Premier Guitar

Malekko Heavy Industry Omicron Fuzz, Tremolo, Chorus, Chicklet Reverb, Vibrato, and Phaser Reviews

November 4, 2010


Sometimes, simple things are just that: simple. And sometimes there is a complexity within simple things that really makes you think. The Omicron Series pedals from Malekko Heavy Industry fall into the category of simple things filled with complexity in sound. Once you plug them in, you’ll be surprised how much good can come out of a little metal box.

Bite-Sized Package
Measuring a compact 1.5” x 3.6” x 1.2”, the Omicron series are quite simple in feature and design. While each pedal has its own character in sound and internal configuration, they share the same cast metal housing and two knobs at the top. They all have the same input, output, and power jacks, which are located on the sides and offset from each other so you can get the pedals quite close if you set them up side by side. The jacks have plastic bodies with metal nuts and function solidly, however they aren’t all metal (a trade-off for cost). These units are all true-bypass (other than the Chicklet Reverb), so you don’t need to worry about losing your tone through them, and they all require the standard 9V DC negative tip power supply. Due to the small size of these pedals, there isn’t room for a battery, so you will need a power supply to operate them.

Don’t let the size of these fool you, these little guys prove that big sound can come from small packages. Collectively speaking, this series of effects really hits the nail on the head for capturing warm, silky analog sound. Let’s take a closer look (and listen) at each pedal.

All clips recorded with Fender American Deluxe Strat, Fender Deville 4x10, Sennheiser e609, Apogee Duet, and Logic Pro.



Download Example
Fuzz
Malekko really knows how to make a great fuzz pedal, and this Germanium diode-based circuit is packed full of great sounds. The two face knobs are simple—Volume and Drive—but within the pedal is a switch that gives you three different voicings. The top position is brightest, and lends itself well to octave fuzz sounds, the middle is stronger in the midrange and bottom which creates a nice classic cutting sound, and the low position is a more modern approach with scooped mids with a huge bottom end. This unit is full of glorious wooly splat and buzz, and you can get some nice modulating-type overtones when you really push the drive and hit the double stops.

Buy if...
you want a straight forward, superb sounding Germanium diode-based fuzz that has plenty of options for tailoring the frequency content
Skip if...
you want the Malekko B:Assmaster.
Rating...


Street $130 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com




Download Example
Tremolo
The Tremolo has three features: the two usual knobs for Speed and Depth, plus an internal trimpot for adjusting pedal volume. The internal trimpot is a nice inclusion, ensuring your sound doesn’t get lost when you kick the tremolo on. With the Depth knob, you can go from a gentle sine pulse all the way to a harder square wave chop—both ends being very useable sounds. This effect reminds me of some of the great old tube tremolos in amps like the Fender Vibro-Champ or Twin Reverb.

Buy if...
you are looking for tube amp voicing tremolo with simple controls.
Skip if...
you want to make your life more complicated.
Rating...


Street $79 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com





Download Example
Chorus
Nice for sonic warmth and lively stereo-like imaging, this pedal houses an MN 3007 BBD IC chip. The MN 3007 bucket brigade chip brings a bit of distortion and some lovely analog artifacts into the signal. The chorus sounds full and wide, controlled by the Speed and Depth knobs. This pedal sounds the most analog of the bunch, and isn’t scared of introducing some saturation into the mix.

Buy if...
you want a warm, fuzzy yet lively chorus with plenty of analog character.
Skip if...
you don’t like the artifacts the bucket brigade circuit introduces.
Rating...


Street $140 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com




Download Example
Chicklet Reverb
The Chicklet Reverb is controlled by two knobs: Mix and Dwell. When you dial up the Mix knob, you get more of a quick slap-back echo effect. With the Dwell knob, you add a more spring type of splash—mixing the two gives you a nice and deep sounding feel. It’s like a quick delay modified with a spring decay. Speaking of decay, this pedal is designed so the decay fades out naturally if the pedal is switched off during play so you don’t get the tail cut off—a welcome touch, though it’s the only one of the bunch that isn’t true-bypass because of this feature.

Buy if...
you are tired of carrying around a big spring tank and need a small unit that will do the job nicely and give you big room sounds without degrading your tone.
Skip if...
you don’t care for the quick slap-back echo from the mix knob or demand true-bypass.
Rating...


