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Earthquaker Devices Fight Club!

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The third pedal in this roundup is the Levitation Reverb, which lists for $185 according to EarthQuaker Devices.

 

big_Levitation%20Final%20Photo.jpg

 

A quick look at the manual tells me that it was designed for the Levitation music festival. What's that? I dunno… but Google is my friend, and Google tells me it was formerly known as the Austin Psych Fest, and the 9th annual festival will be held in Austin from April 29 - May 1 this year. Since Psychedelic Rock has long embraced far-out reverb-drenched tones, it seems quite fitting that EQD went with a 'verb for this tribute.

 

The EQD Levitation Reverb is housed in the same sized enclosure as The Warden (4 5/8″ x 2 1/2″ x 2.25″ with knobs) but this time it's painted white with black graphics so it's very easy to read the labels and the control settings in lower-light situations, although if you're really tripping out, all bets are off. Switching is true bypass, and a "don't look directly at it or your could go blind" white LED ignites with a brilliance that rivals the sun when you activate the device… okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but no one is going to accuse EQD of putting wimpy and dim LEDs into their pedals. Notice that, in spite of this being a Fight Club Pro Review, I resisted the temptation to make any kind of wimpy and dim comments about my co-reviewer... tongue.pngwink.png

 

Powering is handled with a standard 9V DC center-negative 2.1mm power jack, which is located in between the 1/4" I/O jacks at the top of the pedal. Again, I'm a big fan of this type of configuration since it really helps you keep your pedalboard layout more compact and efficient. The Levitation can not be battery powered, and no power supply is included, so you'll need to take that into account.

 

fetch?filedataid=114768

 

 

The Levitation Reverb is based on the earlier EarthQuaker Devices Ghost Echo, but there are some changes to the control compliment of the two pedals. Let's take a look at the controls the Levitation has, and then we'll see what's different from the earlier pedal.

  • Length - This toggle switch gives you a choice between shorter (to the left) or longer decay time ranges.

  • Decay - This knob lets you adjust the decay time more precisely, with the reverb tails increasing in length as this knob is turned up higher.
  • Atmosphere - EQD call this a "harmonic regeneration control" that takes upper frequency content from the reverb's output and feeds it back into the input, which results in a more ringing and etherial sound. It's not really "natural" sounding - you'll probably never encounter a reverb tail that sounds like this in nature, but it is a very appealing sound.
  • Mix - Adjusts the relative blend of the wet signal that is added to the dry, unprocessed sound. The higher you turn this knob, the more reverb you'll hear.
  • Tone - This works a bit differently than your typical treble-rolloff type tone control. It adjusts the bandwidth of the input signal. Turn it fully counter-clockwise and and it will roll off the low end, resulting in a brighter and less muddy sounding reverb. Turning the knob clockwise allows more low end to pass through to the processor, giving you a fuller reverb sound. This, and the Atmosphere control are my two favorite knobs on this pedal.

 

Compared to the three-knob Ghost Echo, the Levitation lacks the Dwell and Attack knobs, and the Depth control is swapped for a Mix knob, but you gain the Length toggle switch plus the Tone, Atmosphere and Length controls.

 

What "kind" of a reverb is the Levitation? Well, it's really its own thing, as opposed to being a faithful recreation of a plate, spring, or a hall type reverb, but as EQD point out in the manual, it's capable of giving you a variety of sounds and textures, depending on how you have it set:

 

 

"It is a vintage voiced reverb that aims to fit somewhere between dirty sixties chambers, classic spring, and the big, ringing plate reverbs of days gone by.

 

Want a slap back small room sound? Set all of your controls to the minimum and use the mix to dial in the sound of room devoid of anything but a guitar and amp. Want to revel in infinite spatial oscillations? Flip the toggle to long, turn up the atmosphere and decay then tune out. Dial in a bright chiming slap back by turning the tone all the way counter clockwise and reducing the decay. For a rattling, full-bandwidth assault, dime everything and let ‘er rip."

 

 

By the way, I do agree with the "vintage voiced" comments - it's not that it sounds old or dated, but there is definitely a vibe to the sound that hearkens back to an earlier era.

