Source Audio Soundblox Bass Envelope: First Gig
Played my first gig last night with my new Source Audio Soundblox Bass Envelope. I got the basic model rather than the Pro, as I have limited use for an envelope filter and don't require all of the presets and massive processor power of the Pro unit.
I had tried working with the MXR M82, which is a fine sounding unit. But I was never able to control it to my satisfaction. For my application, I was looking for a very short-decay "wuh" sound, with a limited sweep, and the MXR seemed limited to big, dramatic, swishy sweeps that I simply couldn't get under control. This was partly my own fault, as I mistakenly assumed that the Decay knob on the MXR allowed adjustment of the duration of the sweep, which it does not (it simply sets the frequency center at the bottom of the sweep, which is cool in its own right, but not what I needed).
The Source Audio unit allowed me to quickly dial in a hugely fat, fast four-pole filter sound that achieves a complete range of the sweep even when playing sixteenth notes. THIS is what I was after! It worked flawlessly in the tunes I used it on last night, and I felt that the pedal was working with my playing rather than being something I was fighting with. I was able to concentrate on playing my bass rather than playing the effect.
I haven't had time yet to delve too deeply into the other settings, although I also used one of the phase/filter settings last night and it was very slurpy and groovy... it added a nice touch to one of the few bass solos I get to take. I've read some criticism here on TB that this pedal sounds "digital" or "sterile," and while I did not find this to be the case even when playing it straight into my amp, I did find that running it into my Xotic BB Bass Preamp dialed in for just a touch of hair made it sound very vintage and organic. In any event, I seriously doubt that anyone in the crowd last night was thinking, "Oh NO! Ken just switched on a DIGITAL pedal!" when I used it. Our sound man loved it (although he did ask me to turn down!).
Overall, the level of control over attack, release and sweep make this a real winner for my musical needs.
I'd say the only drawback is the physical size of the unit... it's huge, and required me to get inventive with the cabling on my PT Mini board. It looks a bit silly, and I don't in general like the visual aesthetics of Source Audio pedals (I like little metal boxes), but this is an inconsequential matter given the excellent sonic results I'm experiencing with this unit.
If you're on a quest for a very controllable envelope pedal, give the Source Audio products a serious look.
For the record, my setup is EBMM Sterling 5 HH > Soundblox Envelope > Xotic BB Bass > DMB Bumble Bass Fuzz > EBS Unichorus > Tech21 VT Bass > MarkBass CMD121P + NY 151 cab.
The phaser sounds were definitely the unexpected secret win for me, but I was having problems with volume drops using EF settings. Now I have mine in a dedicated loop with a Red Ripper with the bass significantly boosted, and am using it solely for Hot Hands wobble/wah applications. Psyched to see how it goes at the gig tonight, I'll be looking for an open toned mid-tempo jam to really open up a textural playground.
It's not the best filter on the market, IMO, but it's right up there and I think the BEF pro is super useful. When you pair it with the MWBDP you can crazy synth sounds. I will probably wind up with both of them back on my board at some point.
I've had my eye on the Source Audio programmable EQ. One of the itchy issues about them in general is I'm not sure what they use for their chassis. Are the Source Audio units plastic? I can't seem to locate any information regarding that issue. For all the world they all look like they're made of plastic.
Like member FromTheBassMent said "I like little metal boxes". It would be a shame to be swayed away from their little programmable graphic (albiet digital) eq due to the deciding factor being construction design taking a back seat to profit margins (plastic being less expensive to deal with than metal). I'm not worried about ~big~ though .... I mean just have one look at my own envelope follower (that happens to be a part of a five vco/three vcf/three envelope generator modular rig that I use for processing ... see sig).
I had come into the FX forum right now for the very purpose of posting this question to the forum. Then instantly I see this thread near the top ... taking advantage of it to see if I can learn about them here.
So please tell me that Source Audio line up is constructed of metal. If not, that will be a huge point of consideration against them for my own uses. Seems silly, but there it is.
That said, the new SB2 and programmable EQ pedals are indeed metal, so don't fear.
That's indeed a relief. I don't mind some plastic stuff, but not things I'm going to be stepping on. And not only that, but often times plastic construction can be telling of other cost-cutting measures utilized by a given maker.
On the other hand, I used to own some stuff that had incredibly tough construction, all metal stuff. But the execution was terrible. The pots and jacks were all pcb-mounted. The pots weren't even secured to the chassis, so if you pushed down on a knob, all of the knobs moved up and down since you were making the circuit board flex. Jacks mounted to the pcb are a huge bummer as well, especially jacks with no nuts. It means that their only means of holding them to the pedal is the solder joints themselves.
If you'll notice, those units have been totally discontinued! (Gee, wonder why?). They sounded REALLY GOOD, but they were built like poo (even though they look like they're tough as manhole covers .. and their chassis WERE!). Oddly enough that company is called ... get this .. Damage Control.
Look at their new stuff ...
You can cearly see Marshall style jacks with nuts, and you can see nuts under the control knobs that tell of pots that are secured to the chassis. So it would seem they addressed the issues.
Anyhow, plastic housings freak me out on stomp boxes. I think of Danelectro stuff and the really old cheepo Ibanez pedals that sold for under $75 bux (I still have one of the flangers .. it sounds good ... so good that I'll never gig with the poor little plastic POS).
Bla bla .......
Plastic, but very sturdy ABS plastic or something close to that. If you want a small metal box for an EF, I suggest the 3Leaf Proton or perhaps one of the many EHX offerings. Others may have more info on the Wonderlove or the Xerography Deluxe, by 3Leaf and Iron Ether, respectively, but I can only speak for what I own.
Yeah when you pick one up they don't strike you as easily breakable. Very sturdy and I wouldn't worry about gigging them at all.
