Highlights of the hottest pedals at NAMM11 24/01/11
No flash plug
Effects pedals were somewhat omnipresent at NAMM 2011, with the major manufacturers releasing new flagship products, and the smaller guys offering hand-crafted pedals with some modest price-tags.
Here's a few that grabbed our attention:
Akai released a new range of analog stomp boxes this year to join their Head-Rush looper on the sales stand. These are from the Akai Analog Custom Shop, and include Delay, Distortion, Blues overdrive, Tri-Mode Distortion, Chorus, Flanger, Phase Shifter, Compressor, Tri-mode Overdrive, and Tri-Mode Fuzz. The pedals are true bypass and each have a variety of really useful features. The Tri-Mode Overdrive features user-swappable chips, so you can access the innards of your pedal and use different chips (available from Akai) for different overdrive sounds.
Digitech combined audio with visual this year to create the Lyra pedal. Lyra is the main character from Eternal Descent, a comic/cartoon created by guitarist Llexi Lyon. The stomp-box has 7 different sounds, ranging from delays to distortion, and was inspired whilst creating the soundtrack to the cartoon. So essentially this is a studio-inspired pedal from Digitech, the development of which was overseen by Eddie Kramer, and definitely sounds more experimental and inspiring than the previous Digitech stomps.
Eventide continued the trend of their high-end effects pedals with Space. This is an extensive and flexible reverb pedal, which is nothing less than you would expect from Eventide. Room reverbs are achievable, but this pedal is designed for those who want to sound like their amp is adrift in the far reaches of the solar system. Glistening highs and swooping lows really do make this a beautiful sounding pedal, unfortunately this flexibility comes at the expense of having a fairly complicated top-panel, but patches, expression pedals, and midi-controllers can easily sort that out. Definitely one for the post-rockers out there.
Boss released new and improved takes on the RC-20 and RC-2. Beatboxer, Dub FX demonstrated the capabilities of the new pedals for us and we were blown away. Basic updates on the new RC-30 include a 2-track mixer, so you can record and overdub loops onto two separate channels and then mix the two in volume, and onboard effects such as Step-Phaser, Sweep Filter, and Lo-Fi. The original Boss loopers had 20 minutes of recording time, the new pedals have 3 hours.
Red-Witch announced what they claim to be the world's first Lithium Ion Cell pedals, in short, this means that they are re-chargeable. They also have the world's smallest pedal footprint, with only two knob controls and a stomp switch on each pedal. The Seven Sister pedals are Fuzz, Delay, Distortion, Boost, Overdrive, Compression, and Tremolo. These pedals kind of rely on the user to have a great tone from their pickups and amp, as EQ is not controllable in any of the effects, but the comprehensive (if inflexible) tone given by the Seven Sisters is beautiful, especially in the Scarlett Overdrive.
Check out our accompanying video coverage for more info.