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Subdecay Studios - Noisebox - My initial impressions

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by monsterthompson, Apr 27, 2009.


  1. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    http://www.subdecay.com/nb.htm

    [​IMG]

    After having become curious about this pedal a few months ago, then forgetting about it, then having it come back to my attention, I decided to give it a try. I called up Subdecay last week and had a good conversation about the product and how it would work with my bass. After having listened to the sound clips on the site and bassfuzz.com along with the conversation with customer service, I was sold and I hit send on my paypal. Despite being told that the pedal wouldn't ship until this week, it was shipped last week and at my door on Saturday.

    My test rig - Mesa M6 Carbine into a 115 Powerhouse cab (also tried it with my 212) + Warwick Corvette $$ 4-string.

    There is only one fuzz level on this beast and it is if full effect at all times, so don't expect subtle. I didn't touch the internal trim pot for gate, but I plan to tweak it to get a harsh gated fuzz with hard starts and stops.

    The voice knob made me happiest when it was set below 9oclock or above 3oclock. The range between those settings needed more level boost to keep the output consistent with the line level when the pedal was not engaged. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it tweaks the voicing like a tone knob, only weirder. The settings I liked had more presence and attack. The "in-between" settings were more of a low-pass filter feel.

    The freq. knob sets the baseline for the filter effect. I liked it set in the lower settings (below 9oclock) to keep the bass strong, though higher settings were useful for more lead voiced playing. The freq filter effect is input-sensitive, so the harder you pluck (or turn your volume knob up) the more the filter effect reacts. Harder playing causes the filter to wah-up (for lack of a better term)and then return to the baseline setting as the note decays. The sense knob works together with the freq knob and the more sense you add, the easier it is to get the filter to wah-up. I've found that I like rolling the volume knob back on the Corvette $$ to get the bassier tones I liked, as the high-output pickups tend to drive the filter pretty easily, though it is manageable at full volume, you just need to be considerate of how touch sensitive it can be.

    The chaos knob impacts the attack and the ability of the filter to track your input note. The higher you turn it up, the less accurate the tracking gets, and the more robot glitch noises you get. I was looking for more of a fuzz than a pure noise box, so I left the settings here in the lower range (below noon) but I can see how the higher settings would be fun in the right places at the right time.

    I think the clips on the website (link above) are fairly accurate representations of what the pedal sounds like. The bassfuzz.com site had good samples too
    http://bassfuzz.com/2008/05/01/golden-age-subdecay-noisebox/

    I noticed the mid-voice switch on my M6 had a big influence on the output tone. Cutting the mids made for a nice sizzling high freq compressed fuzz with a solid bass tone. Boosting the mids made for much more in-your-face snarl. I did notice that when I used it in conjunction with my EHX SMMH set as a flanger (set after the Noisebox in the chain), there was some pretty heavy volume drop when the SMMH kicked on with a heavy wet mix. The SMMH has been known to be guilty of this on its own, but it is more noticeable when the Noisebox is playing too. Boosting the dry signal blend on the SMMH helped, but didn't get it back to exactly even.

    My likes:
    ~The fuzz is gnarly. I don't care that there isn't a gain control.
    ~The gate option is sweet. I want to see just how choppy I can make this once I open it up. I think once I find a setting I will use it and not tweak it much, so I don't mind the lack of an external knob. Given the amount of noise (not the bad hissing and tone sucking kind) this thing makes when you play it, it is nice to have it gate off.
    ~The size is small, so it doesn't take up much space on my board.
    ~The blue light is pretty when you step on the pedal :smug:
    ~The freq and sensitivity knobs make this thing a bundle of fun to set a "basic" tone and then be able to increase the attack intensity to get the filter to wah up to make parts jump out for lead fills.

    What I'd do different or add if I could:
    ~I'd like to be able to completely turn off the sense function so the pedal works like a parked wah.
    ~I'd like a blend knob to be able to add some dry to the mix. In a perfect world, I'd like a way to gate the dry and the wet signals so you could get the dry tone to cut off at the same time as the wet signal.

    What I don't like:
    ~I'm not unhappy with any aspect of this yet, with the exception of the lack of a blend knob, which hasn't exactly got me all that worked up. I think it is correctly advertised and promoted and the soundclips you hear on the site are representative of what you get. My expectations were met, so I don't have any complaints yet... but give me time :D

    I'm likely to add a loop pedal to my rig soon and I've been considering a few (Boss LS-2 or some the Barge offerings). I'm leaning toward the Barge DVB-2 since it has two options for your blend settings, so I can get the blend I want when using the Noisebox. http://www.bargeconcepts.com/dvb.html
     
  2. theunknowndude

    theunknowndude Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2007
    Adelaide, Australia
    I found that the best thing to do was run my PD7 after it to tame it in slighty and bring a lot of lows back into the sound (it sounded more,... compressed? when I did this)

    my biggest issue was I couldn't use it in my band,... I disliked having it on subtle settings (cos to me then it sounded like a fuzz with a very subtle hint of a auto wah to it) and on extreme settings pretty much all I could do was annoy my band mates :(

    I do love the wide range of sounds you can get from it,... and I leave it 'open' (didn't know you could actually gate it!) so that way you can have it ring out and seperate between the pitch effect and the original signal and waver in and out,... sounds pretty cool :)

    that and using it for slap sounds to create laser noises then mute it quickly with your hands so it breaks up,... not exactly usable but fun none the less!
     
