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Craig's List – Go 5 Rounds with Digital Multieffects vs. Analog Stompboxes! 

Stomp hard on that footswitch—then let’s get ready to rumble!

 

by Craig Anderton

 

 

 

Round 1: Hissy fits.  Consider the most popular environmental sounds— ocean waves and rain. And what do dentists squirt into your ears to reduce pain? Yup, white noise. Case closed: Unlike grainy, pompous digital noise, analog circuits soothe you with sweet, tranquilizing hiss that can put you to sleep even faster than watching a Transformers movie! Round 1 goes to analog effects.

 

Round 2: State-of-the-art name weirdness. Only in the bizarro world of analog boutique stompboxes would products be christened “Mold Spore,” “Atomic Dump,” “Way Huge Swollen Pickle,” or “Attack Goat.” (I swear I didn’t make those up.) As to stompbox companies, “Dwarfcraft” sets the definitive standard for names inspired by excessive inhalation of solder fumes. No contest, and analog gets a knockdown.

 

Round 3: Knobs vs. keypads. Knobs can have little pointy arrows, be different colors, include shiny metal inserts, exhibit retro qualities, and best of all, they’re round (and at least to geeks, vaguely erotic). Keypads belong on deadeningly dull devices like ATMs, TV remotes, microwave ovens, and other appliances that have nothing to do with music. Well, except for the little victory “ding” microwave ovens do when they’ve finished mugging your food…and the affinity they have for CDs*.

 

Round 4: Art museum readiness. Do we even need to stage this round of sick artwork silkscreened on metal vs. numbers and letters on dark gray plastic? Freakishly sick artwork gets a solid win for this round, because dark gray plastic was invented by malevolent aliens plotting to demoralize earth’s population prior to a full-scale invasion. Why do you think they’re called “grays”?

 

Round 5: Fight the power. Analog effects use batteries. An alkaline battery is its own mini power plant, fueled by a titanic struggle among manganese dioxide, zinc powder, and potassium hydroxide electrolytes as they give birth to armies of electrons coursing relentlessly through the circuit board pathways that form your effect’s arteries. Plugging something derisively called a “wall wart” into an AC outlet doesn’t have anywhere near the same panache. Unless, of course, you plug a 115V adapter into 230V…then it gets interesting!  -HC-

 

* Warning: CD cooking should be attempted only by licensed professionals using RIAA-certified microwave ovens.

 

______________________________________________ 

 

 Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.

 

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