The Pedal File: Catalinbread’s Montavillian Ambient Echo

Good day, pedal filers!  It’s official, your favorite source of wacky pedal news can now be found at ThePedalFile.com!  That’s right, I guess I’m here to stay for a little while.  That’s good news for you and bad news for all the pedals I’ve yet to encounter.  May this be their warning…  Anyway, I’d love to tell you what else is new around the luxurious offices at The Pedal File HQ (hint: it’s a pedal) – the Montavillian Ambient Echo by Catalinbread Mechanisms of Music of Portland, OR.  My dedicated staff slaves and I love the creamy space feelings this unit provides, like being engulfed in a UFO tractor beam (what you’ve never felt that?).

Catalinbread has a full line of effects worth looking into, but delay is where they stand up and out, fully erect.  I posted before about their Echorec pedal, which is an impressive recreation of the Binson Echorec, as well their Zero Point flanger and Anchtithon fuzz/tremolo/mushroom pedal.  They also offer the Belle Epoch, their take on remaking the sound of the Maestro Echoplex EP-3.  As you can see, Catalinbread love their classic delays as much as Americans love rehashed music and cinema.  It comes as no surprise then that Catalinbread would be able to engineer a useful delay pedal with features that straddle the line between old school and modern, analog and digital.  (I’m going to coin a new term here – Digilog….  Trademark.)

Your first time with the Montavillian you will become enchanted, paralyzed, unable to escape the comforting trails of delay even though you recognize your own mortality could be at risk because, you know, if you don’t take a break from playing with pedals and at least eat something you may not make it more than a few days.  I barely was able to break myself away and survive.  Always remember, just because your pedals are machines, that does not make you one (Do pedals dream of electric sheep?).

I’m not here to blow smoke or talk in hyperbole (mmmaybe a little, but mostly just in ridiculous and absurd metaphors).  I bought this pedal, and I really love it because of its unique, versatile, and superb aural qualities.   (As you may know, that’s pretty much my checklist for an effects pedal.)

The Montavillian Echo uses the PT2399 chip (used more commonly in lo-fi delays like the Recovery Effects Cutting Room Floor, Caroline Kilobyte, Wampler Tape Echo and many others), but in Catalinbread’s words, “…rather than slavishly following the datasheet, we threw it out and ventured out on our own, using our ears to guide us, and what we achieved is a fantastic sounding delay.”  Indeed they have.  All I can say is their ears must be like freaking sherpas if they led them to such a majestic mountain of delayness.  Maybe I just don’t know shit about designing pedals and pairing components, but I’m surprised that a chip with such a lo-fi reputation could produce a delay so beautiful, so warm, so inviting.

The true Jesus fart (that’s what I call miracles) behind the great tone of this pedal is that this delay does not use companding to process your signal.  Companding is a combination of the words compress(ing) and expand(ing).  Basically, this means that in most analog/BBD-emulating delay pedals, your input signal is compressed, processed, then expanded back to input strength to the output.  Instead of the delay trails getting dirtier as they go, the Montavillian maintains clarity on the delay trails creating an almost reverby, pad-like effect.  (This is my favorite delay to get a realistic spacey synth tone when paired with fuzz and/or octave pedals like the EQD Bit Commander or Iron Ether Subterranea.)  It doesn’t take an engineering degree to understand that the less your signal is processed, the better and more pure your tone should be.  No companding = no strangling then smoothing out of your signal.  Your signal slides in there unimpeded like Bill Cosby at cocktail hour.

