Ratings

Pros:
Unique pitch-shift/filter effects. Fun and expressive realtime control. Great for texturalists and noise bombers. Very fun.

Cons:
Mono only. Single-direction pitch shifting. No filter feedback control. Expression pedal needed for best results.

Street:
$229

Catalinbread Coriolis Effect
catalinbread.com


Tones:


Ease of Use:


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Value:
 

The term Coriolis effect usually refers to the effect that the rotating Earth exerts on objects in motion. It’s an important concept in ballistics and meteorology, and it explains why water swirls down the drain in opposite directions in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

All of which has little to do with Catalinbread’s new Coriolis Effect pedal. There are no rotating objects here. It’s just a pitch shifter paired with a resonant filter. It doesn’t even employ LFO modulation. But given the head-spinning effects this device produces, it’s easy to forgive poetic license. You can define what this pedal is in a half-dozen words. But you need hundreds to describe its many colorful sounds.

Shifty Moves
The first of three large knobs is a wet/dry blend that feeds the pitch shifter. The pitch shifter has an unusual range—not the usual octave or two up and down, but down only. With a 50/50 wet/dry mix, far-right pitch-knob settings produce a unison doubling effect. Twisting it to the left lowers the pitch way, way down. Below 10 o’clock or so, it’s so low you can’t hear it.

You can assign the pitch control to an expression pedal. (It’s not included, though you need one to get the most out of this effect.) With the pedal in full heel position, you hear only your dry sound. As you advance it, the harmonized pitch emerges from its hidden depths. With a 100 percent wet balance setting, you get a whammy pedal effect, albeit only in a pitch-down direction. The extra-deep transposition range is great for glitchy, tape-stop effects. The 100 percent wet settings have perceptible latency, but most players can probably hang with it.

The pitch shift quality is typical for pedals in this price range, which is to say … okay. You can get cool effects with clean tones, but distortion definitely helps obscure transposition artifacts, and the shifts sound more organic when they’re dirtied up. The Coriolis Effect is great for punctuating aggressive solos with chaotic squalls, à la Tom Morello. It’s difficult to zero in on a specific pitch, but it’s easy to dismount from your noise bursts by retreating to a full-heel or full-toe pedal position.

Wah Not
A third knob controls the cutoff frequency of an always-on 2-band low-pass filter. You can also control this parameter via expression pedal. (You select the pedal’s role via a top-panel toggle switch. There’s only one expression-in jack, so, sadly, you can only control the shift interval or the cutoff frequency.) Maximum settings are out of audible range, so the filter seems bypassed. Here, too, you can restore order by flooring the pedal.

The extra-deep transposition range is great for glitchy,
tape-stop effects.

At 100 percent wet settings, you get a cool wah variation. Wahs employ band-pass filters that chop both lows and highs. Here only highs are attenuated, so the effect tends to sound less thin and piercing than traditional wah. With an even dry/wet blend, pedal motion emphasizes varying frequencies—an expressive and subtle variation on phasing/flanging. It’s not a sophisticated filter. You can only control cutoff frequency, not resonance or bandwidth. Yet it’s capable of may cool tones.

Seize the Freeze
There’s another wrinkle: a footswitch-triggered hold effect similar to those found on “freeze” pedals. With a 50/50 mix, you can hold a sustained chord and solo over it. At 100 percent wet, you can grab successive chords and play continuous progressions, especially if you add reverb. Actually, reverb and delay work so well with the Coriolis Effect that they’re nearly as essential as an expression pedal. I wasn’t shy about slathering on echo in the demo clips. (Just note that those sounds don’t come from the Coriolis. Same with the distortion, which comes from the Helix modeler I tracked through.)

You can get much sonic variation according to the exact moment you trigger the freeze. If you click it on at the instant you strike a chord, you get a stuttering ack-ack-ack effect. Press it a half-second later, and you get organ-like pads.

The Coriolis Effect lives in a standard BB-sized enclosure. It runs on standard 9V power supplies and has no battery compartment. And as mentioned above, you’re really, really going to want to use an expression pedal with this gizmo. There’s only a single output jack, so all effects are mono. Not a problem—but all the more reason to add the atmospherics of delay and reverb.

The Verdict
Catalinbread’s Coriolis Effect is cool, quirky, and unique. I can’t think of a direct comparison, and I’m not sure how you’d obtain similar effect combinations without stepping up to a more sophisticated multi-processor such as an Eventide H9. It may seem pricy at $229, but hey, it’s easy to sell pedals cheaply if you’re stamping out Screamer clones in China. This original design surely required substantial R&D, and it’s built in Oregon. Players who trade in spacy, textural tones are likely to love it.

Watch the First Look: