New article in REMIX Magazine (USA) October 2002
Read complete review
New review July 2002 on the Harshnoise website
Read complete review
New 10 May 2002 : Review in German language on AMAZONA.DE
Read complete review
Sonic State Online magazine, December 2001
(check it online)
IN THE WAR AGAINST BOREDOM, THE SHERMAN FILTERBANK 2 IS TRULY A WEAPON.
Filtering transforms a sound and gives it character and voice. Filters are all a bit different which is why synths have their own particular sound. Filters have been a basic sonic tool since the days of Hendrix, and since forming a core part of the sound of Funk have remained a basic weapon in the "Dance" production armoury. When the sonic sensibilities of Techno began to spread to other areas of music, manufacturers soon realised there was a huge potential market for stand-alone filters.
The Sherman Filterbank 2 represents the next evolutionary step of the hugely successful Sherman Filterbank! What we originally had was a basic synth without the oscillators, allowing you to process your flat and lifeless sounds into dangerous roaring crunchy performances. The "2" is essentially the same but with an improved spec, and the kind of modular flexibility that will keep you tweaking for months.
The Sherman will just about fit into a 2U rack space but looks very at home sat on a tabletop with its industrial looking angled control surface offering you 24 knobs and six switches. The knobs are colour coded according to function so it's easy to pile in and tweak straight away.
Within the Sherman is a preamp, two multi syncable 12dB multi filters, two envelope generators, an envelope follower, two VCAs, and a flexible LFO that can be re-triggered internally or via MIDI as well as running free.
The two filters are very similar and can work independantly or be synchronised and set to differing harmonic intervals with a notched selecter. Given their high, low and band pass capabilities it is possible to create a 24dB filter that can introduce harmonics several octaves lower than your original sound. It is easy to generate frequencies as low as 1 Hz that WILL destroy your monitors.
The input signal can be seriously disfigured simply by driving the gain, but there is also a three position switch that gives a "HI CUT" or "HI BOOST" for extra control. Input sensitivity can be limited to control rampant peaks or expanded to accommodate strings for example. A pitch tracker which tunes filter 2 to the incoming pitch and makes filter 1 its slave can, in conjunction with the "+OCTAVE" and "+QUINT" switch, create very solid bass tones from the weediest of monsynth sounds.
The "PAR / SER" knob lets you run the two filters in series or in parallel OR anywhere in between. This arrangement is incredibly flexible, but that doesn't even take into account the cross modulation options provided - as well as audio, the Sherman can also be fed with CV/GATE signals which will control the filters, the ADSR envelope, the FM and AM. A footpedal can also control the frequency of filter1 which would be dead handy live.
The "BYP / EFF" control lets you choose the balance between your original and your filtered sound at the output.
Use and abuse
The power of the Filterbank 2 comes from its modular nature. The theory is straight-forward and the manual attempts to explain what's going on, but you have to get in there and experiment to realise the Shermans' potential. The inter-relatedness of the filters, envelopes, triggers, external stuff and even phase control means that you are often surprised by what you hear, and that can completely change with one very small move of one knob (I wish that the Sherman had provided a bypass control of each element of the Filterbank - that would make it easier to get your head round to start with).
Playing with the Filterbank is like playing with an old analogue synth thats been souped up for extra crispness. Filter 1 is not quite as warm as the filter on my old MS10 or Juno, but there's not much in it, and the Sherman can truly scream.
Because of its analogue nature you never get exactly the same thing twice and some of the more chaotic noises have a truly organic quality. I would describe the Sherman as sounding fresh and exiting whereas digitally modeled distortion can sound a little dull - like it doesn't really mean it!
When mixed alongside original signal the Sherman will give new character to any sound. I have used it subtly, to extend the bottom end of a drum kit submix to give depth and also used it to utterly destroy a flaccid drum loop and make something that sounds like several JCBs having a dance off against several steamrollers, recorded on the worst known mike and played back over a Turbosound PA. Running a soft pad and using a drum machine to trigger the ADSR envelope will introduce rhythmic and tonal information as subtly as you like. Pretty much anything makes good Sherman fodder.
