Ashdown Type 23 Review
Forget space-cadet sounds. This road-tough envelope filter is all about dialing fat funkiness with minimal hassle.
Recorded direct into Avid Mbox into Logic X using Sandberg T5. .
Clip 1 - Low filter engaged
Clip 2 - High filter engaged.
Clip 3 - Both filters engaged.
Excellent build. Simple design. Practical sounds.
No blend control. Big footprint.
Ashdown Type 23
Ease of Use:
Over the last 20 years or so, Ashdown has carved out a nice niche in the bass universe with amps that have become fast favorites with some pretty high-profile rock bassists. When first introduced, the company’s ABM amplifier series proved Ashdown had the skill and R&D to create products that sounded like nothing else on the market at the time. Knowing what the company has been and continues to be capable of, I was excited to check out a recent addition to Ashdown’s ever-growing pedal line: a new envelope filter called the Type 23.
There’s no getting around it: This pedal is heavy and big. Even more striking, initially, is that the only things on the almost 1 1/2-pound pedal’s face are a knob, a toggle, and a footswitch. The vintage nerd in me nodded and smiled while feeling the pedal’s weight and gazing at its simplicity.
The 3-position rocker switch selects the filter frequency: high, low, or a mix of both. The rotary control manages the filter’s sensitivity. There’s also a switch on the bottom of the pedal that lets you further tailor the chosen filter-oscillation frequency. With just a few options to manipulate the tone, however, one can’t help but be curious how many varieties of funk the pedal is actually capable of putting out.
From Swish to Swosh
What was evident after only 30 seconds of playing is that the Type 23 has no intention of being a traditional envelope filter. When the sensitivity is set all the way down, a typical filter pedal only lets a sub signal through— barely enough to discern any kind of pitch. The Type 23 is not like that. Not at all. Instead, it has a very midrange-forward, nasal-y-ish personality across all the settings, which allows the pedal to stand its own sonic ground, even with numerous other instruments surrounding it.
With the filter frequency switch on the low setting and the sensitivity control at noon, the filter produces a clear, punchy tone with strong fundamentals from the still-present clean tone. The most prevalent sound is a loud swish that surrounds the note and lands like a small, high-pitched UFO after cutting the note off. If you want less of it, simply dial the sensitivity back to 9 o’clock, where a very vocal, almost talk-box-like tone occurs.
Setting the frequency switch to high and returning the sensitivity control to noon, a lower-voiced tone makes an entrance, with an extra-aggressive midrange normally only achievable through use of distortion.
The pedal does a great job of maintaining fundamental lows when engaged, and I found that the middle position (when used with a direct signal on a separate channel) provides a subtle but perfect amount of funkiness to sit comfortably with other instruments in the mix for an entire song—not just as an effect to turn on, say, for a solo. This gives it tremendous potential as a tool in the studio.
Instead of an envelope filter with a ton of spaced-out-sounding effects one may never use, Ashdown’s Type 23 presents us with a few very usable ones. The extremely simple layout makes for lightning-fast tweakability, and the old-school solidity in the build department makes for a good, modern replacement for those of us who have had to rely on more fragile vintage filters on tour. If you’re willing to sacrifice a chunk of pedalboard real estate, the Type 23 is a strong candidate for a funky new occupant.