Effects review

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.

Re: Re:

Postby meatballfulton » Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:53 pm

ned-ryarson wrote: is there anything like this that doesnt have bad tracking when playing bass guitar through it?


Nope, you need some kind of specialized pickup technology to get decent tracking with a bass guitar and that means investing in "real" guitar synthesizer gear. At that point you might as well just buy a keyboard synthesizer and use that instead.
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KURZWEIL RUMOUR

Postby shaft9000 » Wed Sep 30, 2009 4:48 pm

KURZWEIL RUMOUR Reverb & multi-FX 1u rack unit
paid $350 shipped, used off Ebay

I needed a reverb that doesn't easily cloud up and get metallic, has plenty of adjustments and would integrate well w/ a modern studio. I compose and perform OTB so dedicated FX units are crucial to me.
I was drawn to the Rumour because of all the sub-$500 reverbs on the market, this one seemed to have the best reputation for delivering flexible, musically useful reverb. I looked at old Lexicons and TCs and Ensoniqs and scavenged for every comparison on gearslutz.com and the like. "PCM 70/80 beater", "just like the KSP-8($$$) algos!" and so on. So while they usually sell for much closer to $500USD, I managed find one in great shape for $350 and took the plunge...

Hardware Setup: A lot like any other rack FX unit: screw it in, plug in your I/O cables and dial in a preset to tweak. There's also 4 user banks (more later). Plug&play.
There's stereo 1/4" I/O as well as S/PDIF I/O for post-processing if desired. MIDI i/o and a dial-switch TRS pedal connector are also on back. A/C power comes courtesy of a line-lump.
Front-panel controls include a bypass switch and buttons for: global EQ, tap tempo, master(global), load, and save.
There are 4 knobs/dials; the first selects the program bank, the second the patch within the bank, the third selects parameters and the fourth adjusts their values.

In Use: It's fairly straightforward as most things are done in a manner similar to any other multi-FX processor. Not as intuitive as say, a TC, but nevertheless perfectly adequate. The saving ("storing") scheme is awkward though, as you can only overwrite User programs and you have to wade through them to find an open slot. Audio dropout between program changes last between 1/2 and 1 second....so sorry live foot-dancers; this is better suited to studio or set-and-forget use.

Sounds: The Rumour specializes in Reverb. And does very well on a variety of sources. Vocals remain very intelligible even under large amounts of tail and reflection buildup. Halls are of course lush and spacious, if not as wide as the best Lex's and TC's I've heard. Plates are pretty good; not so 'ringy' like others often are...but the gems here imho are the Ambient and short reflection algos. If, for example, I'm tracking a dry synth sound that I just KNOW will need a little 'something' added to it later, a lot of times I'll dial in a short verb and/or delay to thicken it up, phase it a little, or just to add a little air around it, and print the FX along with the track (Keep the tracks discrete if you're a stickler for flexibility and want to keep the dry sound seperate). Helps with the performance, too, as I'm never thinking "It's not really going to sound like this on playback". And it's such a subtle effect that it doesn't register AS an effect in a mix w/ other instruments. Magic!
The other thing that I found the Rumour to be excellent for is Chorus/Ensemble effects. Thick and gooey, light & airy, wide and rich, short and tight...it's got a great range. Maintains transients of the source well, doesn't "hash" or alias that I heard - granted I haven't pushed it to extremes... yet - and gives some nice dimension and depth when desired. The phasers and flangers are quite good, too - very useful and flexible, if not extraordinary. There's also some specialFX like 'Laserverb' and whatnot...but personally I avoid any "gimmicky" or "novel" FX from just one box, for a variety of reasons I don't have time to go into in this review. I prefer to make a custom chain of separate FX when I really need to go "out there".
A solid 8 out of 10
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Re: Effects review

Postby cryabetes » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:43 pm

man kind of a bummer that this thread stalled a few years ago. Was hoping to find any info I could on harmonizer effects boxes [rack or pedal or whatever].

