Price paid: $ 175
Purchased from: Pro Guitar Shop
Ease of Use: At a glance, the Bit Commander's six knobs might make it seem like it'd take some work to dial in, but once you figure out what each does, it's simple and quite fun to tweak. The Bit Commander ships with a small paper detailing the functions of each knob and some tips for player's not used to analog monophonic synthesizers.
The six controls are Filter, Level, Base, Sub, Down 1, and Up 1. Filter acts as a tone knob, producing a warmer sound when turned counter clockwise, and a brighter sound when turned clockwise. The Level knob is simply a master volume for the pedal. The latter four knobs are mix controls, allow you to add or subtract octaves to taste. Base is a slightly squared version of the original signal, Sub is two octaves down, Down 1 is one octave down, and Up 1 is one octave up.
With the Bit Commander, it's pretty hard to dial in a bad sound, though that's not saying I haven't found some disgusting sounds. ;) // 10
Sound: My setup consists of a PRS SE Singlecut played through an MXR Dyna Comp, Boss BD-2, Boss DS-1, and the Bit Commander into an Egnater Tweaker 15 stack with a TR-2, DD-20 and RV-5 in the effects loop.
By itself, the Bit Commander sounds great. Though the effect definitely isn't for everyone. If you're looking for a cleaner sounding synth pedal, you might want to look at a POG or the Subdecay Octasynth. The Bit Commander only provides a choice between dirty and dirtier, but it does these tones very well. The tracking on the pedal is very good, though if you run into trouble, rolling off the tone knob on your guitar and using your neck pickup helps tracking. Below the 7th fret, there can be a lot of glitching, but this isn't a problem with the pedal itself, just a characteristic of analog synths.
I personally like to dial a lot of the upper octave with Base, Sub and Down 1 knob set to around noon. Pentatonic runs on the upper frets with a setting like this gives a very old school synth sound, and it's a blast to play with.
Since the pedal is monophonic, it reacts pretty unpredictably with chords, which on tamer settings can sound pretty great, but sound pretty gross once you start dialing in more of the lower octaves. Again, this isn't a fault with the pedal, but a limitation of monophonic synths themselves.
Something that surprised me with the Bit Commander was how well it played with the rest of the pedals on my board. With some dirt from the BD-2 or DS-1 pushing it, it can sound pretty wild, and still tracks very well. Using a Leslie-esque setting on my DD-20, I like to pretend I can cop a Hammond-esque sound from the Bit Commander, and regardless of how accurate it is, it sounds pretty neat.
All in all, the pedal has sounded great with whatever I've thrown it's way. Though one has to understand that it's among the dirtier synth pedals, don't expect any POG2-type sounds out of it. // 10
Reliability & Durability: The build quality is superb. All Earthquaker Devices pedals are handmade in Akron, Ohio with high quality components. Everything about the Bit Commander feels solid, and the wiring inside is very neat. I've only owned it a couple of weeks, but from what I've seen, I'd definitely gig with it with no backup. I don't know if I'd feel safe about throwing it around like a Boss pedal, but I think that's just due to the fact that I wouldn't ever want to. // 10
Overall Impression: I've been playing guitar about seven years and play a variety of styles including Blues, Classic Rock, and Grunge. I still need to figure out where to fit the unique sound of the Bit Commander, but I have a feeling I'm going to be looking for any excuse to kick it on for a riff or solo. This thing is seriously fun to play with, not sure I've ever gotten a piece of gear that's had me so excited to play before.
I'm extremely satisfied with the purchase and my first experience with Earthquaker Devices, but have one complaint: the Fall 2011 catalog that shipped with the pedal made me want to give EQD all of my money. They're pedals not only sound great, but look beautiful as well.
As much as I hate reviews that give all tens, I can't really think of anything to take points off for for this pedal. It can sound pretty gross, but that's what I got it for :) // 10