Chat about Equipment Info
 #172371  by healthy_scratch
Hey there, I have received a lot of help from this board regarding Envelope Filters (EF) over the years. So here I will give back a little and sum up all my learnings.

I have posts in history here at rukind talking across all 3 main EFs I have used and worked with for extended periods of playing on my board;

1. Q-Tron Micro
2. 3Leaf Audio Proton EF
3. Mutron Microtron IV.

I used all three of these extensively across the past decade of more serious playing for my EF Jerry tone, I am as happy as I think I can be sonically speaking with the Mutron IV. It is very sensitive (they all are) but even with my go-to Strat modded with my bridge Lollar Imperial Humbucker I can get as close as I ever have to a rich, stable and consistent Shakedown-Estimated-Stranger sound that I am satisfied with and that varies little between chords and single-note attack.

I more or less had to enjoy my initial time building pedalboards and as they say searching for the sounds, but the EF is one of the toughest to nail down at least for me with any consistency. First I tussled with the Q-Tron Micro from EH then moving on to the Proton. Both get you very close with the Proton being even closer than the Q but neither left me overall fully satisfied with a solid stable attack, sustain and quack especially on the high B and e strings on a Strat even with the higher output of a Humbucker.

The Mutron Micro has brought me stability and fluidity across all registers, easy enough to tame to remove any harsh overly distorted quacking when playing chords versus single notes. I found that balance a lot harder to deal with in particular with the Q-Tron micro. That said though and taking into consideration its price point it is a phenomenal pedal for price-quality, but just like the difference between good and excellent wine, you tend to get what you pay for and there tends to be variance with the EH EF in the realm of smooth consistency in my POV versus the Mutron Microtron IV.

The Mutron Microtron IV is built like a tank though I would caution it is also sensitive, so when your clumsy musician friends or audience member kicks your pedalboard as they stumble about "getting their space together" beware. It has happened to me plenty that a slight knock of a level knob here or there can lead to sonic frustration, and WTFs so pay attention for those who simply do not or cannot.

Additionally, I recently added the excellent Source Audio Spectrum EF to my mix and now run with 2 EFs on my board. I did manage to dial in Jerry using the Dumpling setting quite ok, but not quite as creamy and seamless as the Mutron IV again but close. I love the Spectrum more for Bootsy Collins tones and synth Bass effects for funk and dig it but it is not my go-to for Jerry necessarily.

At some point, I plan to look into downloading some of the user-generated modded settings you can access on their site, I have seen one claiming to cover for the "Down" function of the EF that Jerry uses sublimely for that flute-like Dancin' 77 sound he blazes with. I have never found an adequate "Down" setting on my Mutron IV satisfactorily (I think I have a thread on that in the Dancin' forums from the Tab here...actually will go back and check it as I have not looked in ages if anyone has been able to dial one in).

Finally, those searching for what they want and need for Envelope Filters should check out the excellent recent YouTube series/study on the matter by PJ and the Beard called appropriately enough the Shakedown Sound. These guys are great and have taken the time to create a series of vids that go way deep into a host of leading Envelope Filters across the price gamut. Excellent content from these 2 characters for those shopping around for an Envelope Filter well worth checking it out on YouTube here to start and then off down the rabbit hole as there are a host of vids on the various EF pedals: ... gPJOqxL5nT

Also, look at Dan and Mick on That Pedal Show where they have done great work across all pedals and amp settings etc. and have episodes dedicated to EFs as well. They go long and deep like this post and are entertaining UKers who serve the community well. I first heard about the Source Audio Spectrum last year from them and bought one instantly after they did a random mix bag pedal video about the Neo micro Vent Leslie pedal and the Spectrum. Both now reside on my board.

Again thanks to everyone here who has helped me along the way across the years in the quest for a good EF tone, greatly appreciated.

Hope this helps.

- HS
Last edited by healthy_scratch on Tue Jan 25, 2022 2:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 #172373  by Phrygian
healthy_scratch wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 5:12 am
Additionally, I recently added the excellent Source Audio Spectrum EF to my mix and now run with 2 EFs on my board. I did manage to dial in Jerry using the Dumpling setting quite ok, but not quite as creamy and seamless as the Mutron IV again but close. I love the Spectrum more for Bootsy Collins tones and synth Bass effects for funk and dig it but it is not my go-to for Jerry necessarily.

