroff - I had not heard of the Rossum Morpheus; thanks a lot for the suggestion. I just watched a few videos on it, and it's definitely a cool module and something I will consider as a potential addition to the setup.

Tumulishroomaroom - Wanted to say that I'm a big fan of all the sounds you're putting up on IG. Thanks for sharing, and duly noted on the love for the Bark Filter--pretty clear from your videos that it's capable of contributing to some very rich sounds.

I'm a tiny bit surprised nobody's mentioned the 4MS SMR. It's something that intrigued me a few months back, then I put it out of my mind for a while. Now that I've been thinking more specifically in the space of complex filtering and frequency shaping, and in the time since starting this topic, it's back to intriguing me.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by starthief » Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:25 pm

SMR is a weird beast. I tried it for a while and felt like it had its own unique paradigm but I couldn't get it do the sorts of things I'd hoped for. It was intriguing enough that, in a bigger system or if I didn't have more definite goals, I would probably have held onto it.

But then I'm not really reserving space or budget for other filterbanks either, though I have no doubt that Fumana would be fantastic for me. Instead I'm sticking with hardware/software integration and using VST EQ plugins, which admittedly have a lot of advantages -- built-in analyzer displays, stereo and mid/side operation, etc. I know my feedback loops are going to be different in nature as a result of latency, but I will live with it.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by MindMachine » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:48 pm

DSC wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:29 pm
hinterlands303 wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:46 am
I had the FXDf for a while but got rid of it in a shuffle. For the way I was using it at the time I realized I could use a bandpass filter and a sequencer to get similar results. However, now that I have a Doepfer a-138m matrix mixer and am experimenting more with feedback I find myself wanting a fixed filter bank again.

Another cool trick with the FXDf that I haven't been able to replicate with a standard band pass filter is crossfading between two bands on different ends of the frequency spectrum.
That is a gold mine post, thank you!!!!
Me too. I use the Doepfer A-138M matrix mixer with some cross faders and the MakeNoise FXDf. There is more info here too:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=226509&p=3219157&h ... r#p3219157

Holy Cow! I never saw the Fumana before :hmm:

I think FFB's are typically used for sound design shaping and dialing in acoustic simulations, but with a few other modules they become more variable and less static. Modular synthesis is like a Gilbert Chemistry Set of sound.
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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by Sinamsis » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:04 pm

I have owned a Fumana for almost a couple years now. I don’t use it nearly enough (partly because I had it in a separate case for quite a while), but every time I do I’m blown away. Even looking at the PCB is mind-blowing. It’s a beautiful instrument and it oozes quality in terms of feel and build. I think other recommended modules like the Morpheus lacks the very cool features like followers for each frequency band. It is equally impressive at analyzing and extracting material from sound as it is in processing it. I’m sure the Verbos is nice too, but you get more bands (IIRC) with the Fumana, and you get one set of filters for processing and a other set for analysis (again, IIRC). Anyways, it’s a great module and packed full of features and options.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by Paranormal Patroler » Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:02 pm

I think it's unfair to compare the Morpheus to a filterbank. I see the reasoning behind this, but I honestly don't think thinking of the Morpheus as a filter does it justice, to the extent that it might be better to think of it as a type of convolution module, or to the extent that since delving into physical modeling I now think of filters as resonant instrument bodies; then yes, the Morpheus is a really flexible filter. For the purposes of physical modeling some fixed filterbanks, or filters like the Morpheus are extremely useful.
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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by joey » Sat May 09, 2020 2:07 pm

how do people feel about the fumana vs the bark filter?

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by adaris » Sat May 09, 2020 3:10 pm

I actually just ordered the Elby ES22 (Serge) Resonant EQ, and of course there's the Random Source version as well - not exactly a FFB but maybe worth considering. Definitely cheaper and less HP than some of the modules that have been mentioned.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by DonaldCrunk » Sat May 09, 2020 5:32 pm

I'm also considering 'the right' fixed filter bank for me, so this modern thread is interesting.