 

While there's really no reason to open the pedal up, I did do so and confirmed that there's no user-adjustable internal switches or trim pots.

 

fetch?filedataid=114769

 

fetch?filedataid=114770

 

 

Once the bottom plate was removed, the heart of the Levitation Reverb was revealed; it uses a Accutronics Digi-Log BTDR-3H reverb. Sometimes referred to as a "brick" (although it's smaller in size than the original Belton Brick), this module is the digital brain of the Levitation Reverb. Heart and brains - this pedal has both.

 

Now I'll admit I am a big fan of the work they do in cleverly creative Akron Ohio, but I do have to take them to task for something they claimed in the Levitation manual - they said mythical Akron Ohio is the hamburger capitol of the world. Sorry, but that just can't be true. Do they have In-N-Out in Akron? How about Tommy's? What's that? No? Okay then - I rest my case. wink.pngtongue.pngbiggrin.gif Next time you guys are out here, I'll treat you to a proper hamburger. emoticon-misc-022.gifwave.gif Chris will provide the suds. smiley-eatdrink004.gifsmiley-eatdrink055.gifphilguiness3.gif

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EarthQuaker Devices recommends running The Warden first in your chain for best results, and that's fairly typical for compressor pedals… but what about those of us who run fuzz pedals as an important part of our rigs? Some fuzz pedals are notoriously troublesome when placed after anything else, so this is something we definitely will want to check as part of this Pro Review. Of course, if your fuzz has true bypass switching, it shouldn't cause any issues for The Warden as long as the fuzz is switched off.

 

 

Maybe the fuzz compatibility is something you can look into a bit while I'm at NAMM Chris. I'll also experiment with it when I get back home.

 

 

So first... True-bypass sort of negates the whole fuzz-pickup interaction when it isn't on, so in theory the placement is irrelevant as long as you aren't introducing a dozen feet of additional instrument cable between the compressor and the fuzz. In practice, I found this to be the case as well.

 

I placed The Warden first in the chain, with a homegrown OC Black Glass Germanium Tonebender MK1.5, which I love AND is one of the pickiest fuzzes I have, and didn't notice any change in how the fuzz bloomed, the gain structure, or sensitivity. When The Warden was activated in this scenario, it was hard to say how much change to the fuzz was due to the active circuit being introduced between the fuzz and pickups and how much was the compressor effect in action. It certainly was slightly different (in that way that "only you" are going to notice or care). Because there's a lot of low-to-mid gain territory in the fuzz in question, the compressor was more noticeable in those settings as opposed to full bore, like when I put a DreamsICle (IC Muff clone) or Tone Reaper pedal. The gain structure was a bit more consistent, but less nuanced. Again... noticeable the moment the drummer hits their snare? Not in gain, but certain in sustain.

 

After the fuzz was much more interesting to me, as it sort it rounds out and compresses the woolier edges of the fuzz tone in subtle settings, resulting in a smooth, liquid solo tone that has a bit more focus and mid-warmth than without the compressor.

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Also, as an Ex-Pat Californian (although I realize you probably don't acknowledge anything north of Oxnard as Cali), I call your bluff on In-N-Out...

 

Average burger, terrible fries.

 

They opened the first one in Oregon in my town last year and the lines were ridiculous, so I'm going to have to assume there are a lot of people who need someone to tell them what a burger is meant to taste like biggrin.gif

 

Thank goodness this isn't a burger fight.philpalm.png (it feels unfair to use your own smiley on you)

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Combining The Warden with the Palisades certainly yields some of the more classic tones one would expect based on experience with similar type effects. While significantly less colored than a Ross-style compressor (a good thing to my ears), The Warden adds some natural thickness and sustain to notes (especially on a single coil) that feeds beautifully into the Palisades... the two play very nicely together. Whereas the bloom in attack from the Palisades by itself feels a bit tighter as it is all generated by the level of breakup at the beginning opening of the note, The Warden has a bit more sag to it that ramps up and livens the note. Hearing the envelope of the attack rounded by the compressor gives a bit more character to the core tone and covers a lot of sins in sloppy lead playing. Obviously, the Palisades' touch sensitivity is sacrificed (rather, delegated, I suppose) to the dynamics of The Warden. The edge of the gain (especially in lower settings) also adds a bit of edge back to your tone if you overdo it on the compressor side.

