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Gob Instruments Small Fi HPF review

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by NortyFiner, May 13, 2020.

  1. NortyFiner

    NortyFiner Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    Portsmouth VA USA

    The Small Fi was mentioned in other HPF discussions and nobody seemed to know much about it. I went to eBay to check it out, where it was only $25 USD + $6 shipping, so I figured at that price I could afford an experiment. Someone else asked me to review it here, so here we go.

    1. IT'S NOT A PEDAL. It's more a like a junction box in your signal chain. There is no footswitch, just a true bypass on-off toggle switch. Which is probably fine since most users of HPFs will set it once for their current space and forget it.

    2. SIZE: Putting it next to my MXR Script Phase 90 for a quick visual, the Small Fi is roughly 2/3 the size of a standard MXR pedal. Breaking out the tape measure, the case is 3 inches by 2 inches, and the height is 1.5 inches from the top of the knob to the bottom of the case.

    2. CONSTRUCTION: The wiring is hand wired, but frankly, the exterior is what you'd expect for the price. The case is two pieces of snapped together plastic. The graphics appear to be a sticker, not painted. Weight is light enough to make one wonder if there's actually anything inside. But the controls and jacks feel solid despite all that, and to be fair, it's not a stompbox and most people won't be constantly fiddling with it, so it probably doesn't NEED to be built like a bunker. Would be nicer if it was, though.

    ASIDE: The builder mentions the possibility of a stompbox version; I think that putting this in a metal stompbox would probably be a good idea. Especially if it can be arranged to fit a standard 1590A mini pedal format.

    3. CONTROLS: Input and output jacks, one on-off switch, one unlabeled knob which I assume controls the setpoint. No extras, just pure function. It would be nice if the knob had frequencies labeled so we know just how much we're cutting.

    4. POWER: None. It's passive. Just put it in your signal chain and go.

    5. FUNCTION: Using my passive Squier Jag SS > Small Fi > Acoustic B100C amp, I notice no difference with the Small Fi OFF; it is true bypass. But when I turn the Small Fi ON, there is an immediate positive difference even with the knob turned all the way down, so the bottom of the knob's range is not zero. There is also a noticeable volume drop with the Small Fi ON, which gets slightly worse as one turns up the knob and is to be expected from a passive device; this is probably why the Broughton HPF/LPF includes its own gain knob for makeup. In any case, you will need to make up the volume drop elsewhere in your chain. As I turn the Small Fi's knob up, the filter setpoint rises; it's not a WIDE range across the full turn of the knob, but still useful. I noticed no additional noise even turned fully up. I tried it in different rooms to get a feel for adjusting it to different spaces, and it definitely tames the hollow, boomy echoes in my old house, anyway.

    6. CONCLUSION: The plastic box doesn't inspire roadie confidence and the volume drop is annoying, but otherwise, the Small Fi a brutally simple, inexpensive HPF that performs as advertised. If you want a HPF on a budget, I'd recommend it.
  2. NortyFiner

    NortyFiner Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    Portsmouth VA USA
    After contacting the maker, I found out that he does in fact already make the Small Fi in a metal 1590A case. Check eBay and Reverb for them. :)
  3. Pulverizor


    Jun 14, 2018
    New Zealand
    Thank you for the review, good one too. Will you be keeping and using it?
  4. NortyFiner

    NortyFiner Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    Portsmouth VA USA
    Right now I am debating between keeping this one, or returning it for one with a metal case. I am also trying to decide on the best place for it on my board. I'm thinking it might go best right before my compressor, which can also act as a boost to help make up for the volume drop.
  5. kranahan

    kranahan Supporting Member

    Aug 19, 2009
    San Francisco Bay Area
    What’s the frequency range? I couldn’t find it on the eBay or Reverb listings.
  6. NortyFiner

    NortyFiner Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    Portsmouth VA USA
    I don't know; it's not labeled on the knob and the maker didn't say.
    kranahan likes this.
  7. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Being passive, I assume it’s effect is dependent on input/output impedance and not really something you’d be able to put a frequency range on. It will act more like the passive bass-cut in a G&L bass than something like a Broughton or fDeck.

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