Thursday, 31 December 2015

EHX Cathedral reverse reverb demo - for the My Bloody Valentine fans

Yes, it's more of my reverse reverb messing around. 

Short version: it's not quite the MBV sound but it's quite decent in its own right. 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Boss RV-5 reverb pedal - it's actually great apart from the Spring reverb.

Reasons to love the RV-5: 

-Modulated reverb. Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. 

-The hall and room modes are really rather good. 

-It doesn't feature anything useless like dynamic reverb

Reasons to not love the RV-5:

-the Spring setting is shite. It's got a quack to it like a rubbish compressor. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Yamaha UD Stomp preset demo - big, modulated, and here.

Quite easily the most fantastic and complex delay I've ever got my hands on. 

Preset list. 

Pearl CH-02 analog chorus - another very good Pearl pedal that doesn't erase your money in seconds.

The thing that consistently gets me about the old Pearl pedals is that they aren't perhaps the best sounding. If you plug this in as a straight-up chorus, you probably won't be blown away (it's more Small Clone than CE-2). The delay doesn't instantly fill you with a golden glow of amazement and wonder. But you then start to play around with the Pearl pedals and there's something interesting to them, they do some things that make me think 'Oh, I like that'. 

Take the analog chorus. It's a decent enough analog chorus, no complaints there. As you tinker with the depth, mix, and speed, then you get into the territory of tape warble-type sounds, the Boards of Canada obsessive in me comes out, and it then gets more interesting. 

Prices: usually under £40. Sometimes much lower. 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Boss RV-6 reverb - sensible trousers for everyone.

Just look at it. You can't upload anything, download new settings, USBify, or memstick it one. In a world of plugins and touchscreens and phone apps, there is something almost quaint about the RV-6. It's the shiny top panel that does it, adding a slight air of the swish to it whilst operationally it's everything you'd expect from a Boss pedal. 

Stereo inputs = a very good thing. In a perfect world I'd have a DD-500 behind it and a DD-7 in front of it. Instead I've got limited talent at both ends. Going through the modes:

1. +Delay - reverb and delay. The Tone knob acts as feedback controller. I really like this sound. It's subtle, not overblown, very clean. It won't do self-oscillation. Instead it will loop over and over until it fades off. When you use this pedal is 100% wet mode, it sounds really cool and this going into a looper definitely gets my vote. Recently I've had the OBNE Procession and the Earthquaker Afterneath reverb pedals jump onto my testing chair: blah was my response. This one sound alone makes me rate the RV-6 higher than both pedals. 

If you listen to this sound using headphones at 100%, you can hear that it's almost a bit of reverb coming in before the delay. It almost reminds me of the way the reverb would come in with the Bloom settings on the Midiverb II. 

2. Shimmer. I'm sat here typing with headphones on. The guitar is still opened up going into the RV-6, Audiomulch as my usual DAW host. Every time my arm moves against the Epi Dot and makes a thud on the body, the Shimmer picks up the input. And if I whack the body with my hand? Yes! It's based on the mode 7 setting on the PS-3. Most of you will know how that sounds. Something Mode 7 can't do comes when you wind the Tone knob on the RV-6 down to 9 o'clock and earlier. You take the high-end out and you can get some seriously peculiar sounds. Another fab setting. 

3. Dynamic. A setting that was pointless to me on other pedals and so is on this one. Seriously, have you ever seen anyone on a guitar forum rhapsodising about dynamic delay? 

4. Room. Pretty workable. Room is seldom that exciting on any pedal but this works nicely. 

5. Hall Same as the room reverb in that it's workable without being that exciting. 

6. Plate. Now the Hall of Fame had a really nice plate setting in that it was a bit blurry sounding, not hugely clear. The RV-6 is clear even with the tone knob right down. I'm actually liking this more than the hall setting. 

7. Spring. Actually pretty good. It'll do the Dick Dale thing with the effect level up to 75%, tone at 50%, time at 75%. Liking this.