The Sherman correctly comes with a sonic danger warning. Some of the best times me and Sherman have involve letting the filter self modulate or even setting a separate filter to self modulate, feeding that to the input, getting random and then seeing how broken it can sound. If you do embark on a voyage of discovery like this make sure you have something in record and you will harvest gems of utter sonic weirdness.
It's not that the Sherman sounds nice. Many hardcore and satisfied users will happily anounce that they think its impossible to get a "nice" sound. Its all about useful distortion. Reverb and other "FX" will only help out a weak sound so much, to really get in there you need to use what you have, and play with distortion. Then body, depth, crunch or searing mids can be added, and you can mix with confidence.
The "LINK IN" and "LINK OUT" sockets mean that several Filterbanks can be linked and set to related harmonic intervals for huge sounds or two could be linked to make one 48DdB monster.
Most of the Filterbanks business can be controlled over MIDI. You cannot transmit knob movements however, but you could if you had a separate controller like the Gmedia Phat Boy or the Kenton Control Freak. The main MIDI messages ie pitch wheel, mod wheel, channel pressure etc control the filterbanks main functions, and deeper functions like the attack and release times of the envelopes, and triggering functions are accessed with either certain MIDI notes or defineable controllers.
Being able to make the envelope times a bit snappier is very useful for making faster rhythmic effects. Their default attack value is 63 which is actually quite leisurely compared with the instantaneous setting of 127. It would be better if these parameters could be accessed from the front panel.
Audio trigger can be disabled and replaced with MIDI trigger by sending MIDI notes. The Filterbank will also convert any incoming gate into MIDI notes.
I think the MIDI spec is a bit half done. Effectively most functions can be automated but half them are hidden away. I look forward to the Filterbank that transmits everything over MIDI and has a patch memory.
The Sherman has to be one of the most complex, flexible and great sounding stand-alone filters on the market. Every studio needs something to create a bit of mayhem, chaos and distortion and I highly recommend the Filterbank. And yes, it is built like a tank. If people dont enjoy your music you can beat them into submission with a Filterbank and use it happily the next night.
My only criticisms are the lack of bypass on each module, and a half done MIDI spec, but these are far outweighed by how useful and fun the Sherman is. Not only can it revive sounds that are dead on arrival, it can also do a mean impersonation of a diesel engine!
Check out the Resonator pedal by Frostwave. This is a clone of the filters from the old Korg MS20 monosynth and is simple to use with real clarity and punch. This comes in at $357 Australian.
The Electrix FilterFactory has four filters, two switchable high/low pass and two band pass. The MIDI is better but the Sherman wins on chaos and tweakability.
Mutronics make the Mutator which is a pair of 24dB filters with envelope follower capabilities. Great for stereo applications. The envelope controls are not as strong as the Sherman and it is not as "modular" yet remains a firm favourite of many artists and is probably the Shermans nearest foe. £600 inc. VAT and shipping.
Check out Moogerfooger MF-101 Lowpass filter. This is a simple but great sounding filter with envelope following abilities. $314 US
Shermans' own QMF is a monster made of four Filterbanks with a big modular patchbay on the left but again with no memories. This is a dream machine clocking in at well over two grand. It is also a limited edition thing so if you can get one then get one.
Other than these alternatives it could be worth beginning a modular synth collection. A good starting point is the Doepfer A100 modular system. A simple 24Db low pass filter (A-120 VCF1) comes in at about Euro 70.00
Ease of Use 75
Sonic Sweetness 85
Knobs for the Job 90
Bang for the Buck 85
Creativity an' thaa 95
Home Recording magazine, October 2001
The Filter Gods Live in Belgium
The Sherman Filterbank II by Thad Brown
To someone who has never attended one, an audio tradeshow might sound like a pretty cool thing. Rooms filled with the coolest new software and hardware toys, and a bunch of geeks for shop talk. This perception is a long distance from reality, though, after a few hours the noise starts to get oppressive, the products all meld into on giant softwaresamplerpluginkeyboardreverbchorusdiskrecorderbox, and the $3 cans of Diet Coke start to wear even the most dedicated audio geek journalist down. It was during my third day at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, suffering from pretty massive tradeshow fatigue syndrome, that I ran across the Sherman booth, where they had their new Filterbank II out for demo. I had heard of the FB before, but never played with one before, so I had to stop. The demo was just a CD playing through the filter, but that was more than enough to make it obvious that the FB II was a special sonic tool.
