The 6 Best Envelope Filter Pedals (2023)
Envelope filter pedals are a great type of guitar pedal that brings in a wah effect that reacts to your playing style. An envelope filter pedal filters out specific frequency ranges of the sound to add or remove high and low frequencies.
This reacts to your playing dynamics and therefore should be placed towards the start of your signal chain. They act as a kind of bridge between classic rock genres and electronic/pop music. Funky guitarists were the first to use this effect but soon after, it became a common thing in many other, not-so-traditional styles.
My top recommended envelope filter pedal is the Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron+ Envelope Filter Pedal. This is a quintessential vintage pedal with great flexibility and functionality.
My second recommended envelope filter pedal is the Donner Dynamic Auto Wah/Envelope Filter Pedal. If you want an affordable option, this mini-pedal will do the job well.
- The 6 Best Envelope Filter Pedals (2023)
- 1. Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron+ Envelope Filter Pedal
- 2. Donner Dynamic Auto Wah/Envelope Filter Pedal
- 3. EarthQuaker Devices Spatial Delivery V2 Envelope Filter Pedal
- 4. Keeley Neutrino V2 Envelope Filter Pedal
- 5. Xotic Robotalk 2 Dual Filter Pedal
- 6. Fender Pour Over Envelope Filter Pedal
- What is an Envelope Filter Pedal?
- Where does an Envelope Filter Pedal go in the signal chain?
- What to look for in an Envelope Filter Pedal when buying?
The 6 Best Envelope Filter Pedals (2023)
Let’s compare these in more detail.
When it comes to filter pedals, an average funky player will most likely search no more, as I’m talking about a quintessential filter pedal that has been evolving for decades.
The Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron+ Envelope Filter Pedal practically packs two effects into a single unit. As you may presume, I’m talking about the famous Q-Tron pedal, which now gets help from a new envelope filter unit, which brings a completely new dimension to the sound.
In terms of controls, you will find a lot of knobs on this unit and that means there’s plenty of room for experiments. Of course, you can choose between typical filter modes (High-pass filter, Band-pass filter, and Low-pass filter), while also manipulating the Attack sensitivity, Response, and a few other things that can drastically change the sound that comes out from your amp.
Another amazing feature is the effects loop (FX), so you can put some additional effects between the preamp section and filter section. As you may presume, this opens a whole new dimension of sound possibilities.
Although this pedal is primarily designed for funky players, it can also be a fantastic tool for anyone who is looking for a pedal that can fill the gap with its boost mode between classic guitar sound and electronic genres. The Electro-Harmonix Micro Q-Tron is also a good choice.
2. Donner Dynamic Auto Wah/Envelope Filter Pedal
The Donner Dynamic Auto Wah/Envelope Filter Pedal is a fast-tracking mini-pedal that is very simple to use. It is very accurate and has a good decay control.
The straightforward design of the pedal allows for ease of use with four usable knobs for tweaking. The SENS is for sensitivity, the RES is for filter sharpness, the DECAY is for reverting the filter frequency, and the RANGE dial is for the filter frequency range.
This true bypass, analog circuitry, envelope filter effect pedal has a cool LED indicator for working status. Along with a sturdy design made from aluminum alloy, makes for a good overall mini-pedal, especially when you consider the price.
It’s powered by a 9V adapter and can snuggly fit any pedalboard without taking up much space.
The EarthQuaker Devices Spatial Delivery V2 Envelope Filter Pedal may look small but it’s an extremely powerful envelope filter pedal, which offers an impressive range of tonal options. It is a digital unit but it doesn’t lack any sound quality. On the other hand, it offers an amazing level of versatility and a wide range of tones. Besides typical controls, it also has a couple of aces up its sleeve.
First of all, you can notice that the pedal features a rather simplistic layout. It comes with typical envelope filter controls. Of course, there is a toggle switch that lets you choose between three familiar modes (Lowpass, Bandpass, and Highpass).
Furthermore, there is the Filter knob, which lets you go through a wide spectrum of each mode. With the Range knob, you can easily control dynamics. In other words, this means how sensitively the pedal will react to your pick attacks.
Finally, there is the Resonance knob, so you can control the amount of effect you want.
All these controls are quite typical for a pedal of this type but this EarthQuaker pedal has one interesting and very useful trump. The footswitch operates in two ways, so if you just tap, you may count on a typical latching operation.
If you hold the switch, you may count on the momentary operation, so you can be in full control of your sound anytime.
You may like this pedal or not, but you must appreciate the interesting design approach of Keeley Neutrino designers. The catch with this pedal is that it comes with an interesting combination of analog circuits and special optocouplers that were typical for vintage units.
The pedal offers a pretty amazing tonal range, as you can choose between three familiar modes, two filter sweep directions, and more.
