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  • Earthquaker Devices Fight Club!

    Welcome to the "Earthquaker Fight Club" Pro Review!

    We wanted to review the Earthquaker pedals, so I innocently asked Phil O'Keefe and Chris Loeffler who wanted to do the review. However, they both did...so I thought Phil could do a couple, and Chris could do a couple. Problem solved, right?

    Nope. Neither was willing to concede reviewing the pedals to the other. It was starting to get tense, so I said "Okay, you can both review the pedals, but I know you guys have really strong opinions about pedals. So fight it out, no holds barred, and may the most honest, accurate, and useful review win. In fact, we'll make this a variation on a Pro Review so it's interactive and people can cheer on whoever's reviews they like better. Plug in, check the battery voltages, warm up your amps...and let the fight begin." -- Craig Anderton, Editorial Director (and Occasional Troublemaker)
    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

    Subscribe, like, and share the links!

  • #2
    Well to get the party (or fight ) started, we initially couldn't agree on which pedals to review... there were some that I had covered previously, and Chris was also familiar with some of the cool pedals EarthQuaker Devices makes, so we decided to stick to newer pedals that neither of us had a lot of experience with. Finally, after a lot of discussion (and a few arm wrestling matches, which I lost... ) we decided on three pedals to focus our attention on for this combined Pro Review:

    Palisades ($249.95 MSRP), a TS-based OD:

    http://earthquakerdevices.com/shop/Palisades/cat/13099





    Levitation Reverb ($185.00 MSRP), a psychedelic rock inspired reverb pedal:

    http://earthquakerdevices.com/shop/L...verb/cat/13093





    The Warden ($195.00 MSRP), an optical compressor:

    http://earthquakerdevices.com/shop/T...rden/cat/13095







    So we've got overdrive, reverb and compression that we'll be checking out in this review - a little something for everyone. The question is, which of the three will be our favorite, and will we be able to come to some agreement on that?

    Stay tuned to find out!
    **********

    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

    - George Carlin

    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

    Comment


    • #3

      I got lost in Earthquaker world. I pulled everything off my board and am just running these three for now. Played with the order a bit, and while I typically prefer guitar compressors to go before OD because of the darkness they add, I've got to say I could flip a coin as to whether the Palisades or Warden should be first in the chain because the Warden is so transparent... before, it adds sustain and beef to the Palisades (not that my initial time with the Palisades suggests it needs it); after, it rounds out a bit of the hair off and adds some focus.

      I settled on running it post... for today. ;-)

      Phil's shaved head makes him intimidating, but I suspect a Verellen Meatsmoke preamp running into 100 watts of 5881 power section will crush his Marshall Class 5. Don't worry Phil... I'll let you know how the bottom end sounds!

      Where do you want to start?
      .com/

      Comment


      • #4

        Originally posted by Chris Loeffler
        And yes... Phil's shaved head makes him intimidating, but I suspect a Verellen Meatsmoke preamp running into 100 watts of 5881 power section will crush his Marshall Class 5. Don't worry Phil... I'll let you know how the bottom end sounds!


        That's okay... you don't need a 4x12 to get sufficient bottom end - not if you know what you're doing anyway.

        Where do you want to start?

        Take your pick.
        **********

        "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

        - George Carlin

        "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

        - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

        "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

        - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

        Comment


        • #5
          The ol' "it's how you use it" counter, eh? ;-)

          Actually, I'm most excited to try the Palisades in front of my VS Workhorse Pony and Vox AC-15... The Vox never seems to do well with TS-style circuits given it already has a pretty exaggerated Mid presence, so it'll be interesting to see the bandwidth control can make the Palisades gel with that amp, and the VS Workhorse, for an amp that is meant to be pedal friendly, has a really weird voice (I was able to somewhat neutralize with Mullard EL34 and a creamback) that acts awkward when pushed at certain frequencies. We all know the TS circuit is great as a blunt weapon of focused, compressed midrange, but this might just have the flexibility to address traditionally "non-TS" amps and applications.
          .com/

          Comment


          • #6
            So far, I've only tried it with my Princeton, which loves it. I have an AC15cc1 (with a AlNiCo Weber Blue Dog), so I can try it with a Vox too, and we can compare notes.
            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

            Comment


            • #7
              Hmmm... a couple of hours with the Palisades certainly lends credence to the claim it is the end-all of TS mods. While I don't have all at my disposal to compare currently, I've played through my share of TS-style pedals and mods (we were all new once!) and have to say this is pretty much the switchblade of TS-style. The different clipping modes definitely nail the vibe and feel of various mods I've played. I think, if anything, the biggest naysayers to the Palisades will focus on how it doesn't nail the final 1% of the "one" tone they want, as opposed to focusing on its dozens of flavors of the TS-theme that can be tailored to guitar/amp in ways a single mod never could.