- HS

I recently bought the Source Audio Spectrum after considering the Mutron IV. The Spectrum seemed to me to produce a good Jerry sound, and it offers extra features that I thought would be useful - distortion, octave, etc. I have not tried the Dumpling setting yet. I will give it a try. One thing that I am not satisfied with yet is the response to the high E string on my single coil equipped Strat. I'm not getting much of a wah on that string. Any suggestions?
 #172374  by Chocol8
Phrygian wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 10:43 am Any suggestions?
First, try raising the treble side of the pickup closer to the strings.

If that’s isn’t enough, you will want to boost the signal before the EF. You can do this with an onboard pre-amp or a greater than unity gain buffer, or with a clean boost pedal. Even something like a Klone pedal with level up and gain down will work for this, or you can use an EQ pedal set flat with the level slightly boosted.
 #172375  by Jon S.
When I was using my Line 13 M13's Tron Up model (SoundCloud sample provided earlier in thread), I preceded it with a compressor. Normally, a compressor would be the last effect you'd recommend for Jerry tone but in this one application (preceding an EF that is on and operating) it can be a blessing.

EDIT: May I add, Jerry's tone, in fact, did have some included compression. Jerry tone fundamentalists deny it because he didn't get his from an effect pedal, ignoring the impact on tone of slamming his amp into his speakers.
 #172377  by Chocol8
Jerry’s 60’s tones had amp compression from hitting the Twins hard and pushing them into distortion. His later distorted tones used pedals that added compression.

Compression before the EF is a mixed bag. It can help the quiet strings trigger, and help keep the effect more even, but it also takes away the player’s control and with too much delays the release. If you go that route, I would suggest a very neutral compressor with minimal compression to get the job done. With most pedals, you could use the level control as a boost and dial in just enough compression to smooth things out a little but where your picking dynamics still influence how the filter responds.
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 #172378  by Jon S.
Chocol8 wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 2:08 pmIf you go that route, I would suggest a very neutral compressor with minimal compression to get the job done.
As the person to whom's comment Chocol8 is responding to here, I second his advice and raise him one: I would suggest minimal compression to get the job done in any context where compression is used.
 #172402  by TI4-1009
Hey tacosauce- sorry, I didn't mean to come off as snarky, it's just that the discussions go back a long way and there's a lot of good info there. Good luck!

I understand your quest- been there:

 #172403  by healthy_scratch
Phrygian - I think Chocol8 pretty well nailed it as far as finding a solution to low quack output on a single coil guitar. Whenever I have had the same issue with using an EF and not getting the output from the high e string in terms of quack or wah you will need some form of boost.

First off, and this is an important starting point or has been for me at least, I always make sure the EF is the first pedal in my signal chain after my tuner. Meaning the guitar hits the EF immediately after my tuner (in my case it goes TC Electronics tuner then Mutron Microtron IV then the Spectrum which would subsequently be followed by all my other pedals after the EFs running all the way across the 14 or so other pedals in my chain until finally hitting the amp). It is vital from my POV that EFs be the first or second pedals (i.e. after tuner) that the guitar signal sees.

Once it is top of the pedal chain, if you still are having issues getting your quack on the thinner strings with a single-coil or a humbucker loaded on a Strat, as Chocol8 put it well, I believe you will need either to use an EQ pedal to give you a boost or some kind of Klon-like pedal set to a clean boost with little to absolute zero distortion. I have had success with this using my Wampler Tumnus which I pretty well use solidly these days for a clean boost. It is a beast of a Klon type pedal and is very versatile as well for that creamy Klon like drive especially with Single coils when needed. As I stated these days it is my go to for a clean boost and is almost always on or at least used to kick up when it comes time to solo with or without the EF.

That said these days to push the output with my EFs and not hit breakup I now turn to my MXR EQ pedal to give it that wee extra push to activate the quack more profoundly on the high B and e strings. I find it easier to set this on just a hair of a push so that the balance between the higher required output for the single-note attack is achieved on the high strings and does not push me into distortion when chording.

Again EFs are sensitive so the trick here is not to push the signal into break up and make it distorted unless that is the sound you are desiring. I mean I am obviously specifically, talking above about trying to achieve the standard Jerry EF creamy tone he dials in for Shakedown, Estimated or Ruben & Cherise etc.etc.

