Envelope filter headaches!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Mediocrity Man, Apr 5, 2018.

  1. Mediocrity Man

    Mediocrity Man Master of Mediocrity Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2014
    Wantage, New Jersey
    Hi all,

    I've recently purchased two different envelope filters and both are giving me the same issue.

    Little to no effect and my tone turns to mud. This is with both passive and active basses through my pedal board (after the tuner and before the pre amp or just straight through the amp.

    I'm completely baffled! I've tried the knobs in every setting possible.

    I'm at a complete loss here. :-(
    Seanbassplayer likes this.
  2. Seanbassplayer


    Oct 14, 2016
    Might be worth mentioning which filters you have as someone with the same filter can give you a hands on answer.
    gorneyg and superheavyfunk like this.
  3. Alien8


    Jan 29, 2014
    Every envelope filter needs the following:

    Volume on bass cranked
    Tone on bass cranked
    (For active basses, flat is fine, but volume up all the way)

    Then adjust the frequency knob to the center. Not all knobs are labelled frequency, but that is what it controls.

    Now move the sensitivity knob up. You should begin to hear some filter sweeping. Some filters like the Moog have two knobs that affect the sensitivity - drive and amount. Setting both to noon is a decent starting place for these filters, then adjust drive for how much dirt you want and amount for how much you want the filter to respond.

    From there, you balance frequency with sensitivity, and adjust other parameters to taste.
    jibreel, Unemploid, sillyfabe and 5 others like this.
  4. Mediocrity Man

    Mediocrity Man Master of Mediocrity Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2014
    Wantage, New Jersey
    Yea, I suppose that's a good idea.

    MXR and EMMA DiscumBobulator.
    Seanbassplayer likes this.
  5. Agree with Alien8's comments. Also filters tend to like lots of treble in my experience and roll off the bass controls on your amp or bass a bit.Too much bass can make the envelope sound murky.

    On the MXR don't crank the dry signal either

    Either of the settings on the MXR or DiscumBOBulator should then do the trick, though the Emma and MXR might need more sensitivity on a low output bass... 15229491175251710014710.jpg
  6. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Envelopes are dynamic devices so there's a bunch of balancing going on. The sensitivity needs to be dialed just right...too much and the envelope won't open/close correctly and it will crush the envelope and you'll only get weird mud. Not enough and you won't trigger anything.

    They also love harmonic content in the mids and treble region, so most people get more out of them with some dirt, overdrive, distortion, or fuzz. That's usually the shortcut to getting something out of your pedal, but also in trying to figure out how the circuit works. You can get it to function clean, but it's harder. Some things I've tried along the way:

    -Compression in front of your envelope with a decent amount of boost/makeup on it. This will also help even your signal so you're not giving the envelope TOO MUCH signal.

    -A variety of different distortion tones.

    -A small graphic EQ pedal with a level control...that way you can boost some of the stuff in the mids and above and/or get more level out of your signal into the envelope.
    Iwish, cnltb, locisbrelm and 4 others like this.
  7. Mediocrity Man

    Mediocrity Man Master of Mediocrity Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2014
    Wantage, New Jersey
    Dam, I'm running home to see if my pedals are still there!
    Bo0tsy likes this.
  8. Mediocrity Man

    Mediocrity Man Master of Mediocrity Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2014
    Wantage, New Jersey
    So maybe I can use one of the channels on my GK MB800 to get a much brighter mix for the pedal?

    I'll try and spend more time tweaking. But I gotta say it's just strange. Never had issues with any other effects.

    Seanbassplayer likes this.
  9. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Is your MB800 in front of the envelope? That would be strange I believe. You need to feed the envelope a brighter tone, not on the back side.

    Filter effects are not like other types of pedals, which is why they can be frustrating. I just went through a whole host of things to get a 'clean' envelope out of my Xerograph Deluxe although it gets really crazy with a dirty signal without problem.
    forrestlaw, Rich Fiscus and Jakeman like this.
  10. FugaziBomb


    Jun 5, 2017
    I use that MXR unit. If not dialed in correctly, it will be hard to hear. If you twist the sensitivity knob all the left, the filter won't open and all you'll get is mud. If you crank it to the right, the filter will max out and you will lose all your mids, which will also be hard to hear. You've got to set that sensitivity knob somewhere between 11:00 and 3:00 to really hit the sweet spot. Also, make sure you're mix knob is up and dry knob is down and decay and Q are around 12:00 - 3:00. Using those settings, you are bound to hear that thing. I can seriously cut through a mix with mine, even without overdrive.

    As for the other pedal, I'd imagine keeping the sensitivity knob in a similar location to the MXR would be a good start
    Mediocrity Man likes this.
  11. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Set all the filter controls at noon except sensitivity.