Tweakables: Quoted text from the manual

REPEATS“feeds signal from the output of the delay line to the input. This control allows for a single repeat all the way to self oscillation.”  It doesn’t take a lot to make this thing freak out.  In a good way.  Like the equivalent of a bunch of hippies flailing around not being able to control the urge to let their hands chase each other at a Phish concert.  (Okay bad example because nobody likes watching hippies chase their hands at jam festivals…Okay well, I do, for a good laugh.)
MIX“this knob is traditional in the way it mixes into your dry path the amount of echo you want. What is not traditional is the amount of boost it permits you to add… So many echo pedals out there can barely tune the repeat to unity with the gain. This is not at all the case with the Montavillian Echo! You can make your repeats much louder than the dry signal. This comes in really handy for short repeats for a dramatic doubling effect as well as self oscillation freakouts.”  You can impress your friends with these slick delay tricks that can’t be pulled off with everyday delay pedals.  The result can be pretty strange since the repeats are louder than your pick attack; it almost sounds like reverse delay.  Seriously I don’t know of another delay that can do this, but please correct me if I’m wrong.  An extra point shall be awarded for this feature on the official Pedal File Pedestal.
TIME“this knob allows for a wide range of delay times, ranging from around 60ms all the way up to over 600ms max time.”  I prefer 1000ms of delay time, but I realized with this pedal that 600ms is plenty for most delay effects.  I have not really found it to be limiting.
CUT “this knob is a really neato control that I haven’t seen before on an echo. It’s function is to sweep from about 400Hz to about 1500Hz, lowpass filter… When the knee sweeps to the high side it gives a nice little bump in the mids right before the subtle fall off. Tuning this knob allows you to sweep from old school BBD dark filtering to a clear repeat. It gives you the power to adjust your echoes so that they sit in the mix perfectly against your dry signal. This control also functions to EQ the tonality of self-oscillations.”  All of the knobs on this pedal are quite sensitive with a large range of tweakability.  The cut knob is probably the most important as this is how you go from brighter repeats to dark and warm analog style wash.  Herein lies the secret to getting versatile delay tones out of just one pedal.  No matter where you set it, the repeats trail off getting darker as they go, like a low pass filter city going to sleep.  Don’t be fooled, even the brighter settings retain a certain warmness and wrap your ears in a big fur blanket that drags you down by the fire to make sweet love.

There is something soothing about the Montavillian’s tones, more so than any delay I’ve played, like listening to ocean waves, Air (the band), or the cries for help of innocent pedals.  If delay ain’t your thing, but you want an interesting ‘boost’, you can use it like an old school analog delay preamp that can add a perceived boost and a bit of pleasing harmonics to your signal.  It instantly adds more balls to dirt pedals and is perfect for getting all psychedelic up in there.  Whether you drop more acid than Wayne Coyne or you play for Jesus in your worship band, you will love this pedal (and Jesus will too).

The Montavillian is a pedal that you plug into and you can’t make it sound bad, unless you play blues rock.  Or hair metal.  Don’t do that out of the privacy of your own home.  Otherwise you’ll be fine.

Check out www.catalinbread.com for more info

That’s all for now.  Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts, and thanks for reading!

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

The Pedal File: A Cool Pedal for Consumption – Keeley’s Absolute Wurst Random Harmony Generator

Hello, pedal heads!  I’ve been busy lately and I’ve got to say, I missed you more this time than any other time we’ve been apart.  Every time I got a text, I thought it was you…  Let’s not do that again!  Let me make it up to you.  Your pal, The Pedal File, is here once again to check in and provide you with knowledge about a new pedal that I think is pretty damn cool.  There, feel better?

Since I started this here blog, it’s been only getting harder to keep up with all the new pedals and pedal companies and all the crazy new gear related things that are perpetually coming out like a hipster in college.  That’s why I like to sacrifice my time for YOU to save YOU the trouble of sifting through all the clones and designs that have been done before to bring attention to only the coolest, tweakiest, most versatile pedals around.  I could be playing with pedals right now, but I want you to be on the forefront of pedal knowledge so I’ll keep typing.

 

The Pedal File - Keeley Pedals

Robert Keeley is one of the pioneers of the boutique pedal game (along with his mod offerings), but only recently has he been making bigger waves for his original designs.  Most of his pedals seem rather straight forward – boosts, fuzzes, a delay here or there, some compressors (although the Compressor Pro is quite an impressive piece of work), etc.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with his line of pedals.  Up til now, they’ve just been pretty standard and not that weird.

