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September 2014
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Pigtronix Phi Echolution and EP2 Envelope Phaser Pedal Reviews

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Pigtronix Phi Echolution and EP2 Envelope Phaser Pedal Reviews
Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the Philosopher's Tone from Pigtronix. The experience I had with that pedal made me anticipate the arrival of the EP2 Envelope Phaser and Phi Echolution with bated breath. Pigtronix is a unique company in that they are very forward thinking and offer original and cool additions to stomp boxes while still retaining a familiar feel. Their studio-quality effects are equally at home on the console as they are on a pedalboard. Like all Pigtronix pedals the Phi and EP2 are built like tanks and are powered by dedicated DC power supplies with higher voltages for better headroom. They're also packaged in colorful and expressive cases that mirror their sonic capabilities. Let's take a look at these pedals and see what Pigtronix has to serve up this time around.


EP2 Envelope Phaser
Download Example 1
Univibe-like settings
Download Example 2
Funky filter with medium Sensitivity setting
Download Example 3
High Sensitivity setting with Staccato engaged
All clips recorded with 2008 Fender American Standard Strat into 65Amps Tupelo with SM57 through Chandler LTD-1 preamp direct into ProTools.
The EP2 is the result of six years of customer feedback from the original EP1. I've said it more than once but I'll say it again, we live in the golden age of gear, and seeing the dedication that Pigtronix has shown to improving on an already good design is testament that there are many manufacturers building gear who love gear. It doesn't take but one look at the well-thought-out layout and assortment of options to realize this is a labor of love. Aside from true bypass and the standard i/o, there are also inputs for an external filter trigger (EF Trigger), a Sweep Pedal and Speed Pedal. Across the top of the pedal are controls for Sensitivity, Depth, Center and Speed, as well as Resonance. Below the row of knobs are five mini switches for Staccato, EF Sweep, Blend, LFO Smooth and Invert. It's built like a tank and looks like it will last a lifetime. In one way the toughness is a good thing, but after a while the mini switches were a little painful to switch on and off due to their tight throw and short nature. That notwithstanding it's amazing how many controls they could fit in without it feeling cramped.

In Play
Make no mistake, the EP2 is a funk machine, but it goes far deeper than a typical envelope filter. The reach and range of this pedal can take you on a journey from heavy funk to rich, Leslie-inspired warble to "Sunday Afternoon In The Park" drum-triggered filter sweeps.

At its core, the EP2 demands that you dig in and tweak the knobs and switches, and gives you instant rewards for every change made. With the wealth of options and control the sky is the limit in terms of what tones can be achieved. In my first play through I plugged in my 2008 Fender Strat into the EP2 and out to a Mojave Dirty Boy set to clean. With all the knobs set at noon and the switches in their off (or similar) positions, I instantly called up a gloriously thick Univibe tone. Using the Speed control to slow things down, it easily copped to Hendrix-inspired tones and made me want to spend the afternoon just on that one setting. The trio of controls (Depth, Center and Speed) have an enormous range to them that let you go from slow-as-molasses churning textures to bird chirping and ray gun, outer space FX.

The real funk came out when I switched over to EF mode and turned on the Staccato control. Staccato is a new circuit that is designed to track the envelope better for faster picking and tighter rhythm playing. You can really feel the difference in the release in this mode as the envelope dissipates faster and leaves room for the next note to come back and stomp out another filter sweep. It's surprisingly intuitive and urges your playing to move in that direction. Brilliant. You can also choose to sweep up or down with the EF Sweep switch as well as switch between + or – on the Invert switch, which changes the phase. A cool feature that's new to the pedal is LFO Smooth switch, which reduces the resonance when LFO is in use. This lets you set the Resonance control to one setting and then switch on the LFO Smooth to get a completely different sound.

I very much enjoyed the EP2 and while I couldn't cover every feature on the pedal due to space (it would fill a book to explain all of the potential) it's clear that this is a winner. With manual control over Sweep and Speed with separate pedals as well as triggering with an external source (which ended up being the most fun when triggering from a kick drum track on one of my songs) there is no end to what you can do.
Buy if...
you're in the market for a deep, filtering experience.
Skip if...
you don't have the funk.
Rating...

Street $249 - Pigtronix - pigtronix.com
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