What’s a Filter
While the FB is a filter, it’s also more than a filter. In reality, the FB is a full blown analog synth that doesn’t happen to have an oscillator, the FB has an envelope generator, output amplifier, LFO, and solid modulation capabilities. Because the FB includes so much of what an analog synth is, the user can select anything from an old-school analog oscillator, to a VA synth, to a guitar or an audio track as the “oscillator” for the FB. The FB is also a supremely “hands on” tool, no LCD panel, no menus, only very basic MIDI implementation and no presets or recall. Instead of this, the FB has knobs, switches, color coded LEDs and a really stylin’ aluminum case that will impress your friends and visitors. Even when I wasn’t using the FB, I’d usually set the LFO so one of the LEDs would pulse at some nice speed because it looked cool.
The FB actually is not one, but two filters, that can be run in serial or parallel modes. Like all synth style filters, the basic controls are for the type of filter, the center frequency of the filter, and the resonance of the filter. Normally, the type of filter is a simple selection between high pass, low pass, and band pass, but even here the FB strikes out on its own. It’s impossible to explain easily, but the FB uses two knobs to control filter type instead of a toggle switch or three knobs, and while getting the hang of it takes a while, it’s an ingenious way to switch between filters types easily and quickly. Filter 1 and Filter 2 also do not have identical controls or identical sonics, for instance, there is a sync mode where the frequency of Filter 2 is a certain fraction of Filter 1. The filters can also be controlled by a combination of an internal envelope generator, envelope follower, and by triggers for external audio sources and other modular synth tools.
But How Does it Sound?
The fact that the FB is a “II” implies, naturally, that at some point there was a FB I, which in fact there was. The original Filterbank had a reputation as a take no prisoners, tooth gnashing, venom spitting filter that would rip speakers and listeners to pieces. That certainly is still possible with the FB II, and that basic sound and attitude remains. I think one of the reasons that the FB is known as being so aggressive is that the input section distorts quickly and brutally as the trim knob is brought up. It’s not difficult to get into Fuzz Face territory with the FB, even with minimal filtering going on, the input section overdrives that hard. The result doesn’t sound much like a Fuzz Face, but like any great distortion and overdrive effect, it adds a lot to whatever gets run through it.
Firing up FB and running a few audio signals through it is instantly gratifying. The first thing I did with the FB was read the introductory chapters in the manual and started running drum loops through the thing. As much as I like digital gear, and as good as a digital filter can sound, nothing I’ve ever used sounded anything like the FB. It’s stupid simple to put together a crushing, distorted loop with the FB, and a few twists of the knobs can (intentionally or not) take a sound like a drum loop into another realm completely.
That said, there is more to the FB that just sonic destruction. As mentioned above, the input section overdrive quickly and aggressively, but one of the feature of the new version of the FB II is a “sensitrig” toggle which makes the triggers / envelope follower twice as sensitive, which makes filtering things like pad sounds without distortion much easier. As much as I enjoyed mangling those drum loops, the first really special sounds I got from the FB was on a vocal, strangely enough. Setting up the input to distort only slightly, I set the filters to sync with Filter 2 a fifth below filter one. I set up a band pass filter with only a bit of resonance (the Sherman filters will self oscillate VERY easily, a little resonance goes a long way for tamer sounds) and tweaked the knobs around until I got a nice center for the filter frequency. The vocal part was a lead with two harmony parts stacked above. I ran both harmony parts through the FB, and printed the tracks back to my DAW. After pushing them back a few milliseconds to compensate for the latency, I fed the filtered and distorted tracks to their own reverb, and it all added up to an ethereal, odd, but distinctly pretty sound, and one that I can’t imagine getting any other way. This example is not to show that I’m a brilliant mixer and filter tweaker (I’m not), but rather to point out that the FB isn’t only an audio lawn mower.
Is the Filterbank II For You?