You even get two finish options.

 

The Absolute Wurst is the pedal I want to talk about today.  It goes way way beyond the aforementioned items of the mundane and was, perhaps, plucked from the board of a guitar player in a parallel universe where down is 6 and up is purple.  Catch my drift?  The short demo video teaser from Keeley (below) doesn’t really begin to showcase all the features, but judging from the descriptions it seems to me like the Absolute Wurst is going to be absolute tits.  I admire the ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude that Keeley exudes with this pedal.  Like he’s all, ‘Yea, what?  It’s not another compressor or fuzz or whatever.  What’s up, son?  I do what I want!’  Kudos, Mr. Keeley.  You have been awarded an extra point.

 

What really shrink wraps my baloney is the description of the pedal – a random harmony generator (like a Rainbow Machine?) with pitch up and down capabilities; a ‘broken-sounding’ pedal for ‘Experimentalists, Mathematical Atonal Nerds, and Noise-Scape Artists’.  Robert Keeley, did you make this pedal just for me??  I’m still waiting for it to come in the mail…  I also note that Keeley makes reference to the Gonkulator in the description, which if you’re not familiar was yet another ahead-of-its-time DOD pedal that combined distortion with ring modulation into absolute weird tones that everybody was scared to use when it came out.  This caused the pedal to have a short life, only to be sought after now for it’s weirdness in this more enlightened golden age of pedals we live in.  How much overlap does the Absolute Wurst have with the Gonkulator?  Some?  Not much?  A lot?  I don’t know!  Geez, sometimes you can be pushy….but I’m sorry.  Let’s not fight.

Tweakables – taken from Keeley’s wesbite

MODES
Random – Insane Random Harmony Generator – Pretty much unüsable.  Enjoy! ;-)  (I’d use it)
Pitch up – Cräzy Harmony Up.  Air Guitarist on Acid (aka “Chorus”)
Pitch down – The Drünken Bäss Pläyer.  Low synth sounds and other strange weirdness.  Unexpected throbs (that’s what I get when I’m in a room filled with pedals, and it also happens to be the name of the band that the Pope started with some of his top Cardinals to ‘back up’ their favorite altar boys ).

CONTROLS
Upper Left (knob) – Blend your original signal, dry to all the way wet.  All the way SELFIE or PANORAMIC for you FB or IG peeps.
Upper Right (knob) – Speed (in Random Mode)  — Pitch Range for Up and Down Modes.
Lower Left (knob)– Proximity – How close, or the Proximity to original note that the “harmony” is.
Lower Right (knob)– Gain – as in PutOut.  (Otherwise known as your mother)

Bypass – It’s either On or… Off.
Battery Free – Shoe Gazing turns it on and stuff – Power Drain 60mA or greater.
Keeley Engineered – Days of experience and thoughtful design in the foolish and absurd.  (And I thought I was the only one…)
3D Glasses – Not Required, but they do make the pedal sound better.

Perhaps I will get my hands on this guy someday and do a more in depth hands on review/demo.  Until then, check www.keeleypedals.com for more info.

What do you think about The Absolute Wurst?  Is there another pedal you really really want to hear me go on and on and on about?  Leave me a comment, or if you have something to hide, hit me up on my Contact page!

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Nick
The Pedal File

The Pedal File: Cool Pedals to GAS Over

Sup homies?  Word on the street is you’re looking for your pedal fix.  I got just what you need and nothing you don’t.

I’ve gathered a small list of some cool shit that is happening now in the world of pedals.  I can’t possibly keep up with all that’s out there, but rest assured I’ve sifted through lots of pedals and selected the ones which excite and titillate the most.  You see, I’m doing all the thinking and searching for you so you just gotta read (assuming you can).  That’s right, just for you.

