JHS Pedals Haunting Mids Preamp & EQ
By Phil O'Keefe |
Scary-good, or the stuff of nightmares?
You know what scares me? Bad tone. Another thing that frightens me is when a guitarist stacks all of their guitar parts using the same tones and the same amp and EQ settings when recording in the studio. The resulting stack of mud is enough to frighten any audio engineer, because trying to make it all work in a mix can be a real nightmare. The thought of having bad tone should be equally scary for guitarists too - after all, how you sound matters a great deal. JHS Pedals doesn't think your tone should frighten you, your fans, or any innocent recording engineers, and they're on a mission to build products that are designed to help you sound as good as possible. To that end, they offer the spooky-looking Haunting Mids Preamp / EQ pedal under consideration here.
What You Need To Know
- The JHS Pedals Haunting Mids is a EQ / preamp pedal. Originally released as a Halloween special edition in limited numbers, it's been re-released and is now widely available.
- Housed in a metal box that measures 2.6" W x 4.8" L x 1.6" H, it's finished in black powder coat and has white ghost graphics and control labels, making it super-easy to see everything, even on a fairly dark stage, or when doing a gig at your favorite haunted house or studio.
- The JHS logo and name of the pedal are printed on one end of the pedal.
- The inputs and outputs are mounted on the two sides of the pedal, while the center-negative wired 5.5 mm x 2.1 mm 9V DC power input jack is located at the top of the pedal.
- All of the knobs on the Haunting Mids are white with black pointers, in keeping with the black and white color theme.
- There are only four controls on the Haunting Mids; yet even with this relatively limited number, it offers a wide range of tonal control.
- The Volume knob can be set for unity gain, or to provide a boost. Even with the EQ controls set flat, there's enough gain available to give you a 10 dB boost over unity gain.
- The Mids knob is a boost / cut control. When it's set to the 12 o'clock position it doesn't boost or cut. When turned lower than noon, it cuts mids, and when it's set higher than noon, it boosts them. You have a range of +/- 15 dB of boost or cut at the selected frequency.
- How do you select the frequency for the boost or cut? That's where the Sweep knob comes in. It allows you to dial up the frequency region for boosting or cutting. The frequency range of the Sweep control runs from 400 Hz to 7.5 kHz, giving you a wide range to select from.
- A true parametric EQ offers one additional control besides the frequency selection and boost / cut, and that's the bandwidth (or "Q") control. This determines how broad or narrow of a range of frequencies to either side of the selected frequency will also be impacted by your EQ boost or cut. Rather than the usual continuously variable control of a fully-parametric EQ, JHS Pedals instead opted for a two-position Q toggle switch that gives users a choice between narrow bandwidth or a broader bandwidth.
- The Lo setting allows the EQ to adjust a wider range of frequencies and is generally better suited for gentle tone-shaping, while the Hi setting boosts or cuts a much narrower frequency band, and is the better choice when you're going for a more drastic boost or cut to a narrower, more specific and limited frequency range, and for use for more obviously "effected" sounds, such as simulating a parked wah type sound.
- The overall build quality is very good. The pedal is built with surface mount components and the soldering looks neat and clean. There are no switches or trim pots to be found inside the Haunting Mids, but there are some amusing things printed on the circuit board, including alternative names for the controls - Terror (Mids), Fright (Sweep), and Scream (Volume).
- The answer to the question on the circuit board is yes, the switching is true bypass. A red LED illuminates whenever the pedal is active. I'm sure they used red because red is the color of blood, and therefore is the scariest color - duh!
- JHS Pedals includes a single sheet manual with the pedal, and also throws in a JHS Pedals sticker, guitar pick and strap / lapel button. They also include four adhesive-backed rubber feet for the bottom of the pedal that the owner can apply if they want - I personally prefer this approach, since it makes it easier for those who want to mount the pedal to their pedalboard with either velcro or using bike chain links.
- I suppose I should ding them for not providing a continuously variable parametric EQ style bandwidth or Q control. While many users will find that the two position Q switch provides all the range and flexibility they need, the audio engineer in me would have loved it if they would have used a fully variable pot instead.
- The JHS Pedals Haunting Mids can not be battery powered - it's adapter powered only, and you'll need to provide your own suitable power supply. It is designed for 9V DC only - using a higher voltage will void your warranty. Current draw is 13mA.
While I'm well-acquainted with the details, if you're waiting for me to raise the dead (issues), go into specifics, name names and get into the history behind the term "Haunting Mids" and cite everywhere that it has been used previously, you're going to be disappointed. It's not really relevant to whether or not this is a good sounding pedal, although Josh from JHS does give a little background as to why he decided to use the name in one of the videos you'll find in the Resources section below. If you're really curious, you can probably find all you want to know (sprinkled in with a fair amount of blarney too) with a simple web search.
Potential name controversy aside, and outside of the possibly overly-picky complaint about it being equipped with a Q switch instead of a variable Q knob for bandwidth adjustment, I really have nothing significant to criticize here. Some of you may say "boo!" to the fact that you can't power it with a 9V battery, but the environment is better off without the corpses of the dead (batteries) piling up.
The JHS Pedals Haunting Mids EQ is a well-built and very useful pedal. Placed before or after your favorite overdrive, distortion or fuzz pedal it will allow you to change its sound in subtle to rather drastic ways, depending on how you dial it up. It's equally adept at narrow and broad band midrange EQ cuts and boosts. Adding a JHS Pedals Haunting Mids to your pedal collection will allow you to obtain a whole new range of tones from the dirt pedals you already have. It's also a powerful tone shaper for clean tones too, and it can serve equally well as a boost pedal; slam the front end of your slightly overdriven tube amp hard with it and send it into a frightening frenzy of distortion. Dial up the EQ just right and it can help you achieve howling feedback more readily too. It's a great solo boost for live performances, and your guitar parts will greatly benefit in the studio too. That kind of flexibility and utility will make the JHS Haunting Mids a useful addition to just about any pedalboard. Or recording studio. I'd highly recommend audio engineers and studio owners consider picking one up for themselves as well since it can be exceptionally useful for crafting distinctive guitar tones when recording. -HC-
Want to discuss the JHS Pedals Haunting Mids EQ or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Effects forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!
JHS Pedals Haunting Mids EQ ($149.00 "street")
JHS Pedals product web page
You can purchase the JHS Pedals Haunting Mids EQ pedal from:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.