Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sherman Rodec Restyler Analog Filter

It was only a couple days ago that I introduced you all to Rodec's MX2200 DJ Mixer.  Today I'm going to feature the product that brought me into the Rodec light.  The Rodec/Sherman Restyler is an analog EFX unit built by two of the best boutique analog audio manufacturers in Belgium.  Sherman products have made their name in the standalone analog filter world, and Rodec makes some of the best analog DJ & Live Sound mixers you can buy.

Sherman's Filterbank 2 has become a staple in the analog filter game, it literally features everything any analog filter nut could ever want.  The Restyler isn't quite as versatile but IMO, I feel like that's what makes it so special.  The Restyler has no MIDI or LFO features, not to say this is a bad thing.  Both Sherman & Rodec took a more direct approach when they designed & built the Restyler, no fluff, just the stuff you need to give your music those fantastic analog filter characteristics that have been around since the days of Hendrix & even before.

On first glance the Restyler is certainly a visual wow, when you're looking at the Restyler, it stares you back in the face and screams; "manipulate every part of me, NOW!"  The unit sits tilted at a nice angle that should be rather comfy & ergonomic for most of you DJ's & Performers out there.  The knobs, buttons & faders live separated and spaced out from each other on the unit, this means even fat finger people like myself won't have a problem mashing the controls to infinity and back during a live set.

The Restyler won't leave you in the dark either, the visual feedback from the multiple LED's on the unit ensure that you and the Restyler are constantly in close communication.  Feedback from a piece of equipment isn't as important in the studio world when we should be using our ears but, in a live setting (specifically one with crumby stage monitoring) these visual cues can often times be all we have to go on.  The Restyler has all the typical metering LED's you're used fo and some that might be less familiar.  It's large blue LED ring around the Master pot indicates filter modulation by pumping on & off based upon how much filter modulation is being applying to your source material.  The blue & green trigger LED's rung around the "Slave" pot indicate which filter (master or slave) has the greatest effect on the source material you're running through the Restyler.  If the master filter is processing more source material, than the slave the LED will be lit with blue, if the processing is taking place inside the slave filter, the LED will light up green.  Any combination of the two filters will be represented by the illumination of both colors around the slave knob.

Three sliders handle the output levels of the low-pass, band-pass, & high-pass filters.  Their travel is quite short at only 20mm but users do say they are still quite effective.  If a fader is raised above the center unity detent the output of the filter is increased whilst simultaneously reducing filter modulation.  The modulation knobs offer both positive and negative modulation with the unity setting set not dead center but at the 9 o' clock position.  The Restyler features both amplitude and frequency modulation sourced from an envelop follower. (an envelope follower extracts multiple frequencies from a single wave and then uses the information to control EFX; phase, wah, etc.)  The three slope buttons on the Restyler change the filter cutoffs from the default 12dB to a steeper and more aggressive 24dB slope.  According to Sound on Sound (where I first discovered the Restyler) The 8 button combination provides you with enough filter flavours to satisfy just about any producer or DJ.  The Restyler is more than just a filter, utilizing the controls correctly you can gate and delay material too, the Restyler does major work beyond just typical filtering, revealing a whole set of EFX characteristics not first considered when talking about filters.  It's all just a matter of how the user puts the Restyler to work.  Keep in mind that a limiter behind the Restyler is extremely important, filters can do major damage to not only our ears but our equipment as well.  If you abuse this beast it will in turn abuse you; destroying your ears first and then demolishing your equipment.  Treat it with respect and safe guard from costly mistakes by using a limiter post the Restyler in your chain.

The inputs and outputs of the Restyler are certainly DJ friendly as they offer RCA in's & out's.  The restyler also features combi jacks (XLR & 1/4' Connections in one Jack) for 1/4" & XLR Inputs, and 1/4" Outputs.  This is a stereo unit and is mainly designed for the processing of entire songs in a live situation but, I see no reason why it can't become a trusted tool in many production studios as an outboard filter EFX unit too.  There's no doubt the Restyler can liven up those linear and lifeless sounding soft-synths from your DAW.  After all analog filters are a large part of what gives true analog synthesizers their own character & sound.

I've never actually used a Restyler so I can't really speak much as to how it works once in your hands.  However, the Restyler to me seems more like an instrument than an EFX box.  The analog character from both Sherman & Rodec should liven up almost any piece of material ran through the Restyler.  Wheather you're a performer on the go or a producer locked up in a studio the Sherman/Rodec Restyler is certainly something you want to take a look at.  The audio world is slowly becoming more and more consumed by the hard and lifeless sound of digital audio, utilizing something like a Restyler adds the analog flavor that will set your music apart from the rest.  For more information on the Sherman-Rodec Resytler be sure to visit the Restyler Website and check out the video below!

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