    Also have your amp flat and your bass' tone control on full (and for an active bass put all EQ knobs flat) to start.

    Start with that low and pluck an open A or E while slowly turning it up. At first the filter won't open at all (likely the muddy sound you described) and then at a certain point you should hear the filter open up as you pluck.

    When you find that point make small adjustments to the sensitivity so that the filter responds to your plucking or picking dynamics the way you like. Then adjust the other controls to taste.

    If you can turn the sensitivity to the max without it opening up then you have an issue with your bass output being too low.

    Likewise if the filter opens up with the sensitivity on minimum then your bass is too high output for the pedal.
    BurningSkies and Jakeman like this.
  12. Iwish


    Dec 16, 2017
    A YES vote for a compressor in front of the effect. I use the Diamond Compressor volume to knock the gain down a bit on the 18 volt Bert preamp. I also found the best results going in line into the bass guitar jack vs effects loop on the GK 800MB
  13. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    I have the MXR too. I find that the attack from the bass makes a huge difference. That pedal can quack like there's no tomorrow, especially when the strings are plucked hard(er). When plucked gently I get mud. It's definitely a very dynamic pedal that is very responsive to the strength of the input signal and "sensitivity" knob.
  14. goran


    Dec 17, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Bartolini
    It is strange that you can't get a good sound with the Emma Discumbobulator. I found it very versatile, considering the limited number of controls (compared to 3leaf Wonderlove for example). Here's a short review that I recorded recently:
  15. Joshua Pickenpaugh

    Joshua Pickenpaugh

    Apr 16, 2001
    @edfriedland posted a great video about the MXR that I reference whenever I use an EF, perhaps this can help you out:

  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    None of these questions are particular to these specific envelope filters, but more are just the frustrations that LOTS of players deal with when finding the pedal that will work for them. And obviously different basses, playing and filters will provide really different experiences for everyone. There's some really good starting points here and clues on what to sort of try, but it's going to come down to trying and spending some time on the floor curled up with your bass and pedalboard and amp. In this way it's no different than using a good compressor. Lots of controls that are all interactive and elastic that also depend greatly on what your bass is providing.

    This is probably why so many guys churn envelopes before they settle on one. I had several that were much more guitar pedals and hated em. I also borrowed a couple 'bigger' name ones (a couple 3Leafs, etc) from another player while deciding what I wanted. My chosen option was an Iron Ether Xerograph Deluxe. In my setup for about a year and a half now, I had great success with overdrive-4-pole craziness (and use it in several places & songs in our set) but even that was a difficult beast to tame correctly and took a LONG time to really grasp the best route. Lots if dialing in, redialing and experimenting.

    ...but for the life of me, I couldn't get a good clean funky or classic vibe out of it...and went back to the drawing board. Now, a year and a half in, I've finally figured that out too, but again, lots of time sitting in front of my setup and making little adjustments. I had the discussion with a bunch of X/D guys who had the same problem, but some work into it, and totally have what I'm looking for. So far beyond 'plug and play' but something that takes lots of time and experience to tease out those vibes. And once you have a sound you like one way, you may have to totally go back to the drawing board for a second tone!

    ...Ed sounds great on those MXR's but I'd expect him to. If I had that MXR I'd start this way to figure it out:

    Bass volume all the way up, tone either flat or with some boost in mids and highs if you've an active bass. It may sound a bit clanky dry...

    -Pull out all the dry signal.
    -use the FX at whatever your unity is or above that.
    - Turn the decay back to 9 o'clock or less
    -Turn the Q all the way up.
    - start playing with the sensitivity, but do it in reverse. Start with it all the way up and pull it back while you're playing.

    ...in an odd way, having more features on an envelope filter may make it easier to deal with. 2-pole/4-pole...4 pole will be easier to get a sound quicker than 2 pole...it's a more extreme envelope. Try a pedal that has a resonance level to it. You'll find it way easier to get good audible envelope that you can sculpt. All envelopes have a resonance peak in them but having one that you can sweep will help you find a sweet spot rather than a baked in one.
  17. monkeyland


    Jul 1, 2008
    Ft Myers, Florida
    Endorsing artist: Curt Mangan Strings, JH Audio
    I've not tried those particular pedals but my Aguilar twin filter sounds great no matter what, just different shades of funky.
    GroovyBaby likes this.
  18. pigpen1

    pigpen1 Guest

    Aug 2, 2017
    I have the MXR and don't care for it because if you have a passive bass with low output, you gotta run the sensitivity to the right and like you said you lose all the mids. Sounds ok by itself but I always get lost in the mix.
  19. FugaziBomb


    Jun 5, 2017
    Good to know. All my bases are active or have higher output humbuckers, so I have not run into that issue yet. The MXR is an ok filter, but there are way better units out there.
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