Recovery Effects Dead Session Filterbank

The Pedal File - Recovery Effects Dead SessionI stumbled across this beauty on Facebook today.  A new pedal from Recovery Effects??  Why yes, it appears that way!  I did a review of the Cutting Room Floor pedal, and I have to say they are one of the most innovative builders out there combining features not normally seen on pedals.  Recovery don’t try to imitate, no.  They’re all about pushing things forward and the Dead Session seems like a hopeful step in that direction.  No info is available except that it is a filterbank pedal ‘strictly for the freakers and tweakers’.  See, it was even made just for you and me.  If you are neither a freaker, nor a tweaker, why are you reading my blog?  Haha just kidding, everyone’s welcome here…………except no gingers.

Will the Dead Session do resonant LFO sweeps like the Sherman Filterbank?  Will it be more like an envelope-follower like a Mutron?  Will it give one ADSR controls to play with?  I don’t know anything I tells ya!  Quit it with all the questions already…  One thing is for sure – I really really want to find out.  And you should too.

You will probably see a demo of this pedal one of these days….

The Pedal File Editor’s update:  According to Mr. Markel, the Dead Session is ,”basically a 2 filter system- 1 resonant filter [with controls for] resonance, course and fine, and a notch filter section with 2 notch filters (hi / lo). The switch engages the 2nd filter.”

Don’t have any idea what that means?  Rather than confuse you, I’ll let the Wickiemedia video explain resonance and notch filters better than I ever could:

Check out Recovery’s website for more cool pedals

Function f(x) Clusterfuzz

The Pedal File - Function f(x) Clusterfuzz
I’m pretty sure I found this pedal through Effects Database, which is the most extensive pedal site out there (check it out if you haven’t!).

Function f(x) is new on the market with only one pedal to offer, but it’s worth taking a look at.  I don’t get into too many fuzz pedals, unless of course they get tweaky.  Described on their website as ‘a tweaker’s delight; capable of delivering medium-gain overdrive up to raunchy square [wave] fuzz tones,’ – you and your momma both know I had to find out more.

As you also probably know, I’m a sucker for anything with too many knobs plus some switches thrown in for good measure.  The Clusterfuzz is not modeled after any particular fuzz, which deserves an extra point.  Too many people out there just want to clone shit and sell it to you with a different label.  In fact, that’s how many pedal companies get started building before moving on to their own designs.  Function f(x) came out strong, showing maybe they aren’t afraid to do something new, which is why I’m telling you about them in the first place.

Tweakables include:
– Five clipping options for different saturation levels (no diode clipping, LED, FET transistors, and two silicon options).  Cool.
– A Filter switch for a second voicing.  Sweet.
– Volume, Tone and Fuzz knobs.  Probably necessary for a fuzz pedal.
– An “8-Bit” knob to dial in gated fuzz sounds.  Super sweet.
– Soft touch bypass.  Yes.  I prefer a soft touch (or momentary) switch on a pedal.  No noisy clicks or anything to clutter your sound upon engagement of pedal.

Check out Function f(x)’s website for more info

 

Alexander Pedals

I want to tell you about this fledgling company because they make very cool delay pedals – specifically The Radical Delay.  Started by Matthew Farrow of Pharoah Amps and Disaster Area Designs (they make awesome MIDI controllers for pedals), Alexander Pedals is off to a great start with a small yet unique line of effects that include another really cool delay pedal, a boost, and tremolo.

The Pedal File - Alexander Pedals Radical DelayThe Radical delay is like the name suggests – you know, different.  This pedal makes sounds that would only be possible otherwise with an effects loop-equipped delay with a bit crusher, phaser, some chorus/vibrato, and pitch shifter, and probably some other stuff thrown in the mix.  If you’re boring you can just have fun with the dotted-eigth note setting for cool rhythmic delays.  If you’re a wild and crazy guy (or gal) you’ll appreciate the gnarly ascending delay effects that sound almost like a Rainbow Machine.

Tweakables:
Time — Adjusts the maximum delay time from 10ms to 900ms.
Repeat — Controls the feedback of the delay.
Tweak — (Extra point for this label.  Also it is the word of the day.  Er, blog.) Tweaks a different parameter in each mode. See the mode descriptions for full details.
Mix — Controls the blend between fully dry and fully wet echo sound. 12 o’clock is an equal mix of clean and echo.

