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Death By Audio Octave Clang V2 Review

Death By Audio pedal

A well-ordered and intuitive means to octave fuzz disorder, in many shapes and colors.

Great basic, focused fuzz tone. Intuitive if you’re open-minded. Lots of surprises. Nice design. High-quality construction.



Death By Audio Octave Clang


Every instrument is a tool for expressing feeling. But when you have to convey a certain range of emotions spanning anguish, the rush of sonic anarchy, and the exhilaration of total liberation, octave fuzzes are tops. Generally speaking, octave fuzz isn’t an effect you use casually.

And it often leads to hairy places where you are forced to surrender control. But if you have something to say with an electric guitar and you want to punctuate it with an exclamation point, adding octave fuzz can do the trick. Need further convincing? Kick back, close your eyes, listen to Jimi’s “Machine Gun,” and get back to me.

It’s little surprise that Death By Audio, with its well-documented love of extreme and perverse sounds, would dabble in octave distortion. What’s a wonder is that DBA ever discontinued its own excellent take on the effect, the Octave Clang. There’s no need to mourn any longer, though. The Octave Clang is back. And it’s as thrillingly chaotic and—yes—as practical as ever.

Space Station Salvage

I try to avoid saying much about how pedals look. Unless you’re collecting them to display on your mantle, it’s sound that counts. Admittedly, DBA has my number when it comes to their graphics and control layouts—appearing, as they do, like a cross of ’70s-synth and conceptual automotive and aerospace design from the same period. That may not mean much to you, but I feel extra compelled to unleash when I see the Clang staring back at me from the floor. It looks awesome.

It has mass and spiky character, and does a great job of suggesting the brutish, switchblade attitude of ’60s fuzz circuits while staying in its lane in a mix.”

The control set is simple. One footswitch bypasses the pedal or brings in the gain section without the octave-up effect. The second footswitch adds the octave. You cannot operate the octave effect alone. The two leftmost knobs are for output level and gain (which DBA claims can be as much as an extra 39 dB). The third is the shape control, which controls a pre-gain tilt EQ that enables a lot of control in a relatively forgiving way—no small consideration when you’re messing with an effect that can sound so hot and hectic.

Fizz, Spittle, and Valkyrie’s Screams

The fuzz side of the circuit is idiosyncratic and thrilling, if you like variations on snarling first- and second-generation ’60s fuzzes. It’s not an easy fuzz to characterize. It doesn’t have the porcine megatonnage of DBA’s Fuzz War. And because it has to dovetail with the octave side of the circuit, it doesn’t billow with the overtone content and sustain you would hear even in simple ’60s fuzzes like the Fuzz Face, Bosstone, Tone Bender, or Fuzzrite. Nevertheless, it has mass and spiky character and does a great job of suggesting the brutish, switchblade attitude of those ’60s circuits while staying in its lane in a mix. Studio rats may treasure it for that reason. And because fundamental notes sound so strong and relatively uncluttered, it’s also really cool for trashy but succinct sub-Stooges power chording. I’d be psyched to have this fuzz circuit alone.

Adding the octave expands the Octave Clang’s tonal palette, of course. It’s easy to set up ferocious octave fuzz sounds that work for sawing power chords and Hendrix fare. But it also shifts the tactile responsiveness of the pedal and your guitar—often demanding a rethink of your picking approach and the fretboard—that can spawn creative results. When you set the EQ, gain, and output settings on the counterclockwise side of noon and use the octave and fuzz together, picking at points close to the bridge generates almost ring-modulated and metallic Martian gamelan sounds not unlike first-gen octave fuzzes like the Ampeg Scrambler and Green Ringer. But the Octave Clang’s pre-gain tilt EQ control and the many cool ways it interacts with the gain knob and your guitar’s dials make the Clang capable of many weirder, more mysterious shades of these already odd and arresting sounds. Switching guitars can create radically different tones, too. The concise sustain I can get from a semi-hollow Rickenbacker, for instance, activates the pedal and the resulting overtones in a very different way than a Stratocaster or SG, whose different overtone profiles excite different aspects of the pedal’s response envelope.

The Verdict

If youhave an appetite for new distortion and fuzz sounds that can totally transform a hook or mood, the very simple-looking Octave Clang offers a trove of possibilities. Though I have gleefully described many of the device’s deviant capacities, neither these accounts nor Death By Audio’s reputation as noise merchants should dissuade you from approaching the Octave Clang as a very practical and unique option for fuzz and distortion tones. Psych-punk chording can take on new, more feral energy. And otherwise boneheaded hooks can become ear candy. Experimentally minded musicians, producers, and engineers with a willingness to dig a bit will find many such surprises in the well-designed, well-built, and well-executed Octave Clang.