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Earthquake Devices Spatial Deliver Filter Effect Pedal

Groovy Funk In A Box 

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

Outside of Chorus (which only tops the list because of its ubiquitous takeover of an entire decade of music), the envelope filter might be one of the most unfairly reviled effects in the guitar world. It’s easy (and, initially, gratifying) to overdue the effect, and sloppy playing begets sloppy sounding filter sweeps. That said, the nature of envelope followers opens up an entire world of subtle, incredibly toneful color once you get slapping funky reggae rhythms out of your system. Earthquaker Devices invites players to ditch the cheese and embrace taste with their modern take on the evnelope filter effect, the Spatial Delivery. Powered by batter or standard 9v 2.1mm negative tip adaptor, the Spatial Deliver delivers Up Sweep, Down Sweep, and Sample & Hold modes to the mix for every type of guitar filter effect that doesn’t require a treadle pedal.

 

The Earthquaker Devices filter effect is controlled in one of three different ways- Up Sweep, Down Sweep, and Sample & Hold. Up mode is the most common approach to envelope filtering for guitarists, and opens and closes the filter much like a wah pedal sweeping from the heel of the treadle to toe down in response to the dynamics of your playing. Down mode works in the same way, but with the filter sweeping from toe to heel, resulting in “doyp” and “chirp” style filter sweeps that are more typically associated with synths and keyboards. Sample & Hold samples the voltage of the LFO and Holds it for a set period seconds/milliseconds before stepping to the next random voltage. The result is a very synth-like, rhythmic but randomized animation of the filter (see Ships Ahoy for a great example on guitar).

 

The Filter control gradually sweeps the filter from Low Pass, through Band Pass, and into High Pass. It’s worth noting that because the Up Sweep and Down Sweep are moving in opposite directions, you’ll likely need to adjust the Filter when switching between settings. The Range control adjusts the sensitivity of the envelope, and it is key to dialing in the level of responsiveness you get from the envelope. Too little, it will barely open. Too much, you’ll miss the beautiful lower frequency sweeps. Resonance controls the body and thickness of the effect, from barely-there to having the filter tear through your direct tone. Call it a “subtlety” filter.

 

The envelope itself is very smooth, and performed favorably when tested alongside a Maxon AF-9, EHX Q-Tron, and Subdecay Prometheus. The opening of the envelope has a hearty initial attack, jumping to life when opened without rushing too quickly to peak, and in the Up Sweep mode the feel was very much that of a traditional wah. “Vintage-style” units tend to have more float and a sort of trembly flab in the release and decay of the envelope, but the Spatial Delivery offered a healthy, assertive closing of the filter that complimented the decay of the guitar. Clearly, the envelope was tuned to be triggered by guitar attack, although it handled bass extremely well in the Low Pass sweep of the Filter control.

 

The Sample & Hold mode sounds like randomized bleeps and bloops (a non-musician ear would even assume the notes were being randomly generated) like every TV computer from 1960-1980. There are a myriad of applications, but the two most obvious are the Frank Zappa "Let it play over my solo" approach of letting it do its randomized thing over what your doing or falling in line with the random sequencing, letting your playing breathe, and allowing the filter to dictate where notes are played.

 

Before distortion, the Spatial Deliver gets the best access to your playing and is, therefore, the most responsive. Overdrive and distortion after the filter “normalizes” it a bit and makes for a more organic, classic guitar tone. After distortion, the Spatial Delivery has an extremely synth-like sheen it applies over the core guitar tone, creating beautiful but expressively effected tones. This comes at the cost of whatever dynamics were rounded out by the distortion between your guitar and the pedal. My taste found the Up Sweep best before dirt, the Down Sweep interesting in either position, and the Sample & Hold mode most interesting after distortion, where it really takes over the signal.

 

Limitations

 

Extremely high-output, active pickups bludgeon the envelope pretty hard, resulting in less nuance and responsiveness. Standard single-coil or regular output hum buckers work fantastic.

 

Conclusion

 

The Earthquaker Devices Spatial Delivery filter isn’t the only multi-function analog filter stompbox out there, but it’s the best value from a features-to-price standpoint by a fair margin. Rather than hanging its hat on a particular classic filter, the Spatial Delivery manages to achieve a myriad of sounds without ever sounding like anything other than itself. Can it get the Mutron sound? Yep. Deep funk, brittle quacks, preamp overdriving extremes… it’s as subtle or over-the-top as you allow it to be.

 

Resources

 

Join the discussion at Harmony Central's Effects Forum

 

Earthquaker Devices Spatial Delivery Product Page

 

Buy Earthquaker Devices Spatial Delivery (Street $195.00) at Sweetwater , Amazon , Reverb 

 

 

___________________________________________________

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

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