Mode Toggle:
Mod — Super-clean digital delay with adjustable modulation. The Tweak knob adds a luscious modulation to the delay.  At 12 o’clock there is no modulation. Clockwise adds a slow chorus and counter-clockwise adds a fast vibrato.  Chorus and delay sound like angels having orgies in heaven.  Such a pure sound.
Glitch — Pristine digital delay that you can mangle in unusual and interesting ways (I’m into that).  With the Tweak knob fully counter-clockwise, the Radical Delay will echo exactly what you play. Turn the Tweak knob clockwise to add some “ghost in the machine” style glitches and odd pitch modulation (Ok I’m aroused).  And with the Tweak knob fully clockwise, the Radical Delay sounds more like a synthesizer or video game console (And now I’m finished).  It kind of sounds like a bit crusher is added to the delayed signal only, which I have to say again sounds pretty god damn amazing.
Bend — Delay with pitch shifting that’s based on the earliest technology (aliens?) and spirals up or down with each repeat. Turn the Tweak knob counter clockwise to shift the pitch down or clockwise to shift up.  This one sounds kind of like a Rainbow Machine, which also has my ‘sounds god damn amazing’ stamp of approval.

*Hint: Turn the delay time all the way down and the Radical Delay will take on a whole new vibe. In Mod mode, you’ll find analog-flavored chorus. Glitch mode turns into a “bleep bloop” robot machine. And in Bend mode, try blending the dry signal in for glitchy pitch-shifted harmony lines.  Extra extra points for this feature.  The Radical Delay is asking for it, think of all the naughty things you and this pedal can do.

All that and a portion of your money goes to a cancer charity in honor of the builder’s brother Alex (hence the name).  So you can receive an awesome pedal and give some of your money to charity?  I guess that’s cool.

Check out Alexander Pedal’s website for more info.

That’s all I got for now.  Go forth, and live your life knowing you learned about a few more pedals that you should buy.  Just don’t forget who sent you.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment, or feel free to follow me to get updates on my next post.  Also, I almost forgot, I’ve added a Contact page so you can contact me directly with any questions, suggestions, or bad words you need to get off your chest.  Or on.

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

The Pedal File – NAMM 2015 Pedal Picks

The Pedal File - NAMM pedal news

Hello again.  I know it’s only been a day, but I thought about you all night long.  I had to let you know about mooooore pedals.  As you may know, the 2015 NAMM show just ended and many young supple pedals have just been released into the world.  While there are far too many to list, I picked my five favorites and compiled a list for you to eye-fondle.  Read on, these are in no particular order.  Just don’t get your computer keys sticky…

Source Audio – You might already know the Soundblox line of highly tweakable and progammable effects as well as the amazing Hot Hand Controller to control these pedals with a hand sensor.  Pretty cool stuff already.  This year they brought more stuff to NAMM than I can talk about in one post.  The REFLEX expression pedal really stood out for me and is the coolest expression pedal I’ve seen.  You can send three simultaneous standard expression (or CV) signals, MIDI continuous controller messages, as well as six LFO wave shapes.  With the control panel you can program which outputs are active, the depth and direction of the expression signal, and the curve of the tapers (not sure what they mean, but my guess is the shape of the waveform as it goes down to ‘zero’).  You can also assign one of its six LFO wave shapes with expression control over the LFO speed.  Plus, the Reflex can save up to 128 pedal configurations, recallable via the onboard controls or external MIDI program change messages.  There is so much you can do to your other innocent pedals with that…Just try to tell me that’s not titillating.  These guys have been busy!

