Reviews

Weird becomes wonderful in a heady, ambitious modulation pedal that somehow always sounds organic.

Super diverse and versatile modulation sounds with uncanny musicality.

Discerning and predicting some knob functions can be confusing.

$199

Catalinbread Many Worlds
catalinbread.com

4.5
5
3.5
4.5

Named after physicist Hugh Everett III’s quantum-mechanics theory of the multiverse, the Catalinbread’s Many Worlds phaser takes a tonal trajectory arcing back to the mid-’70s Phase 90 and fractures it, Schrödinger’s cat-style, with eight stages and eight LFO modes. Five knobs govern up to eight parameters and five traditional LFO types—sine, square, sawtooth, reverse-sawtooth, and triangle—plus two envelope-dependent sine modes that trigger varying levels of phase sweep (one downward, one up) based on the intensity of your string attack. In “battle” mode, two sine waves with independently controllable speeds compete to dominate the phase output.

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A safe space for savage fuzz.

Absolutely ripping fuzz sounds that balance sustain and chaos. Cool low-gain and volume-attenuated textures. Sturdy construction. Cool control layout.

High gain sounds rob pedal of some of its nuance

$179

Pigtronix Star Eater
pigtronix.com

5
5
4.5
4

Though it feels sacrilegious to say, sometimes you need a break from fuzz—a chance to rest the ears, to bathe in the overtones of a little reverb, or just listen to the birds sing. That’s the place I was in when the Pigtronix Star Eater arrived. An hour later I wasn’t nearly as interested in the birds anymore.

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Big sounds abound in this affordable orchestra synth in a box.

Hip string synth tones. Communicates detail in complex chords. Freeze effects included.

High-mid transients can be pronounced in some voices.

$259

Electro-Harmonix S9 String Ensemble
ehx.com

4
5
4.5
4

Electro-Harmonix is a giant among pedal builders. What’s inspiring about EHX is that they’ve never let that stature keep them from taking risks. Take the company’s keyboard- and synth-inspired pedals: the B9, KEY9, MEL9, and Synth9. Each has been a success, but none were sure-fire hits. Guitar-based synthesis at accessible consumer prices is not easy. Yet in each case, EHX created something playable and useful to guitarists. And if they didn’t always achieve perfect replication of the keyboard and synth instruments that inspired them, the pedals often prompted new ways of relating to a guitar and new possibilities in performance and composition. The S9 String Ensemble is among the most realized of these pedals. Its sounds are rich and creatively executed. And the pedal is compelling in the truest sense of the word: It makes it virtually impossible to not consider new songs, new arrangements, and new styles as you interact with it.

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A lush, lively stereo chorus with tasteful, varied presets and controls that range from the classic to the crazed.

Excellent presets and reactive controls produce a lush variety of lovely classic and crazed sounds. Solid construction.

Pricey. Black divot dial marking are hard to read.

$300

VS Alchemy MkIII
vsaudio.com

5
4
4
4


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