8. Modulate. Taken from the RV-5. It's still lovely. 

Opening up the doors to the verdict cat... what do you say, verdict cat? 

"Mieow mieow mieow". 

Which translated means: it sounds like a Boss pedal. It won't blow you away with everything but it's totally workable and the Shimmer and +Delay settings are superb. 

Because of the range of sounds in the pedal, I decided to do two videos. The first is a simple run through the effects at 50% effect level. The second is 100% wet. 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Wampler Nirvana chorus - a very good all-rounder

A very simple review - it's a damn good chorus. 

Not my first choice for Smithsian jangle and picking, not as hyper-squidy as the Diamond Halo chorus, the Nirvana does most things well. One of the better chorus pedals I've had. 

Decent pitch vibrato as well. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Mooer Yellow compressor - is it really up to the standard of the Diamond compressor?

When I'm not flouncing around trying to play blurry guitarnoiserock from 1991, I like to play weak chord sequences and to pretend I'm Johnny Marr. For some time I played through a lovely JC-120. Ignore the hiss, love the chorus, and embrace solid state, people. It was a cracking pedal platform and not as heavy as you'd think (at least the 3rd series weren't. I did have a 1st series temporarily that had been butchered by the previous owner. He'd thrown two Celestion speakers from the 70's in there that had magnets built like the average Samoan prop forward. The whole amp weighed nearly 50 kilos). 

So jingle-jangle Marrology picking... what compressor? For ages, the Diamond compressor has been my favourite. Stuff like the Keeley 4-knobber and all of the usual names squash the top end and you lose that sparkle. The Diamond dials it back in with the Tilt EQ. It still sounds nice and open, it's not a big squashed compressed sound, but it adds thickness in the right areas. 

I bought the Mooer Yellow to see if the claims were true. 

In short, I disagree. 

For £30 the Moeer Yellow offers you a lot for your money. The first thing that hit me was just how small it was. I've had bigger buttplugs than the box this came in. When hooked up to the DAW, it's quiet enough, definitely not unreasonable in the noise floor department. It definitely isn't as nice sounding as the Diamond. Ovni Labs reviewed the Diamond and the Mooer Yellow, and I'd agree with everything said there. The Diamond has a fullness that the Moeer simply doesn't have. In my pedal test, I ran the Moeer on its own then compared that to playing directly into my favourite software compressor, Klanghelm's MJUC. I preferred going into the software compressor which is not something I ever said when I had the Diamond. 

That said, the Moeer going into MJUC is rather good. 

Is this worth £30? Yes. At that price it is a ridiculous bargain. Does it beat the Diamond compressor? No. 

Yamaha Magicstomp reverse reverb and my continuing quest for My Bloody Valentine fabulousness

For years on gear forums, people have claimed that the algos from the Yamaha SPX90 can be found in the Magicstomp. This includes the much vaunted Early Reflections reverse reverb programs so beloved by shoegaze nerds like myself.

To get the best out of the MS, you need to use the software editor. It is somewhat hard to find since the Magicstomp website came down but I did find the stuff I wanted and got it working eventually (you have to set the Midi I/O in a specific way - Yamaha software used to be very quirky. The drivers for the 01X were completely hideous). Editing city, here I come...

So what did I discover? Well, the Magicstomp doesn't sound like the SPX90. The bypass is as bad as people say so throw it in a true bypass loop. The reverse is pretty good actually, not as clanky as the SPX90 and not as thick as the Midiverb II, but it isn't bad at all.

I created a quick demonstration below. First the bypassed sound then the reverse reverb on its own. I threw a Boss HM2 pedal into the MS then tightened everything up using Klanghelm's MJUC compressor.

Finally I added some pitch variations using MVibrato by Melda Productions. The step sequencer allows for some very erratic variations. As I play a modded Epi Dot and so don't have a JM/Jaguar type trem system, MVibrato is my pitchbender.

