Pan60 04/2014
Pan60: "A very nice piece of gear, as expected. elysia delivers, yet again, in a very cool 500  form product. The basis for more gear lust! A big thumbs up, guys. If you are looking for a two buss EQ, don’t hesitate to check the xfilter 500 out :)"
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Future Music 03/2014
Robbie Stamp: "The xfilter 500 will behave like a smooth professional and you can trust it to enhance without degrading, and yet it offers a world of radical reshaping that makes it a highly creative tool. I’m having a problem thinking of a reason not to buy one."
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Music Tech 02/2014
Mike Hillier: "The xfilter is a fantastic and versatile tool that we would happily give a place to on our stereo mix buss. However, it isn’t limited to this role and performed fantastically on just every sound we put through it. At this price, the xfilter is almost a must have tool for your mix buss."
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Audio Xpress 12/2013
Miguel Marques: "While testing the xfilter 500, I felt elysia created one of the finest equalizers I’ve ever heard. All in all, this is definitely the type of gear that serious professionals will want to have as it will pay for itself, due to its excellent sound quality, adaptability, and build quality."
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Tape Op 11/2013
Eli Crews: "The xfilter 500 has done what I've asked of it on every occasion - make what I run through it sound better. Whether I'm looking for sheen, warmth, bottom, midrange, sparkle... the xfilter has performed dutifully and happily. The Passive Massage really is a treat."
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Mix Magazine 11/2013
Brandon T. Hickey: "There is certainly a need for this new tool, and with the ability to find the best in any piece of audio and exploit it, it’s hard to imagine any future competition outdoing what elysia has already done here. A whole rack of these would be a welcome addition to any studio."
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Tools4Music 10/2013 
Christian Boche: "After all, there really is something like 3D in audio – the three 500 series modules by elysia build a triptych of great sound, in which the xfilter plays the role of a delightful indulgence. All in all, this is audio culture at celebrity chef level.“
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Audio Times 06/2013
Robert Campbell: "First thing to say is that the elysia xfilter 500 is a very classy sounding equalizer. If you need a really high quality stereo EQ for stem and 2-buss work then you should audition the  xfilter 500. And of course it will work its magic across a whole range of mono and stereo sources as well."
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Professional Audio 06/2013
Georg Berger: "Once more elysia shows that a great sound, striking features and transparency do allow a favorable buying price after all. The manufacturer remains true to its principles, which could be summed up as high end sound and quality at a low cost price, or 'Class-A for the people'."
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Pro Tools Expert 06/2013
James Ivey: "I'll be very reluctant to give this one back, I have to admit. The pots feel nice, got a real quality feel about it. As a mastering EQ or as a buss EQ, it's really really powerful, very clean and really nice. Thanks so much elysia for that one!"
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Stereo, for real.

by Hannes Bieger
Bonedo (Germany) – July 2013

This time we have mounted an elysia xfilter module into our 500 series rack for review. elysia have earned themselves an outstanding reputation with exceptional and a bit unconventional signal processors. The big “flag ships“ were used as the basis to create a series of products which are more affordable, but without compromising on the quality standards.

The release of the xfilter 500 stands in this context, too: While the “big“ elysia compressors have already led to “smaller“ rack and 500 series adaptions, this still needed to be done for the part of frequency processing. With the xfilter 500, the museq gets its little brother – this first class EQ made by Ruben Tilgner and Dominik Klaßen.

In their top level range, elysia always seem to max out what is possible in terms of audio design on an absolute scale. Obviously this approach cannot be had for free, and it is also obvious that these superlatives can't be held when a certain price point is in focus. However, this does not mean that elysia have slacken the reins in any way – it certainly as demanding to get the maximum out of limited resources. And this is exactly the path our two protagonists went again.

Quite rare: A true stereo EQ

Being a double-wide 500 series module, the xfilter 500 fulfills the requirements to process stereo signals. It is a “true“ stereo EQ, which means that instead of offering two identical sets of controls for each channel, it offers one single linked set of controls for both channels. This has some advantages, as you don't have to match two separate channels manually anymore. Also, taking the limited amount of space available in the 500 series format in consideration, this is maybe the only possible way to offer a stereo EQ with a total of four bands plus a couple of extras in a Lunchbox module...

Broad filter ranges

While especially the shelving bands are designed very broad and smooth, this character can be radically changed by switching these bands into their specific cut modes. The bass band in particular benefits from a distinct resonance peak on stronger settings of the gain controller in this mode – a very powerful tool. For example, you can use this to add extra thrust to a bass drum while cleaning up the lowest sub-frequencies at the same time. The mid bands have a quite broad tuning, too. The narrow Q option is useful in many cases, but even then the filters remain on the broader side, which results in natural sounding sweetening. By using Q factors of 0.5 and 1.0, elysia support today's usual workflow: Really narrow cuttings are left to the digital realm while analog EQing is used especially for making your signals sound better.