              The clipping sections have some pretty drastic volume differences, and the way they break up tends to demand adjustments to Gain and even Tone settings. I found it interesting that several other reviewers around the web claim the Asymmetric clipping is the closest to a stock TS-808 sound. To my ears, the harmonic content and feel of the Asymmetric setting is much closer to the SD-1 (which would make sense, since the SD-1 uses Asymmetric clipping as compared to the symmetrical clipping of the TS-808/TS-9), so I'm not sure if my ear is shot (I'm comparing it to a Boss SD-1W) or they just preferred the tone. The Symmetrical setting is more focused and tight and lends itself to leads, whereas the Asymmetric setting is a bit richer and nuanced, especially at low-to-mid gain settings.

              Ironically (and we should always listen with our ears, not our eyes), the one thing I don't see in the Palisades that one does in a typical TS-style pedal/mod is the legendarily mojo-slathered jrc4558D. The opamp in the Palisade is a LM833N, which is a low noise IC that isn't uncommon in TS-styles (certainly better than the 90's production TS-9s' TL072).

              I'm still playing around with Voices 1,2,3, and 6 with various guitars. Voice 1 is certainly the most raw and in your face, but I'm finding it a bit rude sounding, for lack of a better term. Voice 6 is the buzziest, but it feels less upfront, somehow. Voice 3 is a bit more touch sensitive at lower gain settings, so it feels the most "amp like" in response, but the subtle differences seems to disappear in the last third of Gain A's gain sweep.
              .com/

              Comment


              • #8
                Hold on buddy - I think we might be getting ahead of ourselves by jumping right into the fun part… let's get some of the business of the details out of the way so we can get the readers who are unfamiliar with the pedals up to speed.

                I guess we're starting with the Palisades. As it says on the EQD site, this is a pedal that they said they'd never do - a TS808-based "tubes creamer" (lol ) overdrive. Apparently they received lots of requests for exactly that, so they relented, but as you can easily see, it's got a lot more stuff on it than the classic three-knob TS.



                As you'd imagine, the usual Drive, Tone and Level controls you'd expect to find on a TS derivative are all here and function in basically the same way, but they're named Volume (Level), Tone and… what's this? Two Gain controls? Yup - there are two gain (Drive) knobs - Gain A and Gain B. These can be set independently, so it's very easy to set the Palisades up to provide a cleaner sounding boost as well as a more heavily driven lead sound, or a slightly dirty rhythm tone and a more heavily saturated sound for solos.

                The impression you might get from the manual (and website, which contains basically the same information) is that Gain B offers a higher gain level range than Gain A does, but I'm not really getting that impression - they seem to have similar ranges, although you can certainly set them drastically different if you wish.

                There are three footswitches on The Palisades - or should that just be "Palisades"? Anyway, at the far right is the Activate button. You've got to love the way they named this; it's original but still perfectly descriptive, unlike some of the more cryptic and overly clever names you occasionally see on pedal controls. Switching is true bypass, and a nice bright white LED illuminates when the pedal is active.

                In the center is the Gain B footswitch, which activates Gain B. As with the Activate switch, an LED illuminates when this is selected; this time, it's blue. You can change the setting on this footswitch even when the main Activate pedal is off and the unit is bypassed.

                Now if that's all they gave you in terms of control, you'd already have a pretty versatile TS-style pedal, but we're not done yet! You'll notice a third footswitch, which is labeled Boost. It also has a LED indicator (green) to let you know when it's active, and it kicks in the pedal's Boost knob, which is a post-gain output level boost. So not only can you set up two different levels of distortion, you can also set up an additional boost level for solos. Boost can be used with either of the two Gain settings, and as with the Gain B footswitch, can be turned on or off regardless of whether the main Activate switch is on or not, although you'll only hear the boost when that switch is on and the pedal is active.

                It should be noted that the three LEDs are all different colors, which is a big help on a dark stage. Also, while it's a small detail that probably doesn't matter much to young whippersnappers like Chris who still have sharp eyes, but the knobs and labels are all high-contrast compared to the background and very easy to read, even by an old guy in a dimly-lit recording studio.
                **********

                "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                - George Carlin

                "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                Comment


                • #9
                  But wait - we're still not finished!

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                  Palisades has two small toggle switches. The first is a Normal / Bright switch. This does what you'd expect, and gives the pedal a "warm full tone" in the Normal setting, or a brighter sound that is "livelier, with more chime" in the Bright setting. I'd say those are fairly accurate descriptions.