It's not a great demo and doesn't pretend to be. So there!

Hopefully over the weekend I will have an EHX Cathedral to experiment with. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Digitech Supernatural ambient reverb pedal - yes and no. Obviously.

Good points:

-The plate, plate mod, and spring settings are really good. It will let you go to 100% wet unlike the Hardwire delay and reverb pedals. 

Bad points:

-The shimmer and variation presets do nothing for me (Valhalla's Shimmer plugin has ruined all shimmer effects for me). Doesn't sit well behind delay pedals. I like stuffing reverbs into delays and tried the Supernatural going into the Flight Time and a TC Nova Repeater. No real sonic happiness for me. 


Dump overdrive and delay into this, you'll be happy and you can gaze at your shoes for hours. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Free The Tone Flight Time digital delay pedal - it's pretty special.

If you want a big clean clear delay pedal that sounds big, this is the clear winner. Something like the Eventide Timefactor is a very good pedal in its own right but it is not as pristine as this one. The FT doesn't sound harsh or sterile. 

Good points:

-The sound. Loads of headroom. Easy to program and operate. The sound. Oh, the sound!

Bad points: 

-The modulation is good but it's not 'Deluxe Memory Man vibrato' modulation which is the golden temple for me. A fair whack of cash for a pedal with one mode really. 


If you need a clean big sounding delay pedal, hit this softly and enjoy. 

Friday, 4 September 2015

Alesis Midiverb II reverse reverb programs - My Bloody Valentine, Bloom reverb, reverse reverb

I love the Alesis Midiverb II. It's noisy, it's old, and mine smells of cigarettes and concerts. 

I hate the Strymon reverbs and a lot of plugin reverbs. To me they put this sheen of reverb over the top that doesn't gel with the guitar sound at all. 

The Midiverb is different. The reverbs aren't technically that impressive but they sit with the guitar sound so damn well. There's this really solid feeling to the reverbs. I shall have to find myself a Quadraverb now... 

The Midiverb now gets praised by shoegazing tossers like me who want the My Bloody Valentine reverse reverb sound (program 43) and the Bloom reverbs (programs 45 and 49). 

Enough typing. Listen to what some of those reverse reverb programs sound like. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Alesis Midiverb II program 43 - 200 msec reverse reverb - My Bloody Valentine

The Alesis Midiverb has a lot of fans out there in the electronic music and guitar bashing worlds. From Aphex Twin to My Bloody Valentine, it's graced some astoundingly creative records. 

So what is program 43? 

It's listed as a 200 millisecond reverse reverb. Really it's a load of delay taps that builds the sound up beaituflly as each tap gets louder. 

Now this video is one of the best out there. It shows how the delay taps work with the SMMH and it's the same concept with the Midiverb. 

The difference is that the Midiverb taps 'smear' together a lot more than the SMMH which, even with distortion over the top, still lets you hear the individual taps. The Midiverb flows more and you can hear that thick chewed up sound Kevin Shields referred to as sounding like it was melted. 

I've been trying to replicate this with plugins, namely Echoboy by Soundtoys and Ubermod by Valhalla DSP. I'll post up the results in the future. In the meantime here's a quick demo of program 43. Note it was a bit fiddly getting the levels right so the volume isn't always great. The Midiverb is not a quiet unit and so I did turn down the output a bit. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal - great when it's fuzzy, terrifying when it's trebly.

There is little I can say on this in detail. So we will go with short points.

-It's horrible when the treble is pushed up
-It's godlike with the low end going up
-Get it right, the pedal sings. 
-Get it wrong, it urinates into your mouth. 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

'Civil War' Big Muff clone demo - I am useless with fuzz

Some people worship fuzz pedals. Many kneel in the praise of delay. There's probably someone out there who loves tuners. 

