Elysia Xfilter 500 Universal Equalizer
The xfilter 500 is a true linked stereo EQ in the 500 series format. It gives you the expensive sound of an all class-A equalizer in a surprisingly affordable package, with a precise stereo image based on computer-selected, stepped potentiometers and low tolerance film capacitors.
This EQ is serious about flexibility. It offers high and low shelf bands which can be switched into high and low cut filters with resonance, two mid peak filters with wide and narrow Q, plus additional passive LC stages with shielded coils for a glorious top end.
With its exceptionally open sound, straight transient projection and solid punch, the xfilter is the perfect match for your xpressor – or any other piece of delicious outboard gear!
100% Class-A Topology:
Expensive boutique sound made affordable.
True Stereo Operation:
Two channels, just one set of controllers.
Resonance High & Low Pass Filters:
Extremely useful secret weapons.
Additional Passive High-Band:
Magic LC polish for opening up the top end.
Switchable Filter Quality:
Wide and narrow Q for the parametric mids.
Special Low Tolerance Pots and Caps:
Computer-selected for better stereo accuracy.
Fast and easy recall guaranteed.
Made in Germany:
Build quality without compromise.
100% Class-A Topology:
Discrete input, output and mix stages plus the complete audio path running in constant class-A mode are the basis for an exceptionally transparent, wide and open sounding EQ.
We love the sound of class-A circuitry! And here is why: In a class-A amplifier, the transistors are conductive all of the time, so there is no crossover distortion at all. This is the perfect technological basis for an open sound with massive punch and no degradation of your original source.
The discrete approach makes it possible to design every single stage in signal processing exactly to what you want it to do – physics becomes the only limit. The xfilter 500 uses our custom discrete input and output stages derived from the alpha compressor. The mixing stages are also discrete designs running in class-A mode.
The actual filter stages (band pass etc.) use integrated op-amps instead, and also in this regard we did not go for an off-the-shelf solution. Instead of cheap industrial standard op-amps, the xfilter 500 uses high grade Burr-Brown OPA series amps which have been designed especially for the critical discerns of pristine audio circuitry.
And there it is – the expensive sound of boutique high end EQs in an affordable package.
True Stereo Operation:
As one of the few exceptions in the market, the xfilter 500 processes both of its channels with just one set of controllers – a true stereo linked EQ.
Using an analog EQ on a stereo buss can be quite tricky, as only very few units offer the possibility to link their two mono channels for true stereo processing.
As a result, the user needs to fiddle around with many knobs in order to cope with the tedious task of matching the settings for both channels as good as possible. The problem gets only worse when the controllers do not have any steps for reference.
But while there are so many compressors in the market that can be linked for stereo operation, why are there almost no EQs which can do this, too? One of the main answers is component tolerances. Obviously, you want the two linked channels to behave exactly the same, but the natural tolerances that especially potentiometers and capacitors have counteract this ideal characteristic.
To make a long story short: The xfilter 500 solves this problem by using computer-selected dual and quad layer pots as well as special low tolerance caps. Please read on for details…
Resonance High & Low Cut Filters:
The shelving filters can be switched into high and low cut filters with an additional resonance peak. Not ordinary, but extremely useful.
The outer bands of the xfilter 500 show a great amount of flexibility. In their standard mode, they are set up as sweet sounding high and low shelf filters that can be used to tailor the airiness and fundamentals of your tracks fast and efficiently.
As a special feature, you can independently switch these to become high and low cut filters with 12 dB per octave and an additional resonance peak at the knee frequency. This allows some very interesting and useful filter curves.
Especially bass frequencies can benefit from a low cut with resonance by obtaining a clean and punchy character. But the resonance can also be used to stretch signals in the bass range, because the resonance filter causes a longer post-oscillation time.
In the high frequency range, you can use the resonance filter to put an accent on a selected frequency without boosting the complete HF spectrum at the same time, which can prevent harshness or an unwanted shift of the overall perception towards the treble.
Switchable Filter Quality:
The quality of the peak filters can be switched from a wide to a narrow Q factor which remains independent from the setting of the gain controller.
The filter quality of the two parametric mid bands can be switched between two characteristics: Wide (Q 0.5) and narrow (Q 1.0), based on the proportional Q principle.
When designing a parametric filter, you have quite a range to choose from when it comes to the Q factor. After extensive listening, we decided to implement a choice of 0.5 or 1.0 in the xfilter 500, as these parameters always result in what this machine is focused on: Very musical processing.
You will notice that very narrow Q factors are not offered here. These days, most engineers we know of use digital filters for notching narrow ranges to get rid of problematic frequencies anyway. And this is for a good reason, as it works extremely well.
Additional Passive High-Band:
The beautiful sheen only passive filters can deliver… the xfilter 500 has it all. An additional LC filter with shielded coils gives you the ‘Passive Massage’.
Mmm… The incredible magic a passive EQ can add on top of everything. We all love it, we all need it!