For more info: www.sourceaudio.net

DOD (Digitech) – DOD is smart because they realize they need to compete with all these silly boutique pedal companies abound.  They’ve released a few new pedals that show they’re paying attention to the market by adding cooler and more colorful graphics as well as going beyond totally cookie-cutter tones.  The pedal that stands out to me is the new Boneshaker, whose circuitry was designed in collaboration with Black Tone Artworks (again showing their awareness of the rise of boutique).  This looks like a standard DOD-sized enclosure, but with a lot of tweaky features for maximum phalangeal stimulation .  The bonecrusher was designed with drop-tuned or extended-scale guitars, baritone guitar, and bass in mind, so the 3 band parametric EQ gives you a lot of low-end versatility with independent low level, low frequency, mid level, mid frequency, high level and high frequency controls.  The most interesting feature is the depth control.  A depth on a distortion pedal?  I know it sounds weird, but it adds low frequency growl.  Do you want your bass to be mean?  Turn that shit up.  I’m sure it can make even your puny little normal scale guitar sound pretty ripping too.  Check out this demo by Pro Guitar Shop.

For more info: www.dod.com

Moog – Everytime I hear about a new Moog product I feel like Jeffrey Dahmer in a morgue cafeteria.  Man how I love flange…I previously stated on this very blog that flangers would make a comeback.  Lo and behold, there were more than a few flangers being shown at NAMM this year.  The new MF Flange offers two types of flange – vocal comb filter and a more traditional flange as well as control over depth, time, feedback, and rate.  You can also control the time knob with an expression pedal.  If you’ve never invested in a Moog product, now is the time.  Their pedals are top quality both in sound (all analog, bucket brigade chips) and design (sturdy like your fat momma), and the Minifooger line offers an affordable Moog tier for even the most deadbeat of poor-ass musicians.  I’ve owned a Moogerfooger for about 12 years.  It’s one of the tweakiest pedals I own and it works just like the day I got it.

For more info: www.moogmusic.com

Catalinbread – These guys hopefully are on your radar by now because they’ve already made some great stuff.  I’ve talked about their delay pedals, but today I’m talking about the new Antichthon Fuzz Tremolo pedal.  This pedal is pretty nuts, being billed as a dynamic fuzz tremolo, a tone-generator that can be controlled with your guitar’s volume knob, and a harmonic fuzz drive.  With controls for volume, gravity, time, and space I can tell you I honestly have no freaking clue what the latter three controls do.  But I think that is the point.  The Antichthon is designed to be that new sound you’ve been searching for.  This pedal is made to be different every time you play, to surprise and inspire you and take you somewhere else outside our normal realm of existence.  That’s pretty out there, like the guy demoing their stuff in the video.  It reminds me a bit of the Fuzz Factory or Fat Fuzz Factory with all it’s gnarly tones, oscillations, and robot alien noises.  Just watch the video to get a better idea.

For more info: www.catalinbread.com

EQD – Is there any introduction needed for Earthquaker Devices?  If you have any hopes of being cool you should at least smile and nod when someone mentions their name.  Their coolness goes beyond any mere trend or gimmick, however.  Their pedals are totally unique and can play as nice or as bad as you want, making rabid fans out of schooled shredders and know-nothing noisemakers alike.  The most eye-catching pedal for me is their Fuzz Master General.  This is based on the Ace Tone Fuzz Master FM-2 Professional fuzz, but of course with EQD’s mods and in their words ‘re-imagineering’, the Fuzz Master General goes well above and beyond what it’s vintage predecessor can do.  You get a full spectrum of dirt from nearly clean to full-on post-Chipotle fart explosions.  A voicing switch allows you to select germanium or silicon clipping for open fuzz or tight fuzz respectively, or an open transistor drive for ring mod octave up type stuff.  That covers more fuzz territory than yo momma in a wet suit.  Oh snap!

For more info: www.earthquakerdevices.com

That’s all for now.  I hope you feel like you’re keeping your head above the ever-rising waters of the pedal world after this article.  More reviews to come!

