The Pedal File – More Great Pedals Made by More Little Guys

Hi.
I like pedals.  You like pedals.  He likes pedals.  She likes pedals.  We all like pedals.

Today’s topic is another attempt to bring you up a notch on the pedal popularity scale.  Whenever I find some cool pedals that I think are obscure and/or weird and/or versatile, I like to let you know about it so you can pretend to all your friends you found it first.  Check out these two exciting pedals from two different little guy builders.

Warm Star Electronics – Shape shift Mountain

Scrolling the webs, I came across this pedal and was instantly intrigued.  A compact yet super versatile Filter & LFO pedal?  I’m down like Donald Trump at an all you can eat baby buffet.  (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I assume he eats babies for breakfast, no?)

The Pedal File - Warm Star Electronics Shape Shift Mountain

Shape Shift Mountain is  the first pedal offered by Warm Star (built in collaboration with Delptronics, maker of eurorack modules, interactive music exhibits, PCBs, and other electronic design type stuff), which to me is a hopeful indication of more cool synth style pedals in the future.

At heart, the Shape Shift Mountain is a voltage controlled 24 db/octave low pass filter with an integrated LFO.  It uses the classic SSM2044 filter chip used in a bunch of synths, but most notably the Korg Mono/Poly synths (if Korg used it, it’s gotta be good).homer

As the name implies, applying a multi-faceted filter, plus LFO to your guitar signal can give you mystical mountain sherpa abilities to traverse your guitar (or anything with a 1/4″ output) across precarious tone-scapes you didn’t know existed.  The cool part is that you don’t really have to worry about avalanches.  Unless you happen to have a jam spot right next to a mountain.

How versatile can the Shape Shift Mountain be?  That’s just a silly question.  Well, silly, for starters you could use this thing’s filter as an EQ of sorts to carve and whittle frequencies to boost leads or thin out/fatten up your signal, which are things guitar players do when they really want to cut through the mix.  You could also employ this pedal as a unique distortion and really fuck your signal up with the gain, gnarl, and resonance controls.  Or, you could tame it as the versatile filter and modulation source it is for filter sweeping and vibrato/trill sounds.

Like that mirror in Harry Potter that shows you your biggest desire or something (I don’t remember, I read that book like 15 years ago), the Shape Shift Mountain can show you what it is you desire.  At least as far as filters and LFOs go.  It would probably not be right for anyone looking for a steady, consistent, one-trick pony relationship with a pedal.

There’s only 50 being made in the first run (going now!) so you should probably get over to their page and tell them you want one before it’s too late!

Warm Star’s Demo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5uG2QovabI

Tweakables
Cutoff – determines cutoff frequency of the filter.  Select the frequencies that shall pass or shall not pass.
Resonance – amplifies or accentuates the cutoff frequency.
Gnarl – in the video it sounds like this knob generates a second frequency one octave below the original signal, but I can’t say for sure.
Gain – the gain seems like it could add an octave as well, but at any rate I’m sure adds gain and distorts the signal.
LFO Rate – rate of the LFO.
LFO Slope – control how the LFO fades in and out.
LFO Amount – depth of the LFO.
CV inputs – control cutoff/resonance via CV signals.
CV out – for LFO.  Integrate this with your synth or CV enabled gear.
Expression inputs – LFO rate, amount, cutoff, resonance.  Control a knob with your foot so you can do synth stuff while you play, like sweep the filter.

Switches
High/low – switch between a high/low octave?
Triangle/Square – waveform selector.

There you have it: a promising first venture out to pedal sea from a fledgling company.  I think I speak for more than just me when I say I look forward to what Warm Star does in the future.

Check out www.warmstarelectronics.com for more info.


Parasit Studios – Into the Unknown Guitar Synth Deluxe

Possibly the synthiest synth pedal ever?

