A cascade of two-pole–two-zero filters with level-dependent pole and zero dampings, with few parameters, can provide a good match to human psychophysical and physiological data. The model has been fitted to data on detection threshold for tones in notched-noise masking, including bandwidth and filter shape changes over a wide range of levels, and has been shown to provide better fits with fewer parameters compared to other auditory filter models such as gammachirps. Originally motivated as an efficient machine implementation of auditory filtering related to the WKB analysis method of cochlear wave propagation, such filter cascades also provide good fits to mechanical basilar membrane data, and to auditory nerve data, including linear low-frequency tail response, level-dependent peak gain, sharp tuning curves, nonlinear compression curves, level-independent zero-crossing times in the impulse response, realistic instantaneous frequency glides, and appropriate level-dependent group delay even with minimum-phase response. As part of exploring different level-dependent parameterizations of such filter cascades, we have identified a simple sufficient condition for stable zero-crossing times, based on the shifting property of the Laplace transform: simply move all the $s$-domain poles and zeros by equal amounts in the real-$s$ direction. Such pole-zero filter cascades are efficient front ends for machine hearing applications, such as music information retrieval, content identification, speech recognition, and sound indexing.