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EHX Enigma Qballs vs MXR Bass Envelope Filter

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by chumbo73, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. chumbo73


    Nov 8, 2012
    After reading a lot of user reviews I have to make the hard decision between the MXR or the EHX.

    MXR: the killing feature is having two separate controls for the clean level and the effect, this way you don't get lost in the mix.

    Qballs: More effect posibilities (High and Low Pass, Start and Stop) but only one control for the mix (no volume control). I read some issues about volume drop (I don't want to spend even more cash on a boost) and levels too high for the distortion.

    Has anyone compared these two?
  2. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    For the record, I'm a keyboardist, and I run relatively dry bass synth tones through a variety of effects. I also use a Peavey Spectrum Bass II synth module, which also has some very natural-sounding bass guitar patches. Not the same as the real thing, of course!:bassist:

    Anyway, I've only heard clips and seen videos of the MXR M82, and they are all very consistent, so I figure I have a good feel for the sound and features. I own the Riddle Qballs, which is the "guitar" version, but I find it to be awesome on all my bass tones; no low end loss whatsoever.

    I've been able to get the M82 sound from the Qballs in band pass with blend. It definitely takes some tweaking, but it gets there, and I've found it easy to get back to my favorite settings. I haven't directly A/B'ed them, so I don't know if it absolutely nails the M82 sound, but it gets very close to my ears - close enough that I'm not gassing for the MXR. I can't even begin to tell you all the other great and useful tones you can get from the Qballs. Get the Distortion (more of a fuzz, really) trimpot modded to the outside. It interacts with the Blend control in beautiful ways!

    I noticed a volume jump (not huge, but obvious) with the Qballs in low pass, and pretty much unity gain in band pass and high pass with blend. YMMV.
    Sunset Shalom, Bo0tsy and fretless19 like this.
  3. chumbo73


    Nov 8, 2012
    I'm mostly worried about the QBalls volume drops and gain jumps but has so many options!

    I guess the M82 would be the safe option.
  4. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    The MXR is an awesome pedal for sure, I use mine frequently, but the Q-balls is a "wackier" effect overall. More variety in the sounds you can coax out of it. That's my take on the 2. You just need to know what you want out of an envelope filter. The Ehx Bassballs is another option, but that's altogether more quacky and distinct as either one of the other 2. Of course, there are dozens more filter effects, to muck you up even more.
    johnk_10 likes this.
  5. MXR is great for bass guitar. The Ehx cut lots of volume and bottom end for me...fun for bedroom stuff though!
  6. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    I'm pretty sure I've tried every envelope filter on the market. I'm exaggerating a bit of course, but finding the perfect auto wah was a kind of odyssey for me. The one I settled on was the Q-Balls, and I've never regretted it. I have had none of the issues that others have had; not to negate their experiences, but with my gear it works great. It's got a lot of knobs, and they're very interactive, so prepare yourself for a bit of a learning curve when dialing it in, but once you get the hang of it, you can get an incredible range of sounds out of it.
    johnk_10 likes this.
  7. I've played both. Even owned the Qballs for a brief period of time. The MXR is a better choice, and slightly more affordable too. I think it just has sounds that can be used more easily in "real world" situations. Echoing one of the above statements though, the Qballs is a fun bedroom toy.
  8. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    I use the Qballs live, and in recent memory had two different bass players approach me to find out what I was using because they liked it so much. By "real world situations" are you referring to covers? I play mainly originals, so I'm not trying to duplicate anyone's sound. I really can't tell you which pedal is better for that. But I object to the idea that the EHX is a mere bedroom toy. It does take some dialing in, though.
  9. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    Me too. And I get plenty of low-end beef even with the Riddle instead of the Enigma.
  10. Funkinthetrunk

    Funkinthetrunk Registered User Supporting Member

    In your opinion, maybe. But totally false in mime.

    OP, you'll need to try these 2 units (or more) in person. Filters are way too personal to go by opinions here. Don't you have a GC near by?
  11. Also, the MXR has a smaller footprint if that's important to you.
  12. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    i own both and i think that they're both very nice pedals.
    my qballs has no low end loss or low volume issues so i don't know where you got that info.

    between the two, even though the enigma qballs is alot more variable, i actually prefer the the MXR.
  13. Silvio Dante

    Silvio Dante

    Mar 28, 2016
    I have been reading a lot about envelope filters and I am thinking about the MXR or the EHX as well.