Even though the FB is “just” a filter, this review doesn’t cover much of what it will do. Like any true analog synth toy, the knobs and settings have almost infinite possibilities, and the real joy of the FB is exploring all of the modulation, triggering, and routing capabilities it has built into it. However, time spent with the FB (and with its outstanding, tutorial style manual) is rewarded with amazing sounds. If you are interested in experimental music of any kind, the FB would be a great purchase. If you are into synthesis of any kind, you almost need a FB, I used it a good deal by bypassing the filter in my virtual analog synths and using the FB, and I can’t wait to get my new Microwave pumping wavetables through the FB. I think the FB II is one of those “must have” products, unless all you do is record bluegrass. It sounds great, it’s fun to use, and while it’s not cheap, for the money you don’t just get a filter, you really get a full on instrument for you studio. One final note to guitar players, Sherman says they will be making a footpedal which will control cutoff frequency and effect/bypass of the FB, and if they do, it should be Satan’s own wah wah pedal.
Peter Freeman, Electronic Musician, August 2001, International
The Filterbank 2 ($799) from Sherman Productions offers a number of electronic enhancements and cosmetic refinements to the original Filterbank (see the March 1999 issue for a review). Like its predecessor, the Filterbank 2 is an analog processor with MIDI I/O for added control. The original Filterbank's white finish has been supplanted by a metallic gray, and the front-panel layout has changed slightly with the addition of several key features. Although the changes are not a dramatic departure from the original device, they do increase the Filterbank 2's functionality.
Adam Fuest, THE MIX, June 2000, International
Is there an alternative? Well, you could go out and buy half a dozen analogue synths, turn them on and leave them for a few days to get nice and hot and possibly stable (but there's no guarantee of that) and then fumble about with patch cords and MIDI-to-CV converters and DCB8 boxes - you might learn something about air conditioning while you're at it but even then you won't be anywhere near reaching the potential of the QMF.
Simply put, there is nothing else to compare with the QMF. The bad news is that Sherman, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to make only one hundred of these naughty boxes available worldwide, so if you're up for one and have a couple of grand to spare, best get your name on the list ASAP, as this is undoubtedly the first major collector's item of the new millennium.
Peter Freeman, ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN, March '99, U.S.A.
Generally, I was impressed with the Filterbank. This thing is all character and hardedged personality. I loved the ability to do various tricks by cross-patching the rear external inputs and outputs. For instance, I could produce sub harmonic FM by connecting the main out to the FM input; many similar tricks are documented in the manual. In this respect, using the Filterbank is like working with a modular synth. I still wish the unit could send MIDI messages from all the front-panel knobs, although I recognize the difficulties in volved here. Also, a real power supply would be nice, particularly for reliability in a live setting. These gripes aside, the Filterbank is a truly unique box that sounds like no other filter on earth. If you're doing adult contemporary, "cool" jazz, or (especially) religious music, do not buy this device. In fact, don't even look at it. Don't point at it. just walk quickly in the other direction and don't look back. However, if you need some extremely aggressive, colorful processing, get one now. Go on, just do it.
Peter Forrest, THE MIX, July ’96, United Kingdom
“ A unit that promises the world of analogue synthesis without the price. The holy grail of unique sound. The graphic design is modern, the controls are easy to get to, and although the knobs have some play in them, that’s a product of the perfectly common and acceptable design system which locks the pots directly onto the board and not the front panel as well. There is no sign, incidentally, of Curtis chips, which is good news from the point of view of getting unique sounds. It’s also well put together - a neat internal design, well implemented. This unit is quite happy going down to sub-audio, as well as up to 30 kHz, and if you’re not careful, you can seriously damage monitor speakers with the sort of resonant peaks the Sherman can put out. I recommend taking the grilles off your speakers, just so that you’re that little bit more likely to see if a massive 10 Hz sub-audio earthquake is about to cause a hefty repair bill. All the usual filter effects are easily accessible, including slow filter sweeps and liquid squelches that are so real you need a towel at the end of the session. It’s possible to re-create just about any filter in the universe, simply by different combinations of switches. You can end up with sounds which are just not possible with even the very best all-in-one synths - harsher, richer, more complex, more electric, more strangely human (including some great vocal effects), more other-worldly….the stuff of high-end modular synths. The Sherman achieves that time and time again, and that makes it excellent value for money. ”
