Price paid: $ 225
Purchased from: DigiTech
Ease of Use — 9
Within minutes I was getting the hang of the FreqOut. Although not complicated to use, depending on your equipment (e.g., high-gain amp vs. acoustic amp) there will be obvious adjustments in the Gain. Too much gain and the signal can be too strong and a bit out of control. Regardless, there's always a sweet spot that you need to find with any equipment and it only takes seconds with the FreqOut.
If you wanted to switch among harmonics feedback types, there is some bending forward and turning the knob, which means you need a few seconds between playing (unlike a digital pedal whereby you save presets that you access with a click of the foot). This may be its only downfall on a dark stage if you tend to use more than one setting per song, whereas in a studio setting this is inconsequential. But even with these minor drawbacks, DigiTech hit the ball out of the park with the FreqOut - simply OUTSTANDING!
Sound — 10
Guitarists always are chasing the ultimate tone, and substantial parts of that element include SUSTAIN and FEEDBACK. Sustain is self-explanatory, whereas feedback could mean subtle hints of harmonics cascading about the notes to down-right screaming coming from a guitar's face-to-face with a 100-watt amp. DigiTech's true bypass FreqOut natural feedback creator covers both ends of the spectrum, and everything between in spades.
It's amazing how much more alive one's playing sounds through the FreqOut, with or without amps. In fact, the sound file I compiled involves a guitar into the FreqOut, into a digital processor and into a computer (no more cranking to 11 on your Marshall to get the overdriven harmonics desired):
There are seven different harmonics available, to account for a wide range of tonal qualities. By selecting the 1st, you get a simple and straight-forward feedback of the note being played - in other words kick-ass sustain. And the more you increase the gain, the longer and more intense the sustain.
The 2nd produces second-harmonic feedback of the note; and obviously the 3rd and 5th produces third- and fifth-harmonic feedback. Metal guitarists will thrive on the Natural Low and Natural High settings, which really reflect that overdriven amp feedback quality of the chosen notes (as well, sustaining a Natural High feedback transitions into a Natural Low feedback midway through, which you can hear at the beginning of my YouTube video). Even with all these choices DigiTech did not forget to add a 'Sub,' which produces feedback an octave below the note - some weird and spacey effects can be achieved with that one.
Now, when using the Natural Low and Natural High settings you also can get variations of harmonics based on pickup selection (neck vs. Bridge); as well, playing softly or more aggressively alters the response and harmonic intensity.
Along the side of the FreqOut are Feedback LEDs that provide a visual as to when the effect is on, enabled, and while displaying the Onset rate of the feedback notes (as harmonic feedback swells or increases, so too will the lights).
Reliability & Durability — 9
This is a beautifully crafted pedal, solid construction steel with some decent graphics that are pleasingly modern (and yet retro) to the eye. The footswitch is far enough from the knobs that you would have to be stepping on the momentary (on/off) switch mid foot to reach them. The LEDs are small and would not be compromised by any stomping. The power adapter input (this pedal draws too much juice to run on battery) is at the end of the pedal, which places the input connector far from harm's reach.
Overall Impression — 10
This is one of those "I've got to have it" pedals - a dream pedal among those familiar with feedback and sustain devices that deliver some benefits and a host of limitations. As word gets out and as guitarists (and bassists!) use the FreqOut it will become one of those pedalboard essentials, along with distortion, compression, a Whammy, etc.
But having access to the various feedbacks described above is only the beginning with the FreqOut. You can keep the effect turned on, or choose to have the effect in momentary reserve (step on and off the foot-switch to engage and disengage). But one of the coolest features is the Onset knob, which determines how long before feedback grows to full strength. The FreqOut is so sensitive that when you turn the Onset down low, the feedback kicks in immediately (something you can't get from 'string drivers,' such as the Ebow). This allows you to get that squealing, breaking up quality from overdriven tube amps while playing some raucous riffs, or perhaps some staccato playing with a light accompaniment of feedback harmony.
You also have the option to switch off the Dry signal, so that you hear nothing but the chosen feedback signal. This is ideal for producing flute or violin/cello type effects in different intensities (you can have very quick or very drawn-out swelling of the notes).