Fuzz impresses me but I can't use it. I've never liked straight out fuzzes or Muffs. Give me a distortion pedal like an HM-2, some nice overdrive pedals, and even a Metal Zone and I can make it work for me. Give me a Fuzz Face and I collapse into tears of frustration. I like the pedals that are more overdrive that can get fuzzy: RAT2, Throbak Overdrive Boost, Skreddy Lunar Module (which I really shouldn't have sold, it was fabulous). 

Take this pedal here. It's a Civil War Big Muff clone built by a chap on my main guitar forum. It's really nicely done: decent wiring and soldering, good board, decent finish. In use it sounds good but it doesn't suit me. 

I console myself with this thought: when was Johnny Marr ever associated with a fuzz pedal? (and no the bloody Healers do not count)

Crowther Audio Hot Cake overdrive pedal

Been around for ages and it's a great pedal. It's not a big trebly beast, perhaps one reason why it suits AC30 and Vox-type amps. Having said that, it suits every amp I've had. 

Verdict: buy it. Can't go wrong. 

And I have nothing more to say so listen to it instead. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Earthquaker Devices Afterneath reverb pedal

As a devoted Loveless fan, I thought this pedal would be right up my street. That short multitap delay sound coupled with reverb should have been right up my street.

Already you know this review is one that is disappointed. 

The pedal is noisy. The Drag control at fully anticlockwise introduces a low frequency noise that disappears around 9 o'clock, only for a higher frequency noise to appear closer to 3 o'clock. The footswitch is absurdly loud and clicky. The Length knob can cause self-oscillation as can the Reflect knob. It won't do 100% wet.  

Does it have some really great sounds in it? Yes. 

Am I keeping it? No. 

Really my disappointment is because I'm so used to plugins now. Echoboy nails that "multitap in reverse" sound and gives out so many more tonal options. If you want that MBV sound in a pedal format then the Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai does it better than the Afterneath. 

It's a niche reverb. Those who love it will love it hard. 

I don't. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Turbo RAT with the OPO7DP chip versus RAT2 with the LM308 chip

Many years ago I picked up a RAT2: love at first sight. She's battered, no battery door, I took all the feet off, and there's tape on the bottom protecting the innards. I've had other RAT2s including one very slightly younger and each has sounded a bit different, something you'd expect with the usual tolerance percentages of components and construction. Mine has a bit more low end to it. 

After picking up a Turbo RAT with the OPO7DP chip in it, it seemed the right thing to match one against the other. You'll see in the video that the volume knob for the RAT2 is different to the Turbo RAT: this is purely to get the volume levels matching, the Turbo has a bit more volume on tap. 

The Turbo has more volume and a brighter character. It's a bit more direct compared to the RAT2 which is more fuzzy. I prefer the RAT2. 

So which one should you pick? Whatever one suits you best. Buy a few of them cheap when they come up on Ebay and experiment. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Lexicon Reflex rack effects unit

I first had one of these units when I used a Roland JC-120 as a powered 2x12" speaker cab. Dirt pedals going into one of those cute little EHX 2ube preamps, some delays going out in stereo to the Reflex and then two feeds going into the JC-120 power amps. Back then I also had an Alesis Quadraverb, VanAmps Sole-Mate, and a lovely old solid state Laney reverb unit.

Going short spring reverb (Sole-Mate into the long-spring Laney = complete reverb win.

But what about the Reflex?

It's really good. It's not got the sparkly character of the Quadraverb, it's a bit more neutral than that. The reverbs and effects really suit guitar and it's very easy to dial in. 

Prices vary, anything from £40 to £80.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Yamaha CH-10MII analog chorus

Oh look, it's one of the many older MIJ chorus pedals out there. 

Reasons to love this:

-it's substantially cheaper than a Boss CE-2. 

-stereo outputs

-throw a dummy jack in the direct output and it becomes a vibrato (a trick you can try with a lot of old chorus pedals. The Boss CE-3 does it brilliantly). 

-Works surprisingly well with a bass guitar. 

Reasons to not love this:

-it's not the strongest chorus sound out there. it hasn't got the solid great to pick individual notes with CE-2 sound or the richer swirly sound some of the others do. Somewhere in the middle. 