Peter Forrest, book “The A-Z of Analogue Synthesisers”, United Kingdom
“ One of the most interesting things about this box is the overdrive that has deliberately been designed in. It’s always a bit dangerous to talk of a transistor design sounding like valve gear - if it was that easy, everyone would do it - but it’s certainly possible to set the Sherman to produce a very nice warm distortion which does seem to get close. You can go from subtle effects to outrage - particularly when you bring the FM and Ring Modulation sections in. Almost it strongest point is its patchability. There are jack jockets for another input (gate or audio) to trigger each of the envelopes; for CV or audio input to the FM and Ring sections; and even an ADSR output socket, which would be useful with other patchable gear. At the moment with just one product available, but with a modular system round the corner, this small Belgian manufacturer is worth watching out for. “
Stage Magazine, February ’97, Belgium (translation from Dutch)
“ The Sherman Filterbank is actually a set of filters and modulators from those old modular synths. The simple idea of replacing the oscillator by another sound source has been appraised to a new standard, and how ! Depeche Mode is using it, and David Bowie would have hung one above his aquarium, and somewhat the whole British studio-scene is drown with it by now (the designer, Herman ‘Sherman’ Gillis prefers to talk about a hype, but actually this is the same). And ladies and gentlemen, this is a pure Belgian product ! It would take me too far to describe all possibilities of the filters, and their settings, and the modulators, and the internal patch-possibilities, and the external controller-possibilities, and the MIDI-possibilities, and the …. No, for this purposes you have the excellent manual called “Abusers Manual”. This manual is easy to review, fun, and everything is being explained in detail, with the necessary warnings for safety of “ears and legs”. Because caution is to be taken into account with this module. You are perfectly able to generate frequencies by which you can win the gulf-war. Every important function is MIDI-controllable, this makes the real power of this module. As this was apparently not yet enough, you can link more Filterbanks in a master-slave configuration. This way, you can even make e.g. -48 dB or -72dB notch filters (extremely interesting), and even control this with MIDI. And you can mount them in four different ways in a 19” rack. There is only one conclusion : take it and run ! The sound quality is superb, the possibilities are endless and the price is a seduction. Additionally, your knowledge of filter-works is being multiplied by ten in just one hour. It’s not really a new principle, but one only has to come up with the idea of putting these in a separate box. Therefore, I do think this box will not only remain a hype on the other side of the channel. The world is ready for the Sherman Filterbank. “
Luc Henrion, Meet Music Magazine, March ’97, Belgium (translation from Dutch)
It doesn’t occur every day that I can introduce a device, which is developed and manufactured entirely in Belgium. On top of this, the machine takes a very special position on the international scene because of its success, however still for the moment, especially abroad and it has almost no competitors existing world-wide. Our congratulations for the outstanding succeeded design. Let’s make a clear statement: the Filterbank IS a synth, except for one detail: it has no sound generator nor oscillator, apart from the LFO. In other words, it contains the part that comes after the oscillators, so the sounds must come from an external source: another synth, a sampler, a mike, an instrument, whatever you want. Or, as the designer states in his “Abusers Manual” this is an excellent way to prevent that the device will become outdated quickly, since it’s not dependent from any soundbank in ROM, nor from processor speed, it’s a device that remains really useable for a very long period of time. The designer recommends to see the Filterbank as a musical instrument. In my opinion, it’s a brilliant “toy”, but this word should be used in the most serious way you can. It is exactly the opposite of a whole bunch of modern machines, intended to be installed, adjusted correctly and then completely forgotten. I re-discovered here the passion from the time of my old ARP 2600, but with one big difference: the ARP had no knowledge of MIDI and had only 1 single filter that had barely the power of those from the Filterbank. If you are a synth-sound freak, this is a device which you absolutely must try out. But I recommend to take some time for that: just like any other musical instrument it takes some time before you get familiar with it. But that's also the fascinating side of it. Something for the real enthusiasts."
