Tested by Barry Cleveland
Filter ($199 retail/$159 street) is a multi-faceted digital audio plug-in that offers four of the smoothest and most analog-sounding software filters available, multiple modulation sources (including envelope generators, LFOs, rhythm generators, and an envelope follower), four tempo-synchable delays, a versatile Modulation Matrix (for routing control sources to filter parameters), and two rhythm generators.
Why should you care? Well, manipulating guitar signals through filters, LFOs, envelope generators, and the like can produce extremely bizarre and/or beautifully strange tonal abberations. In other words, if you want to mangle your guitar into something that’s a singular manifestation of your tortured imagination, a filter processor is one of the coolest ways to craft unique sounds and sound effects (see Joe Gore’s review of the Moogerfooger MF-101 Lowpass Filter in the July ’99 GP for more insights).
I tested the VST version of Filter within BIAS Peak 4.21 and the MAS version within MOTU Digital Performer 3.0—both running on a 1GHz Mac G4. At the center of the interface is a dynamic graph with amplitude as its vertical axis and frequency as its horizontal axis.
The four filter sections (which may be used independently or in various series/parallel combinations) are color-coded yellow, blue, red, and green, and their individual waveforms are presented on the graph as transparencies in those same colors—which allows you to easily visualize how their functions interact and overlap (see screen shot). Filter’s individual components are arranged logically in much the same way a hardware analog synth might be organized, and the signal flow between processors is easy to grasp and control.
If you’re not conversant with synth-filter manipulations, an excellent user manual explains everything clearly and succinctly, and the program is loaded with dozens of factory presets that are grouped into five basic categories (Instruments, Beats, Effects, Pad, and Spectral). The Resobounce preset, for example, creates complex and ever-shifting sonic layers by combining three delays, four filters, four LFOs, two envelope generators, and a MIDI-synched rhythm generator. This preset was listed as a “Beat” program, but it sounded fantastic when used with a sustained EBow guitar track.
Hip Tip: Just because a preset is designed for one category doesn’t mean it won’t work well in another application. You can have big fun running a Pad source—such as volume-pedal swells—through a Beats preset, and so on.
I used Filter to process both individual tracks while mixing in DP, and stereo material—including a variety of loops—in Peak. In most cases, I began with one of the presets, and then tweaked it to best suit the audio’s specific sonic and rhythmic characteristics. I obtained sometimes stunning results in both applications, though the cool guitar sounds I got by using the envelope follower to control various filter parameters, and the ability to sync modulated effects to loop tempo via the host program’s internal MIDI clock, were particularly impressive. Though not designed specifically for guitars, Filter is, nonetheless, the crafty guitarist’s secret weapon for conjuring jaw-dropping tones and wondrous spectral landscapes. Explore!
Antares, (831) 461-7800; antarestech.com.