Under £40 should get you this pedal. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

EHX Deluxe Memory Man - MN3005 versus MN3008

There's a lot said about the DMM. I keep buying and selling purely to hear the variations and differences. This year I've been fortunate enough to have two really nice ones come through my hands.

The first was a REV E motherboard DMM with 2x MN3005 chips.

The second was a REV D motherboard DMM with 4x MN3008 chips. 

How do they differ in sound? 

MN3005 - the delays are a bit more smeared and blur together very nicely.  

MN3008 - A little more chorus noise. The delays are cleaner and clearer. 

For the murky soundscapes I like the the Rev E MN3005 pedal. For cleaner picking and arpeggios the MN3008 DMM works better. 

Really there is no definitive DMM sound. I've now owned 13 different DMMs from the New Sensor reissues to some of the older ones with the built in power cable and each one was different. 

Demo below features both pedals at 100% wet, around 325 to 350 ms of delay, a dash of chorus, and the feedback level at... I can't remember. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Guitar cable testing

Cables. Essential. But boring to discuss. 

I recently sold my VanAmps Sole-Mate and the buyer dropped me an email asking if it added a few mids and rolled off treble when bypassed. Thanks to my geek nature, I went back and looked at the frequency chart I made for the demo and compared it to some other true and buffered bypass pedals. 

End verdict: no mids added by the Sole-Mate. 

Our email conversation went on to talk about cables and it was quite clear that going 'guitar - cable - DAW' meant more high end compared to going 'guitar - cable - pedal - cable - DAW'. The buyer said this is what he'd done, that he was so used to playing direct into his amp that the Sole-Mate was a new addition and meant another cable being used. 

I decided I'd test some of my cables. Delving into the cupboard of cable hell, I dragged out the following:

-A two metre cable made with Klotz AC106 cable with Neutrik connectors. 
-A twenty foot Planet Waves Custom series instrument cable with straight and right angle jacks 
-A 12 foot cable I soldered myself using Van Damme Classic instrument cable and Neutrik jacks.
-A 10 foot cable I soldered myself again using Van Damme Classic instrument cable but with Neutrik silent jacks. 
-A 40ft Yorkville cable I bought in Toronto in 2003 and has survived ever since with me. 

The top frequency line is peak. Ignore the bottom line. In each case it was a simple 'guitar to cable to preamp' setup. SPL Crimson gain set at 12. 

The Klotz cable is great on the low and top end. You can see the difference at 220Hz between the Klotz and the Planet Waves and Van Damme cables. The Klotz has less volume roll off at the top end than both the Planet Waves and Van Damme cables. 

The weird one is the Yorkville. It's much longer than the other cables. You'd expect more roll off at the bottom and top end but that chart doesn't show it. Klotz versus Yorkville below, Klotz on the left...

End moral: buy whatever cable you like. I personally wouldn't bother with high end cables. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Subdecay Anemnesis Echo delay pedal

On the face of it, there's nothing to get too excited about here. Same playing field as the Catalinbread Montavillian Echo. It's going for the same sort of tape echo sound which it does well. Not quite as lovely as the Empress Vintage Modified Superdelay but good enough. 

Where this pedal stands out in the never-ending sea of echo pedals is the modulation. Very controllable, goes from the basic slow warble up to full vomit-production speed levels. 

It won't go 100% wet which is the major downer for me.

So yeah. It's a good pedal. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

VanAmps Sole-Mate spring reverb pedal

Reverb is great. This is a great reverb. Shall I shut up now? 

However there are some caveats. It does add brightness to your tone. If you look at the video below, compare the frequency charts for bypassed mode to when the pedal is engaged. You do see some high end added in there. 

If you're looking for a big drippy Dick Dale monster reverb, this isn't it. You really need a longer spring reverb tank. 

