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Elta Music Polyvox PF-3

Stereo Filter By Robin Vincent
Published February 2023

Elta Music Polyvox PF-3

Elta Music have put the heart of the celebrated Soviet synthesizer into a convenient desktop box.

I’m surprised that desktop standalone filters are not more of a thing. I remember having a lot of fun playing with the Waldorf MiniWorks 4‑Pole filter in the back room at Turnkey [a London retail store] where I worked in the late ’90s. There have been a few others along the way like the Moogerfooger, the Fat Resonator, Sherman Filter Bank and more recently the Analogue Solutions Mr Hyde, but considering the explosion in DAW‑free, hardware jamming I would have thought standalone filters could fit in there quite nicely.

The most obvious reason for their lack of proliferation is that everything already has a filter. And most things with a filter let other things use that filter via an external input. So, have I already talked myself out of the need for a Soviet‑inspired, stereo‑linkable/mono‑decouplable, multi‑mode, noise‑infused, CV‑controllable filter in a bomb‑proof box? Or could Elta Music convince me otherwise?

Polyvox PF‑3

The Polyvox PF‑3 is based on a filter design pulled from the much sought‑after Soviet‑era Polivoks synthesizer (apparently the spellings are interchangeable). It uses the same UD1208 chip, which gives it that unique about‑to‑fall‑apart‑at‑any‑moment tone when you seek out the edges. Elta advise you to let the PF‑3 warm up for at least five minutes or you will get some horrendous feedback when the frequency knob approaches zero in Soft mode. I can attest to that; it’s definitely best to turn it on and go and make a cup of tea.

Apparently no two examples of the UD1208 are the same, which means the two filters will vary, something that Elta count as a feature rather than an issue. You can use the filters independently, as a linked pair for parallel mono processing or stereo filtering, or in series by plugging only into input 1 and out of output 2. However, it has no mono‑to‑stereo ability. Two Link switches will let the first filter CV and cutoff knobs control both filters.

Layout

From left to right you have a CV input tied to a CV attenuation knob and activity LED. The LED seems to be post attenuation so it disappears once you wind back past the number 2. That seems a little odd to me. Next is the cutoff frequency knob with enlarged numbering around it to draw the eye, and its companion, the resonance knob. Then we have the filter mode switch, which adds high‑pass and notch options to the Polivoks’ original low‑pass and band‑pass. The row is finished off with a level control and a wet/dry mix knob.

In between the two filters you have the Link buttons and a Hard/Soft...

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