Peter Forrest, Music Mart Magazine, United Kingdom
“ Ace !! An absolute winner. They’ve got it exactly right this time. There are two filters, one of which is the master, with very high resolution for perfect pitching and the smoothest of sweeps. The Sherman can produce all sorts of classic effects, from slow filter sweeps to funky twangs. Like every stand-alone filter I’ve ever used, it is often more fiddly to put to basic settings than a typical analogue synth’s internal filter. The reason is simply that levels are already matched in the latter, but have to be worked on with separate boxes. What it loses in immediacy, though, the Sherman makes up for with a vengeance in versatility, creative possibilities, and sheer power. The biggest thing it does to any sound is to give it guts. The built-in overdrive is genuinely excellent. Comparing it with the amp/speaker simulators I’ve heard in the past, it beats them all. Putting a perfectly ordinary synth or drum machine into it can transform a routine sound into something very funky indeed. The Filterbank has a fully variable Effect/Bypass knob. There’s so much to explore, as well. Built-in FM and AM generators, for a start, so that the filters can be given all sorts of extra treatment (and, in the case of AM, one filter can be modulated out of phase with the other, for stereo tremolo effects); a simpler envelope (just Attack and Release) for controlling the filters’ amplification; and the ability to turn the ADSR into an envelope follower, so that the amplitude of any incoming signal (a guitar, or drum machine, or voice, for instance) can affect either its own filter envelope, or that of anything else patched into the Sherman. The possibilities for chopping up sound in intriguing ways are enormous. With any device like this, which can treat sound very drastically, it pays to keep your ears tuned for unwanted side-effects - but then the same would be true of, say, using feedback on an amp. This box isn’t for everyone, but is highly recommended for anyone who like sweetening sounds and/or screwing them up. That should include dance producers, recording engineers, and any number of analogue anoraks. “
C. RvhK, Midi & Recording Magazine, May ’97, the Netherlands (translation from Dutch)
“ Don’t throw away your digital wonderchild of the past generation out of the window yet. Swing it into the nineties with the Sherman Filterbank. What strikes it most is maybe the strange housing. The Sherman lives in a white (light grey) 19” stave. One corner of the average 10 centimetres thick beam, is sloping cutted out. This angled surface forms the front panel onto where a messy gathering of turnknobs are mounted. If you listen to recent music styles, you’ll learn that polished and round are out of fashion for a while. These days, you want dirty basses, a dissonant squealing lead line, and sweeping pulses. So connect this thing to your D50, DX7 or M1, and you are completely up to date again. A capricious filtersweep, or a heavy pulsating bass that you couldn’t niggle out of your setup, no matter how hard you tried, is now a piece of cake by using a Filterbank. A few nights exercise to get familiar with the Filterbank is a must if you want to use it live. The Sherman Filterbank turns out to be the ultimate effect gear for the outdated digital synth. This box is absolutely recommended for those who want to go the analogue road. The machine has unique possibilities, is solid built, and is with some practising well controllable. The MIDI possibilities and the numerous jack connections make this machine applicable in every setup. The Filterbank sounds and looks a lot more analogue than a whole bunch of 303-klones. Those who are into new hot analogics, must check out this device. “
Peter Forrest, THE MIX, May ’97, United Kingdom
“ No expense spared. Ten more knobs give the Sherman Filterbank more power, but at the expense of simplicity. Amongst other things, three MIDI Thrus proove that Sherman haven’t skimped. The ADSR also, isn’t quite as simple as it first looks, but here, there’s absolutely no question that the design is not just fairly unique, but spot on as well. The big thing is that the Sustain portion doesn’t just set a level of volts above zero: it can go negative as well. Normally something achievable on only the most esoteric modulars. The result is a huge variety of envelopes - so much so that the manual has six whole pages devoted to graphic examples. To help further, the envelope LED is a two-colour affair, with green for positive and red for negative voltages. Coupled with the more usual positive / negative sweep control for each filter the potential is enormous. Sherman has taken great care to produce a very nice, poky distortion. It’s a good re-creation of the overdrive you get from winding a combo amp up far too high and playing a hot-output electric guitar through it. In other words, it’s totally addictive. You can play a fairly ordinary synth and make it sound (sort of) like Hendrix and that alone makes the Sherman well worth buying. It’s the nasty stuff that’s really going to sell the Sherman Filterbank. The patching possibilities of a small modular, with loads of input control over MIDI and a funky, funky sound. If you want to stand out from the crowd, this is one excellent way. “
Chris Carter, Sound on Sound, April ’97, United Kingdom
“ Great analogue sound and considerable character. Lots of innovative features with plenty of scope for experimentation. Portable. Very good value for money. A well-built, great-sounding, highly specified filter, capable of seriously extreme sound manipulation. Lots of modulation possibilities and enough interfacing to connect to almost anything you can think of. Small enough to transport easily at home, in a studio, or on stage. It has a fairly basic MIDI implementation, but at this price, who can complain ? Analogue filter banks are not exactly a new concept, but this one combines an unusually flexible specification with MIDI control and an affordable price. The Sherman Tank Filterbank under review here consists of a lot more than the name implies and is actually quite a package of goodies. There’s a preamp (with overdrive), two multi-mode VCFs (Voltage Controlled Filters) with selectable harmonics, an ADSR (Attack/Decay/Sustain/Release) and an AR generator, an Envelope Follower, an LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) and two VCAs (Voltage Controlled Amplifiers). It is, in essence, a synth module without an oscillator. What really sets the Sherman Filterbank apart from others in this crowded market, is the additional combination of overdrive, harmonics, envelope generators, LFO, VCAs and MIDI control. While it is probably better suited to studio use than live work, it will undoubtedly become required kit for many remixers, dance acts and producers. In this price range there is nothing quite like it, and whether you’re into retro-sounding gear or not, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. This is a hell of a processor. If a Moog is a Rolls Royce, the Sherman Filterbank has to be a Porsche.