Parasit Studios isn’t just a pedal manufacturer, but a real live Swedish recording studio that also happens to make DIY pedal kits, many of which are pretty unique synth pedal-type designs.  People who produce/engineer records probably have a good understanding of sound, so why couldn’t they make a great sounding pedal (case in point – Recovery Effects)?

The Pedal File - Parasit Studio Into the Unknown Guitar SynthThe Into The Unknown (ITU) is a fine example of the above situation.

According to Parasit helmsman Frederik Lyxzen, what makes the circuit of the Into the Unknown pedal special is ‘that the octave up part is based on a frequency controlled oscillator so it doesn’t scramble chords like [the] usual octave circuit, and it tracks well over the entire fretboard…it can be very controlled, but also make super-glitchy sounds, fuzz, theremin sounds, synthy octaves down and up, flanger-ish modulation, drone-ish noise, oscillation, and more.’

The Into The Unknown’s filter and LFO sounds are similar to the Moog Freqbox, onlyurkel the ITU seems a lot more musical and controllable.  The fuzz on it’s own is one of the closest to sounding like an actual synth I’ve come across.  Be warned, this pedal sounds pretty amazing and will surprise you with it’s satisfying ability to produce sounds that are strange and otherworldly, yet beautiful and inspiring…like Urkel.

Needless to say, when I saw there was a limited run of 25 being sold, I had to jump on it.  Don’t fret though (terrible guitar pun), if you’re handy with a soldering iron, you can always get one of the DIY kits, or you can sign up for the mailing list and be notified of the next run.

Parasit’s demo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5uG2QovabI

Tweakables
Mix – blends between straight square wave fuzz and the synthesized VCO signal coming from the CD4046 PLL chip.
Sub – how much octave down you add to the signal.
Gate – sets input sensitivity.  Can be very gated or glitchy, and can self-oscillate.
Rate – controls the speed of the LFO.
Level – controls overall output.
Filter – controls cutoff of the resonant filter.  The middle position has a strong resonant peak.  Check out the filter sweeps in the demo video.  Super nice.
Track – controls the tracking speed of the VCO.  Turn it up for a slow attack/decay of the octave up or down for a faster attack/decay.
Warp – the man who built this doesn’t even know how to describe this control.  It’s interactive with the track knob and has a strong effect on the character of the modulation.  Can produce ring mod sounds.

SwitchesThese switches are independent from the mix controls so you can add octaves to either the fuzz signal or VCO signal.
Octave down -Toggles between one or two octaves down (down position – two octaves down, up position – one octave down).
Octave up – The VCO signal will be one or two octaves up depending on the switch (down position – one octave up, up position – two octaves up).
LFO – Wave Shape selector/turn off.

I think you’ll agree this pedal is more than worth it’s weight in synths.

Check out  www.parasitstudios.se for more info.

*Bonus: Interesting Article on LFOs and how they can shape your sound- http://www.emusician.com/gear/1332/the-ins-and-outs-of-lfos/36695

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!  Make sure to be quick if you want one to claim one of these fine pedals, and as always, feel free to let me know any thoughts you might have.  Stay tuned for video demos!

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

Pedal Feature – Henretta Engineering’s Choad Blaster

henretta1
Hey there.  Hi.  Hello…  Want to hear about a pedal?  No?  Well then what the hell are you doing on my site?  Please leave and go back to looking at cats or whatever it is non-pedal-loving squares look at on the internet.  If you are actually interested in hearing what I have to say please send me $5 via PayPal to continue reading.  Haha jk, I do this out of the good of my heart so maybe you can impress somebody with your vast pedal knowledge.  I want you to sound as good as you look.  Plus, chicks and barnyard animals totally dig pedals.  Just don’t forget where you learned it, son.

I’d like to use your precious internet-surfing poop time to tell you about a great and affordable distortion pedal.  I mentioned it very briefly in a previous post, but now it’s time to give you the full-on hardcore details.