Anyhow here is a review of the Boss PS-3:
First off, the Boss PS-3 was meant to directly compete with the Digitech Whammy, back when the Digitech Whammy was not the D'tech Whammy IV. That worked out pretty poorly, considering the Whammy has gone through five incarnations (the I,II, XP100, and IV), all of which have really nice tracking and sound, whereas the expression pedal mode in the PS-3 was really quite terrible, the HR-2 Harmonist (its immediate successor) was a special kind of awful sounding, and the PS-5 "super" shifter was easily the most 'digital' sounding pedal [to say nothing of the million gimmick modes and one useful one] i've ever used. That said, the PS-3 was an amazing unit.
Basic in/out - The a/d d/a depth is 12 bit which isn't terrible and surprisingly doesn't color the tone much. The dry mix is nice, although could have perhaps been improved as on the PS-5 [concentric level knobs for effect and dry signal].
Modes - the first three modes are varying flavors of digital delay, going up to 3000ms or thereabouts. It's nice and crisp and sparkling and whatever other adjectives you can think of that people use for digital delays/champagne.
Mode four is a detune + delay. I suppose this is where you can try to fake having an analog delay. I personally haven't found much use for it.
Mode five is slow pitchshift + a delay. The pitchshift range is +/- two octaves and the delay is up to 500ms I believe. Typically with guitar and an octave up for range this sounds like a piercing glassy organ.
Mode six is a fast pitchshift + a delay. Similar to mode five but less interesting, sonically.
Mode seven [!!!!!!!!] is a reversed pitchshift and delay. The beautiful thing about the pitchshift + delay modes is the feedbacks on the delay go back through the pitchshifter again, which for this mode becomes this beautiful string crescendo that sparkles like a bajillion diamonds. It's quite nice and the reason I bought this pedal in the first place.
Mode eight is two detuners. both can set the detune amount manually, which, on a rompler gives that detuned analog sound. This is the wonderful hidden gem mode. It's subtle but amazing when you notice it. Doesn't sound like other chorus pedals at all. This was brought into the PS-5 and was the most useful mode although you lost the second detuner and due to the graduated knobs of the PS-5, a bit of the ability to get "between" notes.
Mode nine is a detune and a pitchshift. Nice but not necessarily the best sounds.
Mode ten was two pitchshifts [manually]. A marked improvement over the PS-2 but otherwise kind of ho-hum, especially if you can play more than one note at once. I suspect it would be quite nice on vocals although I haven't tried it.
Mode eleven allowed you to use a roland ev5 expression pedal to be a jerkass and whammy all over the stage. The two 'pitch knobs' for this mode set the toe pitch and heel pitch which was a rather nice feature but would've been better implemented on, say, the PS-5 with its graduated knobs [which they decided was too smart and just made the range +/- 1 octave. :P ] The tracking on this mode seems worse, but that might just be me.

All in all, this is a wonderful piece of equipment that boss has neglected to put out a proper replacement for - the PS-5 and HR-2 were... not so wonderful, although the PS-6 is getting there. Gotta put the delay modes back in though. Expect to pay between $99 and $335 [!!!] for these and if you ever come across one for less than that, even if you won't use it, you should probably buy it to resell it for more. You'll definitely be able to.

Also, for an example of the PS-3 in action, check out the track 'Souvlaki Space Station' by Slowdive. It is all over pretty much everything in that track.

rating: of the eleven modes, two are absolute gems and six are very useful. nine of ten, and you'll have to pry mine from my cold dead fingers.
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Re: Effects review

Postby cryabetes » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:51 pm

Danelectro Chili Dog

The danelectro cafeteria line has been lauded and hated for many things - cheap enclosures, amazing price point, tiny tiny knobs covered in chrome, making it hard to see the indexes, plastic/breakable jacks, alarmingly good battery life, and the cheapest foxx tone machine clone ever made. One thing they're not particularly well known for is their octave down pedal, the Chili Dog.
As far as effects go, it's rather basic - you have levels for your dry signal, signal an octave down, and signal two octaves down, and a footswitch. It allows you to get really thick meaty guitar steaks out of little twee shit or allow you to fake having a bass guitar. It can thicken the fuck out of a drum machine's sound, with tracking good enough that there isn't doubling unless you're using 1-5ms samples. And, like a good non-digital octaver should, it can get you the vaccuum cleaner noises most associated with the Melvins' King Buzzo.