  3. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    So good I own 2 of them :D

    In terms of blending it the best I've heard it blended having owned Boss lS-2, Barge VFB and Xotic X-Blender is with the Xotic, but it's not great because it's too crazy and too clean going together, I feel it's a very all or nothing pedal, but I really do love it.
     
  4. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    I think it will turn out to be very useable in a select few spots in our live set. I've got a few songs that have a bass and drum intro, so this would do the trick to spice things up there. I also get a bass solo on one of the songs on our new disc, which I recorded using a Bassballs, but I think the Noisebox will be more fun.

    I appreciate the input on the blending. I'm currently considering a few different loopers and I'm leaning toward the DVB-2 since it offers two levels of blended signal. I like the routing options on the Boss, but have concerns about the lack of true bypass and the bleed that some have mentioned.
     
  5. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    I spent some more time with this last night and found that I'm starting to like the noon-ish range of the voice settings. As I noted earlier, it does require a bit more level to keep it even with the dry sound, but there is plenty of level in the pedal to compensate. I've found this range of the voice settings keeps the "pressure" of the bass better. It is particularly noticeable up around the 12th fret range. There seems to be a quality about the signal in the 12th fret range that makes the low bass even thumpier, almost like an sub oct down that goes too low to hear with the open E, but starts to show itself in the higher fret positions. I've found that playing around with the voice and freq settings requires some consideration on where you fret your phrases, and that taking some time to experiment can have good results.

    I tried moving the pedal around in my signal chain and seeing how it played with other effects. I tried running a Micro POG into it and didn't get anything I was in love with right away. With the oct-up only running into the Noisebox, it did make some wacky sounds as the Noisebox couldn't quite track the signal right at all times. I also tried running my MXR Blow Torch into it, with interesting but currently unuseable results. On the plus side, the SMMH set as a chours/flange after the Noisebox made for some dope robo-sounds. I also found the Noisebox worked best going into the 105q wah. Stepping on the wah did something I didn't expect - when I punched the toe down I expected to get piercing highs, but instead got super grumbly lows. In fact, most of the sweep of the wah gave me a very low-range-ish grumble, almost as if someone had placed a passive tone control knob at the end of the signal chain and rolled back all the highs.

    A quick note about the pedal size - it is small in stature compared to my other pedals. I've been working on my board mounting and I've had a hard time finding a place for this guy. The vertical on it is low enough that my big size-13s are hitting some of the knobs on the pedals around it, but that is only in regards to the stomp button. The control knobs on the box stick up enough that I can't place it too close to certain pedals, as I hit the controls of the Noisebox when I go for the other stomp buttons. I'll work it out.

    I'm quite happy with this little box. I'm looking forward to sneaking this pedal into my current set for at least one song intro, where it should make a hell of an impression.
     
  6. Mr. Pickles

    Mr. Pickles Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Dutchess County, NY
    It's been said before, the NoiseBox is an all-or-nothing effect.
    IME, it tends to overwhelm any effects placed before it in the chain, and I didn't like it in the blend loop of the VFB.

    The key is to run the noisebox in a parallel effects loop (a la LS-2). The results are magical. On Tayste's advice, I have the Noisebox and Soul Provider running in parallel and it's the hugest gated spluttery monolithic gargantuan synth sound I've ever had.
     
  7. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    Interesting. The Micro POG has a dry out so I'm thinking I may be able to use that as a splitter and run the effects in combo with my Blow Torch and then run each output into the stereo in jacks of my SMMH to get a feel. Great, like I needed something else to do tonight :D
     
  8. Mr. Pickles

    Mr. Pickles Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Dutchess County, NY
    That sounds like fun! Let us know how that turns out!
     
  9. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    Failure. The stereo in jacks on the SMMH won't combine to the mono out, so only one signal would run through. The m.POG split the signal fine though.

    On the plus side, I did find that since the Noisebox eats all input and spits out only what it wants to, I was able to run: m.POG > Blow Torch > Noisebox > SMMH (flange/chorus settings). At that point I could have any setting I wanted on the Blow Torch and as long as I adjusted the sensitivity of the Noisebox, it would just eat the input and spit out almost the same signal as if a clean input had been fed in. Wild!!!
     