Street $120 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com




Download Example
Vibrato
Like the chorus pedal, the Omicron Vibrato also has the MN 3007 BBD chip to give it a nice, full, analog sound. With the Depth knob you can dial in a subtle rotating speaker swish all the way to warbled modulation that starts to pitch shift and get into some dizzying underwater sounds. Unlike the chorus, this unit does not distort when you kick it on, but it has similar sonic warmth.

Buy if...
you are looking for warm, swirling rotating speaker effects that can take you into a warbling Twilight Zone.
Skip if...
you don’t like the pitch shifting modulation effect when you crank the depth knob.
Rating...


Street $140 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com




Download Example
Phaser
This Phaser is not a subtle effect—it has a rather pronounced pulsing “wow” depth. The pedal is controlled with Color and Speed knobs, as well as an internal trimpot to adjust the frequency content. The inner trimpot coarsely filters which frequencies get phased. All the way to the left is like a low-pass filter, and to the right is high-pass. The Color knob also affects the phased frequency, although a bit more subtly. I found myself wishing for a Depth knob or similar to tame the depth of the phase sound.

Buy if...
you like a strong phased sound with pronounced depth and the ability to tweak the frequency response of the phased signal.
Skip if...
you are after something more subtle with less phase depth.
Rating...


Street $120 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com



The Verdict
The Omicron series are a solid, great sounding set of analog quality pedals. For the size, pricing, and quality, these really stand out and will appeal to those of us who are looking for vintage sound at an affordable cost. Sometimes complexity within the guise of simplicity is just what you need.



Download Example
Chorus
Nice for sonic warmth and lively stereo-like imaging, this pedal houses an MN 3007 BBD IC chip. The MN 3007 bucket brigade chip brings a bit of distortion and some lovely analog artifacts into the signal. The chorus sounds full and wide, controlled by the Speed and Depth knobs. This pedal sounds the most analog of the bunch, and isn’t scared of introducing some saturation into the mix.

Buy if...
you want a warm, fuzzy yet lively chorus with plenty of analog character.
Skip if...
you don’t like the artifacts the bucket brigade circuit introduces.
Rating...


Street $140 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com




Download Example
Chicklet Reverb
The Chicklet Reverb is controlled by two knobs: Mix and Dwell. When you dial up the Mix knob, you get more of a quick slap-back echo effect. With the Dwell knob, you add a more spring type of splash—mixing the two gives you a nice and deep sounding feel. It’s like a quick delay modified with a spring decay. Speaking of decay, this pedal is designed so the decay fades out naturally if the pedal is switched off during play so you don’t get the tail cut off—a welcome touch, though it’s the only one of the bunch that isn’t true-bypass because of this feature.

Buy if...
you are tired of carrying around a big spring tank and need a small unit that will do the job nicely and give you big room sounds without degrading your tone.
Skip if...
you don’t care for the quick slap-back echo from the mix knob or demand true-bypass.
Rating...


Street $120 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com




Download Example
Vibrato
Like the chorus pedal, the Omicron Vibrato also has the MN 3007 BBD chip to give it a nice, full, analog sound. With the Depth knob you can dial in a subtle rotating speaker swish all the way to warbled modulation that starts to pitch shift and get into some dizzying underwater sounds. Unlike the chorus, this unit does not distort when you kick it on, but it has similar sonic warmth.

Buy if...
you are looking for warm, swirling rotating speaker effects that can take you into a warbling Twilight Zone.
Skip if...
you don’t like the pitch shifting modulation effect when you crank the depth knob.
Rating...


Street $140 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com




Download Example
Phaser
This Phaser is not a subtle effect—it has a rather pronounced pulsing “wow” depth. The pedal is controlled with Color and Speed knobs, as well as an internal trimpot to adjust the frequency content. The inner trimpot coarsely filters which frequencies get phased. All the way to the left is like a low-pass filter, and to the right is high-pass. The Color knob also affects the phased frequency, although a bit more subtly. I found myself wishing for a Depth knob or similar to tame the depth of the phase sound.

Buy if...
you like a strong phased sound with pronounced depth and the ability to tweak the frequency response of the phased signal.
Skip if...
you are after something more subtle with less phase depth.
Rating...


Street $120 - Malekko Heavy Industry - malekkoheavyindustry.com



The Verdict
The Omicron series are a solid, great sounding set of analog quality pedals. For the size, pricing, and quality, these really stand out and will appeal to those of us who are looking for vintage sound at an affordable cost. Sometimes complexity within the guise of simplicity is just what you need.