Scrolling through presets and playing with
attack and decay settings produced endless
variations, but I was most satisfied when I
balanced freakiness with fat low end. And
thanks to the 56-bit digital signal processor
and 24-bit converters, the Soundblox BEF
always sounded crystal clear.
Although quack addicts, so to speak, will
love this pedal’s quick envelope-filter tones,
it can produce a great longer phase sound
too—which I discovered using Presets 20, 21
(phase), and 3 (2-pole low-pass). And you can’t
use this pedal without experiencing the joy of
making an envelope filter talk—just put the
Speed at 3 o’clock and set the Frequency and
Sweep to noon while on Preset 15 (triple-peak)
for some sweet talking bass flavors that are
rich with moving vowel sounds and can work
almost like a talk box as you vary your attack.
Because dynamics are so crucial to how
envelope filters work, slap-bass techniques
become especially fun. Starting with Preset
2 (2-pole low-pass), I percolated on a low
D, working the ghost notes for all they were
worth. The pedal’s fast reaction time was
awesome, but when I started working with
long decay times and 4-pole filters (Presets
8 through 11), I started to appreciate the
more spacious feel. And with the included
motion-sensing Hot Hand ring attached to
my picking-hand pinky, I blissed out on the
added harmonics—and sense of working
magic—I could conjure by sweeping my
hand in conjunction with my picking action.
Back in the ’70s, the Musitronics Mu-Tron
III envelope filter had the market to itself.
And while there are a lot more options for
bass players these days, few envelope-filter
devices have the expressiveness of those
old analog units. What really sets the $120
Soundblox Bass Envelope Filter apart is
that the device packs in so many easy-to-use presets, a flexible control set, the Hot
Hand expression controller, and a real feel
for what made analog envelope filters like
the Mu-Tron so special. It’s not the only
envelope filter that’s small, lightweight, and
versatile. But at the intersection of affordability, cool sounds, and sheer funk appeal, this
Soundblox unit stands on its own.
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you’re ready to accept the
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you’re allergic to the dance floor.
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