This past weekend, Subconscious Communications announced their latest module, the VCF3 Voicetail Filter Model 53. Already known in the modular industry on many fronts, Subconscious have a few very well known modules under their belts already. Their Model 15 Complex Oscillator as well as their Model 37 LFO have both sold out in stores, finding permanent spaces in studios around the world. What does the Voicetail offer that other filters do not?
The Voicetail is a transistor ladder filter, a classic design by Bob Moog which derives its name from the appearance of the electronic schematic for the filter. This particular module contains 3 unique filters, each independently controllable and routable, with the added feature of a mix stage and a global VCA. This final routing stage allows for the 3 filters to be used and shaped together as one, though each filter can be removed from the final mix stage by patching that filters “F OUT” port. If all 3 of the filters are patched at the “F OUT” or “MIX” ports, the global VCA is still usable with external source audio via the “AUX” input, so no part of the module goes to waste.
Each filter features a -24db Low Pass filter, with the characteristic sharp cutoff slopes that come with ladder filters. Alternatively, each also has a switch to swap between the Low Pass filters and High Pass (filters 1 and 3) or Band Pass (filter 2) options for a richer sonic palette. Additionally, filters 2 and 3 are coupled together, meaning the frequency slopes for each will be effected by each others filter settings. The result is even sharper cutoff slopes and, as Subconscious states on their page, “idiosyncratic filter responses”.
Of course, it must be mentioned that Subconscious Communications is the brainchild of Skinny Puppy founder and Los Angeles resident, Cevin Key. Key created Skinny Puppy in 1983 and their unique brand of nihilistic noise rock garnered worldwide fame. Still producing music as well as modular synth hardware, Key continues to develop other solo projects as well as Skinny Puppy, who made news with their new album “Weapon” last year, after billing the US government for the misuse of their music as a form of torture on Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Does the VCF3 Voicetail seem like it would make sense in your setup? Three filters in one ain’t bad…