 

The Warden after the Palisades, on the other hand, is a love-or-hate thing, depending on what you're looking for. Having fun with alliteration, luscious, liquid lead lawyer tones are in abundance. The Warden effectively takes a razor and shaves off all the hair and edge of the tone, creating a warm, round tone that lends itself to solos and impossibly sustained notes usually only possible with a cranked 100 watt tube amp. The trick is dialing in the attack of the envelope of The Warden to sound natural and not choke out your notes when it's slammed with the Palisades (obviously, reducing the output of the Palisades to something resembling unity gain is a good place to start).

 

As someone who loves the depth and grit of gain, I'll keep my hair on my tone, thank you, but for those enthralled with crystal lattices and the concept of auditioning to be considered permission to purchase an amp, there's a lot of smoothness to be had biggrin.gif

 

Diversity, I suppose, is the name of the game, but it is awfully tempting to keep tweaking when the intent is to give players control to dial in their sound exactly how they want, not to serve three different functions in three different signal chain configurations in a live setting without bending over.

 

You'll notice either NAMM or the In-N-Out comment has Phil in hiding rastaphil.png

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You'll notice either NAMM or the In-N-Out comment has Phil in hiding rastaphil.png

 

 

Hardly Tofu-boy, although the NAMM backlog has been keeping me busy. lol.gif

 

You have to understand that the city I am from had the second In-N-Out place they ever opened... it was "THE" local hamburger place, and far better than what you could find at Micky-D's. As such, it will always be my favorite - it's a darned good burger, and it's what I grew up with.

 

I will agree with you about their fries though. I've never been a big fan of them. That's the one area where they could stand improvement IMO.

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So first... True-bypass sort of negates the whole fuzz-pickup interaction when it isn't on, so in theory the placement is irrelevant as long as you aren't introducing a dozen feet of additional instrument cable between the compressor and the fuzz. In practice, I found this to be the case as well.

 

Agreed. As long as the other pedal has true bypass, it isn't turned on, and you don't have a ton of extra cable, it shouldn't make a difference, and I wasn't able to hear one either.

 

I placed The Warden first in the chain, with a homegrown OC Black Glass Germanium Tonebender MK1.5, which I love AND is one of the pickiest fuzzes I have, and didn't notice any change in how the fuzz bloomed, the gain structure, or sensitivity. When The Warden was activated in this scenario, it was hard to say how much change to the fuzz was due to the active circuit being introduced between the fuzz and pickups and how much was the compressor effect in action. It certainly was slightly different (in that way that "only you" are going to notice or care). Because there's a lot of low-to-mid gain territory in the fuzz in question, the compressor was more noticeable in those settings as opposed to full bore, like when I put a DreamsICle (IC Muff clone) or Tone Reaper pedal. The gain structure was a bit more consistent, but less nuanced. Again... noticeable the moment the drummer hits their snare? Not in gain, but certain in sustain.

 

After the fuzz was much more interesting to me, as it sort it rounds out and compresses the woolier edges of the fuzz tone in subtle settings, resulting in a smooth, liquid solo tone that has a bit more focus and mid-warmth than without the compressor.

 

I generally prefer the sound with The Warden running before the fuzz pedal, but it depends on the type of sound you're looking for and which fuzz pedal you're using. Both approaches are useful IMO, but some fuzz pedals seem to work better than others pre/post compression, or at least produce a sound I like better. For something like a Big Muff, I don't think that it matters as much as it does with a glitchier or more touch-sensitive fuzz.