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

Pedal Feature: Pigtronix Quantum Time Modulator

Hey there, just another exciting post from your favorite neighborhood pedal pal, The Pedal File!  Today I’m going to talk about a versatile and otherworldly pedal – the Quantum Time Modulator, produced by Pigtronix.  Based in New York, Pigtronix have been getting my attention, along with the attention of pedal lovers everywhere in the pedal world for a while now with their complex and originally designed pedals like the Echolution delay and Mothership Synth pedal.  Pigtronix pedals are full of analog goodness and built so sturdily (no cheap plastic crap components) that they could probably survive a cycle in your dryer.  With a man like Howard Davis (you know, that dude who designed tons of legendary effects for Electro-Harmonix??) on their side how could they do any less?

Pigtronix Logo

Per usual, I’ve had my eye on this pedal for a long time.  I fell in love with Pigtronix after buying the EP-2 Envelope Phaser a few years ago, so naturally I was giddier than a hillbilly stranded on a desert island with a pack of goats to get my greasy hands on the QTM.  I’d first like to point out that the Quantum has a great name.  Anything that sounds like it’s out of a science fiction book gets +1 from me.  Secondly, I like Pigtronix’s own description of the pedal: Multi Dimension Chorus Horror Film Vibrato DynaFlanger.  That’s creative.  Does that creativity steep into the pedal?  Read on, loyal tone minion, to find out.

The Quantum Time Modulator is, in layman’s terms, a chorus/vibe pedal.  It’s great for adding depth, dimension, swirl, and space to your guitar (or bass, or synth, or ukelele, or whatever) like you’re flying a time machine into a black hole to another dimension (I feel dizzy).  While it is a chorus, overall the QTM produces tones more like how you say, ‘dimension chorus’ – the kind of “dimension” effects used in professional recording studios.  These effects can add to the spaciousness of instruments in a mix as well as double a track, i.e. make it sound as if there are two tracks playing when there is only one.  Add to that the ability to modulate the delay time via envelope (more on that below), emulate rotary speakers, achieve pitch vibrato and recreate classic tones such as the MicMix DynaFlanger utilized by the great Frank Zappa, the TC Electronics TC 1210 Spatial Expander most commonly associated with Alex Lifeson of Rush, and the Roland Dimension D chorus, and the QTM is a whacked-out-chorus-swiss-army-modulator-of-time machine.  ***If you wanna know more, go to the bottom of the page for more info.

At first glance, the QTM’s controls look deceivingly simple, which sport only three knobs (or as I like to call them, pedal nipples) and one switch to choose either chorus or vibrato mode.  Say whaaaat?  A chorus with three knobs?  And they’re labeled sensitivity, speed, and source??  And this thing is supposed to emulate three much bigger and tweakier rack units???  Are you scratching your head?  Well at least close your mouth while you think like an ape, stupid!  It’s easy to guess what speed does, but how bout all them other knobs?  I was confused and intrigued (confrigued?) by this at first, but once you realize the relationship the knobs share, it becomes simple to understand how these controls work in combination to give you a pretty unbelievable amount of  lush 3D chorus/doubling/vibe/flange tones with only three freaking knobs.  Everybody knows; usually a cool chorus pedal used by cool kids has to have a minimum of four knobs (rate, depth, mix, and delay time).  Duh!

Tweakables:  the majority of this text is taken from the manual.

Sensitivity – this knob controls how hard you have to hit the string in order to produce a modulation voltage from the envelope circuit.  Lower settings will be appropriate for hotter pickups or in situations where you want only a small amount of envelope modulation to occur.  Higher settings will be needed for low output pickups or when you want to produce significant amounts of modulation via envelope.  As far as I know, this is a unique characteristic of this pedal.  In other words, the harder your attack, the harder the chorus modulates (kind of like an invisible hand cranking the depth or the delay time).  This adds a greater sense of dynamics by creating more dramatic modulation when you pick hard and more subtle modulation when you lay off.  Another way to think of it is like a regular envelope filter, but instead of a filtered wah sound, a heavier, swirlier chorus/flange sound is produced.  It sounds complicated, but it’s easy to get a feel for when you actually play it.

Speed – this knob controls the rate of the LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) modulation.  Slower speeds will create more spatial washes while faster speeds accentuate rotary and vibrato sounds.  This knob has great range.  I LOVE the lushness and depth at slow speeds as well as the movement and texture at faster speeds.

