Spaceman Meridian Review
A modulator rooted in rich and varied chorus tones is a launchpad for exploring unusual phase and flange textures—and more.
A varied menu of modulation tones. Rewards exploration with uncommon sounds. High build quality and beautiful design execution.
Not always easy or intuitive to find sounds and textures outside the chorus realm.
Spaceman’s Meridian walks an interesting line. It inhabits worlds of chorus, phasing, flanging, and vibrato. But unlike multi-modulators that allow you to switch between effects like picking meal deals from a fast food menu, the all-analog Meridian enables a player to dial in shades of those effects from a chorusing foundation. If that sounds limiting, it’s not. The modulation textures here are rich and often unusual—bypassing same-old modulation templates and presets and inviting an exploratory, interactive approach. As you might expect, you’re likely to encounter some surprises along the way.
Built for Blast Off
Spaceman Effects has always maintained high standards for construction quality, inside and out. That’s plain to see in the Meridian. The thick, engraved, layered plastic control panel that evokes ’60s-vintage aerospace instruments, plus the Fender amp-style lamp, sturdy toggle, and knobs that turn with satisfying resistance and enable precise control adjustments, all remain Spaceman fixtures. They make the Meridian a beautiful pedal to behold and it’s sure to class up any pedalboard. Inside you see that the Spaceman prioritizes keeping the Meridian in service for a long time. I/O and expression pedal jacks and the soft relay switch are all wired independently and mounted to the sturdy aluminum enclosure, making fast replacement easy. The tiered circuit boards are also immaculately wired.
The control array is beautifully laid out, too. The opposing-triangle orientation of the knobs, along with the white-against-black engraved labeling, makes it easy to discern the function of each dial. These might seem like simple considerations. But on a pedal with controls as interactive as these, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re adjusting, in what quantity, and be able to rest assured that the setting will stick. The controls themselves will be recognizable to any player who has dabbled in modulation much. Mix, volume (which adds up to 6 dB of boost to overcome perceived volume loss), rate, and width (or intensity) are pretty self-explanatory. Regen, or feedback, will be familiar to most flanger users. Time, which sets the lag in the delay line that helps create the chorus effect, might be less familiar to players that use the simplest analog modulators, but it adds a lot of tone-shaping flexibility here.
”The Meridian excels at enabling creative reshaping of basic chorus sounds.”
Meandering Through the Modulation Matrix
When we say that the Meridian works from a chorus foundation, it is in part because those are the easiest sounds to find and tap into. Parking each of the controls at 10 o’clock, for instance, evokes classics like the Boss CE-2. These vintage sounds become yet more alive when you add a little regen and width. And getting aggressive with the mix and mixing in a little extra regen generates a very passable David Gilmour Dark Side of the Moon Leslie tone. Even when you move all the controls to 2 o’clock, though, the resulting molasses-y, submarine throbs are still recognizable as thick chorus textures (an especially robust EHX Small Clone would be a good point of reference). All these sounds, and those in between, provide beautiful alternatives to the most common chorus tones. And, in general, the Meridian excels at enabling creative reshaping of those basic chorus sounds.
But some of the Meridian’s richest sonic rewards come when you make more radical tweaks. Shifting the delay time and width to more extreme clockwise settings from the basic chorus sound yields a queasy, crooked-and-busted rotary speaker sound that is amazing with lazy lead lines—giving them both punch and an alien presence that would suit King Krule’s hazy, unraveling jazz mutations, to name one musical setting. Reducing the width from this point and adding maximum mix and regen settings lends those not-quite-right Leslie sounds a bit more formality and structure. From that point, dialing the max to the counterclockwise side of noon, backing off the regen, and slowing down the rate while kicking up the width a notch, meanwhile, yields a pretty metallic phase with a hint of flange.
In some ways you have to have a searching spirit to extract the most from the Meridian. The paths away from the chorus tones, which are easy to find, aren’t always obvious. The payoff, though, is often in the unexpected tones you find along the way. And the discoveries you make there may indeed add more to your song, solo, riff, or arrangement than any standard meal-deal modulation could ever could.
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