 

One pairing I really like a lot is The Warden with the EQD Park Fuzz Sound; the two work very well together, and with the compressor in front of the fuzz, you can take advantage of the compressor's variable output level to hit the input of the fuzz harder or softer for more sonic options. idea.gifsmile.png

 

 

 

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Combining The Warden with the Palisades certainly yields some of the more classic tones one would expect based on experience with similar type effects. While significantly less colored than a Ross-style compressor (a good thing to my ears)' date=' The Warden adds some natural thickness and sustain to notes (especially on a single coil) that feeds beautifully into the Palisades... the two play very nicely together. [/quote']

 

I agree... actually, all three pedals work very well together IMO. The Warden can be set to have a more natural, or at least less heavily effected / processed sound to it than a DynaComp / Ross compressor, but there's still a touch of flattering coloration to it.

 

 

The Warden after the Palisades, on the other hand, is a love-or-hate thing, depending on what you're looking for. Having fun with alliteration, luscious, liquid lead lawyer tones are in abundance. The Warden effectively takes a razor and shaves off all the hair and edge of the tone, creating a warm, round tone that lends itself to solos and impossibly sustained notes usually only possible with a cranked 100 watt tube amp. The trick is dialing in the attack of the envelope of The Warden to sound natural and not choke out your notes when it's slammed with the Palisades (obviously, reducing the output of the Palisades to something resembling unity gain is a good place to start).

 

As someone who loves the depth and grit of gain, I'll keep my hair on my tone, thank you, but for those enthralled with crystal lattices and the concept of auditioning to be considered permission to purchase an amp, there's a lot of smoothness to be had biggrin.gif

 

I was able to get some sounds that reminded me of Gary Moore by putting The Warden after the Palisades. Again, I generally prefer the sound of the compressor before the dirt though, and save the post-dirt compression for the studio - sometimes when tracking, but more often when mixing down.

 

 

Diversity, I suppose, is the name of the game, but it is awfully tempting to keep tweaking when the intent is to give players control to dial in their sound exactly how they want, not to serve three different functions in three different signal chain configurations in a live setting without bending over.

 

 

For live, I'd be more inclined to find a sound I liked and stick with it, leaving the tweaking to the minimum possible... but in the studio, I'm all about the versatility, and for a TS type pedal, I have to say the Palisades is uncommonly versatile. Recording guitarists may find that versatility more appealing than players who are more live-performance oriented... but then again, I know players who enjoy manipulating their pedals and who do so rather heavily during live performances, so it really depends on the individual. Plus, there are some sounds in the Palisades that you'd be hard-pressed to get out of other TS-type pedals, and if one of those turns out to be their favorite, that versatility is going to be just as important for the live player as it would be for the studio cat.

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Hardly Tofu-boy, although the NAMM backlog has been keeping me busy. lol.gif

 

You have to understand that the city I am from had the second In-N-Out place they ever opened... it was "THE" local hamburger place, and far better than what you could find at Micky-D's. As such, it will always be my favorite - it's a darned good burger, and it's what I grew up with.

 

I will agree with you about their fries though. I've never been a big fan of them. That's the one area where they could stand improvement IMO.

 

 

 

 

For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure to meet Phil in person, he really is this gracious. Even when invited to take the gloves off, he gently states his point of view and respects the opposition. Also... screw tofu. As a crazy man I met on the street once said... "It's feminizing men, and MASCULIZING (sic) women!"

 

Plus... it's gross.

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Plus... it's gross.

 

You know, it's getting a bit weird agreeing with you so much... isn't this supposed to be a Fight Club Pro Review?

 

Maybe we should discuss whether we're using a Mac or a PC to make our comments with. idea.gifwink.pngtongue.pngbiggrin.gif

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Good point... I'm probably over-simplifying the versatility of the pedals because I have the benefit of talking with someone who also has the pedals in their possession.

 

My one line take on the Palisades... Get ready to piss off your recording engineer and carve out your own space in the mix ;-)

 

Really... I've done my share of casual dating with TS-style pedals, but there's some sonic witchery at play with the EQ and filter options that made me think beyond the demo session and into the different ways it could sit in the mix.

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Here's a demo video of The Warden to give everyone an idea of what it sounds like and what the controls do...

 

[video=youtube;jIotxVHGxRA]

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Hello everyone!

 

Sorry for the late post! Apparently someone was following the first two rules of Fight Club!

