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Alembic SF-2: What exactly is it for?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by FilterFunk, May 4, 2010.

  1. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    I came across this on a random filter search:
    It's referred to as a "tone processor" and the "Swiss Army knife of tone." I've read a lot about this, but I'm still not sure exactly what it does. It's apparently not an envelope filter. Is it a preamp, filter EQ, static filter, all of the above, or something else entirely? I'm asking purely out of curiosity; I won't be dropping $900+ on anything anytime soon! It's very intriguing, though; anyone have any hands-on experience with this unit?
  2. chicago_mike


    Oct 9, 2007
    Chicago - LA - Rome - Dallas
    Endorsing Artist : Genz Benz
    Its 2 independent filters. Glorified parametric eq's more or less. Its the circuit in the series 2 basses I believe. You can select between high band and low pass and then gain and q. The EH Attack eq is a simplified version of this.

    The idea is you plug into the F1-x and have this run thru the fx-loop. Its more tone shaping than most cats need though.
  3. faceinbass


    Apr 20, 2008
    an overpriced eq. :p
  4. stingray56funk

    stingray56funk Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2005
    Well...most studio pre's are in this same boat. They provide some gain and maybe a slice of EQ...but there is certainly some magic in that box. People who use the SF-2 are looking for that Alembic magic.
  5. It's a low, high, or 'band pass' (parametric) filter array, essentially. It's mostly about the filters. With the filters fully open, all the sound passes through, mostly unmolested. But as you roll a filter closed, it cuts frequencies, from the top down(or from the bottom up), in a very sharp manner. Rolling the filter open/closed while playing sounds a lot like a wah pedal. There's more to it than that, but that's a decent overview. It's a very potent device, for very strong tone shaping. Alembic does it, Wal does it(low pass), and ACG(low and high pass) does it too. I'm not aware of any others.
  6. Kromwarp


    Sep 16, 2008
    Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Master Luthier: Ironclad Bass Guitars
    Does look rather interesting
  7. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    Now I get it. Thanks, guys!
  8. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    IMHO, some of the posts above are somewhat misinformed. Anyone who just shrugs off this box as a "glorified parametric or an overpriced EQ" has never actually used one.

    I have used MANY parametric EQ's, and for about 9 months now, an SF-2. Nothing comes close to the clarity, definition, and flexibility of an SF-2. Yes they are expensive, but can be found used in the $500 range. Aside from the filter circuits themselves being of the highest fidelity, the real key is the mixing aspect of this device. In mono mode, you can independently mix the source signal with each of two filters. In stereo mode, you can mix each sides source with one of the filters. As noted the filters can be set to HP, LP, or Band pass. The SF-2 recombines the filtered with the source in perfect phase. IMO, that is the crux of the biscuit right there. The "Damping" which functions much like a "Q", with the frequency and filter type selections, offers infinite variation. Yet, it is very easy to dial in.

    What dmusic148 is describing is how the filters work on the Alembic basses. The SF-2 can be set to act just like that, but more commonly I use it in an additive fashion. It can pile it on as well as take it away.

    And the best part is, it makes spectacular sounds. Among many others, it creates the hugest, most monsterly lows, that are NOT muddy, but still articulate, that I have ever been able to create.

    It has an instrument level input for using as a preamp, and also line level I/O for using in a loop.

    Yes, they are that good, and deserve all the praise and more.

    But that's just my experience.

    FWIW. I have used it in front of a vintage Traynor YBA-1A and an EVM 15L, and on the loop of a preamp/QSC rig, playing through a Kappalite 3015 and an Epifani UL12 biamped. With Alembics, vintage Jazz, Stingray, Fretless Wishbasses, Spector, and others. They ALL love the SF-2. Active, passive, it makes no difference, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    thumbslapper, FilterFunk and Krikcet like this.
  9. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    PLEEEEEEASE stop making me want this thing!
    Krikcet likes this.
  10. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    I sold my sf2 to boo of TB and cry every day.

    an insane tone processer. i believe i have a review of it here on TB. Hands down the most useful EQ device i ever used. steep learning curve as it's not exactly a parametric eq, but once you get the hang of it - very dangerous.
  11. coyoteboy

    coyoteboy easy there, Ned Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Sactomato, CA
    I rather regret getting rid of mine as well. I've vowed to just not sell any more gear at all. Not worth it. The only thing I wish were different with this unit would be an internal power supply.
  12. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    IIRC, they opted not to have it as it inducted too much noise. the "Wall wart" sort of sucked but i swear micah told me it was a noise issue.
    jazzyvee likes this.
  13. jazzyvee


    Aug 11, 2012
    United Kingdom
    I have used one since about 2004 and it is just an incredible tone shaping tool. I use mine for subtle tone at frequencies outside the control range of my alembic bass so that means those under about 250hz. My old powerhouse couldn't take loud and heavy bottom end but my barefaced cabs can so im learning to get more out of it. My reggae bands love what i can do with it. I would highly recommend it.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
    jbybj likes this.
  14. thumbslapper

    thumbslapper Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    San Francisco
    I sold mine as well - it will give you an insane dub or reggae sound (1 band low pass set pretty low freq, no orig). You can only add filter sound, not subtract it, and you mix it with the original sound.

    It sounds awesome & I do regret selling it, but it was more because it was a rack unit & not a pedal then anything else - I'd buy it again if they made a pedal version. I used it in a studio on mixdown as well on both kick and bass guitar.

    jbybj is right - there is really nothing else like it, it sounds amazing, but it also takes some time with it to figure out what it really does, its not really intuitive.
    jazzyvee likes this.

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