How to use the Filter to best effect

FX Secrets Series: Part 2

In the last article we looked at that most ubiquitous and essential effect, the classic delay. We gave some insightful tips on how to use it in creative ways that may not be immediately obvious - if you missed it, have a peep here.

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Autofilter Unleashed

The filter is another essential in any serious performer’s armoury. Indeed, you already have eight of them, since every channel in Launchpad for iOS has it’s own dedicated filter built in. But lurking in the depths of the FX section is an even more powerful beast, just waiting to be unchained.

Unlocking Filter FX (should you choose to do so in the in-app store) adds a huge degree of tweakability to Launchpad for iOS. Filter type, LFO and frequency parameters can be adjusted, and as with all the other FX, filters may be latched or momentary, and can be applied to whatever channels you want.

The built-in presets really only provide a glimpse of what’s possible with this (rather gorgeous sounding) effect.

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How it works

Touch anywhere in the left side of the circle to alter the LFO amount, anywhere on the right to adjust the frequency. The type of filter (HP/LP/BP) is changed with the little icons on the far right, the phase of the LFO with the controls on the far left, and the speed of the LFO below. For those who may not know, an LFO is a Low Frequency Oscillator, which in this case sweeps the frequency of the filter up and down with a Low frequency sine wave. Notice the x16 button to the right of the LFO, which when engaged multiplies its speed sixteen-fold, as you might expect. The LFO pattern takes hold as soon as the filter is engaged, rather than being synced to the start of the current bar, and it’s maximum range is a whopping 32 bars.

 

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Everything is under Control

With all that tweakabilty at your fingertips, there’s an awful lot you can do to seriously enhance your performance. You can create highly LFO modulated band-pass filters which apply only to the mids and not the drums or vocals, by disengaging the relevant channels with the little yellow buttons across the top. You could add to that with a classic ‘instant kick-lift’ effect by turning the LFO right down and creating a static high-pass filter with a fairly low frequency setting. You may decide to filter only the beats or vocals, while applying the delay or gater to everything else. The creative possibilities can become quite mind-boggling.

But for maximum enjoyment, plug in a class-compliant Novation Launchpad (via the Apple Camera Connection Kit) and a whole new world of auditory gratification comes looming into view…

 

Get yourself Connected

With a Launchpad (S or later) plugged in, you can edit FX while triggering loops and effects simultaneously. All loops and effects are constantly at hand on the Launchpad grid, freeing you up to edit your FX whilst performing.This means that, for example, you could set up a static low-pass filter which is fully user controllable, and adjust the filter frequency while triggering loops and other effects at the same time. This technique works particularly well if you disengage a few channels on the filter (bassline and vocals, perhaps) and smoothly filter the rest of the tune down into the nether regions for a nice, deep breakdown. You could also achieve similar results with the filter LFO set to x16 too, but having the frequency control right at your fingertips may really give your performances the professional edge they deserve.You can change filter type mid-sweep, or adjust the LFO frequency on the fly while changing loops. You can even record yourself doing it and re-import the results back into your own sessions. Used properly, the filter can bring a huge amount to your sessions. Try it and see - the results might surprise you.