Using Filters

Using Filters

May 29th 2012

filter3.jpgFilters are without doubt one of the most useful tools in your sonic arsenal. At it’s most basic a filter is a device that selectively permits certain frequencies to pass through it, while stopping others. There are several different types of filter you’ll come across both on filter plugins and on synthesiser controls.


Cutoff Frequency – the filter’s effect will be heard above or below this frequency.

Low Pass – this filter will prevent High frequencies from passing through it, giving the processed sound a rich warm feeling.

Hi Pass – this filter will prevent low frequencies passing, giving the sound a thin, tinny quality.

Band Pass – this filter type will selectively boost or remove frequencies above and below the frequency at which it’s set.

Resonance or Q – this control will accentuate the effect of the filter. This effect can be used creatively on synthesisers to create “Acid” sounds by using high Resonance settings and sweeping the Cutoff Frequency.

Some filters feature a Drive setting, which adds a degree of distortion to the sound resulting in a thickening effect.

We love practical demonstrations here at DMS so we’ve downloaded Betabug’s superb free multi mode (it has several different filter types in one) Crayon Filter. Download it here.

Route a sound through the Crayon Filter, you’ll notice that there’s no effect. Now use the strangely shaped filter type select buttons to choose a Low Pass filter and turn the Resonance knob three quarters of the way to the top. Now sweep the Cuttoff Frequency knob from top to bottom, instant gratification! Try adding some drive to the filter and repeating the process- this will create a fat dirty sound . Swap the filter type to Highpass and experiment again, you’ll recognise this gritty sound from countless tunes. The Crayon Filter’s capable of mixing filter types too, so the possibilities for creating unique sounds are endless here!

Filter Envelopes – most synthesiser filters will feature an envelope control. This will allow you to route the filter to an ADSR envelope to further shape your sound. One technique often used in Trance is to route the lead synth sound through a Low Pass filter with a short decay time on it’s filter envelope. When the filter is swept down this will have the effect of making the played notes short and poppy. Coupled with a ping-pong delay effect this creates the classic trance breakdown sound.

By far our favourite filter here at DMS is Camel Audio’s Camel Phat , check it out for yourselves! Camel also offer a free version which we love to use on basslines!!!camelphat.jpg


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