In-depth review: Two excellent distortion pedals from SourceAudio

(Matt Griffith | Posted 2011-01-03)

In-depth review: Two excellent distortion pedals from SourceAudio

From their unique visual appeal to the innovative effects, the Source Audio’s Soundblox line of pedals for guitars and bass has some fresh ideas when it comes to effects processing. This review takes a look at two pedals SoundBlox effects: the Multiwave Distortionand the Classic Distortion.

The Multiwave Distortion (pictured at top) is an effect that splits incoming signal into 10 different frequency bands. It then distorts each band individually before putting them back together and sending the signal back out. The Classic Distortion is a multieffect distortion pedal with everything from fuzz to overdrive. The Classic attempts to give its user a medley of different distortions without the constant twisting of knobs -- rom “Tube Drive” to “Big Pi” -- and the Classic has no shortage of sounds for the distortion-loving guitarist.

The Multiwave Distortion is a different kind of effect. The pedal has a “Multi Band” side and a “Single Band” side of the dial. Each side has a Normal, Foldback, and Octave setting. As stated above, the Multiwave settings of the pedal split the signal into 10 separate frequency bands and distort them individually before combining ans sending the signal out. This makes for some interesting tonal traits.

My favorite part of this pedal was the "Normal" setting on the Multi Band side. The distortion is very -- for lack of a better word -- clean, and really shines when playing chords. It is crisp and clear, and individual notes are easily heard within chords. It also works nicely with clean leads. The notes distort more evenly than with a typical distortion, where some registers seem to get lost. This is a great setting if you are looking for something more than just a rhythm patch, or really want your chord choice and color notes to come through and be heard.

The Foldback and Octave settings are a little wild for my taste, but will prove useful to the right player. The Foldback settings produce a very non-natural and synthesized distortion. They are very amusing to experiment with and get pretty far-out. The Octave settings produce octave up distortion. What I like about this setting is it isn’t obvious what you are hearing. The octave tones are almost overtone-like instead of equally present with the original signal. It makes for a rather appealing sound for single note use.

The Single Band side has the same settings but doesn’t split the signal into separate frequency bands; it distorts the signal as a whole and thus produces traditional distortion sounds. The Foldback setting produces the more synth like and abrasive distortions. The octave setting is very similar to the octave setting on the Multi Band side but the octave tones seem to get lost more on the single-band side. Each setting can be adjusted with the controls provided -- sustain, drive, and output. The drive knob can drastically change the tone of the settings.

Classic Distortion
The Soundblox Classic Distortion is a cool little pedal as well. Distortions include: Tube Drive, Smooth Tube, Power Stage, Crunch Tube, TS9000, Big Pi, El Raton, Fuzz Façade, Bender, Metal, and Octave Fuzz. It also has clean boost setting. This pedal is better than others I have tried that attempt to put many different sounds in one compact and affordable box.

The distortions are the strong point of the pedal, hence the name ‘Classic Distortion.’ I was not too impressed with the overdrive settings on the pedal. I felt they were brash and lacked the warmth of a tube overdrive. This is understandable because people pay hundreds of dollars for vintage TS808 pedals and overdrive is more complex than simply distorting a signal.

The distortion settings are much better. My favorite was El Raton. With the drive at three o’clock, I nearly forgot I was playing single coil pickups. The output was thick, saturated, and powerful. The clean boost works nicely as well. There are tone, drive, and output controls.

Both of these SourceAudio pedals would be nice additions to many players pedal boards. The Multiwave Distortion is unlike anything I have ever heard and is capable of producing some pretty whacky sounds. The Classic Distortion has some very good sounding distortion sounds that are far superior to some of the staples from Boss and DigiTech. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are more of an overdrive player but if you are looking for a strong all around distortion pedal that won’t break the bank; this pedal is a great option. Both have a street price of $119. I look forward to new developments and improvements from Source Audio in the future.

Matt Griffith plays guitar professionally in the Nashville area.

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