"Even if things get heavy, we’ll all float on" - Modest Mouse
Filter – an effect by any other name still just as sweet. A true Swiss Army Knife of an effect, a good filter can fit in just about anywhere in a rig to deliver delectable effect tones. Filters can come in all shapes and sizes with plenty of applications across a range of musical endeavors. The effect on today's chopping block enters the Old Blood family of effects in grand fashion. Those Oklahoman effect wizards have been at this one for a while and the effort and ingenuity truly show. This is Float.
Filter Effects & You
As a truly unsung hero of the effect world, filters have left their stamp on some legendary recordings. Filter effects can be found plenty of places including studios, pedalboards, synthesizers, plugins, and many, many more. Even if you can't exactly word what makes a filter so effective – or exactly what it does – you can definitely point it out in a song. Your classic psychedelic, funk, and even electronica artists have almost certainly employed a filter at one time or another to introduce some unique modulated movement to the equation. Sometimes the name is on the tip of your tongue, but rest assured, your ears do not deceive you!
A filter effect can take many forms, though in essence, a filter effect shapes your signal by the subtraction (or addition) of certain frequencies at a given time. The process shapes the makeup of your signal to result in interesting voicings. This is where your basic woahs and wahs come into your favorite wah-wah, talk box, and "vibe" pedals – pick how frequencies can pass through and have fun with what meets you on the other side.
You can think of your classic wah pedal as a manually-controlled filter effect as you use your foot to select the frequencies highlighted. Translate this principle to internal automation and Bob's your uncle, you've got your rhythmic, coasting filter shaping your signal as you set it. Old Blood Noise takes a step beyond manual filtering and even beyond normal automation in a couple of respects, but we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's talk Float.
Starting with Float, you'll first be met with four inputs on the top of the pedal – two ins, two outs. Float offers three routing modes off the bat to explore its intricate capabilities. Stereo, parallel mono, and series mono are all within Float's wheelhouse to incorporate it into any setup. With these jacks, you can route Float to mono on your own, route it into itself, or route Float in stereo. One pedal. Four connections. Tons of fun. We'll touch on the tonal implications of this routing in a little bit, but let's first start with our right side – Filter 1.
Plug into Float and click the right footswitch and you've got yourself an already deep filter effect pedal. Your right footswitch will be your master on and off for the effect. Remember that for later. Controls for your filter include a slider for Cutoff, a knob for Rate, and a three-way switch for Low, Band, and High Pass filtering. The Pass switch taps into the different structures of filtering in conjunction with the Cutoff slider. In Low Pass, only frequencies below the cutoff slider setting will pass through, High Pass the opposite, and in Band Pass, only frequencies around the cutoff will pass through. These cutoff shaping structures will result in volume adjustment and different variations on that tonal wah. For the Resonance control, this dial will enhance the frequencies surrounding the cutoff point, giving the filter its overall vocal boost.
Poetry in Motion
As it stands, you have a deeply interactive filter with Float. However, the standalone sitting filter is only the foundation of Float's effect experience. Let's get the show on the road. The Rate dial controls the speed of movement for your LFO as it ramps. This gives you the changing tides of filtering, resulting in the opening and closing vowel sounds produced by the filter, like rocking your foot back and forth on a wah. Float's Rate control has the capability of ramping quickly to choppy, warbling modulation or so slow to the point of checking to see if you clicked the effect off accidentally. The range of speeds Float offers make it highly interactive to pick a rhythm and bounce along with it. Six different LFO shapes offer structures that carry familiar rhythms like triangle, sine, and sawtooth, as well as an additional random shape that introduces its own forms of filtering quirkiness.
Now that we've got our rates and shapes, let's adjust the envelope. Your envelope settings are mapped to the Sensitivity dial where the strength of your signal dictates the movement of the envelope. As you turn the knob past noon, the envelope becomes more reactive to the strength of your input. Picking at your strings more intensely will send the envelope to the maximum cutoff threshold. Dig at a chord and hear the envelope travel to the cutoff maximum cutoff threshold at the apex of the signal's input and then hear it ramp back down as the input level goes down and the chord rings out. This control over envelope sensitivity further gets you in closer with interacting with Float. Rolling the Sensitivity knob before noon inverts this effect to ramp the envelope downward as the input level increases. At noon, the sensitivity of the envelope is zeroed out, so this control is skipped over.
Further controls include a momentary toggle for filter minimum and maximum. This toggle, default pointing to the right, will adjust the maximum range for the filter as normal. When switched and held to the left, the Cutoff slider will adjust the minimum range for the filter. The switch will automatically swap back to its maximum range position when let go, so the momentary hold will keep the minimum and maximum control settings separate. Setting the range of the filter can work in tandem with LFO rate to bounce between wide or narrow filter sizes. The narrower the filter, the less time it the LFO takes to cycle. Place these parameters to taste.
No More Flying Solo
Okay, so we're here. You've got your filter range set, your LFO shape and speed dialed, and you have a pretty sick filter "wah"-ing and "woah"-ing to and fro. If you'd like to get more of this awesome effect, you could go get another filter pedal – or you could hit the left footswitch. The left side of Float presents the same effect experience you've got on the right side, controls, shapes, and all. These two sides are independently engaged and adjusted, so you have free reign over both filters simultaneously.
Float's effect experience doubles up seamlessly when using both sides. Already with an incredible amount of adjustment and customization available on one filter, Float's overall effect experience expands exponentially with an addition of a simultaneous filter. Build up a second filter while letting your first one bop along as you left it and you'll see the expansive possibilities Float offers. A quick way to get a look into Float's dual-filtering functions is to set a slow-moving filter on one side and a fast-moving one on the other. Setting up a combination of filters like this can deliver on some laidback effect mixing, strumming along with sustained chords as they move through either filter.
This effect mixing can be built on with different rate controls on either side of Float, or alternatively, with the dedicated Sync switch. The Sync switch will snap the rhythm of the two filters in sync with one another to help in getting extra effect stacking sounds. Filter 2 will follow along with Filter 1 with different optional subdivisions, where the two filters do not have to sync on the same beat. Filter 2 can follow along with Filter 1 in divisions to give Float extra rhythmic structure. Utilize the different LFO waveform shapes to get interesting, filtered combinations all with those same timed peaks and valleys. Of course, use of the Sync switch is totally up to the player, whether you're feeling regimented or devil-may-care with your simultaneous dual-filtering (feels cool even to say, doesn't it?).
Two filters in one finding a match. This sentiment is lovely, but if you want to play matchmaker yourself, Old Blood designed true stereo routing into Float to deliver on this concept. With Float's two inputs and outputs, two input sources can flow into Float independently – one controlling Filter 1 and the other controlling Filter 2. This method allows for extended stereo configurations, even opening up the field to accept a second instrument input, if you're looking to invite a friend and share Float. Essentially, Float holds a place on a very short list of pedals you can bring to a night of speed dating and not be totally insane. It's the thought that counts.
Old Blood Noise Endeavors Float Dual Filter Final Thoughts
The crew at Old Blood Noise have proven themselves proper masters of modulation already, but with Float, they've outdone themselves. An intricate yet intuitive experience, Float packs quite a bit in its compact size. Float offers many paths to take for jamming or experimenting alike where kicking back and letting the filtered waves wash over you is as exciting as getting down to the absolute nitty gritty of each function and striking your perfect balances. The comfortable qualities of an expertly crafted filter are easily hypnotizing and Float certainly delivers on that. Float is a workhorse and a strong candidate for your go-to filter on stage and in the studio.
And we'll all float on alright