Interview with the Chemical Brothers, Keyboard, June ’97, United States of America
“ We’ve also got this guy who’s made some things for us. He makes these things called Shermans: the Sherman Filter Bank and the Sherman Chaos Bank. He only makes, like, 50 of each of them, and they’re just wild. They sound really good. Extreme. What does the Chaos Bank do ? (Laughs.) It’s a little modular synth setup, and it comes out with the most unearthly noises. I think he’s building a big modular system, and I think this is one part of it. It’s worth checking out. “
Dave Robinson, Future Music, June ’97, United Kingdom
“ The Sherman is a scary grey-shelled creature, all knobs and line diagrams and a endless back row of inputs and outputs, like some future noir interrogation device, and it has a sound to match. This is not a machine for achieving clean and sensibly-controlled filter effects, oh no. The Sherman is a grime monster: it will chew up your delicate signals and spit out something altogether more unsavoury. What is really smart is that the Sherman can handle data coming at it from all directions - controllers, ADSR modulation, LFO modulation, and your grubby hands on the interface - and though you can send the filter epileptic, it won’t fail you. There’s an almost unparalleled number of connection options at the back of the Sherman, including three (three ! ) MIDI Thrus, Link In and Out sockets for joining Filterbanks together for building a destroying 48 dB filter, an envelope in and out, triggers and feeds for the AM and FM controls. Gulp… More holes than the plot of ID4. “
Zon Vern Pyles, Keyboard, November ’97, United States of America
For many years, various adjectives have been used within synth circles to describe differences in filter character from on machine to another. Moogs are “fat”, ARPs are “wet”, and Oberheims are “sizzly” - just to mention a few. Now along comes the Sherman Filterbank, a box that evokes several different adjectives due to its multiple filter routing capabilities. The most important question is, how does it sound ? Like nothing else. It can sound rude and dirty - purposely and in good ways - especially when resonance is added to a hot input signal. The squelchy techno filter sound in a box. Each of the Filterbank two filters has a 12dB/octave cutoff slope. Chaining them together in series results in a 24dB slope. Link in and out audio jacks allow you to chain multiple Filterbanks together for steeper filter cutoff slopes. Linking a pair of Filterbanks with their internal filters aligned in series results in a 48dB slope; linking three in the same way will get you a 72dB slope. Trigger inputs for the ADSR and AR can accept audio signals or gates from analog synths and sequencers. The “Abuser’s Manual” is informative and gets high marks. Thirty of its 47 pages are filled with educational illustrations to help novices understand the concept of filtering and using envelope generators. If you’re tired of “clean” and you want to get your ears dirty, the Filterbank just might be the tool for filter-sweeping the dance floor. The Sherman Filterbank offers such cool filter processing with realtime control that you’ll want it close by all the time. “
Article “How to sound lo-fi ? ” in Future Music, March ’98, U.K.
“ The Sherman Filterbank is an effective grunge tool you should really start saving up for. Imaginative use of just one of these boxes can drastically degrade your sounds, and you don’t have to know why it works. Just turn the knobs and listen. “