Step Sequencing Filter Cut-Off and Resonance

Using a Step Sequencer as a Modulator to process Filter Cut-Off and Resonance


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Step Sequencer

Every time you use your DAW to create a series of midi notes to trigger an event or sound it is termed as a sequence. A sequence of midi notes are played in your DAW from left to right in line with the timeline of the project. Each note triggers a sound or an event. This is the most basic form of step sequencing because step sequencing itself uses midi data to trigger events and sounds over a timeline. You could, in effect, create a midi channel, select a midi source to lay down the midi data (midi keyboard) or use the pencil tool and draw in midi notes to form a sequence which is then triggered on playback. You could then assign these midi notes to modulate anything you choose and in this tutorial it will be filter cut-off and resonance. This type of note inputting and re-triggering gives you huge control and flexibility but it can be time consuming and laborious. A better option might be to use a dedicated step sequencer that has a built-in grid where you can input notes and edit them to taste. The sequencer will be synced to the BPM of your track and you will be afforded some dynamic tools to shape the note data or add accents to notes and so on.

Step Filter

Step Sequencers are great fun to use when writing sequences of music but they come into their own when used as modulators to trigger the various features of a filter unit. But why not use a step sequencer that is actually a dedicated filter sequencer to control both the filter cut off and filter resonance? In other words you have only two destinations to play with – filter cut-off and filter resonance , but you have full midi note entry control along with pattern triggering and patter modes.

To understand how to modulate any parameter on a filter unit one must bite the bullet and swallow some theory and background information on what filters are and how they work.


I have explained what filters are and how they work extensively in Filters and Filtering  However, if you’re more in the mood to take the visual approach why not have a look at this video which runs through all the areas you will need to know to master a filter like a pro.

What is a Modulator

A modulator is a device that controls the parameters of another device. The modulator is called the source and the device being modulated is called the destination. A good and simple example of a source modulator is the pitch wheel on a keyboard and in this instance the destination is pitch. In other words, the pitch wheel when moved alters the pitch of the sound being played.

Almost anything can be a source modulator. Most synthesizer keyboards have a dedicated modwheel (modulation wheel) which can be assigned to a whole host of destination sources and we can replicate this scenario in our DAWs. In fact, we can design our own modulators and have them trigger all manner of processes. We can use Midi controllers to control any desired destination and now we can even use audio to modulate another piece of audio. And it doesn’t end there. Most DAWs give you extensive source modulators to use in the Automation Lanes. In effect, we can use a shape to control the volume of audio.

Premium Video Tutorial

To discover how to use a step filter you can purchase a 6 minute video for just £1

In the video I show you how to create step sequences using Cubase’s stock Step Filter plugin. I explain exactly how this process works and run through countless sequence examples showing you what a dramatic effect one sequence can have on a filter let alone using two simultaneously. I run through different filter destinations and show you how to get the best out of your sequences, patterns and filter setups.

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Working with Filter Cut-offs
  • What is a Step Sequencer
  • Modulation Effects and Routing
  • Q and Bandwidth
  • Resonance Control
  • Best Practices for Sound Design