Four Handy Effects Pedals for Modular Synths
Post date:Wed, 09/19/2018 - 19:14
Although effects pedals are great for altering the tone of guitars in creative ways, it didn’t take very long for synth enthusiasts to find ways to incorporate these pedals themselves. Traditionally, these pedals change the output sound of synths, but owners of modular synths can delve even deeper when it comes to the signal path. Of course, seeing as most effects pedals are designed for guitars, which by nature are low-output passive devices, you need to be careful when using them with your modular synths. However, with the right pedals and some know-how, you can quickly create unique sounds, that are very hard to replicate without using the same hardware. Since not all effects pedals are created equal, here are just a couple of examples of pedals that work great with modular synths.
Some guitar pedals, especially the vintage ones from the big brands, can handle synths just fine, but may suffer a reduction in the high or mid frequencies. To avoid this type of tone suck you can also opt for pedals from manufacturers that allow you to switch between guitar and line inputs. Some manufacturers these days even offer pedals that can automatically sense if a signal is different from that of a guitar and compensate for it. However, there is always the chance of distortion when going straight in with your pedals, which is why many musicians prefer to run their pedals through the built-in effects loop of a mixer. Dedicated solutions to the problem also exists in the form of specific modules that can handle the task of re-amping effects-loops within your modular setup. The ALM/Busy Circuits S.B.G is a popular choice as it not only offers dry/wet blend control along with level control, but can also convert the modular CV signals. Making use of CV to modulate pedals offers a seamless way to integrate them with your synth.
If you have big ambitions, but a small budget, then the MS-70CDR by Zoom will help you to cover a lot of bases. Zoom has somehow managed to jam 86 effects in one pedal and they are categorized under Chorus, Delays, Reverbs and Dynamics Effects/Filters. It features stereo input jacks and it is able to accept signals from line-level devices. At your disposable are 50 patch memories for storing custom edited and chained multi-effects, although 30 of these are already pre-loaded with factory settings. The MS-70CDR also allows you to use up to six effects simultaneously. While the effects of the MS-70CDR are pretty straightforward, there are a lot of them and it is a cost effective way to cover all the "standard" effects.
If you are looking for a good octave pedal, then the Electro-Harmonix POG2 is still considered to be amongst the best by many musicians. It is an improved version of the original POG, that was released back in 2005, and it features a range of new features. These include a new attack control, a second sub-octave, additional Q modes for the two-pole resonant low-pass filter and a newly enhanced detune. Settings can be saved and recalled with a click and the whole thing is housed in a rugged die-cast chassis.
Elektron Analog Drive
If distortion is what you want, then the Electron Analog Drive is what you need. It packs no less than eight analog distortion types in one compact box and you can choose between Clean Boost, Focused Dist, Harmonic Fuzz, Mid Drive, Dirty Drive, High Gain, Big Dist and Thick Gain. In terms of sound processing, the Electron Analog Drive has a 100% analog signal path and in addition to the eight analog distortion circuits, it also has a three band analog EQ with sweepable mid band.
If money is not an issue, then you are going to want to take a look at the Moog Moogerfookers range, provided you are lucky enough to find any of them that are still for sale. What you get is all-analog circuitry that, according to the company, was designed and built under the personal direction of Bob Moog. With this range you are spoiled for choice too as there is everything from a module for super delay to analog delay, lowpass filter, ring modulator, and much more. If you want to stay with Moog, but have a budget that is a little more modest, then the Minifooger range is also worth a closer look (https://www.moogmusic.com/products/minifoogers/).
Once you try out a couple of effects pedals with your synthesizer, it is easy to get hooked on the new sounds and ideas that you can come up with. Using pedals are also a great way to breath new life into old hardware or to turn that old keyboard that has a sound you don't like into something useful again. There are of course many other effects pedals available on the market, so let us know in the comments below or on our forum which pedals you use in your tunes.