I’m not cool sufficient to be solely employed as a author for arguably the good guitar results publication this aspect of the 21st century. By night time, I’ll all the time be Jake Behr: obsessive, loquacious Pedal Dweeb. However by day, I’m Jake Behr: obsessive, loquacious Printer. Within the latter subject, color – actual color – is every part, and there’s an insane quantity of things that play into producing it, whether or not you’re mixing it by hand in a solo cup for a silk screening or tweaking CMYK curves for a digital print.
So once I heard that Alexander Pedals was releasing the Colour Theory Spectrum Sequencer, I needed to see if it held as much as such a lofty idea because the entirety of colorimetry. Whereas I can’t say the selection of identify is rather more than aesthetic, one essential facet of color principle (the idea, not the pedal,) stored returning to me once I was reviewing the Colour Theory: Metamerism.
Metamerism is a trick of the attention that happens between two imperceptibly totally different colours that makes them seem similar on account of elements resembling reflectiveness, angle, or variations in colour imaginative and prescient between observers. In an extrapolated (yes-I’m-reaching-to-appear-more-interesting) kind of approach, the Colour Theory is an train in metamerism; the place you may even see a guitar pedal, I see a bit of synth-like rack gear with countless prospects.
- Eight-Step Sequencer
- Sequence “Park” Pauses Sequencer
- Multijack enter/ouput for MIDI, footswitch, and expression management
- USB Enter for prolonged TouchOSC MIDI management and firmware updates
- Faucet-Tempo for Sequencer
- Six impact varieties
- 9 controllable parameters by way of multi-function knobs
- TRS Stereo Output
- Buffered Bypass
- Fee determines the velocity of the sequencer
- Steps controls what number of steps within the sequence are performed
- Degree controls general output of the Colour Theory
- Combine is the moist/dry mix
- Lag controls how shortly the sequencer ramps to the subsequent step
- Exterior Management outputs a MIDI CC worth to an exterior system
- Worth is the primary variable parameter; Pitch shift, delay time, filter frequency, tremolo price, oscillator pitch, or PWM octave
- Quantity controls the sequenced moist/dry mix
- Tweak is the second variable parameter; Tone, delay suggestions, filter resonance, tremolo wave, oscillator wave, or PWM modulation.
Head over to Alexander Pedals for more information on the Colour Theory!
The Colour Theory hosts two results for every sort of cone in your retina, however any multieffects pedal can boast that extensive quite a lot of tones. The magic that makes the Colour Theory so vibrant lies in its eight-step sequencer, the speed of which is about by the left faucet tempo footswitch. The highest indicator LED will emit a special colour mild that corresponds to the colour of the step as represented within the semi-circle surrounding the Steps knob. Because the sequencer cycles by way of its steps, the values of each parameter within the Colour Theory will change per your specs. You possibly can set the order of the steps as properly; you’re free to decide on whether or not you’d just like the sequence to reset on the final step, cycle backwards on the final step, or play the steps utterly randomly.
The Colour Theory is the type of pedal you need to work on in a properly lit/probably nicely ventilated space. There’s a variety of info printed on the entrance panel of the standard-sized enclosure the Colour Theory is housed in, as every knob works double (and within the case of the combination knob, triple) obligation on parameters. With the sequencer operating, the knobs management the sequencer parameters. Holding down the Faucet Tempo footswitch will “Park” the sequence on whichever step the Colour Theory falls on on the finish of a 2-second interval, opening entry to every knob’s secondary parameter financial institution. Just a little added bonus of the Park function is that when the steps are parked, they function pseudo-presets that may be cycled via with the faucet tempo footswitch. So should you like a specific tone in any given impact however don’t need to undergo the ever-changing churn of the sequencer you possibly can simply recall and keep on that one static voice, modulating with exterior MIDI controls should you so want. It’s like having six three knob pedals, every with eight presets.
