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Chase Bliss Audio Condor EQ Overdrive Filter Pedal

With a sound as large as an Andean wingspan...

 

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

Chase Bliss Audio came crashing out of the gate with modulation like chorus, phaser, and tremolo, marrying all-analog signal paths with state-of-the art digital control over more parameters than any analog effect to date can match. This was a revelation for players looking to move beyond the standard three controls and in search of different, more expressive ways to enhance their sound. Then Chase Bliss Audio moved to gain with the Brothers overdrive/distortion. How that level of control would translate to such a seemingly singular effect was high on the minds of people, but as the early reports trickled in from the industry the answer was clearly “amazingly well.” So how about EQ?

 

The Chase Bliss Audio Condor is marketed as an EQ/Preamp/Filter and arrives in the standard small enclosure with dial controls for Gain (Ramp), Freq, Volume, Mids, Bass, and LPF, toggle switches for Bass, Mids, LPF, and presets, and stomp switches for Drive/Hold and Bypass. The Condor also features an Expression/CV input and MIDI control via a ¼” TRS jack and optional Chase Bliss Midibox as well as an array of DIP switches on the back for additional parameter control. The pedal runs on a standard 9v center-negative power supply and operates in buffered or true bypass.

 

What You Need to Know

 

While there’s nothing new in terms of its individual components, the Chase Bliss Audio Condor can take a while to wrap your head around (at least if you want to fully realize it’s potential). It is an EQ pedal at heart (filters) that combines gain and amplitude (overdrive, boost, tremolo) that can dramatically warp your tone in real time, with near synthesizer levels of control. The possible sum of these effects far surpasses the individual components, yielding anything from light EQ to wah tones to even flanger-like regeneration.

 

Because the Condor is guitar-focused, there is a lot of thought put into the mid-range. The Mids knob sets the boost or cut of the mids, like a standard Mid tone control, and the Freq knobs selects the specific frequency you are targeting, from 150hz to 4KHZ. This allows for precise carving of the signal, creating anything from a natural mid-bump to parked-wah like, cutting tones.

 

The Bass knob controls, as you might expect, the low end and works like the Mids knob in that it raises or cuts the low end, and a three-position toggle switch selects the amount of bass on tap, from Small, Moderate, to Big. I like to be respectful of the bass frequencies for four-string slingers, so I found plenty of control in the least setting, but I could see my drop-C brethren enjoying the window rattling subs of the deepest settings.  

 

The LPF (low pass filter) is where all the funkiness happens, producing an analog filter sweep that does everything from tone sweetening to the smoothest wah tones I’ve experienced, dedicated effect or otherwise. Kicking up the mids and bass fattens up the tone considerably in a very complimentary way to both single coil and humbucking pickups, and I was even able to capture the transistor radio effect at the into of Wish You Were Here by annihilating the lows.

 

The preamp section has more headroom than I was able to exceed, even when hit with an irresponsible amount of boost from a different pedal, and the overdrive itself is crisp and doesn’t change your EQ (unless you want it to). The overdrive being blended with the direct signal allows for more clarity and definition in higher gain settings without ever sounding too effected or segregated (something many overdrives with blend controls I have played fall short on).

 

Like all Chase Bliss Audio pedals, there are a ton of DIP switches on the back of the pedal (16, to be precise). These switches control everything from how many parameters are synchronized to the expression pedal or ramp function to how core functionality behaves. There are more functions and applications than would be digestible in a simple review, but anything from simultaneous filter and overdrive ramping for the most wicked wah you’ve never heard to matched tremolo and chorus-like pulses.

 

The filter section is where all the tone shaping and wackiness happens, and it really shows how underutilized filters are in the world of guitar effects. Yes, you can cop amazing autowah tones and wah effects with an optional expression pedal. The Condor unlocks studio-level tweaking that touches on phasing, filtering, and even synthesis. Locking the sweep of the filter to ramp or expression results in tones that no one would assume came from EQ+gain.

 

The Chase Bliss Audio Condor shines on its own, but it is fun to stack with other pedals as well. Placed after a Big Muff Pi, I was able to maintain the classic BMP lead tone while kicking up the mids to push it forward in a crowded mix. I confess the core functionality of the Condor seems underserved in a live setting being utilized just for that, but as a studio tool it can give a lot more pre-production control of what the mixer picks up.

 

Limitations

 

Like most Chase Bliss Audio pedals, there is a decent learning curve to mastering its higher-level functionality. It’s easy to tweak knobs and get great tones, but mastery of the tool is where the true reward lies.

 

Conclusion

 

At this point, I shouldn’t be surprised how much innovation Chase Bliss Audio is capable of squeezing from seemingly over-trodden effects categories, digital or analog. The Condor is more than a gain device, more than a filter, and more than a dedicated EQ… it blends the three in ways that could never be accomplished in running three dedicated effects in series. While it may take an hour to crack, the Chase Bliss Audio Condor has everything going for it to be your favorite boost, or overdrive, or EQ, or filter effect, or tremolo, or regenerative modulation, or…   -HC

 

 Resources

 

Chase Bliss Audio Condor Product Page

 

Buy Chase Bliss Audio Condor at Amazon ($349.99)

____________________________________________ 

 

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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