Where it really outshines the competition for me is when stacked against the Boss OC-3. Yes, the OC-3 has the fuzz mode, which is nice, but the jumble of fuck in the -2 octaves on the Dano sounds much more musically useful than the Boss's. Throw into the equation the ability to remove the dry signal entirely [really, what the hell OC-3] and you have the $30 stratocaster becomes a bass machine.

Rating: Octavers aren't really incredibly versatile pedals, but the Danelectro Chili Dog is quite nice and really good at what it does. What I'd like to see in it is effected and dry outs [for more complex routing], or a 9vDC jack that doesn't kick out half of my 9v adapters. However, for $10 used and being small enough to fit in my pocket, I'm not going to complain any further. 6/10 before factoring the pros at the end, 8/10 after. A nice useful pedal for when you need something lower.
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Re: Effects review

Postby cryabetes » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:36 pm

Wrong Side of Uranus Bitcrusher

the WSoU is a neat little unit hand built in Canada (way to go, eh?) by Montreal Assembly. Mine's got five or six modes (he's since upgraded to seven) and I'll be reviewing them from memory. It's a three knob pedal, the top being volume, the left-lower being the control knob, and the right lower being the aux knob. I made those names myself. You switch through presets by pressing the control knob down as though it were a playstation analog stick.
Haphazard capitalization shown to match with what the 7 segment display shows:

bItcruShr - classic bit crusher mode, 0-8 bit depth (control knob), and slightly grainy to out and out static bit rate (aux knob). Quite useful and the reason I got the pedal originally. best for leads, distortion, or subjecting an audience to that one really good bit.
AutorAtE - really interesting effect. the control knob is bit depth again, but the aux knob now controls the LFO rate, which is modulating the bit rate. Useful for atmospherics and vocals.
bLiPo - s&h bitcrushing? seems to be randomly controlled. not sure what the knobs are supposed to be doing because it freaks out in this mode.
StAIrS - the actual sound is similar to autorate, stairs seems to tie the bit rate to the incoming signal's amplitude. control knob is bit depth, aux knob is sensitivity. Useful for bass, guitar, and nothing that requires subtlety (pads, vocals) or requires strict definition (leads).
dAIL uP- fuck this is a terrible sound. ties the bit depth to the incoming amplitude, except the minimum bit depth is 1, not 0, meaning when no signal is incoming, it sounds like your first buick that you never bothered to change the oil on grinding the pistons of the motor to shreds. interesting when a signal is going in but uh otherwise not so much.

I think I have a sixth mode that surprises me every time I use it but I can't think of what it is.

Notes on the control interface: save yourself a little bit of setup time when you get to the gig for this- while it is true-bypass, rather than have an LED light up to tell you its on, it scrolls "bYPASS" on the little 7seg display, meaning the effect has to be active to choose what mode you're in. Additionally, it doesn't save which mode it was in (or, perhaps slightly more helpfully, what the bit depth was) when you switch it off. Mine does have a CV input [not sure if these are standard or not seeing as he hand makes them].

Rating: bitcrushers [like octavers] are a rather specialized device. However, the autorate and stairs modes make this one interesting for use as non-traditional modulation options. I haven't tried a bitrman or red panda, but this does sounds better than the bitcrusher on the Ineko/Akira (which i'd assume is the same as the bitrman) and the decimator on the electribe ESX1/ES1/EM1. Soundwise, I rate this an 8, but because of the ease-of-use snafu of 'bYPASS'=no mode switching and the form factor (this sits higher than my moogerfooger and, counting the knobs height, borders on cubic), I rate it a 7.

No clue on second hand price point (apparently I have the fourth or fifth made?) but new these are $150USD or thereabouts.
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Re: Effects review

Postby cryabetes » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:47 pm

Boss SL-20 - "Slicer"

The Boss Slicer is a time based gate/tremolo style pattern processor pedal with a built in looper, mtc following, tap tempo, configurable stereobility (is this a word?) and fifty patterns. Personally I use mine with the Electribe EA1, which allows me to be even lazier in programming it, but i've used it with guitar/bass and that works as well.

