How to produce a basic white noise filter sweep

An electronic music essential demonstrated with video and step-by-step guide


Filtered white noise sweeps are a staple FX technique for computer musicians, particularly handy for adding pace and tension to transitions and breakdowns in dance music.

In the video above and step-by-step below we show you how to create a simple sweep. Before starting you may want to download Stereo_White_Noise.wav (right click and Save As), which is used in the tutorial.


Step 1: Sweep FX sound awesome over breakdowns and transitions, giving a sense of pace and atmosphere. They're essentially filter-swept noise, so for this walkthrough, we'll need some stereo white noise and a filter. Synths or samples will do, so download and drop in Stereo_White_Noise.wav (right click and Save As) or load up/create a white noise preset in your soft synth of choice.

Step 2: We'll use high- and low-pass filtering in series. This is like using a band-pass, but we can produce a wider range of FX using different settings for both filters. So, using your synth's filters or a separate filter plug-in (we use Vengeance-Sound Philta CM - available on the cover disk of each Computer Music), draw in an upward or downward automation curve for both Cutoffs. Increase the Resonance control for more intensity.

Step 3: Now the sweep is taking shape, let's distort it to squash the dynamics and bring it more into the foreground. A few dB of Gain in Cubase's Distort works for us. As a final touch, try out flangers, phasers and choruses to add texture and character to the sweep. We go for ValhallaDSP's ValhallaÜberMod.

Two Focusrite plugins, worth £229…
…for absolutely FREE with Computer Music 236