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EarthQuaker Devices Pyramids Flanger

Flanging the sands of time...

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

Flanging is the one effect I’ve most wanted to embrace but found myself unable to bring into my sonic vocabulary (a close second would be vibrato); I like the various metallic warbles and hollow whooshes of the time-manipulating effect genre, but I’ve rarely found a way to compete with it’s aggressive aural stranglehold. I’ve owned the greatest (Foxrox TZF, Maxon FL9, Mr. Black Tunnelworm) and still have them all, but they rarely see juice from a power supply and have yet to make a recording. That introduction as a personal aside is a way of stating I’m either the most or least qualified person to review a new flanging effect, depending on your point of view. That said, I entered my review of the new Earthquaker Devices Pyramids Stereo Flanger with that baggage and came through the other side a changed person.

 

The Earthquaker Devices Pyramids is a DSP-based stereo flanger with an analog direct path that features eight flanging modes, five user-presets, tap tempo, stereo inputs and outputs, and tap tempo, powered by a 9v power supply.

 

What You Need to Know

 

I’m going to jump straight to the revelation of my review experience with the Earthquaker Devices Pyramids; the Mix control. Few flangers offer this, and yet it is the only thing keeping most flanging effects from taking over your signal completely. The Mix is the magic sauce that takes the flanger from being something that is a novel trick for a song or two to something that can show up in different ways and levels in any song, which is a good thing because this flanger sounds amazing.

 

The controls for the Earthquaker Devices Pyramids Flanger include Manual (delay time of the effected signal), Rate (speed of the LFO or sequence), Width (frequency range or depth of the effect), Mix (blend control from completely dry to pure wet), and Feedback (regeneration level of the wet signal being fed back into itself), and Modify (functions differently in every mode). The Tap/Trigger footswitch overrides the Rate control in all modes except for the Trigger modes, in which case it initiates or resets the effect. A first for Earthquaker Devices, the Pyramids allows for five presets that can be user defined. Out of the box, the Presets are dialed in for Earthquaker’s recommended jumping points Classic, Barber Pole Up, Trigger Up, Step, and Random modes.

 

The eight flanging modes subtle shift the parameters of the controls and not-so-subtly effect your sound (unless you use this Mix control!).

 

Classic mode creates a chorus-like LFO controlled symmetrical flanging that nails the Maxon/Ibanez/Boss style traditional style flanging that has graced a million albums. The Modify control is a tone control that is either high-pass or low-pass, depending on which side of the dial you are on. Subtler settings yield Summers-like “how did he get that chorus effect to sparkle?”, and the most extreme settings generate the jet-like whooshing sound that throttles the beefiest of distorted signals into submission. The effect itself is cleaner and lest congested sounding than the classic analog flangers I compared it to without sounding like a post-production, sterile effect.

 

Through-Zero mode takes the Classic mode to the extreme and is the closest setting to emulating the original tape-flanging effect, which warps time and pulls the signal out of sync, creating the sonic equivalent of passing through a blackhole as the two signals cancel each other out at the zero point. The modify control adjusts where in the LFO cycle the zero-point lives and, to a lesser extent, the frequency of the cancellation. The difference between TZ and Classic is subtle in the context of a full-band setting, but the payoff of the pass-through moment is undeniable.

 

Barber Pole Up mode is similar to the visual effect of a rotating barber pole sign, the flanger gives the aural illusion of constantly phasing upward. The Modify control in this mode works similar to the classic mode, as a high-pass/low-pass tone control. At its most extreme settings, Barber Pole Up creates a sonic crawl that I found almost anxiety-inducing and I hope to never encounter in a hallucinatory setting, but in gentler, slower settings I found the effect created a subtle feelings of forward momentum that was a refreshing diversion from the symmetrical lope of a LFO-driven modulation effect.

 

Barber Pole Down is the opposite of the Barber Pole Up in that the effect creates an infinite downward direction for the flanging effect, creating the effect of a recording being subtly slower by the drag of a finger or slowly swirling around the drain.

 

Trigger Up mode the flanging effect “up” in sweep in one of two ways, via an input-sensitive envelope a la an auto wah or through the Tap/Trigger footswitch. The Modify control in this mode adjusts the sensitivity of the effect and determines how quickly it engages based on the attack of the incoming signal. Wah-like vocalizations are possible in Trigger Up mode and there is a dynamic expressiveness to the effect that lends itself to “what is that effect” subtlety. The Tap/Trigger control resets the effect manually, and opens the doors to sequencer-like controlled rhythms that are the perfect compliment to the modern rock scene. I took Earthquaker Device’s advice and ran this mode with a Korg Volca Beats in the Left input (the guitar was in the Right input) and ran mono out from the Right output for beat-controlled flanging that was beyond wild.

 

Trigger Down mode is the opposite of the Trigger Up mode, in that the flanging effect goes downward triggered by the input signal, Tap/Trigger footswitch, or input signal.

 

Step mode samples and holds a series of locations in the flangers cycle, creating a synth-like sequence of jumps between frequencies that is most sonically akin to the sample/hold filter effect utilized by synthesizers and on guitar by players like Zappa and Rodriguez-Lopez. The Modify control pans from hard transitions between steps to a soft glissandos.

 

Random is a randomized version of the Step mode that eschews a patterns in favor of an infinite random progression of steps.

 

How does it all sound? Immaculate. There is character for days in each mode, and it lacks the plasticky sheen of many high-end digital processors while maintaining a pristine dry and wet signal that are both organic and reactive to what it is being fed. There are several additional hidden features underneath the hood, and the applications of the Pyramids are nearly endless.

 

Limitations

 

None. Really. I tried.

 

Conclusion

 

The Earthquaker Devices Pyramids stereo flanger hits every note of flangers that have come before it and adds its own unique twists and flavors. It’s a flanger for people who haven’t been able to bond with flangers, and it’s the holy grail for people who’ve already knelt at the alter of flanging. It has vibe and funk without sounding less than crystalline and pure, it has clarity without being sterile, and it has more tricks than any one user will ever fully tap into. The preset feature is an exciting window into future EQD effects, and the Mix control effectively leaves nearly every other flanger in the planet in the dust. I wasn't prepared for this, but if I could only have one modulation effect on my pedalboard, it would without a doubt be the Earthquaker Devices Pyramids.  -HC-

 

Resources

 

 

Earthquaker Devices Pyramids Stereo Flanger Product Page

 

Buy Earthquaker Devices Pyramids Stereo  Flanger @ Amazon (Street $299.99) 

____________________________________________ 

 

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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