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Release the Quacken: Frostwave Funk-a-Duck Review (Warning: replete with terrible duck puns).

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Bo0tsy, May 31, 2018.


  1. IMG_20180530_202459.

    As promised to fellow TB'er @FilterFunk here's a review of the somewhat rare Frostwave Funk-a-Duck Resonant Envelope Filter, which I'd been on a duck hunt for some time:

    The Funk-a-Duck is absolutely quackers. This is one daffy & somewhat unpredictable envelope filter. The most powerful filter/synth pedal that I've ever tried. It's an unruly beast though, capable of extreme speaker shredding outrageous subs and highs, which may make you need to duck and run for cover.
    However, beakcause the controls have such a wide range it's also actually pretty flexible and capable of a huge range of sounds (some musical and some not so much!). When you find the sweet spots though, (which isn't as easy as it sounds), it sounds awesome.

    Let's take a waddle around the controls:

    Output control - Is your output volume.
    Envelope Control - determines the direction of the sweep can also be set to midday for no direction.
    The Input range works like the gain/drive to determine input sensitivity.
    Res - sets the resonance - can self-oscillate if the resonance is set high, or on lower settings only when triggered by the peaks from the Input Range signal.
    Freq - sets the cutoff frequency. This has a very very sensitive range and needs readjustment when you tweak pretty much any of the other controls.
    Speed - Controls the speed of the envelope (effectively controlling attack and decay)
    Low Pass or High Pass switch only (no Band Pass)

    The controls are very interactive of each other. If you adjust one setting you'll likely need to align others. This is not a plug-n-play pedal by any means.

    I've read that the Duck is meant to be loosely based on a Korg MS-20 synthesiser with an envelope in front of it.

    IMO the filter itself is most similar in sound to a mutant version of the Chunk 00Funk/filter section of the Chunk Systems Octavius Squeezer which is no bad thing at all.

    Without meaning to ruffle any feathers though, the Funk-a-Duck is not really a gig-able pedal though if you plan to change settings between songs - it’s just not that straightforward to dial-in, the controls are VERY sensitive. A slight turn the wrong way and you could blow your audience away with some of those subs or give them bleeding ears with the highs. It's a hard nut to quack, but I'd say the Funk-a-Duck is a more of a recording studio device once you’ve dialled it in to your liking - it can and does sound incredible.

    Other considerations:

    No light to tell if the Duck is on or off (can't tell if it's a dead duck or not)

    Weird power supply requirements - (why is it that some of the best filters have such strange power supplies? I assume it's the additional headroom). The Duck officially needs 16V AC - but I’ve read it can take anything between 15-18V AC. Mine came with a Frostwave recommended new 18V AC 500ma (VA with a 3 prong UK plug - perfect as I’m in the UK!)

    It's a pretty big, heavy and high pedal. It's built like a tank and really retro looking which admittedly I like.

    I hope it doesn’t go wrong as I’ve no idea how I’d get it repaired. Frostwave pedals have been out of producktion for many a year.

    The downsweep is trickier to dial in, this is beakcause the signal can vanish altogether and not be audible only for it to suddenly come rumbling back. It can be a challenge to then dial it back to audible without retweaking various other knobs.

    Like the Moog MF-101 LPF, (which it also sounds similar to) putting the Duck on the edge of self-oscillation sounds pretty cool.

    So is the Funk-a-Duck all it is quacked up to be? Overall, despite its foibles, I really like it. This is no lame duck and it is not going to leave the nest anytime soon. If dialled into one of those (many) seducktive sweet spots the Frostwave takes to funk like a duck to water. I think with more practice (and I've only spent a couple of hours with it so far) I'll work out better how the controls interact to produce best results. If you like extreme effects you may want to take a gander at the Funk-a-Duck and see feather it fits the bill.

    Famous last words, but I think I really am done with filters for now!