I bet there will be a BEF SB2 coming out sooner or later. maybe.
The demos that Source Audio produces are pretty cool. The ones that show "that one guy" in the shipping warehouse. They've made some pretty imaginative video demos with im it them. I'm not into the whole dubstep fad but that doesn't mean the videos they produce to demonstrate their products aren't entertaining and pretty informative.
Only thing is .... why do some bass players wrap a half ton of crap around the tuning machines? I have enough neck-dive hatred with my Jazz bass, the last thing I think of doing is adding half a laundry basket worth of stuff around the head. Heheheh .. :)
It's pretty funny .... all of these things over the years that have been regarded as ~new~. All of this envelope follower stuff was done by the likes of ELP back in the early 70's. Greg Lake's bass was used to trigger envelope generators which modulated filter freq controls in songs such as Toccata, and Tarkus, and others. Carl Palmer's drums were used to trigger EGs and filter arrays even oscillators.
Even the guitar riffs used by metal bands in the 80's were taken straight from Emerson's bag of chops that he played on his Hammonds.
One of the great composers once said "there's no such thing as new music, only pieces of old music reused and puzzled together to make some new combination" (or something along those lines, I paraphrased pretty heavily there).
I'd bet that if some of the dubsteppers heard a song like Toccata by ELP they'd flip. My guess is that it would end up being sampled like a mad dog.
I guess plastic stompbox housings are here to stay, I suppose I had best get used to it. That doesn't mean I gotta like it. There are some builders that have mastered metalwork. I suppose both types are very recycleable in a percentage by weight comparison as well. Potato -- potahto.
We have now sold over 20,000 SB1 and SB Pro in the plastic housings. The first mold we did of the SB Pro had some internal dimensions which were too thin and they cracked with rough treatment. I suspect that if it were metal they would have cracked too. It was a design flaw. Aside from that, we have never had a pedal returned due to some kind of failure related to the plastic. We did a video of Jesse driving his car over the SB Pro while Will played bass though it. It is on YouTube.
What is the worst thing about the plastic? Perception on the part of consumers that it is less effective than aluminum.
Why did we do the plastic? We really wanted to make the pedals affordable and not too heavy for pedal boards. The BEF Pro is a great value.
Why is the SB2 in metal? We finally gave up trying to convince people that high impact plastic is as tough as cast aluminum!
Did you notice he has 2 Hipshots drop tuners. Those do add weight.
Flux's post screamed of "get off mah lawn" to me :D
And when I buy the BEF Pro again, it will be the cheap plastic one!
the switches are metal as well as the back plate that has the connections. These are really where it matters. What are people doing to their pedal where they need all metal? There may actually be benefits to using plastic on an electronic device anyway.
Meh. Seems like there are a lot of things in life that we depend on to be durable that are made primarily of plastic (Apple store is full of them). If these pedals can survive being run over by a car, I reckon they can survive my python cowboy boots!
So for those that take my posts as "get off my lawn" .. they need to pay closer attention to my point. They've completely missed what I was getting at. It's all a matter of perceptions and stigma. And I clearly pointed out that I had an attitude problem regarding such things that my intellect can see through, but my preconceived notions overshadow what my brain is trying to tell me.
Learning what was said about a truck driving over them, plus what the pres here has said about them easily changes my mind. I was a street cop in Los Angeles, right around the era when "plastic" framed handguns came out (late 80s - early 90s). Once I learned the FACTS about them I was one of the loudest supporters of such technology, and entrusted my own life as well as the lives of those that I worked with and the citizens I was hired to protect on that same tech (I carried one on duty, and off duty as well .. I trusted them that much!). However ... I had to be presented with FACTUAL DATA that proved to me the technology was viable before I came to actually accept such things as reliable. Having been informed of the reality of the Source Audio plastic designs my attitude has changed about them.
Thanks for the information, it may steer a few people your way. And good for you! :) Undoubtedly it's an uphill climb attempting to convince people that old ideas don't hold up against well done and well executed design advancements. I mean look at how many people still dismiss ideas like natural selection. So best of luck to you on your quest!
One must admit that there have been MANY poorly done plastic devices over the decades. There is a well earned stigma that adheres to things made of plastic, simply because it's been used so many times for so long to make "cheap crap" .. this is something that simply cannot be denied. It is still true to this minute. There are many MANY things offered to the consumers made of plastic that are under engineered and adopted with profit margins placed in front of longevity.
So, Pres ... go for it! You just have to offer solid evidence to those of us with cynical attitudes against "plastic crap". I myself now understand that you have only the best of intentions and want to see your products around for more than three years before they hit the landfill. But you have a difficult road ahead of you, only because plastic has been exploited and used for so many of the wrong reasons over many many decades. Once some folks see how much integrity your designs offer, the stigma melts away.
Thanks for replying to this thread. It will most certainly result in the sale of at least one of the programmable EQs (to me!). Um .. as long as the pots and footswitch are not relying on the pcb as the sole means of support .. I hope that issue was addressed in the design phase. :D
(And to those of you that paint me to be a closed minded old man .... you need to read my posts again and properly absorb what I was saying. I'm one of the more progressive people and open minded souls you'll run across. The system I'm using as a bass amp should be proof enough of my willingness to accept new ideas .. see sig).
Sorry, I should have left that last part off. It was more directed to this guy on youtube, he did not have kind words about them.
As for function, I've wondered that too. I guess if you discovered a sound/vibration happening up there some people may use stuff to dampen the sound or mute strings at the nut. But beads would add some sound if anything. Bottom line is that its a convient place to personalize.
Again, sorry if I went too far :)
Now that I have gotten plastic vs metal off my chest......it it time to pick on analog vs digital :)
Thanks, Flux!! :)
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