    I am interested how you guys feel about those pedals in 2017.
    Are you still using them?
    Did you replace them by another envelope filter?
  14. I still own both and previously posted reviews on them, which I pretty much still stand by...(although admittedly these days I tend to use a Mu-Tron III, Tru-Tron 3x or Chunk 00Funk more)....both remain very solid filters though....

    Envelope Filter Splurge & Reviews

    MXR M82 Bass Envelope Filter –Easy to dial in, having the separate ‘Dry’ and ‘FX’ knob’s is a really great idea. It gives you a lot of control & easily gives you as much (or as little) of your natural sounding bass, or filter effect, as you need. (You could effectively leave this as an ‘always on’ pedal if you dial in more of your dry sound for a more subtle effect). This is a band pass filter & so it sounds quite different to the Mu-Tron’s and Q-Tron’s of this world. As a result, the MXR is not as fat or peaky sounding as some other filters, but has a very analogue, liquid, percolating bubble gum pop sound to it & can get quite synthy. The Decay knob surprisingly seems to control the depth of the filter sweep (lower decay settings can make the filter sweep very low if you hold the note). The Q control adjusts the width of the frequency sweep, & sensitivity as expected determines the level that the filter is engaged. On subtler settings I think the MXR sounds very similar to the DiscoBob, but the MXR can get much more gooey & synthy if you want it to, sounding not dissimilar to a Chunk 00Funk. I think I prefer playing the MXR through a passive bass, however, you’ll need to crank up the sensitivity or give it a clean boost to really open up the filter. Given its tiny form factor, ease of use, & can be powered with a standard 9v power supply (or 9v battery), this is a fantastic choice for a mid-priced envelope filter, (oh and did I mention it has a purple sparkle finish! ☺ ). The only real caveat being the lack of a down sweep

    EHX Enigma Q-Balls –This is a very flexible filter, with a steeper initial learning curve than other filters, but don’t let that put you off. The Enigma has a kind of Mu-ton/Q-tron vibe; very Bootsy, (really bubbly, gurgly & quacky), but with more controls & therefore a lot more flexibility & range than most other filters. I really like that ability to control the blend between the clean tone of your bass and the effect in a single control. This also makes the BP (and HP) settings far more useful than they are on a Mini or Micro Q-Tron. The start & stop frequency controls are intuitive with a wide range, and very interactive with the sensitivity, Q, attack and decay settings. The Enigma can be both subtle or can get pretty extreme, especially with the blend, Q and Sensitivity turned fully clockwise, whilst the reverse sweep at its most extreme can get very ‘whompy’. The switchable distortion is also very useful for making lovely thick old school analogue synth sounds, (but the distortion itself is not adjustable, unless you count the internal trimpot level control). The Enigma can get very loud with the Q and Sensitivity maxed out, and, when you engage the distortion, but have found this is controllable by using the Q and the Blend. It’s a knob twiddler’s delight of a filter, and really rewards spending lots of time understanding how the controls interact with each other. Can be powered with a standard Boss style 9vdc adapter (doesn’t take batteries though). I do really wish the Enigma had presets though, I find myself drawing diagrams to remember my favourite settings!
    FilterFunk, Bassist4Eris and johnk_10 like this.
  15. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    Quoting myself here. I made the above post about 4 1/2 years ago, and my board has been through a lot of changes since then. Let's see what I'm using for envelope filter all this time later....

    Pedalboard 03292017.JPG
    FilterFunk and Bo0tsy like this.
  16. Sunset Shalom

    Sunset Shalom

    May 9, 2016
    How long did you spend with the EHX? BP mode has plenty of low end and LP mode honestly can have too much bass even on the guitar version... And I keep the blend pretty high too with very little original signal in the mix.

    As for the volume difference, I feel like that is unavoidable with certain effects in certain settings, just due to the nature of how they change your ton. The Q balls can be set at an even volume easily and can also do really strange sounds that cut or boost different frequencies to various degrees.

    A boost is totally unnecessary but can help for some stuff. Like say you like how it responds to a low input signal and want it a bit louder without cranking your amp. It also responds to dirt and fuzz pedals amazingly.
  17. MXR FTW. My Enigma went straight back in the box after trying it out.