Patterns:
The bad- can't make your own. twenty of the fifty patterns have moogerfooger MuRF style "harmonic content"/bandpass array style filtering, meaning they'll be more useful for songs in harmonically similar keys and less useful for ones in harmonically dissimilar keys. they also aren't exactly labelled or diagrammed in the manual, meaning you have to dig through and listen.

the good- they're actually fairly useful, and pattern 1/1 is standard on-off square wave tremolo. Also, they can sound drastically different at different tempos. personally I love pattern 4/5, in spite of the harmonic content. Oh and they're usable with the looper.

Controls and Control Layout:
the bad- aside from the 'attack' control not really acting like a slow gear pedal when turned all the way down and the decay getting neither long or short enough, it's actually quite well layed out. Wish the tempo knob, when midi'd, would subdivide or lengthen but it basically does nothing. Wish the rotary switches for bank/pattern would resist turning a bit more so i didn't have to reset this when setting up for a show but what a small gripe.

the good- Boss has done a good one on this. it's really a model of how all their twin pedals should be. clean, concise, with dedicated knobs for dry and effect level both capable of going above unity gain.

Looper:
bad- no overdubs (wtf). no saved patterns. 2:1 compression whether you want it or not. have to hold the pedal to loop, which can be annoying.
the good- a completely unexpected feature that sounds like all sorts of interesting. Can change the controls for the looped phrase. auto-quantizes the loop to tempo.

Sound:
the bad- sounds like cheese. takes a lot of effort to dial in a standard tremolo sound. autopan is a bit of a gimmick unless used really well. with attack all the way up + effect all the way up in a harmonic mode there's some white noise being patterned.

the good- cheese is tasty and audiences eat it up. some lovely glitchy sounds to be had. The attack control overdrives nicely in the harmonic modes when turned all the way up. clean, as far as how it handles gain - no harsh clipping when things are too loud for it. Would swear this is the glitchy noises in "2 wrongs make 1 right" had it not been released seven years after that recording.

Overall- I could live without it, but I'd rather not- it'd mean i actually have to put time into sequencing on my electribe then when all i want is blippy octave noises. a quite full featured chopping pedal, a rather nice basic intro to loopers (considerably kinder than a PDS8000 anyway). Oh and major points for midi syncronization. 8 of 10.
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Re: Effects review

Postby cryabetes » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:37 pm

Boss PH-3
Boss Phase Shifter

Boss is, in my geographic area, a standard for things to surpass. Like, if it sounds worse than the Boss equivalent, why not just get the boss? At least it won't break, and pretty much any of the music stores will order Boss products. That said, i've had some issues with phase shifters. First I got the Digitech Hyper Phase. Awful phase shifter, alternated between barely able to hear the effect and TOO MUCH PHASING. Thne I picked up a PH-2, which honestly, bored the hell out of me. Nice sounds just .... I wanted more. So I got the alesis FAZE. Terrific sounds/patterns, but there was a volume drop when I used it. shit. back to the drawing board. Then I got the v1 (1977/78) EHX Small Stone (which has since been sold to space6oy) that I was terrified to gig with - sounded great but I was worried about it being transported. So I came full circle and bought the PH-3.

Now, the PH-3 isn't the nicest phaser I've had, nor is it the best sounding.
It's reliable and it does its thing interestingly enough that I keep it around.
The modes are something like this:

4 stage phasing (a la the MXR phase 90/EHX small stone) - volume drop/unexciting.
8 stage phasing (a la the PH-2) - frequency drop outs. Boring. odd bass response.
10 stage phasing (a la the MXR Phase 100) - good sounds. interesting. probably the most palatable of the 'classic phasers' modeled here.
12 stage phasing - sounds awesome but rather than the volume dropouts of the 4 and 8 stage phasers, this had major volume spikes, which was probably worse.
rising only - what I typically use this pedal for. Minimal dropouts/spikes, adds more mids to your bass (and, unfortunately, subbass), and more or less sounds like an annoying dude getting his last bit of slurpee out of his cup. Good for bridges/transitions in songs though.
fall only - this one seems to have both drop outs and spikes. not sure how that works at all.
step phase/s&h phase - not bad but the kaoss pads do it better. The Marshall phaser has this too but I've not used one of those yet.