  10. Nice review. I just got mine a few days ago, I'm still playing with it but I think I will find some good uses.
    Here's a video of me using it with an old toy synth:
     
  11. Try taping a block or something to the bottom of it. If you unscrew the base, run a bunch of tape around the base sticky side up, then put the tape on over the top of that sticky side down. When your done with that tape some kind of a riser to the base and screw it back onto your pedal. I've done this with my Nano Small Stone and my parallel looper and it works great to get that switch up to an accessible level.

    The first part of the trick works pretty good for putting velcro on pedals that have feet that get in the way. The tape will flex a little bit allowing the hook to reach down and grab the loop.
     
  12. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    ^^ i've thought about that, just haven't gotten around to it yet.
     
  13. theunknowndude

    theunknowndude Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2007
    Adelaide, Australia
    reading this review has made me want to go put it back on the pedal board and try and work it back into the band somehow!
    it's just too awesome to only use at home!
     
  14. This thread has given me GAS for a Noisebox, I used to have one, but found it pretty unuseable in a band, and it never seemed to have enough low end to it.

    I'm willing to give it another go (if i sell one of my 'for sale' pedals), and i've bought a boss LS-2 (again) of TaySte precisely for this purpose.

    Now im thinking of maybe runnin two parrallel loops one with the Noisebox, and one with either:

    XO Micro Synth
    Oc2
    Prunes&Custard
    Blowtorch
    Green Stache


    what do you think?
     
  15. theunknowndude

    theunknowndude Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2007
    Adelaide, Australia
    I've heard the noisebox blended with clean doesn't sound good, apart from that only other thing I can say is that to make it a lot more unchaotic I ran my PD7 after it but that sounded REALLY compressed,... to bring back lows I'm going to try and turn sense down, chaotic knob down and have the voice filter to the left hand side and see if this helps,... thats the one thing that is good and yet bad with it, there are just SO MANY tones out of this box!
     
  16. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    The touch sensitive nature of it is a blessing and a curse. Finding the right setting can easily be undone by changing settings on other pedals in the chain or on the bass settings (with a $$ there are so many variables with pickups and 2band eq and blend and...).

    As for the bass drop out, I've been able to consistently get more "pressure" by setting the voice knob closer to the 12o'clock position and cranking the level, setting the freq level low (though not all the way down) and playing above the 12th fret. In fact the 12th fret E on the E string has very different tonal characteristics from the 7th fret E on the A string (and other voicings of the same oct). It does take some fiddling.

    I'm considering how to start working in clean bass lines looped into the SMMH and then play Noisebox riffs over the loop.

    I've also started considering how this would perform if the freq knob was attached to an expression pedal. I'm almost considering trying a volume/boost pedal combo before it in the chain and playing with the sense knob to functionally create an expression pedal-ish way of managing the Noisebox since the freq/sense knob settings can give you great range of output based on the input signal and reducing the input signal volume seems to have little impact on the output from the Noisebox.
     
  17. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    So Mr. Pickles gets the gold star for the suggestion to run in parallel!!! I rigged the dry out from my Blow Torch to the in on my Noisebox and then ran the Blow Torch signal to my M6 and the Noisebox signal to a Mesa Subway Rocket (20w guitar amp w/ a 10" speaker). I didn't have a split/join cable so this was the best I could do. The sound was awesome in the right settings. In the "not right" settings, I could tell why some would not like a clean tone blended with the Noisebox. I also wasn't a fan of the warmer sludge/rumble/doom fuzz settings blended with the Noisebox tone. I did like the combo with the crackly trebble barbed wire fuzz of the Blow Torch (mid-switch all the way right and the trebble and mid knobs cranked, with a 75/25 wet/dry mix, without the Torch button engaged).

    I think the ticket will be to run my live rig as follows
    Split 1 = Micro POG (wet out) > Blow Torch > 105q Wah
    Split 2 = Micro POG (dry out) > Noisebox
    Join (with Y cable) = 105q + Noisebox > SMMH > M6

    The bottom won't fall out of the mix when I punch the Noisebox, and I can use the level on the Noisebox to control the blend/boost for sections where I would like to stand out and cut more. BANGO!!!
     
  18. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    OK, so I tried using a y-cable and apparently a cable that splits one mono source to two mono destinations doesn't work in reverse, taking two mono signals and joining them. Any suggestions on the right cable for the job? The kids at guitar center didn't seem to know.
     
  19. Mr. Pickles

    Mr. Pickles Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Dutchess County, NY
    A Y cable usually has a 1/4" TRS (i.e. stereo) plug on one end and two mono 1/4" plugs on the other. These do work in reverse. Not sure why your mono y cable wouldn't, though:confused:

    Get a Boss LS-2 for $70 and call it a day:D
     
  20. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    did some digging about the cable routing and found some stuff i didn't have time to dig too deep into, but it essentialy said my plan of using a y-cable wouldn't work. i dropped the $70 and hope to have the LS-2 as soon as brown-santa can get it to me.
     

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