A unique modulation effect derived from a fascinating audio illusion.
Unique and musically engaging tones. Quality construction. Fun and inspiring.
No battery option.
Korora Audio Spira
Ease of Use:
Fifty-five years ago, Roger Shepard devised a fascinating audio illusion. Shepard—who was not a musician or acoustician, but a renowned cognitive psychologist—created a tone that seemed to rise in pitch. And rise. And rise. It seemed to spiral upward forever: a sonic equivalent to the stripes on an old-fashioned barber pole.
What’s the trick? It starts with a group of ascending synthesized tones separated by octaves. The highest note gradually fades till it drops below the level of the next highest note. This dupes our ears into thinking that the tone never stops climbing.
This “Shepard tone” is widely known among electronic musicians, but not so much among guitarists. Or at least that’s what I thought till I read the Wikipedia entry on the phenomenon, which cites its many uses outside experimental music. It’s been deployed in films, including Dunkirk, where it conveys a sense of ever-escalating tension, and in The Dark Knight, where it provides the sound for the Batpod’s engine. It’s been employed by EDM artists as a rise effect, and by rock bands, including Franz Ferdinand and Godspeed You, Black Emperor. And yeah, that’s a Shepard tone in the final section of “Echoes,” that nightmarish soundscape from Pink Floyd’s Meddle album.
Korora Audio’s Spira deploys the Shepard phenomenon as a phasing/filtering effect. There’s no pitch shifting involved—your dry signal is unaltered. But the effect path is routed through a complex of band-pass (that is, wah-style) filters with resonant peaks in varying octaves. The filter levels vary, generating a resonant phase-like effect that seems to ascend forever. Trippy!
But as cool at this audio illusion is, it may not be the most exciting thing about the Spira. After all, you’re only likely to perceive the effect strongly when other parts don’t compete with the processed guitar. Strum a sustained chord in isolation, and whoa—Shepard city! But with a more active part, or when heard amidst other instruments, you’ll probably perceive it as simply an unusual phasing effect.
And that’s awesome! This is a profoundly different flavor in phasing/flanging, without the mechanical up/down motion that makes some players hate those effects. You get the texture, thickness, and animation of a good phase shifter, minus the repetitious up/down motion. It’s a fresh, ear-catching sound.
That’s the Spira’s core sound. But the pedal’s controls provide many variations on that theme.
A wide-ranging rate knob yields everything from fast flickers to super-slow shifts and a sweep freeze at the slowest rate. The blend knob sets the wet/dry balance. The resonance control regulates the prominence of the filter peaks. Maximum settings stop short of chaotic self-oscillation, but you can definitely get over-the-top whoops. Conversely, you might dial in a dry-heavy blend and low resonance for barely perceptible animation.
These are controls you’d expect to find on any phaser/flanger. But the Spira’s two 3-way toggle switches are more idiosyncratic. One switch sets the steepness/strength of the moving filters, from 6 to 12 to 18 dB per octave. The second toggle specifies the number of filters. One setting replicates the classic one-per-octave effect. Another doubles the density, with two filters per octave, each a tritone apart. The third setting splits the difference. Increasing the number of filters yields thicker, more harmonically complex timbres.
And oh—the Shepard effect works with descending filters as well as rising ones. A dedicated footswitch changes sweep direction. There are also internal controls that determine whether the effect defaults to on or off at power up, and defaults to ramp-up or ramp-down, plus an option for pulsing or non-pulsing LEDs. The Spira has no battery compartment, but a 9-volt adapter is included.
The Spira uses an old trick to create new tones. The ever-rising/ever-falling Shepard phenomenon is fascinating. Meanwhile, the pedal introduces new phase/flange flavors, minus their mechanical seesawing at high-resonance settings. The effects are digitally generated, but never cold-sounding. Spira can produce near-subliminal modulation, shrieking freakouts, and everything in between. The build quality is excellent. The results are inspiring.
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Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.