The side-mounted MultiJack will allow entry to the expression, footswitch, and MIDI capabilities latent within the Colour Theory. With assistance from a MIDI-to-TRS adapter akin to Catastrophe Space’s personal MIDIbox or MD-5P Multijack to 5-pin cable, the Colour Theory can even obtain and output MIDI CC alerts concurrently. The output function is especially potent on this software, sharing the steps of the Colour Theory’s sequence together with your different MIDI enabled pedals. The Fee knob determines the worth of the output message when the pedal is in park; Chase Bliss, Strymon, and different Alexander Neo pedals will acknowledge the CC instantly, whereas some others may have a little bit of coaxing.
For these guitarists who depend upon exterior gear for automation and will not be tremendous eager on relying solely on the admittedly restricted Colour Theory for his or her tempo, observe modifications, and so on., the MicroUSB port on the again panel will obtain MIDI from an exterior supply as nicely. The supply of selection for Alexander is a neat little cellular MIDI management app referred to as TouchOSC, which has been round for some time and has served as a tactile controller for every little thing from Synthesizers to Projection mapping tasks. Alexander, of their infinite knowledge, has created a TouchOSC template to be used with all the Neo collection, which on this case permits direct manipulation of the Colour Theory’s parameters and presets out of your pill or smartphone, offered you might have the suitable USB adapter. A totally customizable interface permits you to ship any MIDI message to the related gadget, so that you don’t even have to accept the superbly adequate proprietary template if it doesn’t be just right for you. On the floor, this supplies a easy and efficient option to actually dig in to the parameters and suss out actual tones with out always bending right down to tweak the pedal, however paired with the complete MIDI implementation boasted by the Neo collection and just a little little bit of elbow grease, this function has the potential to function an entire technique of instrument-like management. For instance, say you’re operating the Oscillator mode and also you’ve set step one of the sequence to the basis of the track you’re enjoying, and every step above that in ascending main intervals. On the spot arpeggio! Neat, however repetitive. With TouchOSC, you’ll be able to shortly regulate step one (or any step, actually) to a special interval to vary the colouration of the arpeggio while not having to park the Colour Theory. In “theory,” (you get it) whole songs could possibly be performed on this means with a number of CC messages, so I’ll be duct taping a pill to my guitar ASAP.
The highest blue impact mode is a slippery, glistening pitchshifter that ranges from an octave right down to an octave up. Surprisingly, this voicing recreates chords with out the gross, unusable muddiness that many treadle-based pitchshifters are recognized for when coupled with multiple simultaneous word. It takes a variety of getting used to, however the sequencer actually takes the legwork out of nailing these basic pitchshifter tone in ways in which your weak human legs would by no means be ready for. The utility clearly differs relying on how wealthy your chords are; for those who’re enjoying seventh chords with added sixes and ninths, perhaps stick with octave shifts to maintain from getting misplaced. It’s open season on two-finger energy chords and single notes, although. Go nuts.
Your seek for nauseous, vertigo-inducing pitch wobble ends at the moment. The second blue LED signifies we’ve entered the area of MOD, a digital delay-based modulation that takes the basic time warp sound inherent in modulating the speed of a delay and crops it center-stage. Blue was a sensible choice to symbolize this tone, as you’re more likely to be reminded of the huge expanse of water that dominated your view that one time you barfed off the aspect of your grandfather’s fishing boat; MOD is the sound of seasickness. As we all know, basic modulation is created by splitting a sign in two and delaying the second sign ever so barely (or not so barely) to fatten the brand new, mixed sign and infuse dimensionality into your tone. MOD does what it does by producing that second voice, delaying it by zero to 300 milliseconds, and letting the Colour Theory’s sequencer go full Jackson Pollock on it. The result’s a bizarre, ever-changing modulation tone that invokes the very spirit of psychedelia.