                  The second toggle switch is an on / off switch for the built-in buffer. This operates a bit differently than you might expect; it's not a typical buffered output alternative to true bypass switching, but rather an input buffer that is part of the Drive / Gain circuit. It is only active when the pedal is active, and has no effect on the bypassed signal, which remains true bypass at all times. When On, this buffer gives the pedal a "tighter and brighter" tone, while the Off setting gives you a looser and warmer sound with more sag.

                  As you can see, there's lots of opportunity for the user to dial things up just the way they want them, but we still haven't hit what I think is probably the number one feature of Palisades - and it's the versatility that comes from the two remaining controls - Bandwidth and Voice.

                  Both of these controls use multi-position rotary switches. The Bandwidth knob is a five-position switch that sets the gain structure and tone of the pedal. The thinnest sounding setting is at the "1" end of the dial, and progressively fuller and heavier / more distorted sounds are available as you move up from there.

                  The Voice switch has six positions, with each one providing a different clipping option.

                  According to the manual, the options are:
                  • 1. No diodes - the cleanest setting, with the least amount of overdrive
                  • 2. LED clipping - light clipping and lots of volume
                  • 3. Mosfet clipping - a light gain overdrive with great harmonics
                  • 4. Asymmetrical Silicon clipping - tighter light gain OD; closest to stock 808
                  • 5. Symmetrical Silicon clipping - tighter distorted tone
                  • 6. Schottky Diode clipping - looser fuzzy tone

                  Between the Voice and Bandwidth knobs you get a ton of variety that is simply not available from a standard three-knob TS-style pedal. It's almost like being able to mod the pedal on the fly, but without the burnt fingers and voided warranty.
                  **********

                  "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                  - George Carlin

                  "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                  - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                  "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                  - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Construction is typical of the other Earthquaker Devices I've seen... which is to say, excellent. The interior is well laid out, clean, and uses good quality parts and through-hole construction. There are no internal trim pots or switches, and no internal battery clip, so no reason to open the pedal up beyond curiosity, which I'll satisfy for everyone with this gutshot.

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                    Powering is handled with a industry-standard 2.1mm center-negative 9V DC power jack, which is located at the top of the pedal. No adapter is included. The I/O is also top-mounted, so while Palisades is a larger pedal (measuring 5.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.5″ with knobs), you don't need extra space to the sides of it on your pedalboard to accommodate plugs and cables.

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                    I could go measure it myself, but it might be nice to take this opportunity to say hello to the good folks at EQD in sunny Akron (where it's currently sunnier than it is here in cloudy California ) and invite them to join in the discussion by telling us - what's the current draw for Palisades? And while we're at it, Chris and I were both wondering - what's the story behind the name?
                    **********

                    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                    - George Carlin

                    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Finishing up on the details of the Palisades, the white paint has a cool sparkly finish to it; it's difficult to catch in photos, but if you look close you can see it.

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                      You also get a EQD sticker, a single page manual, EQD product catalog, and a nice cloth storage bag for the pedal inside the colorful EQD box.
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                      **********

                      "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                      - George Carlin

                      "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                      - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                      "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                      - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It's probably worth pointing out that the first run of Palisades were labeled 9-18v, but EQD has since advised not to run it at such a high voltage as there were some issues popping up. They claim it sounds better with 9v anyway...
                        .com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
                          what's the current draw for Palisades?
                          You've given me an idea for an article - how to measure the current consumption of effects using a dumb-ass Radio Shack volt-ohmmeter. My personal opinion is if something draws over 10 mA, forget using batteries!
                          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                          Subscribe, like, and share the links!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Chris Loeffler View Post
                            The one thing I don't see in the Palisades that one does in a typical TS-style pedal/mod is the legendarily mojo-slathered jrc4558D. The opamp in the Palisade is a LM833N, which is a low noise IC that isn't uncommon in TS-styles (certainly better than the 90's production TS-9s' TL072).
                            The 833N not only has half the noise of a good 4558, but also the slew rate (response to transients) is a whole lot better. I think a lot of the alleged mojo in a 4558 is the extra noise and slightly duller sound...
                            Last edited by Anderton; 02-08-2016, 02:53 PM.
                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Anderton View Post

                              You've given me an idea for an article - how to measure the current consumption of effects using a dumb-ass Radio Shack volt-ohmmeter. My personal opinion is if something draws over 10 mA, forget using batteries!
                              That would be a good article. I know how to measure it, but it's trickier to do on a pedal with no battery clip.

                              I'm not sure if the Palisades draws more than 10mA or not, but I prefer using power supplies over batteries whenever possible anyway. I know many people prefer batteries with some fuzz pedals, but I just don't like having to deal with them. Plus they're a landfill / disposal / environmental nuisance.
                              **********

                              "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                              - George Carlin

                              "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                              - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                              "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                              - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                              Comment













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