Is Electro-Harmonix’s Analogizer the solution to warm up your guitar tone and de-digitize digital effects?
By Chris Loeffler
Guitar players have always craved the warmth and reactivity of analog technology, from the amplifiers they use to the effects they select to further craft their tone. Digital technology can be cheaper, more reliable, and offers possibilities and features not possible within the confines of analog technology as we know it today, but many effects pedals and amplifiers relying on digital processing sound and feel too processed. Some sound sterile and uninspiring, some have unpleasant digital artifacts in the modulation or repeats that deaden the sound as a whole. While enterprising and studious manufacturers are finding ways to leverage digital controls for analog circuits or ways to lessen the “digitization” of the tone when digital processing is required, there is still a wide gap to be crossed in many cases.
Electro-Harmonix, maker of some of the craziest and most inventive effects available on the market today, looks to tackle the issue of digitized tone with their (surprisingly) subtle Electro-Harmonix Analogizer. The Analogizer features four controls, runs on a 9V battery or a standard 9.6volt DC power supply, and is true-bypass.
What You Need To Know
- To make an oversimplified statement about the technology behind the Analogizer, it is a preamp/overdrive pedal and a very short analog delay. It is the way the two effects integrate with each other that makes the pedal uniquely built for instilling characteristics of “analog” technology (such as warmth, slightly rounded tones, and dimension) to digital effects or shrill signals. The overdrive section of the pedal dials in tube-like low gain saturation that enhances dynamics and response, mimicking the mainstay characteristics of the "analog sound". The delay, being analog, has a rolled-off high-end that tames some of the brittleness of bright digital effects, blurs the edges of notes and rounds out digital artifacts while fattening the tone.
- The Gain knob works similar to the preamp section of a guitar amp and yields a textured crunch and increased harmonics as it is turned up. Used in moderation, it adds warmth and the light, touch sensitive compression associated with vacuum tube amplification. Cranked all the way up, the pedal produces a formidable overdrive roar that is heavy on crunch without shifting the EQ or getting the mid-bump many overdrive pedals rely on. The Volume knob, intuitively, controls the output volume, offering up to a 26db boost over unity to really push the front end of an amp.
- Spread controls the analog delay line and goes between 3.5 milliseconds and 65 milliseconds, fattening the tone up without getting noticeably effected in moderate settings or creating a spacey slap back on the most extreme setting. Blend allows customized combinations of the direct and effected signals, and goes from 100\% dry counter-clockwise to 100\% effected signal clockwise. This exapnds the pedal's flexibility and opens it to many applications that would demand varying levels of “effecting”.
- The most common application for the Analogizer is to be placed at the end of the signal chain when there is a digital delay or digital modulation device (chorus, phaser, etc) that produces sterile delays or exhibits unpleasant digital artifacts in the modulation. In this use, the pedal does a surprisingly effective job of softening and warming up the tone as well as smoothing out the jagged edges of the processed signal without significantly changing the EQ. Interesting alternative uses of the pedal as an “analogizer” is placing it before digital effect like a digital delay and slightly cranking the output to yield a more saturated tone for the delay to replicate, akin to a slightly overloaded mixing console. With the Gain cranked, the pedal holds its own against any mid-gain overdrive.
- The delay only offers control over the delay time… those hoping to have control over repeats will need to look elsewhere.
The Electro-Harmonix Analogizer does an admirable job of working post-production magic when placed after shrill effects. Whether or not the benefits the effects creating the harshness in your signal outweigh the unpleasant tonal change is up to the individual, but for those that believe they do this pedal addresses the issue and brings back some of the warmth and response digital effects can rob. That, combined with the bonus of getting a great sounding, medium gain pedal with built-in analog delay slapback (rockabilly in a box?), makes for a compelling, if somewhat odd, offering from Electro-Harmonix.
Electro-Harmonix Analogizer at Musician's Friend (MSRP $132.50, Street $99.38)
Electro-Harmonix Analogizer Product Page