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DUSK (filter pedal with demo) by Dr. Scientist

Filter pedals are nothing new, but the Dusk not only sounds robust, it has plenty of nifty features, ideal for keys/synth, bass and guitar. Sound-wise, Dusk is an analog +/-24dB/Octave low pass filter that is controlled digitally. This means you can save four preset (although not the Resonance setting, which is analog) and still have old-school tones, thanks to its Operational Transconductance Amplifier (OTA) circuit. The OTA runs off split +/-9V rails, which is tech talk that goes over my head, although Dr. Scientist indicates this is how Dusk achieves its high quality, yet deep filter sound. The digital side of things provides features like the preset saving mentioned, but also filter setting, tap tempo, MIDI and six LFOs that fit under a typical-sized pedal chassis.

Now, I do not need to explain the virtues of Dusk’s sound beyond the above, since the accompany demo speaks volumes. When integrated within an amp’s FX Return, the filter sweep and resonance are both more subdued… calm, gentle and providing a nice accompaniment to one’s playing. Place Dusk in front of the chain (in front of an amp), however, and the result blooms into a far more aggressive effect. Consequently, Dusk’s result does vary depending on where you place it, as demoed in the video.

I’ll go over the features in brief, which also addresses Dusk’s overall potential. There’s the basic Volume knob, and obviously a Filter knob (mode dependent that controls the filter cutoff or filter range) and a Resonance knob (analog feedback), since we’re dealing with a filter pedal. The diversity comes in with the other controls. The Mode button offers a selection of Cutoff (manual mode that requires you to control the filter with the filter knob), Envelope (filter responds to input dynamics) or LFO (six waveforms that react to tap-in rate). The Alt Features button allows you to choose the manual speed (Cutoff mode), whether to include a regular or reverse direction of the envelop (Envelop mode) or which of the six waveforms you want (in LFO mode). The LFO waveforms include Sine, Ramp, Saw, Square, Sample & Hold, and Random. Next, there are two stomp switches, the right controlling on/off of this true-bypass pedal, and the left being a multi-stomp (hold for filter sweep in Cutoff mode, hold for freeze filter in the Envelope mode, and press for tap-tempo or hold to ramp rate down in the LFO mode). Finally, besides having MIDI capabilities to control the digital aspects, there is an expression pedal/CV control over the filter cutoff (demoed in the video). This may seem like a lot, and it is, but operation becomes very straight-forward with an hour or so of fiddling.

Overall, this is one of the better filter pedals I have used and heard, with its mono-in/mono-out operation and multiple functions that offer a great number of effect possibilities via its high-quality analog signal path. Perhaps one drawback is that you cannot combine one feature from a particular mode with other features, e.g., adding a reverse filter or freeze filter to the LFOs. Regardless, the sound is full and very vigorous, certain to make an impression with keys or strings. At $199 USD, the price of Dusk is reasonable and typical among quality pedal builds. Engineered in B.C., Canada, Dusk has some premium quality parts, as would be expected from Dr. Scientist, including top mounted audio and power jacks and a dark ruby red sparkle paint on its aluminum chassis (70mm wide, 129mm long, 59mm tall [2.75” wide, 5.1” long, 2.3” tall]). Both footswitches are soft touch, producing no popping or noise when engaged. The pots are smooth, and the two pushbuttons select features/functions without glitching or making noise in the signal. It requires 150mA power via a 9VDC center negative plug.
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