The venerable Choad Blaster, made by Henretta Engineering, for a long time was the only ‘normal’ sized pedal with knobs (the recently released Lake Effect fuzz tremolo and just released Big Zapper envelope filter are exceptions, but that’s another post or two!) they had to offer.  I refer to this pedal as a distortion pedal, which it is to the unenlightened.  But to the true pedal sage it is actually an overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedal.  You mean you don’t know the diff?  Ok, let me break it down for you, you noob, with a helpful (although poorly edited on their website) explanation from the website of Dr. No Effects:

Overdrive – more mild, transparent gain.  Responsive to how you play/set your amp and tone.  Think Tubescreamer, Klon etc.
Distortion – more intense gain, tends to color your tone.  Think Boss DS-1, ZVex Box of Rock, etc.
Fuzz – more organic, can be aggressive or smooth with nice harmonic character and overtones.  Some can be great for fat, single note lines, others for thick chords and/or octave effects.  Some clean up with the volume knob.  Some are crazy, some are tame. Think Fuzzface, Fuzz Factory, etc.

So then to break it down for you further, the Choad Blaster can offer tones that compete with any of the aforementioned pedals/tones making it difficult to apply one label to this device.  Let’s get on with the pedal then, shall we?

I’m a sucker for knobs (knob-sucker?).  While the Choad Blaster has only 4 knobs (and one internal trim pot), they’re as sensitive as Bill Cosby‘s nipples while committing rape in a pool full of Jello pudding? Paula Deen‘s nipples while basting a turkey? A choad in the wind? A freshly circumsized choad in the wind?  Americans over a tasteless joke?  The Choad Blaster is designed so the EQ knobs adjust frequencies in the guitar’s ideal frequency range (i.e. mids), which allows you to boost or cut the important stuff to shine through the mix.  It doesn’t just work the mids though, the tone knob can dial in the proper bass/treble ratio.  This is truly a ‘one size fits all’ pedal that can be the only source of dirt on your board.  If you’re into looping and can’t afford the luxury of endless pedals at your disposal, the Choad Blaster could be THE pedal you use for any boost/distortion/fuzzyness you need.  It’s important that looped layers sit in different places/frequencies in the mix so they don’t turn into a big muddy ball of shit.  I would also find this useful in a recording studio as you can sometimes get away with strange tones you wouldn’t necessarily use live, but work well in the context of standing out in a mix.

Tweakables:
Green Knob – controls output volume.  This pedal can get so loud it’s like being stabbed in the ear with a choad.  Ouch.  Not that I would know…but your mom would.
Yellow Knob – controls amount of upper-mid frequency gain and gives you a classic British-style crunch.  Sometimes when setting this knob high, it sounds like you’re gonna get a big, fizzy, mid-scooped tone, but it always comes out with surprising crunchy clarity.
Red Knob – controls amount of low-mid gain and turns to mild fuzzyness as you turn it higher.  Could also be named the ‘balls’ knob to stay with the theme of the pedal.
Blue Knob – turn clockwise to add treble and counter-clockwise to add bass.  At noon with the red and yellow knobs turned fully counter-clockwise acts as a transparent boost.  I like to keep mine a little more on the bass side, but it’s nice to be able to choose.  Changes the tone quite drastically from dark and bass-y to bright and treble-y.
Internal trimmer – compresses fuzz more as your turn clockwise.  As you turn it up it gets more into Fuzz Face/Fuzz Factory type territory with octaves appearing on notes played in the upper register, but nothing that glitchy or too crazy.
Switchable Op Amp – Say what?  You can switch out the op amp to customize your tone further?  In the words of Team America, “Fuck yea!”.  I think Kevin Henretta should draw more attention to this feature; it’s kind of hidden at the bottom of the manual.