I've got a rxmx + fxdf combo, and can't recommend it enough. Not a lot of bands, and as mentioned above, it likes to do 'its thing'. Fantastic sound though! The fxdf sounds really great.

The Verbos Bark and Fumana style of west coast "fixed filter" are the most attractive to me at the moment, providing envelope following and a variety of other functions, but at greatest cost. From e-research and a brief play, Bark seems a bit unique and 'character-ful', while Fumana is the overall king of functionality. My heart says Bark but brain says Fumana. My wallet says 'keep on lookin''.

Next in line, then, is the various takes on the Serge Resonant EQ - different choice in frequency bands, and no envelope following or other features, but much less expensive. The Random*Source version is very interesting, but I'm put off by the dramatically lower input amplitude of Euro Serge and the attenuation required to correctly interface with standard 10V pp eurorack modules (even if it is provided on the module). Having to level shift within my case is a pet peeve. There are a Mk 1 and Mk 2 Serge Res EQ filters available in DIY land as well. Also Elby, as adaris mentioned. Maybe those operate correctly at euro levels? Love the idea of feedback patching, and pinging this module with clock / trigger sources.

The third type in my mind is the traditional 'Moog' inductor based type, and I'm least familiar with these offerings. Really eager to hear one of these types in person, and see what happens when patched more creatively than a traditional sound sculpting 'east coast' context. Curious about the sound of inductors!

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by Hovercraft » Sat May 09, 2020 5:40 pm

joey wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 2:07 pm
how do people feel about the fumana vs the bark filter?
Based on the features and sound, I chose the Fumana--awesome module. The Fumana has 32 filters, compared to the 12 of the Bark. Bark filters are spaced according the the Bark scale--Fumana bands are spaced 5.5 semitones apart. The Bark is a great sounding FFB, with some limited spectral transfer ability. The Fumana is a fine-grained FFB with powerful spectral transfer functions. They're both fantastic modules--with tilt and scanning controls that are great for sound shaping. If your main interest is a straight FFB with some sophisticated control--the Bark looks great. If you also have an interest in deep exploration of spectral transfer--the Fumana would be a good option.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by GryphonP3 » Sat May 09, 2020 5:50 pm

If you have fixed filter banks and interpolatong scanners, its quite a cool thing to rearrange the bands into inputs on your scanner, process some bands with feedback, frequency dependent FM and all that back into the master, and then morph the scanner like that. Can get some wild things not possible with any other form of synthesis.
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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by ggillon » Sat May 09, 2020 6:40 pm

I very recently bought a Verbos Bark Filter and the first thing I did with it was to plug it to the output of the Morphagene to sculpt the sample loops into different results, to sound well with the rest of my track frequency-wise. Based on that first exploration I can say you shouldn't be afraid about the output sounding samey because of the fixed filter bands; it's still a filter first so what it will sound like will depend on what you feed it.

Also I mainly play my modules as live instruments so I love the amount of control these give me. Those little sliders are great to tickle your inspiration and if at some point of the track you feel like you want more bass or middle or highs out of the sound you feed it, it's just gives you the ability to do so immediately and easily.

And that's just scratching the surface, because I could do so much more, and introduce tons of modulation, but I'm just having so much fun playing the Bark and the Harmonic Oscillator as live instruments I'm not sure I want to automate them too much, for fear of loosing that human feeling they give to my jams.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by BTG » Sat May 09, 2020 6:58 pm

Two others to consider -- ADDAC 601 and Flame Curves. The Curves doesn't get enough attention IMO.

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Re: Fixed Filter Banks - Long-term use, same-y results?

Post by MindMachine » Sat May 09, 2020 7:27 pm

DonaldCrunk wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 5:32 pm
The third type in my mind is the traditional 'Moog' inductor based type, and I'm least familiar with these offerings. Really eager to hear one of these types in person, and see what happens when patched more creatively than a traditional sound sculpting 'east coast' context. Curious about the sound of inductors!
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