by Ellison Wolf
There seemed to be quite a bit of buzz about Steady State Fate’s Stereo Dipole filter a while back, and I finally had a chance to sit down with it. I was already a fan of Steady State Fate’s clean look, clear labeling, and well-built modules, and the Stereo Dipole is no exception. Sporting two identical filter sections [A + B], the Stereo Dipole is a stereo multi-mode filter with each filter section containing two filter cores with Pole and Dipole outputs. There is also a mono sum of all four outputs in the Dipole AB out. Both filter sections have their own FREQ[uency] controls with V/OCT in [tracking at 1v/Oct] as well as RES[onance] control—with CV in and attenuators—that is a master control for both peaks for each filter section. There is also a stereo resonance control [ST-RES] that is the culmination of both channels’ RES, which works well because you can dial one side’s resonance, then the other, and then have control over both to mess with the overall resonance through the DIPOLE AB output. There’s a STEREO FREQ[uency] that controls the frequency of the DIPOLE AB output after passing through each filter’s individual FREQ, which controls the cutoff for both the main VCF and its dipole partner. Each channel also has a SPREAD that moves the secondary filter to and from the primary VCF, with a span of +/- 5 octaves. The SPREAD CV in can also be used to track 1v/Oct for the secondary peak for each section, which can make for some awesome melodic disruption, among other things. And this thing isn’t called the “Stereo” Dipole filter for no reason, as Input A is normalized into input B which will grant you a stereo output with only a mono signal as the input.
Each of the possible four filter peaks can also be switched from a LPF, BP, or HPF and you can chain them either in series or parallel. There are all sorts of interesting combinations [324, according to my rusty math] you can make with just the variations in modes and chaining, all before introducing any sound possibilities into the module. You can make a variable band pass filter by having a channel’s Pole out be an HPF with the Dipole a LPF, and moving the SPREAD to control the bandwidth, while using the respective channel’s FREQ to mark the HP set point. Also, if both peaks are set to the same filter type [say, LPF], then the filter cutoff slope doubles, going from 12dB to 24dB, something I’ll never say “no” to. Each section also has a DRIVE control to add everything from subtle harmonics to squaring off a sine wave to give it some literal teeth. You’ve got a visual indicator for both the frequency and resonance by way of the two LEDs, and lastly, each channel has an audio in so you can, you know, filter some shit from other modules.
If you need to read the above paragraphs a few times, don’t feel bad. For a filter [all right, DUAL filter] module, it’s a lot of control options and routing to take in. If you haven’t yet grasped the potential of this thing, strap in. Putting the DIPOLE AB output through a spectrograph is a great way to see the basics of the Stereo Dipole filter as it relates to the actual four poles. You can see [as well as hear] the change in spread of the dipole in relation to the main filter peak of each section when you adjust the SPREAD for each filter section, and then see the two peaks move in unison when tweaking that section’s FREQ while still keeping the same spread amount. Do the same to the other filter section, and this way you can create 4-note chords, in whatever harmonic way you desire, all while moving the overall frequency via the STEREO FREQ knob. Since there’s also a Stereo V/OCT that controls the sum of the two V/OCT sections, when everything is adjusted accordingly, you can get all sorts of melodies and dissonance coming out of the DIPOLE AB out. If you crank each section’s RES into self-oscillation, the Stereo Dipole tracks well and can be used as an oscillator, and if you tune the FREQ and SPREAD to its lowest setting on the same section you can get an LFO that can be patched into the other filter section for some nice self patching. Tune the FREQ/SPREAD higher and patch into FM IN on the other section and get some crazy dipole FM. The Stereo Dipole’s best friends are a handful of LFOs and some EGs, basically anything that you will modulate it.
With the main V/OCT input you can get some pretty bizarre melodies, sequences, or whatever, and with the DIPOLE AB out, I was able to dial in the four filters to get what those of the Bell Telephone era will recognize as the tone you’d hear when you left a phone off the hook for a while. When all four filters were set at HP and I patched a square wave LFO into A-IN, and a sine wave LFO into V/OCT-B and outputted the DIPOLE AB, I got a nice ticky rhythm. Another LFO into the RES-A and this thing turned itself into a rhythm machine. Changing a few parameters gave me some plucky sounds reminiscent of droplets from a leaky faucet into a cereal bowl that was left in the sink.
My only gripe about this module is that the STEREO RES is a bipolar control, while RES A/B is unipolar. On all of the smaller potentiometers [RES CV, FM LVL, etc.] there is a colored band that encircles the controller, and if there’s a break in the middle, such as for the FM LVL, then it is a bipolar control, a helpful denotation. I don’t always remember everything about each module after stepping away from it, and it would have been helpful to have consistent markings to help remember which control is unipolar vs. bipolar. But I can tell you that’s really not going to be a problem for me and the good ol’ Stereo Dipole as I foresee a very long partnership. I’ve really only hinted at some of the potential of this module; there’s simply not enough room to extol all the virtues here. It’s hard to say that there’s a lot to learn about the Stereo Dipole as much as there’s a lot to play with.
Normally, when I get a filter in my rack, I use it to, you know, filter stuff, but with the Stereo Dipole I barely got to that. I’m not immune to the inherent pleasures of the classic simple filter sweep, but I had so much fun utilizing this as everything but a typical subtractive filter, that all of my “normal” filter duties are going to be contracted out to other, more standard filters.
Rumor has it that Solid State Fate is soon to come out with their Zero Point Oscillator [ZPO], and I’m saving space in my rack beside the Stereo Dipole filter for it. It is my rack’s [Steady State] destiny. I mean Fate. Either way, I am very excited about the Stereo Dipole and our stereophonic future together.
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