Ultimately, if I had to pick a phaser, i'd pick the Alesis Ineko or the FAZE, but this is small, foot-operable, runs on a standard power supply and isn't going to break on me, which is why I end up using it, volume spikes be damned. Overall rating: 5/10. Also I picked mine up for $50, so the price certainly was right.
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Re: Effects review

Postby cryabetes » Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:29 pm

Grooveboxes as Effects Processors

I think Roland was the only company to out and out make a groovebox effects processor, but it's really a novel idea. Sequencing effects can lead to a lot more interesting patterns than an LFO that may or may not be synchronized to the tempo of the song. I'm going to look at some applications of grooveboxes as effects only.

Korg EA-1
the Korg EA-1 is kind of limited - it's got nice character but on its own, it's probably not as intriguing as, say, a Kaossilator. The really cool thing about it is one of the modulation sources can be set to the aux input. Through careful gating and sequencing, your guitar is now a step-sequenced ring modulated tremolo going through a bonus stage of chorus and delay. Works for recording for vocals too, but can be a feedback nightmare to try to pull off onstage with vocals.

Korg ER-1
Every guitarist that's heard of it has GAS for a Lightfoot Labs Goatkeeper. Understandable. After all, it looks to be a rather interesting and unique pedal. But you can get pretty much the same thing from the ER-1; You just have to make your own patterns and then motion sequence the decay times for the 'ons'.

Korg ESX-1
You can do slicer/gating effects with the audio input on this, as well as route the audio in to the three effects sends onboard. Probably wouldn't want that to be the only thing you buy it for, considering the price, but you can indeed do them.
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Re: Effects review

Postby hyphen nation » Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:23 am

I have an odd "effect" to review...it's actually a guitar amp that has a dummy speaker load, and line out. The Univalve (one power tube) is pretty freaking awesome. I just found one used for $450. It's a blast as an amp, but using it on a baseline was ridiculous. If you are familiar with tube amps, all the same qualities apply...natural harmonic overdriven tube sound, nice natural sag/compression and all of it just in the signal chain....warm natural fuzzy distortion was my synths come alive...I'll try to record a simple A/B this weekend, let it speak for itself.
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Electro Harmonix Stereo Memoryman w/ Hazarai

Postby Plumpudding » Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:41 pm

Ill have a crack at this one.

I payed 200-300 $, new.

First of all, I bought my EH SMMH about three or four years ago. I needed a looper for my industrial country band, and it was love at first sight. I was young, foolish, and did not know a lot about anything at all exept twanging at my guitar. The thing was blue, and it said on paper it could loop. I was sold.

That was then, and now, three or four years later, it's still one of the centerpieces in my pretty sparse setup. This thing is wild. On paper it supposedly does a lot. It's a delaypedal, with seven different modes, can loop up to 30 seconds of audio, overdubs with or without degrading volume, the filter is top notch, reverse echo, blabla, but even knowing that, you'll get surprised. I've gotten so many weird results out of this box, I can't really remember it all. I've been sitting for hours just twidling away, looping stupid shit, overdubbing more stupid shit. Once I managed a to get a fretless bassguitar to sound like cows mooing away in a barn. I've used the memory man in pen&paper roleplay sessions to get robot voices. You can make swooshing soundsscapes, creepy atmospheres, clanky percussions, and you can even connect it into itself, to get internal feedback. It's pretty good at the normal stuff too, slight bit of delay, little echo etc., but where it shines is at making bizarre, weird, insane noises. It is not merely and effect, is an instrument in it's own right.

The point is, this box will surprise you, it will infuriate you, and if you like weird stuff, you'll probably love it. If you just need a sweet delay, you should probably get something else.
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