[review] J. Rockett Audio Designs Archer (by LordRiffenstein)

LordRiffenstein, all-around tone freak and purveyor of great tone.

Rockett Pedals

Rockett pedals was started in 2006 by Chris Van Tassel and Jay Rocket. Both were long time session musicians and they were not totally satisfied with what the pedal-market had to offer.  So they started to design their own pedals, hoping that they would catch on. Their unique custom enclosures are eye-catchers!

Archer

The name, the knobs and the logo are obviously a hint as to the background to this pedal.  The Archer is Rockett’s own version of the much coveted Klon Centaur pedal. The controls are very simple and just like the original Centaur: output, gain and treble. The treble control is not a typical tone control but also not just a treble control. You can think of it like a mix between a treble and a presence control. Where the original Centaur came in a big enclosure, the guys from Rockett have put this in a very sleek design.  I only have 1 comment about it: if you use pancake plugs, the space for the power cable is very limited.  Some 9v DC plugs will not fit, it’s best to use a straight plug or a small one.

Rockett ArcherThe pedal in use

I bought a Klon KTR when they were 1st released. It has been bolted to my pedalboard since the day it arrived and I use it all the time. It is an amazing sounding boost and low gain OD.  For many applications, I simply keep the pedal on all the time.

I had a couple of reasons to buy a Rockett Archer. I love the company, I own and use a couple other pedals from them. I actually wanted another Klon(e) for another setup. As the KTR is unavailable, it is already fetching high prices on the 2nd hand market, I wouldn't want mine to 'disappear'.

Opening the box was a real treat, I like how Rockett has a nice box for their pedals. I was surprised how small the Archer is, it's only a bit bigger than a credit card. It also feels really solid, it is a heavy pedal and I believe it will be ready to rock for many years to come.

I know how a Klon sounds, besides the KTR I own, I have played a couple of originals throughout the years. So after a short initial test, I was convinced that the Archer is a stellar version of the original Centaur.  Of course, I wanted to A/B it with my beloved KTR.  I plugged both into a crunchy Marshall and used different guitars.  As both have a buffer, the Archer's isn't switchable, I swapped their positions in the signal chain. I also used them in a looper to compare.

As weird as this might sound, I believe the Archer to be closer to the original Centaur than the KTR. The Archer has a certain sweetness in mids and highs that is different from the KTR. With both pedals at the same setting, the Archer seems to sound a bit bigger and fatter. I found the treble control to have a bigger usable range compared to the KTR. I kept both pedals on my board and found myself gravitating towards the Archer most of the time. That said, I would be glad to use either one.

Even though I was expecting good things from Rockett, I was not expecting to like the Archer better than the KTR. The difference is not huge and in a band setting, it is less noticeable. But if you are the sort of player who relies on his volume control to get different tones, you WILL notice the difference. With the KTR out of production, the Archer comes at the right time.  It is small in size and big in tone. Couple that with its retail price and you can say that this is a real winner!!

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