Bieke's blog

[review] TC Electronic Flashback Delay and Looper (by Bieke)

I have been a pretty much a Boss end EHX delay addict forever, I have also been using Line6 delay modelers for many years, but always reverted  to my old Boss and EHX habit.

In the past few years, we have witnessed the release of quite a few smart multi-mode delay pedals, some pricey, some affordable, some ideal for the knob twiddling tweakers, some targeted towards the preset players ...

TC Electronic, a company that certainly has its merits in the world of delay – succeeded in making a digital multi-mode delay in a compact pedal, with huge functionality and packed with useful features, that is easy to use, and still has an attractive pricetag.

TC Electronic Flashback Delay and LooperThe looks

TC took the less is more approach for this pedal. It’s all so clever and functional, with only 4 controls, feedback and delay on the top row and level and mode selector, black knobs with white markers, a 3-way mini toggle for delay repeats, white labeling, no frills, plain, stereo inputs, stereo outputs as well. Has a 9V DC adapter plug, USB port and a true bypass switch.

The Specs

The TC Flashback delay has 9 different delay modes, can get delay from 20msecs up to 6 seconds delay time, stereo in- and outputs, stereo panning, a 40 second looper (20 seconds in stereo mode). And it comes with the innovative Toneprint feature, which allows to upload software upgrades, or over 60 different Toneprint artist signature delay presets that can be downloaded for free.

Buffered or true-bypass, easy access battery compartment, and there are also 2 dipswitches inside, one to switch from  true bypass mode to buffered bypass (allowing delay trails when you switch of the effect).  The other switch mutes the dry signal for using the effect in a  parallel signal chain.

And finally, an easy to use clever tap tempo function, hold down the switch and hit a couple of short notes that suit your tempo and release. Simple and efficient.

The Flashback also has one more cool option just not seen on so many other delays : a mini toggle to select delay repeats from 1/4 notes, to dotted 1/8th notes or a combination thereof. This enables you to to play both 1/4, 1/8 or both note timing repeats, great for achieving that multiple rhythmic delay sound.

[review] Hotone Audio Skyline series Blues (by Bieke)

Hotone Skyline Series Blues

Hotone Audio company was founded in November 2012 and is operating from Hong Kong.  This young company claims however, that it has over 15 years of working experience in the digital audio field. Hotone also claims to do their own R&D, design, production and sales of their products of the highest quality. Hmmm. The proof is in the pudding.

[review] Hotone Audio Skyline series Fury (by Bieke)

Hotone Audio Skyline Fury

One of the latest fads in the pedal industry is the miniaturization of pedals, there are now quite a few companies and brands who offer nano sized pedals – usually in 1590A casing - that pack the same features and controls as the “big” pedals.

Hotone Audio is a newcomer to the world of effects, and they made a remarkable entrance with their Skyline series, a line of 8 adorable little pedals that – even though I walked straight past and did not notice – actually did not go unnoticed at the Frankfurt Musikmesse earlier this year...

[review] Mad Professor "1" - Reverb/Distortion (by Bieke)

Mad Professor is a Finnish amplifier company  that teamed up with Bjorn Juhl from BJFE pedals, who designs effects and amplifiers that are manufactured and distributed under the Mad Professor Amplification brand.

The latest addition to the Mad Professor boutique effect line is a "Brown sound" distortion pedal reminiscent of late ’70s/early ’80s guitar with onboard plate style reverb.

Now for those unfamiliar with the term "Brown sound", it is nothing to be scared of. The "Brown sound" is a typically nasty, midrange, biting distortion sound. Think early Eddie Van Halen.

The Looks.

Of course the pedal has a deep brown shiny finish, in- and outputs on the side, Boss adapter plug next to the input. The distinct Mad Professor logo and white labeling, a red status LED, a true bypass switch and four controls for Level, Presence, Brown, and Reverb. Cream knobs with black markers.