It can be a highwire walk between achieving the pronounced output of quack in your single-note playing vs. pushing the pedal too hard with your rhythm attack when playing chords, this can be a tough balance to achieve and can be frustrating as turning the boost pedal on and off all the time can work, but has its limitations in many contexts - Shakedown for example on the Dm intro goes back and forth between single-note melody and chordal stabs.

As far as the Spectrum goes in general I like the Octave and Synth sounds in this bad boy a lot. Like I said I tend to set it always on the second bank of sounds meaning the light is always Red using the advance button. This way when I stomp on it I usually start with Dumpling and then go to Thrust or vice versa depending on the Jam. Those tones are madness and can sound like a bass synth especially when nailing that low E string. My Jerry tone is dialled in always on my Mutron Microtron IV so I do not need to fiddle with that mid-song. As I am sure you know yourself, kneeling mid-tune to dial in pedal tones for me tends to be the opposite of ideal. I like my setup to be plug and play and to have my pedals set as needed prior to starting a song or series of songs as required.

Hope that helps some more, let me know what you set your Spectrum Pedal to achieve your Jerry tone. I can do the same as during a period I had only the Spectrum on my board as my EF, but I really missed the Microtron and was sick of having to recalibrate the Spectrum midsong to kick in the octave and Bootsy synth mid-song so I put it back and ran with both, much happier with that setup these days.

 #172405  by lbpesq

First you maintain that the EF MUST be first in the chain. Then you discuss using a boost or EQ. Am I correct in assuming you mean that the boost/EQ should be placed before the EF, so the EF will sit second in the chain? (After my tuner, I currently have a Crybaby first and Microtron III second)

Bill, tgo
 #172407  by Phrygian
I raised the high side of the bridge p/u shortly after getting the Spectrum. That helped. I have also used a clean boost from an MXR Timmy. I still wasn't quite happy with the E string response. The other day I plugged in the Tele seen in my avatar and got a pretty good wah on the high E. There are so many variables - including adjustments I made to the factory Tron settings. I am going back to the preset and will start over.

I am tempted to get a MicroTron for comparison, even though that would be an indulgence. For the time being, I am only playing at home for my own amusement.
 #172408  by Jon S.
Can I ask a dumb question (yeah, I know, it never stopped you before, Jon :lol: )?

Are the folks having trouble triggering their EFs lacking OBELs? Because my '70's Boss TW-1 had difficulty at times being triggered by single coils but I have not come even close to experiencing that with every other one I've owned and played since.

The problem I've had is the pedal being triggered too easily on transient spikes, producing a harsh top end that is not at all musical. Before copping my Mu-Tron Micro-Tron IV, for this reason, when I used my EFs, I preceded them with a compressor.

The Mu-Tron IV is the first such pedal I've experienced no such problems with. Like I said earlier, it's almost like it has a limiter built in (maybe, in its lowpass and bandpass filters, it does!). Just a superb design in all respects.
 #172411  by TI4-1009
Agree. My high E quack usually needs some help using the middle split, so I typically use both sides of the middle- or go to one of the humbuckers when using the envelope filter. So a boost makes sense.

There's just not enough electromagnetic energy generated from the smaller diameter strings.
 #172413  by Chocol8
The EF should be before other effects that add coloration, but it is OK to put something like a tuner, eq, clean boost, or on guitar booster/buffer in front. It is actually helpful. Light compression is OK, but I prefer to avoid it.

The issues with triggering it with a passive single coil guitar are going to come down to the specific pickups, strings/string gauge, and mounting height. Cable run could matter as well if no buffer.

I concur with the comment on the microtron IV being smoother and not needing compression before or after the way many of the alternatives do. Ultimately, that’s why I think it is worth every penny over the Qtron family and most others.
 #172415  by lbpesq
I haven't encountered any issue with the high E not triggering my EF. I think Brother Jon S. hits the mark when he notes this isn't an issue with an OBEL equipped guitar. While I don't have an OBEL on any of my guitars, (I even had Alembic build my custom Further without the OBEL - I prefer to go wireless, not extra wires), I approximate an OBEL by keeping my guitar volume on "10" most of the time and running a volume pedal last in my chain, so my EF sees my guitar’s full-on signal.

Bill, tgo
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 #172432  by Tacosauce
Microtron IV arrived three nights ago and I’ve been putting it through its paces. I have to say that, with my earth drive in front, I’m getting exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks again to everyone for your input on this.
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