Let me clearly state that this pedal is neither a gimmick nor a typical distortion pedal (I do admit the name ‘Choad Blaster’ piqued my curiosity to investigate).  It’s simple controls easily let you dial in a wide range of ear hole-pleasing tones.  Overall, this is a great distortion pedal and, to me, it stands out from being just another tube screamer or amp in a box.  Also, if you’re like me and not the biggest fan of fuzz, the Choad Blaster can be your safe trip into fuzz territory, like your trail of bread crumbs so you can find your way out of the fuzz forest.  It’s controls won’t confuse and with the ability to switch the op amp, this pedal can easily take the place of your existing distortions and fuzzes.

I think it was clever to design the Choad Blaster with the ability to distort upper and low mid frequencies.  Seeing how the guitar primarily sits in this part of the frequency spectrum means you have strict control over your tone and where you sit in the mix that would make Kim Jong-un red with envy.  Most distorted guitar tones you hear can be matched by distorting the proper frequency – the Choad Blaster offers this ability.  If your current distortion is blending in with your band, I suggest trying the Choad Blaster on for size (hehe).  Beware however, I’m pretty sure you can’t hold Henretta liable for any torn speakers and/or holes.

For more info check out Henretta’s website.

Check out my video demo:

That’s all for now.  As always, let me know what you think about the Choad Blaster.  Yay or nay?

Thanks for reading!

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

Iron Ether, Part 2 – The Subterranea

Hello to you knob lickers and switch ticklers!  Ready for the next installment of my thoughts on Iron Ether?  No?  Well I guess I have to call tough shit on this one!  You’ll thank me someday for bestowing such wonderful knowledge upon you.  If you missed Part 1, click here.  Now that you’re up to speed, read on.

The Subterranea

All kidding aside, this is a fantastic synth/octave pedal.  Do you want your guitar to sound like a fat slob of a fuzzy synth?  Buy this pedal!  Seriously.  It compares (minus a few features) to the EHX Microsynth in tone, but excels far better at down-your-leg-dripping warm analog octave tone.  Also it has lots of knobs and switches and I’m into that.  Did I mention each one has a unique finish?  You never know what you’re gonna get, making each pedal it’s own collectible little work of art.  It makes for an attractive and superbly versatile pedal that can let you compete with the asshole synth player in your band who thinks he’s so cool with all his tricked out sounds.

You get a bunch of octaves (three to be specific), waveform switches on two of them, and a low pass filter on the third.  There’s a clean mix knob, which of course leads to a crazy amount of tweakability.  The blending of the octaves with the filter and waveform switches grant awesome power to this pedal to churn out unprecedented synth tones like a Moog – on fuzz, man.  Somehow Taylor Livingston (the man behind Iron Ether) designed this pedal to sound like a lo-fi arcade synth that tracks well everywhere on the neck, with any pickup.  Pleasing video game tones are hiding beneath higher notes on the neck.  You can use the low octave and filter knobs to make your guitar sound like a deep bass.  Playing chords makes it glitch out a bit, but this can get really cool when you bring your clean tone back in.  I found even just playing with one octave voice can provide hours of experimental fun.  It’s like a kingdom of rugged synths at your fingertips and you are their king and stuff.

