First Look: Electro-Harmonix Slap-Back Echo
A small, simple solution for rockabilly raging or subtle tone thickening.
The Electro-Harmonix Slap-Back Echo takes the essence of one of rock guitars most iconic effects and boils it down into an ultra-compact footprint without sacrificing modern flexibilities.
The Electro-Harmonix Slap-Back Echo is a late 70s rarity reissued with a classic tone and few modern updates. A single, short delay has been utilized to add depth and rhythmic effect to countless records, was popularized in the 1950s, and is still unmistakable. The EHX Slap-Back Echo’s simple design delivers the classic sounds from subtle doubling to intense bathtub reflections in a pedalboard-friendly package.
Housed in EHX’s Pico-sized chassis, the all-analog Slap-Back Echo features Gain and Blend knobs as well as a Time switch. The Gain knob controls the input signal before the echo circuit and also adjusts the overall volume at the output with a boost of up to +20dB. The Blend knob mixes the dry signal and the echo signal from 100% dry to 100% echo. The Time switch selects between three different delay times: 45ms, 65ms, and 100ms.
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Electro-Harmonix Announces Big Muff PI Hardware Plugin
A plugin designed to transcend the limitations of traditional DAW plugins to bring the qualities of analog sound to digital recording.
Simply connect the Big Muff to your DAW by USB, select a track, and open the plug-in window. Instead of software emulation, you have real clipping diodes, overdriving transistors, and nature itself coloring your sound. The analog circuit is pushed over the edge and loses control. The sound you hear is the natural warmth of electromagnetic chaos. The new Big Muff Pi Hardware Plugin can even function as a 2-in/2-out USB audio recording interface, which enables the user to record with or without the Big Muff effect engaged.
The Big Muff Pi Hardware Plugin can be used as a stand-alone pedal and shares the circuit design of the legendary 1973 Violet Ram’s Head Big Muff. That coveted pedal has set the standard for musical distortion and has been heard on countless classic recordings. It’s renowned for its unmistakable articulation and exceptional sustain, and now it has been updated to be true stereo. It also features Tone Wicker, Tone Bypass, and presets.
- Brings analog warmth and magic to the digital domain. Great on guitar, but also exceptional on keys, drums, vocals, and more
- Integrates seamlessly with all popular DAWs (digital audio workstations) like Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Cubase, GarageBand, Logic Pro X, Reaper and more
- Works like a standard DAW plugin and it can also be used as a stand-alone pedal
- The Big Muff Pi Hardware Plugin’s circuit design is straight from the legendary 1973 Violet Ram’s Head Big Muff with some very special updates including true stereo
- A Tone Wicker switch delivers the option of opening up 3 high-frequency filters for extra top-end snarl and bite
- A Tone Bypass button completely removes the tone control for broadband Big Muff slam
- Ten footswitch-accessible presets let you dial in and recall your favorite Big Muff sounds
- Provides the added versatility and enhanced functionality of a 2-in/-2-out USB audio recording interface… record with or without the Big Muff effect engaged
- Comes with an EHX 9Volt power supply and can also be powered via its USB 2.0 Type B port
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi Hardware Plugin
Priced at $329.90. For more information, please visit ehx.com.
Electro-Harmonix Nano Pulsar Review
Your ticket to riding waves of trad-to-freaky modulations on the cheap.
Immersive modulation sounds that range from smooth to warped. Stereo functionality. Useful volume control
Controls can feel twitchy and elusive in the get-to-know-you phase. No tap tempo.
Electro-Harmonix Nano Pulsar
I loved the first few iterations of the EHX Pulsar tremolo—particularly the stereo version that appeared in the early 2000s. Two decades ago, there weren’t that many pedal-tremolo options. But the Pulsar didn’t just stand out for lack of competition. I thought it sounded ace and not a million light years away from the optical tremolo in the black-panel Tremolux that I used most at the time. If it didn’t quite nail the sound of real amp tremolo, it sounded mighty fine in a band context and with other effects. And the fact that the tremolo on the old Tremolux worked as irregularly as it did meant I got pretty well acquainted with the Pulsar. I came to love the way it sounded, its name, and the way it looked hooked up with my Big Muff and Small Stone. (Note to self: Revisit that chain at the earliest possible opportunity!)
The new Nano Pulsar is the latest old-guard EHX pedal to receive the shrink-ray treatment. And while I miss the look of that big enclosure, the Nano’s small size and volume control arguably make it a pedal of much greater utility.
Mass Reduction Plan
Over the years, original Pulsars (along with quite a few other pedal tremolos) have been criticized—unfairly in most cases—for what users perceive as volume loss. I never experienced the phenomenon in my own 2000s Pulsar. But to make sure they don’t hear any such beefs going forward, EHX has included an output-volume control that ensures users don’t mistake the volume attenuation intrinsic to tremolo as signal loss. The amount of available extra volume isn’t huge, but it’s considerable. And if you set your tube amp at the verge of its distortion threshold, it’s enough the make the amp perceptibly dirtier. There’s a lot of range for reducing the output volume of the tremolo’d signal as well. That may not sound very useful at first, but as I checked out these volume-attenuated settings, a little ditty based on tremolo’d quiet verses and un-effected louder choruses practically wrote itself. No matter how you use the volume effect, it definitely extends the dynamic potential of the Nano Pulsar.
As I checked out these volume-attenuated settings, a little ditty based on tremolo’d quiet verses and un-effected louder choruses practically wrote itself.
The controls elsewhere are pretty sensitive, which means it can be hard to dial in a just-right depth or rate setting at times (this will almost certainly stoke the ire of tap-tempo addicts—there is no such option here). But though it’s trickier to find given depth and rate recipes on the Pulsar than it is on the Fender Vibrolux I used for comparison, practice made perfect. After a few go-rounds with the Nano Pulsar, I was able to intuitively find the settings I wanted or used regularly. Remember, too, that some of the sensitivity in the rate and depth controls is attributable to their greater range. There are things you can do with the Nano Pulsar that you can’t do with amplifier tremolo. The rate control, for instance, ranges from a preposterously slow 20-seconds-per-cycle (which sounds super cool with amp feedback) to super-fast sounds that sound like ring-modulated robot gibberish.
The depth control, too, is much quirkier than the depth control on an amp. Much of its lower range generates pulses that verge on imperceptible. And the most traditional sounds generally reside within the 10 o’clock to 1 o’clock range. Beyond that point, the pulses modulate between positive and negative phase, which gives the waveforms a twitchier personality. To my ear, these sounds are especially effective at advanced rate settings, which highlight the hanging-in-the-flying-saucer-engine-room sensations you can produce here. They are even cooler when you work the wave-shape knob, which shifts the wave peak from center to form asymmetric rise and fall rates. As with many facets of the Pulsar’s performance envelope, finding the wave shape that precisely suits your needs and musical vision might take patience, but the search can yield bountiful surprises.
Though I’m pretty familiar with the quirks of the old Pulsar, the Nano reminded me that the controls can feel pretty unconventional compared to amp tremolo controls or those on more straight-ahead tremolo pedals. That shouldn’t be a deterrent to exploring what the Pulsar has to offer though. The trad sounds are rich and satisfying, while the weirder fare is fun, sparks musical ideas, and can be utilized in subtle or freaky and intense settings. The simple stereo capabilities yield big payoffs when you introduce a second amp, and even if this isn’t a practical move in performance, it’s a blast to use in recording situations. At just a click more than 100 bucks, it’s a very inexpensive way to enrich your library of modulated tones in a big way.