    (And I promise no more duck puns) :laugh:
     
  2. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    You went well above and beyond the call of duty! Thanks, @Bo0tsy!

    Since I'm a home studio guy, now I pretty much have to try a Funk-a-Duck at some point.
     
    Bo0tsy likes this.
  3. 2010P

    2010P

    May 13, 2017
    I'm the lucky owner of all the old Frostwave stuff that I bought new in the late 90's. I agree with the op. They are not usable live due to the extreme nature of the controls. Super sensitive to any changes. I am actually afraid of my Funk a Duck due to it's ability to kill speakers and amps. The Resonator is the same way. Awesome production tools though.
     
    Bo0tsy likes this.
  4. I was eyeing up the Resonator too. How usable is it on bass, or is it more challenging than the Funk-a-Duck to dial in? Frostwave made some awesome pedals back in the day.
    I've just got back from work and had another play around with the Funk-a-Duck. Up-sweep I think I've pretty much mastered, the downsweep though is pretty tricky, the envelope seems to swallow itself up and spit itself back out in a rumbling deep sub. The key seems to be getting the Res and Frequency dialled in just right I think.
     
    FilterFunk and 2010P like this.
  5. jwr

    jwr

    Jun 28, 2010
    Overland Park, KS
    I wonder if NIN ever used any of these in a live setting during The Fragile tour? I know Trent was using the Decimator plugin and Charlie Closure used Frostwave Resonator. Would be cool to find out.
     
    Bo0tsy likes this.
  6. 2010P

    2010P

    May 13, 2017
    It's been about 20 years since I plugged it in, but from what I remember it was much easier to dial in but is an extremely powerful sonic beast that can easily blow up my speakers (just like the funk a duck) so I never really used it other than studio work. It's essentially a Korg MS-20 filter so just imagine your bass going through the most powerful and intense LPF you ever imagined and that is the sound it has. It's almost a weapon it puts so many lows out.
     
    Bo0tsy likes this.
  7. Al Krow

    Al Krow

    Jan 15, 2018
    London
    @Bo0tsy - great review, buddy!
     
    Bo0tsy likes this.
  8. I finally got round to recording a couple of clips on You-Tube of the Funk-a-Duck in both up and down sweep settings, as there's not many bass demo's of this great filter out there. (Please excuse the sloppy playing and sound quality )



     
    FilterFunk likes this.
  9. Johno Dunn

    Johno Dunn Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2007
    Carpinteria, Ca.
    Oh my, that is delicious!
     
    Bo0tsy likes this.
  10. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    Sounds unique, and very wet!

    A Funk-a-Duck is just gonna hafta find its way to my home studio someday!
     
    Bo0tsy likes this.
  11. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    Funk-a-Duck on its way.:cool:


    Oh, who am I kidding - FUNK-A-DUCK ON ITS WAY!!!:woot::woot::woot::woot::hyper::hyper::hyper::hyper:
     
    Bo0tsy likes this.
  12. 2010P

    2010P

    May 13, 2017
    I bought all of the Frostwave stuff new back in around 1999 or so, possibly earlier. All extremely well made, sonically powerful and all were too much for my needs. But I still wish I owned them. The Resonator is a classic. I could never tame the funk a duck and it blew more than one speaker in its day.
     
    FilterFunk and MADChuudoku like this.
  13. Johno Dunn

    Johno Dunn Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2007
    Carpinteria, Ca.
    Keep us posted, Oh King of the Funky Filters!
     
    FilterFunk likes this.

  14. i still have a Frostwave Ring Modulator somewhere, had an insane range - sounded awesome.
     
    2010P likes this.
  15. Excellent news @FilterFunk. Keen to hear what you think of the Duck. I am still in love with mine. It's a very impolite & powerful filter but boy are those controls sensitive!
     
    FilterFunk likes this.
  16. 2010P

    2010P

    May 13, 2017
    Yes, that thing was/is an eardrum splitter.
     

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