spaceman

So many varied ways to phase for days.

Sweet, distinct phase voice. Resonance, mix, range, and volume controls expand tone-shaping possibilities significantly. High quality.

Expensive.

$279

Spaceman Explorer
spacemaneffects.com

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Spaceman effects tend to be cherished, treasured, and, in some cases, driven to insane resale market prices because they reliably sound fantastic. But Spaceman pedals are also rare creatures. And even its most popular pedals tend to come and go—often disappearing before real players can beat collectors to the punch. The analog, 6-stage optical Explorer phaser, however, is the unusual Spaceman pedal that is reappearing in the wild after a hiatus. It returns in a more compact enclosure. But this time out the Explorer offers access to six additional waveforms that build on an already expansive modulation vocabulary.

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The pedal features a unique, discrete analog circuit, with a meticulously selected vintage germanium transistor at its heart.

Portland, OR (March 1, 2018) -- The Mercury IV is a dynamic tone enhancer created to bring out additional harmonic character from instruments and amplifiers. The pedal features a unique, discrete analog circuit, with a meticulously selected vintage germanium transistor at its heart.

The boost control of the Mercury IV offers a staggering 35 dB of gain, with nine tone-shaping options to gently or aggressively boost tube amplifiers. The real magic however, resides in the harmonics control; bringing more dimension and life to ones’ tone. Subtle sparkle, complex textures, and octave-like overtones can all be found here. With a sound and response like hot tubes on the edge of breakup, these even-order harmonics are independently generated, giving you full control over the mix.

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A deviation from fuzztone convention brings explosive and inspiring results.

It’s not for nothing that Spaceman Effects enjoys a following that verges on cultish. The pedal builds are typically immaculate. The designs—loving homages to early-’60s aerospace control panels—make you feel like a test pilot when you’re just dialing in a little extra treble. Above all, Spaceman’s effects usually deliver sonic originality that’s rare amid the clone clutter in the stompbox cosmos.

The Titan II is more straightforward than many Spaceman fuzzes, at least in terms of controls and circuitry. And while you hear hints of familiar fuzz touchstones at many settings—early Big Muff, MkIII Tone Bender, and RAT textures are all part of the Titan II tapestry—it is never quite any of those things. Through its combination of burly, spitty, gruff, and even sophisticated voices, the Titan II delivers sounds and tactile feedback that feels fresh, open-ended, and inspiring.

Built for the Outer Limits
Even if you never open a stompbox except to change a battery, it’s worth a look at the inner workings of the Titan II. Like all Spaceman effects, it’s a textbook study in how to make a stompbox circuit clean, serviceable, and attractive. The discrete circuit is carefully and flawlessly laid out on a through-hole circuit board, which Spaceman glams up with star-engraved silvery overlay. Many of the components themselves look cool, like the gleaming Fine Gold capacitor that’s typically used in hi-fi applications. The part count is appropriately small for a 3-knob fuzz, though six silicon transistors drive the Titan II—presumably to generate the copious gain we’ll discuss in a minute.

The tone of the Titan II feels uncompromised, making the level control seem more like a floodgate than a simple potentiometer.

The circuit board is mounted so it seems to float free within the enclosure. This design also insulates the vital components from the force of blows on stage and during travel. Even the wiring from the enclosure-mounted footswitch and jacks is fastidious—routed in readily traceable right-angle routes from their points of origin to the circuit board. The 9V AC jack is side-mounted, but that location keeps it far from the circuit board and makes it easy to replace in the unlikely instance of failure. You can also power Titan II with a 9V battery.

The pedal’s exterior is classically Spaceman. It uses the same engraved-plastic-faceplate-over-steel-enclosure configuration that you see on mid-century avionics as well as a red Fender-amp-style indicator lamp. The pots turn with precision and satisfying resistance. And like every Spaceman pedal, it’s fitted with a cool aluminum label that’s stamped with the unit’s serial number.

Full Thrust Fuzz
The Titan II is not a subtle fuzz. Even at the lowest gain settings, it still exudes the menace of a growling dog on a chain. That doesn’t mean it’s incapable of nuance, as we’ll see. But you learn fast that Titan II is louder and more explosive than a lot of standard-bearing fuzzes.

With gain and tone controls at noon, unity gain arrives with the level between 9 and 10 o’clock. What’s really impressive, though, is how much ceiling and boost the Titan II makes available beyond that mark, and incrementally increasing output can feel a little hairy as Titan II drives your signal to speaker-rattling volumes. The remarkable thing is that, beyond whatever natural compression your amp generates in response to this much signal, the tone of the Titan II feels uncompromised—making the level control feel more like a floodgate than a simple potentiometer.

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