My favourite reverb sound when playing was to stick one of these into a Laney Supergroup reverb unit. Short spring reverb into long spring reverb = ultimate reverb win. 

The Sole-Mate takes pedals really well and sounds so much better than every spring reverb emulation pedal I've used. Thoroughly recommended. 

And now the video...

Malekko Omicron analog chorus pedal

As much as I'd like to demo Morrissey's eyes, that won't be happening. Instead it's the turn of the Malekko Omicron analog chorus pedal. Designed around the great MN3007 chip, from memory the Omicron range were the first boutique pedals to go for the really small form factor as now copied so prodigiously by the like of Mooer and whatnot. 

I actually don't like the small form factor. I am a big clumsy oaf and demand big stompy things to attack. I want a pedal I can destroy, not one I have to be gentle with.

Soundwise this is a very nice chorus. It doesn't have the slightly sharp sound of a Boss CE-2, probably due to the lack of buffer, but also isn't as woolly sounding as an EHX Small Clone.

It can be run at 12v for higher headroom. I totally forgot to record this sound but it is there and this is a good thing as I like chorus pedals more at 12v. The additional headroom gets it closer to the JC-120 sound that lives in my jingly-jangly head.

S/h prices on this in the UK are usually around the £60 mark. Very good value there and the Malekko vibrato is well worth picking up as well.

Another of my standard boring videos below: 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Pearl AD-08 analog delay pedal

Wear a coat and protective goggles and be ready for a salty romance explosion, for I love the Pearl AD-08 more than any other analog delay.

The buffer and bypass are less than great according to some sources. It's never bothered me personally. The knob array is simple with the delay time running up to 400ms, the feedback knob doing what it needs to do, and then things get interesting. The Dry Out knob controls the dry output, likewise for the Delay Out knob. The pedal has two output jacks. One is dry output only, the other is a mix of dry and wet. This offers a little more flexibility if you're using two amps for stereo. If you want a pedal that self-oscillates, go elsewhere. I've owned three AD-08s and none of them would go into spaceship mode. Good! Self-oscillation is spacerock's equivalent of playing Smoke on the Water in a guitar shop. 

The AD-08 pedal is a dark delay sound. It is the complete antithesis of the Maxon/Ibanez AD-9 pedal. Compare these two frequency charts below. The top chart is for the Boss DM-3 set 100% wet with the dry coming in. The bottom is the AD-08 at 100% wet with no dry signal. There is considerable roll off of the top end. 

It's such a beautifully dark and murky pedal and the repeats are fantastic. It's not noisy at all. I regularly use mine going into Reaper with Melda Productions' MVibrato plugin set to a slow speed (about 0.65hz, depth of 60%) to tap into those slow warbly Boards of Canada type sounds. 100% wet delay into a vibrato pedal/chorus set to vibrato mode = instant amazing win for all eternity. 

The pedal uses an MN3025 chip. Three trim pots lie inside. 

AD-08 prices range from £40 to £90 in the UK. Pick one up. You won't regret it. Sound demo below:

Monday, 19 January 2015

Boss DM-3 analog delay pedal

The Boss DM-3 was the last analog delay pedal (so far) produced by Boss. Apparently it differs from the DM-2 by having a noise reduction circuit and an additional filter. 20ms to 300ms of delay time is on tap here. The pedal will work on 9v power but the LED will not: ramp it up to 12v power to get the full light show. The knobs are:

Repeat Rate - delay time (turn counterclockwise for longest time)
Echo - mix knob
Intensity - feedback

The DM-3 doesn't sound as bright as the Ibanez AD-9 in use. With the repeats cranked to 300ms and the intensity up, mine still won't feed back on itself. It will start feeding back at lower delay times and has the tendency to self-oscillate rather quickly. 

Overall this is a good all-round delay pedal. Single notes don't get swamped and it's got enough 'mush' to it for my chordy spacerock floaty rubbish. It's also very good as a short delay pedal going into reverb or delay pedals with a longer delay time.