The overall layout of this pedal looks pretty typical. You can find a couple of knobs and switches, but each one comes with a specially assigned task. Things are pretty simple and dialing great tones is pretty easy with this unit.
The first knob you will see is a Gain control, which lets you control the input level. The Peak knob is far more interesting, controls the actual effect, so you can go from super deep to super warm to super bright tones. Also, you can find the Direction switch from the side, which completely changes the character of the pedal.
The pedal features a true bypass and it is completely manufactured in the USA. The power source is sold separately.
The Robotalk 2 is a powerful unit, which practically packs two pedals into a single housing. Still, I am talking about the same effect, but with completely different characters. So, I’m actually talking about two channels of the same unit.
Of course, the character of these channels is completely different. On one side, Channel A is pretty aggressive and loud, which makes it perfect for single notes and lead tones. On the other, Channel B suppresses the mids and it’s cleaner, which makes it more appropriate for chord work and similar things.
The best thing about this pedal, though, is the fact that each channel comes with completely separate controls, including the volume. Moreover, they are identical, so you may count on the Volume, Sensitivity, Decay, and Resonance knobs on each side.
Also, there is the Direct Volume knob, which lets you control the volume amounts of both dry and processed signals, which means you can always be in perfect control. Speaking of the control, the pedal features a true bypass and keeps your original tone absolutely preserved.
Though you probably won’t save too much money, this pedal is actually a pretty amazing value and that’s the reason why I’ve decided to pick it as the best affordable choice.
This pedal is part of Fender’s new lineup of stompboxes, which started a couple of years ago. In this case, I’m talking about a classic envelop filter pedal, which brings an additional dose of versatility, thanks to the plethora of knobs you can find on it.
Of course, you can find typical controls for a filter pedal, several knobs allow you to enter a whole new spectrum of sound colors.
Furthermore, Fender engineers have also put overdrive into this pedal, so you can spice up your tone with loads of rich harmonics.
The pedal sounds great and also feels extremely rugged. Like other Fender pedals, this one is also built like a tank, so there is no doubt it would serve you for years.
What is an Envelope Filter Pedal?
Many like to call these units auto-wah pedals because they have a lot of things in common with classic wah-wah pedals. They have that recognizable peak that moves across the frequency range but auto-wah is just one type of filter pedal.
These days, envelope filter pedals are also used by many bass players, so you can find pedals designed specifically for 4- or 6-string players. However, I’ll stick with envelope filter pedals for guitar players.
These days, envelope filters offer a whole spectrum of sounds that are based on a low-frequency oscillator (LFO). In common language, this type of sound is often called bubble sound, though some modern variations can go in a completely different way compared to traditional funk sound colors.
Where does an Envelope Filter Pedal go in the signal chain?
The best possible placement depends if whether you’re using the pedal in a pedalboard chain or not. Naturally, if you’re just using the pedal, you should run your guitar through the input and the output straight into your amp. If you’re using it within a pedalboard scenario, at the start would be the best option. The signal is strongest at the start so the blend of signals will be good and this will make sure that the effects are clear, crisp, and efficient.
What to look for in an Envelope Filter Pedal when buying?
The main things to consider when buying an Envelope Filter Pedal are control options, true bypass, quality, and the price.
Control options are essential if you want more versatility and overall better envelope filter sounds. However, if you’re a single-knob type of player, then a more simplistic approach might do you justice. More controls equal more sound-tweaking and better output so keep that in mind.
You’ve probably already spotted True Bypass on most envelope filter pedals. With True Bypass, when the pedal is not activated, the signal does not flow out and bypass the effect. This is why it’s a good feature of an envelope filter pedal.
Naturally, quality should be considered, as most likely a pedal is within a pedalboard chain, and in the heat of the moment, activating and pressing the pedal can be more lively and rough. You want something that can withstand the pressure. Quality brands produce good envelope filter pedals that allow for excellent longevity, luckily there are good choices above.
As with any product, the price is always worth considering. If you’ve just started building your pedalboard, a budget-friendly option like the Donner Dynamic Auto Wah/Envelope Filter Pedal should do the job well. If you’re more experienced and already have a complete pedalboard, more high-end options would do you justice as a way of upgrading and taking it a step further.
Those would be some of my first choices when it comes to envelope filter pedals and as you can see, they are pretty different in many ways, whether it comes to sound character or functionality. Still, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them.
Of course, some of them are rather straightforward and put the focus on classic funky tones. On the other hand, some of them offer a much wider tonal range and leave plenty of room for further experiments. It’s all about your preferences and what you want from this effect.
My top envelope filter pedal pick is the Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron+ Envelope Filter Pedal. The quintessential vintage pedal that offers great flexibility and functionality.
My budget envelope filter pedal pick is the Donner Dynamic Auto Wah/Envelope Filter Pedal. As a mini-pedal, this is a very affordable option to consider that can get the job done.