Devi Ever’s Console III—a radically new
way of looking at effects pedals.
It seems the boutique effects market has
finally gone mainstream, and as builders
make a mad dash to lower their price points
to gain market share, much of the ingenuity
and experimentation that made “boutique
unique” is slowly being squeezed out of the
equation in order to reach mainstream buyers
and the big box retailers who cater to them.
We’ve seen this cycle in the music industry
before—hair metal is replaced by grunge
is replaced by punk, etc. Yet no matter what
today’s hot trend may be, one certainty is
that a new idea will come along that’s so
revolutionary, unique, and outside the box
(pardon the pun) that it will completely
reshape the industry it belongs to.
Enter Devi Ever. For those of you who
don’t know Devi, she’s been at the forefront
of the “less traditional” side of boutique
effects for nearly a decade now, producing
such sought-after noisemakers as Torn’s
Peaker, the Bit Mangler, and Truly Beautiful
Disaster, just to name a few.
Devi is an artist, a dreamer, and a visionary.
Yet she’s also a business owner who has to
deal with the reality of our changing industry
and the challenge it has presented: How
do you keep your products interesting and
unique, while keeping their price point low?
Devi’s answer is Console—a cartridge-based
hardware interface for guitar effects
that has more than a little in common with
old-school video-game systems, such as Atari
and Intellivision. Console eliminates the
need for the standard user interface of box,
switches, jacks, etc., thereby dramatically
reducing production costs.
With Console, users can purchase one
hardware interface (the Gateway) and then
load it with interchangeable cartridges that
house the actual pedal circuitry inside them.
“A while back, I thought that the future
of guitar effects would be a sort of iPod for
effects,” says Devi, “where users could store
effects and recall them. However, with the
release of products, such as the DigiTech
iStomp, I realized that the boutique market
still has a distinct love for and fascination with
the analog interface of knobs and switches.
The DIY community is so big and everyone
in it is comfortable working with electronic
parts, but not necessarily with the software
coding that a digital platform would require.
In addition, I feel that the iPod model takes
away the personal touch that most boutique
builders bring to their products.”
For these reasons, Devi opted for an analog
hardware interface, offering it in one-,
two- and three-cartridge versions with a variety
of routing options for the various effects.
“The circuit board is the most important
factor of any pedal,” Devi explains. “Pots,
switches, and other hardware are secondary
to the overall circuit and sound.”
The Console cartridge itself is a 2" x 2" x
1/2" plastic enclosure that houses the effect’s
printed circuit board, with an exposed connection
area that plugs into the Console
Gateway. Each cartridge can have outputs for
up to five potentiometers to control the various
parameters of effect operation—hardware
pots being housed on the Gateway, of course.
Now here’s where this really gets interesting:
While there have been other companies
who have tried this type of modular effect
format in the past (the Korg PME-40X and
Line 6 ToneCore come to mind), Devi is
opening up the design and manufacturing
of Console cartridges to any and all comers.
That’s right, Devi provides the cartridge
enclosure for sale, then anyone can create a
Console effect cartridge (within the design
limitations of the platform, of course) and
offer it for resale. How’s that for open source?
Skeptics may argue that boutique
builders won’t want to share their coveted
designs. However, the page-long list of
companies who have already expressed
interest in creating their own Console cartridges
will quickly put such doubts to rest.
To date such noted builders as Analog Man,
Wampler, Empress, and Amptweaker have
all signed on for Console, which should
pave the way for many more to follow.
But don’t think that Devi has forgotten
her roots. In addition to releasing her
own line of effects in cartridge form, she
also plans to offer a perfboard cartridge
that DIYers can populate with their own
home-grown circuits. For more advanced
designers, the Console platform is compatible
with digital circuits as well.
While the initial appeal of the Console
concept is obvious (more and more affordable
effects), there are deeper implications that I
believe could shake our industry to its core. As
more and more effect builders enter the market,
music retail outlets are quickly running out
of shelf space to inventory all these “latest and
greatest” devices, not to mention the financial
investment involved in stocking and marketing
one new product line, let alone hundreds.
With Console, music dealers can purchase
one hardware interface and then stock
cartridges from various manufacturers, dramatically
decreasing the amount of space
required, as well as their financial investment.
Imagine a store or even a kiosk with one
Console interface and various cartridges
from any number of manufacturers. Users
could try before they buy or even rent cartridges
for testing in their home systems. Just
as video rental stores go the way of the dinosaur,
effect rental stores could rise up to take
their place. The possibilities are tantalizing.
It bears mentioning that Devi also chose
a very non-conventional method to fund
the Console, opting to use Kickstarter to
raise capital for the project. Considering
that she raised double her initial funding
target of $20,000, it seems I’m not the only
one who thinks Console is going to be a hit.
There’s more to say about this unique
product concept and the unique person who
created it. Unfortunately I’m out of room, so
for more info on Devi Ever’s Console modular
effect interface, check out deviever.com or
kickstarter.com. This is going to be big.
is the president
and founder of Godlyke, the U.S.
distributor for many well-known
boutique effect brands, including
Maxon, Guyatone, EMMA, and