Well, here is the good news: In addition to its four flexible active bands, the xfilter 500 features a switchable fixed LC filter for polishing the high frequency range. The filter mainly consists of a capacitor and a coil per channel, but unlike the standard shelving designs, it has a slight resonance peak at 12kHz and starts to fall of at 17kHz.
This way, the saturation-like storage effect of the coil focuses on the area around the peak without pushing the complete high frequency spectrum too much. The inductors used in the xfilter 500 have their own shields to reduce outer influences like hum – without these shields, the coils would pretty much act like antennas for all kinds of unwanted noises.
Now you know what the ‘Passive Massage’ is all about: Opening up the top end of your signals by pushing just a single button!
All potentiometers on the xfilter 500 have 41 steps, which is a great help for recalling your previous sessions fast and precisely.
The xfilter 500 features stepped potentiometers for all its parameters throughout. The 41 steps make a precise recall very easy, and they provide a useful range of possible settings at the same time. And you will just love the feel of them, too 😉
Stepped controllers are something you will usually only find on much more expensive gear, special mastering editions, or in most of the cases – not at all. The xfilter 500 establishes this very handy feature in the regular serial version without any luxury up-charge.
Every single dual and quad layer pot we buy is measured with custom computer routines, and only the good ones go into production.
In a linked stereo EQ, the potentiometers need a lot of layers. The pots for setting the mixers (gain) have two layers each, while the pots for setting the frequencies even have a total of four layers each!
The problem occurs that every single layer has its own component tolerance, and while layer A could be at the absolute minimum of the allowed tolerance, layer B could be a the absolute maximum. As a result, the filter stages of the left and right channels would not behave the same.
To solve this, every single potentiometer in the xfilter 500 is measured and selected with an Audio Precision rig and computer routines written exactly for this task. As a result, only 65% of the dual layer pots and only 50% of the quad pots we buy go into production – the rest is put aside.
And this is no marketing BS, but the very basis for producing an equalizer that is not only linked, but accurate as well. It’s a true custom shop option we are proud to offer with every xfilter 500 free of any up-charges.
Special Low Tolerance Capacitors:
The special series of film caps used for the xfilter 500 performs twice as good as the industry standard in terms of component tolerance.
If you look under the hood of an audio equalizer, it is very likely that you will find a lesser or greater number of film capacitors. These caps use an insulating plastic film as the dielectric, which is drawn in a special process to an extremely thin thickness.
There are several technical reasons why film caps are a good choice for audio filter circuits, and generations of audio engineers will confirm that they sound great, too.
A typical representative of this component is the MKS film type, which is a great sounding cap to be found in many EQ designs. However, many MKS types come with a typical tolerance of 10%, which can have a negative influence on the channel accuracy of a stereo linked EQ.
For this reason, the xfilter 500 uses a special FKS type film capacitor which sounds just like a good cap should, coming with a maximum tolerance of 5% only. One more step towards a more accurate stereo image…
Ground Layer Shield:
One of the four layers of both PCBs is a full copper plane which helps to reduce interferences caused by electric fields.
The PCBs of the xfilter 500 have a total of four layers: Two of them are used for the audio circuitry, one is for power supplying traces, and the last one is a dedicated ground shield layer. But what’s the idea behind this?
The filter networks of the individual bands of the EQ become higher in resistance the lower their specific frequency is set. This makes them more vulnerable towards hum which is caused by electric fields.
As the additional ground layer is placed extremely close beneath the traces which carry audio, it is very efficient as a shield against unwanted noise interferences.
“Stereo linked AND stepped? I’m done messing with EQs with variable pots and anemic markings for recall and stereo matching! That combined with elysia’s reputation for high quality, clear, clean and punchy sound and amazing highs that sound like electric and this just closed the door on the 500 series for EQs. I know from experience with my museq – once you try the low cut with the resonance turned up to shape a kick drum or EQ a drum bus, it’s game over. You’ll know what a ridiculously tight and punchy low end sounds like!”
“Happy owner of serial # 39. The xfilter is pretty much a knockout winner on the 2 buss! Resonance filters …. so tasty!! Obviously it’s a cleaner EQ, but this feature set in a 500 series stereo mod is ridiculous! Passive Massage is really nice, too. It’s subtle, as it should be.”
“I’ve been waiting for an EQ with these features without breaking the bank and the announcement of this product has been a very welcome one. Now that I’ve played with it for a while, I can says that I’m not disappointed at all! And the Passive Massage is a great bonus! Amazing work elysia !”
“elysia’s design and engineering capabilities are already well known, but I need to point out that attention to details, aesthetic, packing, manuals and support are as great as it can be, so we are lucky to get real high-end quality in all respects at such attractive price point. It is quite rare that I get impressed by new gears (not to mention 500 series), but elysia forced me to re-consider some opinions related to this form factor. Kudos to the guys at elysia.”
“This is such an incredible unit: Class-A stereo EQ with 4 bands, really nice functions including a passive filter and HP/LP with resonance, stepped pots, great quality opamps and caps, all with an incredible build quality overall!”