Tweakables – Quoted text from Iron Ether’s website

  • “Octave: This controls the volume of the main octave voice. This voice is based on classic octave down effects and offers a fat sub sound. Some elements of the original signal’s timbre remain unaffected.”  This is gnarly.  You’ll forget what the hell instrument you’re playing and lose yourself in the deep dark octave-y goodness.  Oh yes.
  • “Filter: This controls the cutoff frequency of a lowpass filter on the output of the Octave signal. This allows for sounds from deep, dub tones up to funky harmonically-rich signals. The filter only effects the “Octave” voice.”  I wish this was controllable with an expression pedal as it would be a sweet ass sweeping filtered wah, but I guess it probably was too hard to fit in the circuit.  It’s okay though, it’s still cool.  You still can make an impressive amount of tones with just the Octave and Filter controls with your good ol’ fingers doing the job.
  • “Octo Synth: This controls the volume of a synth voice tracking at one octave below the input pitch.”  Indeed it does.  A fuzzy glitchy octave sort of like the EQD Bit Commander.
  • “Octo Synth waveform switch: This selects between a saw, narrow pulse, or square wave for the Octo Synth voice.”  This is an awesome feature.  Get harsh nasally quacking fuzz, or a more mellow and rounded character if it’s been a rough day.
  • “Uni Synth: This controls the volume of a synth voice tracking at the same pitch as the input signal.”  Another nice fuzzy octave to add to the mingling of octaves.
  • “Uni Synth waveform switch: This selects between a saw, narrow pulse, or square wave for the Uni Synth voice.”  Once again, shape your attack for what it is you want to kill…or stun if you have feelings.
  • “Clean: This controls the volume of the unaffected signal.”  You know the drill, adds clean tone, versatility, blah blah blah…

Check out Iron Ether’s website for more info.  Also, the rest of their line of pedals is totally worth your time:  www.ironether.com

Please also watch my video demo:

A final thing I found really cool about the Frantabit and Subterranea is that even with just the clean tone dialed in, the guitar tone sounded, well, better.  It reminds me of a tube preamp with nice clarity and top end chime.  You could just use them as a tone enhancer/boost and not use the effects at all.  …But that would mean you are a horrible person and I will hate you for not using these exceptional pedals to their potential!

I hope you found this ungodly creation from Iron Ether as interesting as I do.  As always feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts and to tell me how your day was.

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

Pedal Feature – Iron Ether Pt. 1

Good news, everyone!  A new post about pedals!  It’s been far too long and it looks like you’ve been working out.  Very nice.

Iron Ether logo

At this very moment I want to bring your attention to a rather unique pedal purveyor.  A few months ago I stumbled across, made up my mind I must have, and then acquired The Frantabit and Subterranea made by New Orleans based pedal erector, Iron Ether.  After I watched their demos I was really intrigued by the versatility of those two particular pedals (Subterranea review to follow shortly).  Both were able to achieve a wide range of sounds/tones and I couldn’t resist.  What really excited me was the fact that the Frantabit and Subterrenea make your guitar sound like not a guitar – more like a digital chainsaw in the former case and a fuzzy Moog synth in the latter.  Starting with the Frantabit as part 1, allow me to break it down for you, Morgan Freeman style:

The Frantabit

The Frantabit is essentially a bit crushing, sample-rate reducing, sound degenerating device capable of destroying and transmogrifying your tone in ways you never thought possible.  Bit crushing is caused by the reduction of the resolution or bandwidth of digital audio data.  The resulting quantization noise may produce a “warmer” sound impression, or a harsh one, depending on the amount of reduction.  If you’ve ever listened to techno or played a video game, you should recognize the sound.  It’s like your guitar is teleported to an alien world, but it gets stuck in between teleports and is deconstructed atom by particle, then passed through a series of fine mesh screens until you’re left with just a cloud of dust in some unknown dimension.  No foolin!  With control over the sample rate and bit depth (control over reduction of bandwidth), the Frantabit lends itself to being a highly flexible bit crusher.  On top of that, two separate modes only add to the craziness, with the ability to achieve some kick ass tremolo as well nice ring modulation with plenty of harmonics and chime.  Oh, did I mention that it can get all fuzzed and filtery too?  Like you’re the driver of a sputtery digital motorcycle (digicycle?).  For reals.  This pedal is tremendous for making noise and for adding texture to riffs when used more (or less) subtly.