Inside, there is the familiar 9V battery snap, but also two factory tuned trimpots to adjust the reverb time and tone.

[review] HCFX Octophant (by Bieke)

Behold the mighty Octophant! Is it an octopus, Is it an elephant? No, it's the collaborative pedal designed exclusively by a team of knowledgeable HCFX peeps who  joined forces to build this exclusive pedal for Harmony Central Effects Forum members.

A Kickstarter project was initiated to raise the necessary funds and about 6 months later, a total number of 140 Octophant pedals made their way out there to the forumites. And you know what, I am really, really disappointed that I did not get on the list to get one of these myself.

The Credits

The whole technical idea came from V, a boutique pedalbuilder, founder of Shoe Pedals (check my review of the Shoe Pedal Savior Machine). V himself also finished about 45 Octophants, the other pedals assembled by skilled forumites WeStartToDrift and Blake (from Blakemore Effects).

There was a certain degree of personal touch allowed by the circuit so some pedals are slightly different as compared to others, different transistors, different Led configurations, etc.

MMolteratx did the PCB.

Stunning graphic design was offered by Robopimp.

Enclosures came from Pedal Parts Plus, who also took care of drilling, painting, and screening.

Parts were sourced from Bitches Love My Switches (OhNoNo), Tayda and Mammoth.

OK, but what is an Octophant?

The circuit is a combination of a few things. It is partially based on the Kung Fuzz which has a similar structure to a Fuzzrite.

It also has portions of an octave circuit from pedalguru Tim Escobedo called “Push me Pull you” between the two stages of the "Fuzzrite," and to top it off, it has a variable bias Germanium class A booster as its last section.

The Octophant uses a unique combination of several different types of Silicon NPN, MOSFET, and Germanium NPN transistors.

HCFX OctophantThe looks

Looks like a pedal, a beautiful pedal, totally practical and ergonomical, not too big, not too small, a 1590 BB enclosure painted in white with the beautiful Octophant creature, other colours were available as an option.

Jacks on top, battery snap as an option and standard 9V Boss adapter plug.

True bypass footswitches for On/off and to engage the Octave, each with a LED

Controls for Level, Boost and Gain and a 2 way Toggle for Texture.

The controls are actually misdrilled. The Switch was supposed to be labeled "Boost" and the knob for the boost's bias would have been "Texture." A few of them exist in that orientation actually, but most  Octophants ended up with a boost knob and a texture switch. The labels are still appropriate, actually as the boost knob does control how loud the second "texture" mode is along with the actual texture.

Inside, the circuit board and wiring  are immaculate. And there's a 5$ AC187 germanium transistor in there (some Octophants are fitted with an obscure Russian transistor).

[review] Shoe Pedals Savior Machine (by Bieke)

During my last visit at Bart’s gear vault, he handed me a conspicuous looking tan prototype pedal.

Bart asked me what I’d make of it, hmmm, hard to tell by the looks of it, but I was curious to hear the sound produced by the Savior Machine … Super Touch Sensitive Original FET Overdrive.

First off, Shoe Pedals

Handmade Effect Pedals from Brooklyn New York, Shoe Pedals is selling direct, Shoe Pedals is on Facebook or you can contact Christopher Venter -the man behind Shoe Pedals- via shoepedals at gmail dot com.

One day, during the summer of 2011, our soon to become pedal builder stayed up late during a massive thunderstorm and put together his first pedal up in his room in Brooklyn next to a guitar shop called Pentatonic Guitars. It was a fuzz in a blank silver enclosure. The footswitch was labeled "SHOE" with an arrow pointing to it. He took the pedal down to the shop for people to try and some folks really liked it. For the next few weeks he would go home and build more pedals. He would bring in the new pedals and see what people in the shop liked best. Because of the footswitch label, people started calling them "Shoe Pedals".

Shoe Pedals now has an entire line of pedals targeted towards sonic miscreants and "normal" people too.

Shoe Pedals Savior MachineThe looks

Hmmm, for a prototype, this pedal looks really clean, inside and out.

