Have you ever actually tried to figure out how much you’ve spent on gear throughout the years? For those with simple rigs that change little over time, it’s probably not too tough. For insatiable gear heads though, you might as well ask us to figure out cold fusion. Personally, I’ve learned a lot about gear from the process of trading, buying, and selling. But it’s depressing to think about how much money I’ve spent on pedals that weren’t quite right, just to cast them aside for that next big thing.
Electro-Harmonix might help put an end to that cycle, however with the release of the Analogizer, which is designed to lay a thick coat of analog warmth on top of digital effects. After my experience with the unit, I can only imagine how much money I would have saved, and how many stompboxes I might have held onto if the Analogizer had come out years ago. And if you tossed that dusty old digital delay in the corner because its repeats were a little too cold, the Analogizer might be reason enough for you to dig it out and give it another spin.
Blast From the Past
The Analogizer works via a simple principle. It uses an all-analog circuit to process the incoming signal of a digital effect placed a head of it in a chain and adds the subtle lo-fi nuances that analog devices are known for.
The Analogizer uses four controls to shape tone. A simple gain control—ranging from 0 db to +26 db—bumps the volume and overall body of the tone, but it also has a brash vintage voicing at higher settings that works in the capacity of a stand-alone overdrive. The control can also be used with dry guitar to fatten up the tone of thin-sounding pickups.
The Analogizer effectiveness also depends on a delay time control called spread that enables you to add delay ranging from 3.5 ms to 65 ms. At 3.5 ms, the delay time isn’t very noticeable at all, except as a very effective thickening agent. At higher settings the difference is very apparent and when used in conjunction with the pedal’s blend knob, you can conjure a wide range of tones. When the spread control is set higher and mixed with a little dry signal via the blend control, you can get some neat slapback and discordant-sounding tones.
Together, the controls adds and subtract certain frequency ranges, and apply a slightly dirty character to the processed signal’s voicing. And the combination of several subtle differences added together create a larger tone while retaining the essence of the sound you began with.
Analog-y and Ecstasy
With a 2011 Gibson SG Classic, I plugged into a Boss DD-6 Digital Delay, which I then routed to the Analogizer, and into a Fender ’65 Twin Reverb reissue combo. Setting the Analogizer’s Spread control fully counter-clockwise and the Blend at maximum arpeggiated, Edge-inspired chord progressions took on a form that made the DD-6 sound more like Boss’ famous DM-2 and DM-3 analog delays.
Experimenting with this setup also demonstrated how the Analogizer rounds off the low-end on repeats. The pedal’s ability to smooth out the sharper edges of the DD-6’s tone was extraordinary. And dropping the volume and increasing the gain concurrently yielded some fat and wild-sounding delay tones that worked great for soundscape-infused, post-rock guitar work. Eventually, I turned off the DD-6 and had a ball with the Analogizer’s built-in overdrive on its own. It’s a really good overdrive—balanced with plenty of midrange, although I was left more than once wanting a little additional control for tone sweep.
While the Analogizer is extremely useful for warming up sterile-sounding rigs, it wouldn’t be an Electro-Harmonix pedal without some element of pizazz or off-the-wall tone trickery. And working with the pedal’s blend and spread controls in tandem will indeed get you some strange-sounding results. Since the spread knob only changes the time that the effect kicks in on the wet signal, mixing it with the dry can get you into some very off-the-wall, lo-fi spaces. With the DD-6 set for a long delay, the Analogizer’s blend set at 50/50 and the spread at max, the rig sounded almost like a multi-headed tape delay. The contrast between the clean, unaffected guitar and the lo-fi analog processed tone kicking in on the tail of really detailed delay tone was subtler than you’d imagine highly effective and heavy sounding—giving the impression of doubling a track in the studio.
If you’re looking to warm up a rig that’s populated with digital effects, the Analogizer is one of the best—and most inexpensive—ways to do it. It’s extremely simple to use, has a small footprint and has a pretty nice-sounding overdrive tone on top of everything else. There aren’t any options to change the voicing or range of the effect, which is just about the only drawback. And it would be nice to be able to brighten or darken or different guitars and amps. That said, it’s the kind of tool that can save you when encountering an unfamiliar backline that requires a little more spunk or that has a touch too much clean headroom for your digital rig. And for the price and all the dough it’ll save you on pedal replacement, the Analogizer is a steal and a truly practical addition to any board.
you have a collection of effects that, while versatile, could use some analog warmth.
you enjoy the cleanliness and precise nature of digital effects.