 

My name is Josh, and I am the Customer Service Manager for EarthQuaker Devices. I wanted to chime in and answer a few questions:

 

 

Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post

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?

-The Palisades draws 30mA of current.

 

-The name Palisades is a reference to the like-named street in Akron. Jamie Stillman(our President and Pedal designer) and Julie Robbins (Our Vice President) used to live on Palisades Drive. The graphic is a more literal expression of actual Palisades.

 

The burger discussion is near and dear to my heart (in the form of cholesterol), so I will try to be civil. In Ohio, we are lucky to have an amazing source of Grass-fed organic beef from nearby farms. The higher concentration of beneficial fatty acids in the cows diet and often cooler climate allow for a very desirable and flavorful marbling. I do not spend much time at fast food restaurants, but we have a good number of high-end steak houses and burger joints that make a masterful burger.

 

Awesome thread! Thanks guys!

Josh K.

Customer Service Manager

EarthQuaker Devices

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Interesting fun was had this morning with The Warden and my Breedlove Acoustic Electric running into an Ultrasound amp. Definitely a more natural fit than a Ross-style compressor, whether used to even out sloppy finger picking or reign in aggressive rhythm strumming (affectionately referred to as "sawing wood"). It was interesting to adjust the nature of the percussion in playing, from "I feel like I'm cheating, 'cause it sounds like me" to "Day-um, that compressor is squashing the ever-loving heck out of that thing."

 

Think I'm going to sneak in the Palisades to see how much grit and tone shaping I can enter before feedback city...

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I can't help to run the Levitation alongside the Afterneath (same company, reverb, etc). Definitely the more reigned in and universal of the two, the Levitation is still a little spacier than the average reverb bear. It has a pleasant funk that isn't lo-fi, but at the same isn't "studio transparent"... it has distinct character and vibe it sprinkles in the background. There's a "slap back" vibe to it screams rock-a-billy when you get a spanky tele into a clean Fender amp, but it effortlessly transitions into a lumbering, hazy trip-machine when slammed with a drone-fuzz (Hoof Reaper, anyone ;-) ) into a big headroom amp that's sure to break through the waves of a clouded mind.

 

What you doing with the Peavey and the Levitation, Phil?

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I've found the magic to the Levitation is in the blend of the Tone and Atmosphere knobs. Cranking the Atmosphere knob gives a high-end feedback halo that's trippy as heck that has an "analog delay on the verge of self-oscillation" vibe. The Tone knob allows me to darken the palette of the reverb to draw in (or out) as much of that high end feedback as necessary.

 

Actually, on the Long tail setting, it does oscillate at around 4 o'clock :-)

 

What's cool about it (to me) is that it can achieve that "octo" or "shimmer" type reverb without sounding so churchy or effected. It feeds like organic feedback (which I suppose it is) rather than a pitch shifter (with all the good and bad that comes with it).

 

I could definitely see Dylan Carlson blowing minds with a Strat, a thick fuzz pedal, and the Levitation at a solo coffeehouse gig like this-

 

[video=youtube;bIBCU9CXK-k]

Edited by Chris Loeffler

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I used both The Warden and the Palisades on a recording session this past weekend, and the client seemed to really dig both of them.

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What did you have in mind? I'm no shredder, so if it's a contest of chops, I should just concede before embarrassing myself... :o

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Well I didn't do Doom... for my weapon of choice, I decided on Bossa Nova. Why? Like the Spanish Inquisition, no one ever expects Bossa Nova. ;)

 

Anyway, it took forever (many computer issues as I was trying to record), but here's a demo I did with the three EQD pedals. I put pics in the video to show what the settings were for each part - the Warden's LED was so bright I had to turn it off when taking the pics or you wouldn't have been able to see the settings...

 

Oh, and I did cheat a bit. While with the exception of the drums no plugin effects were used, I DID use a EQD Disaster Transport delay on the lead guitar parts... outside of that, everything else was done with three different guitars (two rhythm parts and one lead - the lead is also double tracked in two places), one bass, one amp and the three EQD pedals under review here.

 

 

[video=youtube;ELXaoOA2-AQ]

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