The usual MXR sized enclosure, controls for Level, Tone and Gain

True bypass switch, bright LED, 9V Boss style plug.

The graphics are enchanting, I like the handwritten “Shoe” and arrow and control labels, it certainly gives the pedal that handmade, artisanal touch.

The production version is going to have nicer aesthetics, I have seen pictures of the Savior Machine with hand stamped art, but silkscreened versions might also become available in the future.

The production version of the Savior Machine might also have an extra switch for a stiffer/louder clipping. Or even an extra control for headroom. Or both.

[review] Carl Martin Classic Optical Envelope (by Bieke)

Carl Martin is a familiar name for most players. They have been around for years now and have a reputation for making reliable, sturdy effect pedals and switchers.

Carl Martin strives to offer professional  products in the mid-price segment.

Over the years, they released a several lines of effect pedals, and one of the latest additions to the Classic series is the Classic Optical Envelope.

Carl Martin Classic Optical EnvelopeThe looks

Nice! The Optical Envelope is housed in a pale blue die cast 1590BB sized housing.

The pedal has two footswitches, the first is a buffered On/Off switch and the second for switching between High Pass, Band Pass, and Low Pass. Each filter mode has its own Status LED and there is also a status LED for the On/Off switch.

Four controls: a Q control for adjusting the sweep of the bandwidth, a Tone control that works as a separate Hi-pass filter,  a Drive control to set the threshold of the auto-wah effect and a Level control for adjusting the overall volume output.

It has the standard 9V DC plug and both in- and output jacks on the top panel. The only thing missing is an easy access battery compartment, but Carl Martin recommends using a power supply.

[review] Deaf Audio Little Voodoo Fuzz (by Bieke)

Little Voodoo Fuzz

Deaf Audio started out in 2008 as a small boutique pedal company that is ran by Magnus Nordbye from Hamar in Norway. Starting out with building custom pedals, Deaf Audio offers a small product line of guitar effect pedals for the demanding musician.

The Looks

Yup, definitely small, this Little Voodoo is a 60s style fuzz pedal inspired by the legendary Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face is housed in the trendy small 1590A casing. But it feels and looks solid, with a single knob, aptly labeled fuzz, a comfy footswitch, copper finish, classy, plastic jacks on the side and the familiar Boss style 9V adapter plug on top. No status LED.

[review] Colorsound Fuzz Box (D*A*M reissue) (by Bieke)

Colorsound Fuzz Box

Aha! Another reissue Colorsound from the fine folks at Macaris. This time around it’s the legendary one knob Fuzz Box. It clearly says so on this beautiful blue pedal, that is an original design of Dick Denney, based upon the original pedals Dick handmade for Colorsound in the nineties and put together according to the actual hand drawn circuit diagrams dating from the sixties.

The Legend

The legend takes place at Dick Denney’s bungalow in the nineties. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, well it’s the same Dick Denney who designed the Vox AC30. Well, so the legend goes that one of the Macaris guys was sitting down with Denney talking valve echo when he produced a circuit board he designed back in 1961 (!!!). It was still in his drawer. The board had one control that did everything at the same time - gain, volume, nastiness, fuzziness! It went into production straight away and it was called the one knob fuzz. Back in the sixties, Dick Denny produced a similar circuit for the Jennings Rotosound fuzz.

[review] Colorsound Power Boost (Castledine Reissue) (by Bieke)

Colorsound Power Boost

As Macaris, that famous music shop in London, is getting close to celebrating its 50th birthday, they decided to release a limited run of 50 pedals of one of the classic Sola Sound / Colorsound designs, the 18V Power Boost.

The old Power Boost evolved into the black Overdriver pedal in the early seventies, upon request of the USA market, who thought it had too much flower power theme going on.

UK pedal guru Stuart Castledine was closely involved in the making, shaping and treating of this succulent and stunning recreation of the 18V Power Boost.

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