Review: FXpansion Etch Filtering Device
Running on Fxpansion’s cutting edge DCAM circuit modeled technology, Etch is an affordable, feature rich filter plug-in that is ready to help modulate your productions to the next level.
Boasting duel filters with four distinct filtering models, ranging from emulated circuits all over the world. Etch is aimed with high hopes at replacing the standard filter duties present in most Digital Audio Workstations.
Not stopping with just your basic filter types, Fxpansion has also added distortion and compression as well to help make your signals fatter and warmer than ever before.
Boasting the trans-mod system technology, which is designed to evolve the plug-in’s circuit emulations over a desired time frame and oversampling to stop aliasing artifacts. Etch is looking to be quite the little modulating monster.
FXpansion Etch – The Filter Section
Starting from the top of the plugins window, we see the distortion and filter sections. What I really liked about Etch, is not only has FXpansion offered cutting-edge analog modeled filters here, they’re also including distortion and compression modules to really help fatten up the signal.
Common uses for filters are not only for cutting unwanted frequencies, but they’re also used to boost and fatten things as well. The ability to add various levels and types of distortion into the chain further adds to what you’re feeding into its dual filter section.
Etch comes with a total of 7 distortion modes, each with varying wave forms displaying exactly how they will be subtly, or drastically mangling your audio signals. This distortion section can also be put before the signal or at the end of it.
The filter section is equally as feature packed. Being the star of the show, it offers 4 different circuit emulations, each with varying filter modes. The dual filter sections can be run in parallel mode or serial mode, not only boasting separate input and output controls. It also offers one of the coolest features I’ve personally ever seen on a filter plug-in. Which is individual panning on each of the filter bands.
What’s really cool about this feature is that it allows you to modulate and shape the left and right speakers independently, altering the state of the stereo field. Thus allowing for amazing sound shaping possibilities.
FXpansion Etch – The Envelopes & LFO Section
In the lower left section, you will find Etch’s envelope and LFO sections. These parameters mostly rely on the TransMod system, offering a wider array of sonic evolution across your productions.
The first Envelope module is triggered via MIDI to generate an AHD envelope for modulating Etch’s parameters via the TransMod modulation system.
The two LFO’s onboard can either be controlled by the Hz setting or the tempo of the Digital Audio Workstation. This is great for creating those dubstep wobble baselines or electro house filter sweep movements to get the crowd going crazy.
Etch also offers 5 different varying LFO frequency shapes to help morph your modulations and movements that much more. Each LFO section ends with a nicely added gain stage setting to help feed your signal properly into the next part of your signal chain.
Next in the chain, Etch’s envelope follower modulates based on the signal it’s receiving to its inputs. Lastly is Etch’s Sample + Hold module. With it’s function is to spit out random LFO values derived from noise signals to help keep your sounds even more interesting.
One of the coolest features of Etch is that literally everything can be modulated using the “TransMod” system. Even the output mix controls can get time-based treatment. This sets the stage for amazing sound design possibilities, allowing you to have sounds evolve over as much time as you need.
This allows for creating fast pulsing artifacts all the way down to soothing cinematic sound beds. They are all possible with Etch.
FXpansion Etch – Compression & Controllers
At the end of the Etch signal chain, we find it’s single knob compressor. Offering hard or soft knee characteristics. The soft knee mode adds a nice little attack spike into the signal helping create harder pumping beats and pulsing filter sweeps.
We also felt that this compressor was actually quite smooth and worked very well when used at the end of the signal chain.
It would also have been cool to be able to add this compressor to the beginning like the distortion module.
The mix controls are great for further fine tuning your signal coming out of Etch or; if you’re looking to add some split type effects to help thicken or fatten up your source material.
There is also an XY controller section great for on-the-fly or live modulation type controls. You can even map it to a touch pad for finger control if you prefer that to joystick style knobs. “Learn modes” are also available to help getting Etch mapped to your favorite controller in seconds.
FXpansion Etch Filtering Device In Use
While we were testing the Etch plugin, we found it to be quite responsive and experienced no crashes. Running through a selection of presets showed us what the plug was capable of. This was quite entertaining to watch everything move and modulate.
We tested Etch on all of our individual tracks, on the buses and the master fader as well. Below you will find sound examples showcasing some of the presets, as well as some general filter movements that we used over our production material. All of the sound examples were done with high quality “oversampling” enabled.
FXpansion Etch Filter Plugin Multi Channel (In Use)
One of the first things I noticed with adding Etch into my signal chain is that the source material instantly got a bit warmer and darker sounding without changing a single knob or slider.
I loved how the tempo sync worked so well while still maintaining an organic feel. Sometimes LFO’s and synced modulation can take on a robotic vibe. Etch had a looser feel almost as if someone was turning it by hand at times.
In our first example, I had placed an instance of Etch on every channel (except the drums), altering the settings to taste, to match that particular tracks source material. The first pass is all of the plugins bypassed, followed by various settings on each pass after.
Finding modulation that carries a track can be tricky at times, but I felt using Etch was fun and intuitive. The filters sounded warm and the modulation felt very natural.
FXpansion Etch On Every Track Of A Production / Switched Every 8 Bars:
FXpansion Etch Filter Plugin Master Fader (In Use)
Adding Etch to my master fader was a lot of fun and sounded great.
Thinking about all the ways I could use it to create buildup and breakdowns start flowing though my head.
Using the compressor at the end of the chain help beef up the signal while adding attack.
As with the previous example, the first 8 bars is the dry track, then switching through various settings every 8 bars afterward.
Notice how Etch is able to keep a natural feel during it’s modulation patterns without sounding to quantized. It is also able to breath new life into the arrangement, transforming it into something quite different at faster LFO speeds.
FXpansion Etch On The Master Track Of A Production / Switched Every 8 Bars:
I feel Etch would also work well on the master fader in live situations. Part of the appeal to master track breakdowns is playing off of the crowd and keeping it building based on the situation and the crowds reactions.
FXpansion Etch Filtering Device Conclusion
I was really impressed with the quality of FXpansions Etch filter plug-in. It sounded very warm and rich to my ears and had an extremely natural modulation feel to it. I love how they added distortion and compression as additional modules into the signal chain. I also love the ability to pan the filters independently and thought this was a great feature in helping shape its sound.
Under the hood Etch is running on FXpansions DCAM circuit modeling technology. This definitely adds a great character to this plug-in. For anyone looking for a super powered filter to help modulate their tracks and productions on and off the dance floor, Etch is definitely our current favorite pick.
Pricing & Information
FXpansion Etch Analogue-Modelled Filtering Device: Native $99 + Tax.
FXpansion (USA). www.fxpansion.com