Filterscape 1.1 ($129) is a bundle of three plug-ins, each built around a morphing multiband equalizer (EQ) with extensive modulation options. The plug-ins come in Audio Units (AU) and VST format for Mac OS X, and in VST format for Windows.
Filterscape features two state-variable filters (left) with automated output mix; a snapshot-morphing equalizer (center); and step sequencers, LFOs, and envelope followers for parameter automation.
Filterscape adds a pair of analog-style state-variable filters (SVFs) and a delay line to a 4-band version of the morphing EQ. Filterscape Q6 is a 6-band version of the morphing EQ. Filterscape VA is a 2-oscillator subtractive synth incorporating a 4-band version of the morphing EQ and an unusual step-sequencer-style arpeggiator.
More and Less
The settings of the morphing equalizer at the heart of Filterscape are displayed in a typical frequency-versus-gain graphic with numbered balls indicating the position and level of the frequency bands. You can click-and-drag the balls to adjust a band's frequency, gain, and width (Q), or you can set each of those elements with an associated knob.
The Filterscape and Filterscape VA equalizers have five modes of operation: EQ, Peaks, Filter, Bandpasses, and Panned BPs. EQ mode offers shelving filters at the ends and peaking filters for the two center bands. In Peaks mode, all bands are peaking. Filter and Bandpasses modes are similar, but lowpass and highpass filters are used instead of shelving filters, and bandpass filters are used instead of peaking filters. Panned BPs mode distributes bandpass filters across the stereo panorama. (Filterscape Q6 offers only EQ mode.)
Round and Round
What makes the equalizer interesting is its eight snapshot memories and its ability to morph between snapshots. That is controlled by the 8-segment wheel at the center of the display. Clicking on a number in the outer ring selects a snapshot for editing. Clicking-and-dragging the center of the wheel morphs between snapshots and optionally selects snapshots for editing.
Morphing between snapshots can be automated with a dedicated tempo-synced LFO, any of four built-in envelope followers, various MIDI controllers, and, in the case of Filterscape and Filterscape VA, a built-in step sequencer. You can, for example, set adjacent snapshots to the formants for different vowels, and then use the Modulation Wheel to produce a talkboxlike effect (see Web Clip 1).
Filterscape's two SVFs offer simultaneous highpass, lowpass, bandpass, and notch outputs. A rotary control in the center of each SVF sets the initial mix of the four outputs, with positions farther from the center emphasizing one filter or pair of filters over the others. The output mix can be automated by any of Filterscape's modulators, and the clever automation scheme allows you to control the distance from the center (radius) and the position on the circle (angle).
Five routing schemes allow Filterscape's SVFs, EQ, and delay line to interact in various ways. For example, the SVFs can be routed in parallel to the delay line, which in turn feeds the EQ. Or the delay line can come first with the SVFs placed in its feedback circuit. Placing either the EQ or the SVFs in the delay-feedback circuit produces interesting variations on the delay-line theme.
Filterscape VA is a virtual analog synth with some unusual twists and more than 500 presets to show them off. It features a standard multimode filter with highpass, bandpass, and lowpass modes, and as much as 36-dB-per-octave rolloff for the lowpass filter. In addition, Filterscape VA has the ubiquitous morphing EQ, and modulation options abound.
Filterscape VA has two wavetable oscillators that offer a variety of multi-cycle waveforms and a modulatable Warp parameter for stepping through the wavetables. The first oscillator can be routed to ring- and to frequency-modulate the second. An additional suboscillator and noise source round out the sound generators.
One of Filterscape VA's most interesting features is its tempo-synced step-sequencer-style arpeggiator. Each step in the sequence plays a note selected from those currently being held. The held notes can be ordered as played or by pitch, and the note played at a given step can be the first, last, same, or next note in the chosen order. Furthermore, each step has its own step size, duration, polyphony, and pitch offset, and an accompanying control sequencer can be used to modulate any Filterscape VA parameter.
Considering the huge variety of effects and synthesis timbres Filterscape offers, it is an incredible bargain. The program may take a little time to master all its features, but the effort is well worth it. You can download a time-limited demo from the Filterscape Web site.
Overall Rating (1 through 5): 4