"Passive Massage": Inductor-Capacitor-Filter

The “Passive Massage“ is an additional fixed filter band based around an LC circuit. It boosts the high frequencies around 12kHz with something like 2.5dB and then starts to gently roll off at 17kHz. If you would like to add some silky shine to your signals by the simple push of a button: Here you go.

"Random" arrangement of the filter bands?

elysia have obviously managed to include a lot of functions into this module, and the double wide front panel certainly helped to find a place for all this. However, the arrangement of the filter bands seems to be a bit unusual. The bass band is located in the upper left corner, followed by the low mid band below. The high mids are sitting on the right top, followed by the treble below. The reason for this not really intuitive placing is this: elysia use exactly the same boards for the rack version of the xfilter as well. And if you place those two boards next to each other, the order of the bands gets back to what we are used to. This might need a little time to familiarize for 500 series users, but it helps to keep the cost of the product down, and this is something the users of both formats benefit from.

Fastidious selection of components

Concerning technical aspects, elysia have not economized at all. An audio processor that uses potentiometers instead of switches for linked stereo processing needs a low tolerance for its components to create a precise stereo image. This is not a trivial problem, especially when two and four layer pots are used like in the xfilter. elysia select every single pot with very critical parameters, leading to a massive discard of 50% of the purchased material! The special MKS film caps are chosen for the same reason – with only 5% tolerance they rate twice as good as what is usually being used.

elysia's audio circuits are based on class-A technology of a very modern type. In contrast to more vintage-oriented designs like those coming from Chandler Limited, for example, elysia also uses SMD technology for populating their boards and electronics designs (instead of transformers) for balancing their input and output stages. This fits very well into the crisp, modern concept, and helps to safe resources which can then be used for the very discerning selection of components.

Practical use

elysia has provided the xfilter 500 with a set of features which is great for everyday use and pretty much self-explanatory at the same time. Nevertheless, for completely understanding the special functions of the xfilter 500 we recommend a look into the comprehensive and lovely designed manual. Some manufacturers don't give you any kind of documentation with their 500 series modules at all... so even in this aspect elysia can set a positive contrast. The position of the filter bands takes a short while to get used to, and in an ideal world I would wish that the gain and the frequency pots would come in different colors, which could give a better overall overview. But anyway, working with the unit just like it is is fine, too.

In terms of sound, the spectrum of the xfilter can be described in a few words: Clear, open, punchy, and still silky in the high frequencies – if you don't overdo it, as in all situations the xfilter provided a larger gain range than it was needed. Of course this is not a drawback – the xfilter proves straight away how much power it has under the hood.

Velvet-like colorations à la vintage Neve are not on the agenda, however. No problem, as the focus of the xfilter 500 is transparency and a clean signal flow. To put it in other words, here we have a unit that pushes its vanities into the background for the sake of its true reason: transparent frequency correction. And even if the xfilter does not outperform the API 550a in terms of punch, I have no problems at all in mentioning these two side by side. Especially the bass band in cut mode shows an enormous potential for creating a tight and solid fundament, and because of its very broad frequency range reaching as low as 45Hz the low mid band can be part of the bass party, too. Actually you even have two low frequency bands available as a result of this generous tuning, totaling in four different filter curves: Shelving, cut and resonance, plus two peak curves with different Qs – just another example for the ample flexibility of the xfilter 500.

The additional LC filter cuts a fine figure in this context, too. It does not fit in all of the time, but in many situations this extra breeze is exactly what is needed. On top of this, the “Passive Massage“ function can also support the treble band, resulting in an EQ with even five bands in some cases. The stereo tracking works really well thanks to the sophisticated selection of components. Both channels are not perfectly the same, but they equal much better than two mono EQs set to 'the same' values manually without the use of test oscillators and the like. So the xfilter receives the thumbs up regarding this question, too.

Result

elysia's series of 500 modules is getting more and more complete. The xfilter 500 is a powerful, flexible and clean sounding companion for their dynamics tools. Taking the many sound options and the absolutely convincing inner and outer values of the hardware into consideration, the asking price is fully justified.

Pro
Concept of the xfilter 500
Sound quality
Flexibility
Special functions like “Passive Massage“ and cut filters with resonance

Con
Positions of the filter bands are a little bit unusual