You’ll need to sequence the suggestions (Tweak) of the delay as nicely, particularly at a sluggish faucet tempo. Right here you’ll discover glitchy CD skips that may push your subsequent gainstage into overdrive. Slight variations on the time coupled with wild suggestions oscillations will yield probably the most musical and distinctive tones the MOD voicing has to supply, making a weird vibrato impact. In Park mode, the noise-haters will probably be happy to seek out that MOD is chock filled with basic delay and even reverb tones that will not make you query the ambient machines at present including area to your board however will no less than fulfill your want for a pleasant slapback. By turning the Worth knob full clockwise, we unlock a melting delay tone that winds down of its personal accord, descending in pitch virtually instantly. Manually biking between two voices by way of the tap-tempo footswitch squeezes much more pitch-bendy utility out of the delay and provides a degree of management that works very properly in a band context, the place your ‘mates is probably not tremendous stoked about relying solely on one little field to determine the tempo of the track.
This impact mode ties with TRM as probably the most acquainted voice the Colour Theory has to supply. It’s an ever-sweeping low-pass filter that packs an intense, resonant punch. You’ll be able to park FLT to make use of it as a static filter, however should you’re hoping to pop an expression pedal in and nail a wah tone, you’ll be sorely disenchanted, because the frequency of the filter isn’t controllable by way of conventional expression. Fret not, although, as a result of it’s potential; you’ll simply want some type of MIDI controller.
Sequenced tremolo is enjoyable as hell! The apparent software right here is price modulation, which may yield glitchy jumps in tremolo time with every step within the sequence. Nevertheless, the form of the wave, which ranges from clean sine to tight pulse, can also be truthful recreation to modulate by way of the Tweak knob. You’ll be able to’t use the tap-tempo footswitch to regulate the tempo of the tremolo, however for my part, you’re not lacking out on a lot. Dialing in a cushty velocity with the worth knob isn’t troublesome, and when you’re going to be sequencing it, you’ll be able to ballpark it and never discover the distinction whereas your sign is bouncing between tempos.
This impact is a sine wave oscillator that begins round B1 and ends on C5, a span of 4 octaves. It’s loopy and obnoxious in all the greatest methods. Until you’re going for a bizarre discordant or microtonal vibe, you’ll need to run this via a tuner whenever you make your presets, as a result of the oscillator doesn’t lock to particular notes and there’s no actual observe indicator on the entrance of the Colour Theory. This will make it robust to tune the oscillator completely to any Western notice. With the lag knob turned clockwise, the notes turn out to be much less discernible and extra like a meandering theremin. The tweak knob turns into a resonance filter for the oscillation, serving to the sign to chop via extra simply with out demanding an excessive amount of of the particular sign mix.
For my part, this impact is the place the stereo capabilities of the Colour Theory develop into completely very important; the oscillator by itself sounds fairly cool, however it actually blossoms when coupled together with your different results. Pair it with a spacious reverb and also you’ve acquired a spooky sci-fi soundtrack in your palms. Run it by means of an octaver and widen that large vary, you grasping animal. You can even pop a bizarre sound conversion pedal into the road for a very weird backing monitor. Oscillator fueled Miku Stomp, anybody? Simply me?
The final mode is known as PWM, which within the synth world stands for pulse-width modulation. On this software, we don’t get the complete breadth of pulse-width modulation within the synthesizer sense, however the identify continues to be a viable illustration to trace at what the impact feels like: PWM is an octave impact that converts your dry sign right into a synthesized monophonic sq. wave and thrusts it into the deepest depths of hell. The Worth knob determines what number of octaves down you go, which begins at THICC AS HELL (one octave down) and ends sub-harmonically low (who-knows-how-many octaves down.) In reality, every octave previous midday on the Worth knob renders the sign so low that PWM serves, for all intents and functions, as extra a harmonically-reactive tremolo than an octaver. I ought to make clear for these unfamiliar with insanely low frequencies: on the lowest octaves PWM has to supply, your sign frequency turns into so low you could hear the crests of the brand new sound wave as you feed it to the Colour Theory. As you play up the neck, the frequency of the crests will increase, creating the phantasm of a tremolo-like impact.
