Anasounds Element Review
Spring-reverb junkies rejoice: This brilliant offering from France puts three amp-rivaling ambience options right on your pedalboard.
Recorded using a Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom with Curtis Novak Tele-V bridge and JM-V neck pickups going into a Ground Control Tsukuyomi boost (set at 9 o’clock) and then into a Warehouse G10C/S-equipped 1976 Fender Vibrolux Reverb (with reverb off) miked with a Royer R-121 and feeding an Apogee Duet going into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.
Clip 1: Le Bon tank (first bypassed) then with two different settings: 1) All controls at noon and spring-saturation switch off, first in middle pickup position, then neck pickup. 2) Out and low at max, mix at 2 o’clock, and high at 10 o’clock, first in middle pickup position, then in middle pickup position with spring-saturation switch engaged.
Clip 2: Same as clip 1, but with La Brute tank.
Clip 3: Same as clip 1, but with Le Truand tank.
Adds world-class spring-reverb sounds of all stripes to any amp. Great build. Reasonable price.
Requires careful pedalboard placement and possibly extra padding, particularly for heavy stompers.
$349 street (Premium bundle, tested), $249 (Le Bon bundle), $279 (La Brute bundle), $299 (Le Truand bundle)
Ease of Use:
A forewarning—I’m about to blaspheme. Okay, here goes: The Anasounds Element is a game-changing means of stocking your pedalboard with analog spring reverb that can rival ’verb in classic amps. Hear me out—I’ve been obsessed with reverb for years, and none of this is said lightly.
How It Works
The France-built Element consists of two units: a 4-knob controller/preamp stompbox that connects via a 3.5 mm-to-RCA cable to one of three available tank sizes. The smallest, Le Bon, is approximately 7"x 2"x 1 1/2", while La Brute is about 9"x 3"x 1 1/2" (roughly the size of a Fender Blues Junior tank), and Le Truand, at 17"x 4"x 1 1/2", is about as big as the tank from a Fender Twin Reverb. (All three are also available in a Premium bundle.) Each tank contains three springs, and includes screws and washers for mounting to your board through holes outfitted with shock-absorbing rubber grommets. All pedal jacks are up top, and controls are straightforward: Mix shifts the dry-to-wet ratio, out governs wet-signal gain (9 dB at max), and low and high adjust the reverberated signal’s bass and treble content. A single toggle engages a “saturation” mode.
Lequel Est Pour Toi?
My tests began by running each Element tank through my ’76 Vibrolux Reverb, toggling back and forth between the amp’s built-in ’verb and Anasounds sounds driven by a Telecaster and a baritone “Jazzblaster” with Wide Range-style humbuckers. My initial impression, even with little Le Bon, was … “Dayum!”
For starters, I heard no difference in the character of foundational tones when the effect was engaged versus bypassed—a testament to Anasounds’ incredibly clear preamp. Secondly, even little Le Bon offered a huge array of sounds; everything from a splash of amp-like ambiance to tidal waves of completely legit surf tones. I thought I detected a little more low-end oomph in the Fender’s reverb at first, but as I experimented with Element’s controls I realized there was hardly a Vibrolux reverb sound I couldn’t mimic—plus a jillion more that would be hard to extract from a single-knob circuit.
Even using an RCA-to-1/4" adapter to route my Vibrolux’s own reverb into the amp’s normal channel—which lets you use that channel’s controls to EQ the reverberated signal (a trick I learned from new PG Silver and Black columnist Jens Mosbergvik)——didn’t yield tonal variety to rival the Element. And that’s not just because the amp lacks a mix control. The Element’s high knob is perfect for taming ping-y treble drips or dialing in warmer sounds. But even treble-accentuated settings usually sounded less grating to my ears than extreme Vibrolux reverb settings.
The low control is more subtle, but it’s a welcome and important inclusion. Meanwhile, routing the Element through my Jaguar HC50 1x12 highlighted how effective the out knob is at fine-tuning the system for differently voiced amps. The British-voiced Jag’ seemed to thrive at advanced out knob levels, yielding pleasingly bristling harmonics, while the Fender’s mid-scooped sounds reacted a little more stuffily. As for saturation mode, with low treble settings its chaotic, quasi-fuzz sounds could be a cool niche effect for experimentalists.
The Anasounds Element imbues whatever amp you love with a touch of vintage Fender reverb magic. The main difference between Le Bon, La Brute, and Le Truand is smoother transients and decays as you increase tank size, but at conservative to moderate settings, most players will struggle to hear a significant enough difference—particularly in a band mix—to warrant the extra cash and real estate for the larger options. That said, avowed reverb junkies will thrill at Le Truand’s gorgeous depth: With mix straight up, low cranked, and high between 9 o’clock and noon, I found that higher out settings expanded the spaciousness of the big tank’s sounds so much that it effectively bridged the gap between everyday amp reverb and more atmospheric digital reverbs—particularly when you feed boosts or overdrives into Element’s front end.