Source – this knob determines which of the two modulation sources (LFO or Envelope) is acting on the bucket brigade delay line.  When this knob is fully counter-clockwise (to the left in case you’re wondering) the Envelope is the only modulation source.  At full clockwise (to the right), the LFO is the only modulation source. Parked anywhere in between the two extremes causes the delay line to be modulated by a mixture of both Envelope and LFO.  This is a big part of the versatility of this pedal.  You know I love versatility….don’t you?

Chorus/Vibrato switch – when Chorus mode is selected the output is a combination of your clean tone with the modulated signal.  When Vibrato is selected, your clean tone is cast out of the signal like the town ginger to live a lonely life surviving in the woods.  All that is left is the pure effected signal that becomes, like, mayor and gets all the chicks.  That’s because effects are cool, kids.

The output can be either mono using a standard patch cable or stereo using a TRS (tip, ring, sleeve) cable.  As you can hopefully guess, the effect of the effect becomes stronger with a stereo setup or as Dweezil runs it – mono through one amp in a two amp setup.

The QTM sounds great stacked with other effects, especially anything that distorts.  I used it with a RAT distortion into a Moogerfooger MF-107 Freqbox into the QTM.  The Quantum made the tone sound better, while sometimes being so subtle that I couldn’t tell it was there until it was off.  The enhancement is hard to describe, but it seems to add movement, texture, shimmer, and depth making the signal more harmonically complex.  I found myself leaving it on most of the time while I played (unlike my pants).  Check out my video demo for an example:

Props to Pigtronix for somehow distilling three of the coolest and most unique chorus effects into one small unit (hehe).  Pretty clever considering their tonal overlaps.  The controls will leave any chorus vet feel like they’re looking at some kind of alien device upon first glance.  However, soon after first tweak, the role of each knob should reveal itself to you like Kim Kardashian in a grotesque photo.  Truly some of the best 70’s & 80’s chorus resides within this pedal along with a host of cool new modulation sounds to explore.  No matter what style you play (noise included), the QTM can easily find a place on your board.  Pigtronix didn’t just step out of the box.  They stepped out of the box, killed its family, set its house on fire, then turned around and took a crap on it.

pigtronix logo

Be sure to check out Pigtronix and their whole line of effects pedals.  You won’t be sorry.  Also feel free to leave me a comment at the bottom of the page with your thoughts.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

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MicMix Dynaflanger – this is a now discontinued rack unit flanger with the unique ability to control the delay time by the envelope of the input signal, creating weird and unexpected modulations.  This is part of what gave Zappa his beautifully bizarre tone on his ‘Shut Up N’ Play Yer Guitar’ album.  This was also the unit Dweezil Zappa used for Zappa Plays Zappa to achieve the specific tones of his father…until the QTM came about.  Check out this article for more info: http://www.zappa.com/zpz/tourlog/index.php?year=2008&month=6&day=6

TC Electronics TC 1210 Spatial Expander – this is a really expensive chorus/flanger rack unit capable of all sorts of modulation sounds (on top of making things sound better – this guy from a Sound on Sound article puts it on just about anything while recording for tonal enhancement).  Alex Lifeson has used one of these forever.  It’s made by TC Electronic and is based on the Haas effect, defined as the ability of our ears to localize sounds coming from anywhere around us.  In short, our ears determine the position of a sound based on which ear perceives it first and its successive reflections (arriving within 1-35 ms from the initial sound), which will give us the perception of depth and spaciousness.  This thing adds the depth and space.

Roland Dimension D – although it’s another rare one, this is the one you’ve probably heard of (the Boss Dimension C pedal is basically a mono version for guitar).  Instead of knobs, this unit has preset buttons that allow you to select different chorus effects with varying amounts of depth and speed and is known for its legendary stereo chorus effects.  The “Dimension” chorus effect is one where thickness, depth and a sense of width, is added to the sound to produce a kind of 3D effect.