Important to the tone and really identify of the PWM impact is the modulation managed by the Tweak knob. One of many issues I observed about PWM was a continuing flange impact rolling over my sign at a hard and fast price, utterly unbiased from the modulation managed by the tweak knob. The mono synth tone can also be tremendous reactive to the harmonic enter of the dry sign, rounding out or sharpening in response to the place of your tone knob. PWM is certainly a melodic/lead voicing, as the character of the conversion technique makes it completely unimaginable to make use of it for chords in all however the rarest situations, however when you like squashed out mono-synth tones, that is the best way to go. Maxing out the speed of the sequencer makes for a tweaked out, virtually ring-mod tone, the depth of which relies upon completely on the values of every particular person step. On the exact opposite finish of that spectrum, there’s no disgrace in Parking on a tone within the sequence, operating PWM as if it have been a daily ol’ pedal, and calling it a day.
In an area so sparsely occupied as that of the sequenced multieffects pedal, what could be achieved to enhance on this champion? For starters, a stereo enter looks like an apparent selection. Normally it’s a must to make routing sacrifices when you’ve gotten multiple stereo gadget in your pedalboard, and if any of these units have a mono enter, you lose out on the chance to route a stereo sign all the best way down the road. If the output is TRS, why not the enter? At this level, the change possible boils right down to an costly redesign of the circuitboard, so I gained’t maintain my breath on an answer to such a minor flaw that solely probably the most nitpicky dweebs (see: me) would take difficulty with.
I’d even have liked to see extra depth within the Colour Theory’s management and MIDI capabilities. A faucet division choice, expression management of particular person impact parameters, sequenced lag; all of those would make for nice, easy updates to the Colour Theory’s array of controls, even when they needed to stay underneath the floor within the invisible realm of MIDI management. One other merchandise on the MIDI wishlist is the power to toggle or manipulate the Lag knob’s influence on particular person parameters. Fairly a couple of occasions, I discovered myself wishing that one parameter would transfer in lock-step with the sequencer whereas one other lagged and wandered. OSC mode is fairly unmusical and in a sensible sense near unusable with the lag turned previous 10 o’clock, but when I might flip the Lag off for simply the pitch of the oscillator and let the notes lock in tightly to the tap-tempo whereas the Combine and resonance struggled to catch up, I might be really glad. This is able to open up an entire new world of prospects for each voice within the Colour Theory’s arsenal.
The Alexander Pedals Colour Theory stands head and shoulders above numerous different pedals with comparable uncooked tones on benefit of its sequencer alone. In a guitar tone context, the Colour Theory isn’t nearly including its distinctive vibe to your ‘board. It’s secretly all about pushing achieve and taking the inherent color of your tone to the subsequent degree by means of oscillation, nevertheless it really wouldn’t be a fifth of the pedal it’s with out its sequencing capabilities. With the power to sequence not simply its personal, however different results’ parameters, we’re taking a look at a watershed that continues Alexander’s NEO collection’ development of pushing the bounds of the basic guitar results pedals into unchartered territory. It’s not simply the type of gear that evokes artistic songwriting, it’s a collaborator that necessitates songwriting in a approach you won’t be used to. It takes some work to develop accustomed to assembling sequences from scratch, even with the added ease of TouchOSC, however when you’ve laid the groundwork you’ll end up with a loyal associate in crime which will make you marvel what you ever did earlier than it entered your life. Once I stated on the outset of this evaluate that the Colour Theory resembles a bit of synth gear greater than a guitar pedal, I meant it. Pulse-Width Modulation, Lag processing, Sequencing, Oscillators: all of those exist in an artificial world that the majority red-blooded, riff-loving guitarists are solely ostensibly acquainted with. Don’t let that frighten you, although. The longer term is digital… and vibrant.
That concludes our Alexander Pedals Colour Theory assessment. Thanks for studying.