Tweakablesquoted text is from the manual/Iron Ether’s website

  • “Sample Rate control: This control allows the user to lower the sample rate of the analog-to-digital conversion from 32khz down to <100hz, creating Nyquist aliasing effects – frequencies from the instrument begin to “fold” back downward, creating new harmonics and subharmonics. The frequency response is lowered as sample rate lowers, but instead of simply filtering out higher frequencies, they are mirrored back downward, to create strange harmonies and overtones.”  I don’t really know what that means, do you?  You could go get a degree in electrical engineering, or just take my word for it, the frequencies are weird and wonderful.  Like receiving an outer space transmission on your old tube radio.
  • “Bit Depth control: From a pristine 24 bits down to a massive fuzzed-out 1 bit, the Bit Depth control introduces digital distortion artifacts as the instrument’s amplitude is quantized into progressively fewer volume “bins”. Uniquely, with this type of distortion, the instrument actually becomes cleaner as it gets louder – the opposite of traditional harmonic distortion. Dynamic fuzz tones, digital destruction, and chiptune synths can be dialed in with this control.”  This one is fucked up, but like the previous feature it’s true.  You pick hard and the tone is clean.  You barely strum and your speaker is like a fuzzy whispery ghost.  It seems spooky and counter-intuitive, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.  You definitely get some wild fuzz tones with this knob – fuzz that is chaotic and soaring, which is great for bends and sustained notes.
  • “Mix: Controls the relative volume of the clean and effect signals.”  For those of you about to dismiss this pedal as another toy for noise nerds, please realize this feature makes the Frantabit quite useable in a musical setting.  By adding your clean tone, you can achieve such unique textures that I’m willing to bet no other pedal can give you.  Let it give it to you.
  • “Volume: controls overall volume.”  It can get LOUD.
  • “Degrade/Obliterate switch: This switch controls the behavior of the sample rate reduction.”  I like a switch with choices such as these.  If only I had a remote control with this function to use against those who disobey and annoy me…
    • Degrade mode is true digital sample rate reduction, as described above.”  At some settings the Degrade mode is perhaps the crunchiest, fuzziest, most ominous black cloud bass synth tone ever.  It can also provide you with lots of bit crushed ‘playing Mario Bros while the Nintendo is on fire’ sort of sound.  This thing can literally disintegrate your signal down to one bit.  Like pulling the thread on the sweater of your tone, you can hear it unraveled – naked and screaming like an altar boy in the night.  This mode is also great for producing your gnarly, sputtering, and ripping fuzz tones.
    • Obliterate mode is an emulation of analog aliasing effects – a harsh, harmonically rich “pixellated” sound, much like square wave ring modulation which creates synthy atonal waveforms.”  Obliterate mode is hard to describe.  How do you put things like digital bubbles, digital saws, digital bowling pins, digital pins and needles, static, crackles etc. into words and in a musical context?  Some settings give you really nice warm tremolo (as mentioned above) that can be choppy as well as change speed on each note you play.  Other settings give some nice ring modulated bell like tones and the other scrambled weirdness I feebly attempted to describe above.
    • “Expression Mode rotary switch: this 4-way switch allows the user to assign the expression pedal to any control:
      • S: Sample Rate
      • B: Bit Depth
      • +: Controls both Sample Rate and Bit Depth at the same time
      • M: Mix – clean/effect volume ratio”  This is also really cool and surprising on a pedal of this size considering it’s complexity and amount of knobs.  You have lots of options to tweak with your foot, and I have to say, one of the coolest things about this pedal is playing stuff while the knobs are ‘turning’.

Check out Iron Ether’s website for more info.  Also, the rest of their line of pedals is totally worth your time:  www.ironether.com

A final thing I found really cool about the Frantabit is that even with just the clean tone dialed in, the guitar tone was improved.  It reminds me of a tube preamp with nice clarity and top end chime.  You could just use this as a tone enhancer/boost and not use the effect at all.  …But you would be the most boring person in the world and I will hate you for not using this exceptional pedal to it’s potential!

I hope you found this ungodly creation from Iron Ether as interesting as I do.  As always feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts and to tell me how your day was.  Stick around for a demo video on the Frantabit and my next post – Iron Ether, part 2…

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File