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Sound Quality

Can be set remarkably quiet for a vintage effect, but sometimes it can be a bit noisy. Moving the cables (I don't have it mounted on a board) it isn't hard to find a position where it's whisper quiet. It's called a Biphase, so I assume it is two phaser circuits set slightly out of phase controlled by the same LFO (there's a picture on it suggesting this). The circuit board takes up the entire case apart from the space provided for the battery, so it's more complicated than your standard phaser. It sounds like a 4-stage phaser to me, a bit like a Boss PH-1R, MXR Phase90 or EHX Small Stone, only it has a few more parameter controls than the last two units. The biphase aspect gives it its own voice - almost flangerish at some settings, and can make a detuned sort of sound at the trough of the phase cycle. Not as thick or wild as I initially thought it might be, but it's a distinct sound, which would make me chose it over the ubiquitous sounds of the aforementioned units. The unit does have one serious flaw - it has a volume drop to rival that of the Small Stone. For some players this might be a problem. The headroom of the unit seems sufficient for you to boost it with a clean boost to bring it back on par with unity. The signal/noise ratio is good enough to boost the signal after it's passed through the phaser.

Reliability/Durability

The switch is a little dodgy. As far as I can tell there is no mechanical switch - it must be some sort of optical circuit under the rubber bubble you press down on to switch it on and off. There may be a skill to it but perhaps 20-30% of the time it doesn't switch on or off when you want it to. I'd put it into a looper if I were gigging to avoid any embarassment.

General Comments

A cool little unit. It has charm - a distinct look and sound. I'm a fan of anything with sliders. As far as I know these Big Jam effects were not rebranded effects made by some other common manufacturer (Multivox had a habit copying Roland keyboards at the time, but this isn't a Boss PH-1R). This unit isn't branded Multivox, so it's possible the Japanese firm that made them (I've heard it was Ace Tone) intended "Big Jam" to be the branding, and a deal with Multivox was struck up later, maybe to give the effects brand recognition internationally?

 

Anyway, I don't know of any other biphaser apart from the much more functional (and expensive!) Mu-tron, (Ibanez have a bi-mode phaser, but it's not the same concept), nor have I seen a flanger with a built in distortion, like the Big Jam Jazz Flanger. They made some unique pedals. Sound quality is on par with other Japanese effects if the time - MIJ Boss or Maxon/Ibanez. Not all that common to find them, even on ebay. Either there're other collectors who don't want to give them up or not a lot were ever made. I have a Jazz Flanger and would love the Spit Wah, Octave and Space Driver (I know of one place that has a Space Driver, but they want US$200 for it!). Fantastic, under-the-radar pedals.




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