Programmable EQ review by Source Audio

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Ease of Use: 9
  • Sound: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (1 vote)
Source Audio: Programmable EQ

Price paid: € 125

Purchased from: Thomann

Ease of Use — 9
EQing is a bit of an artform, so how easy this is to use is partly down to whether or not you know about EQing a guitar within a live context and what sound you want to achieve with other people playing. For the actual unit itself, it's great to have multiple EQ options and the extendable range is useful for bass or 7/8 string guitars. It's obviously harder to set up than many EQ stomps as you have to use the controls to scroll through each graphic band and use LEDs to visualise the settings rather than having a physical slider to play with. Like I said above though, if you are going to use multiple EQ settings and program them in beforehand, this is the only single enclosure sized stomp that does that (that I know of). If you want to mess with EQ quickly and easily in a live situation, you probably want something else. So I'm rating it high for what it specifically claims to do, not for what you might want all EQs to be in all situations.

Sound — 8
Source Audio are best known for their Hot Hand controller and the various guitar/bass effects that interacts with. This is a graphic EQ pedal with a twist and as I was on the look out for a decent EQ and my band's bass player loves the Hot Hand this seemed interesting. I have a lot of freaky and out there pedals and fx and always relied on my amps EQ to tailor the sound but in live situations especially I've found certain parts not cutting through or wanting to radically change the guitar 'position' within the overall sound. 

I decided an EQ stompbox would help tailor this mostly as I wanted to add it in and out as an effect rather than a fully on rack mounted EQ that was always on. This small and rather sturdy looking pedal is a standard stompbox size that uses LED's to show a graphic EQ set up. It has 7 separate free programmable frequencies (125Hz - 250 Hz - 500Hz - 1kHz - 2 kHz - 4 kHz - 8kHz), +/- 18dB per Band with an optional frequency band at 62Hz for bass. In many ways it's very similar to any of the BOSS style EQ pedals with their physical sliders. The "twist" is that you can programme 4 separate EQ settings with high quality boost or cut so you can have say 2 specific 'lead' settings and 2 specific "special rhythm effects" settings. This is a lot more useful live than having to adjust the pedal sliders for different songs (or using multiple EQ pedals). 

EQ may not be the most exciting or adventurous guitar effect but live changing the dynamics going through your amp can have a major effect and the audience get to hear your playing especially with a loud drummer and bass player competing. Rather than just boosting for solos etc, you can find the right sonic space for your guitar parts and a well EQ'd sound is just so much more satisfying than always turning up in a volume battle.

This pedal has some sound limitations (which given it's a stompbox is forgivable). It's never going to be a major studio tool compared to proper rack gear or a high quality plug-in but it's aimed at live players given the quick stomp options. In terms of sound, it is very "hi-fi" but a bit sterile and cold and it can eliminate a bit of the amp's warmth but as I'm using it for specific effect EQ's that doesn't bother me. If I was leaving it on all the time I'd be less pleased with the tonal changes but then if I wanted a full EQ I'd have a parametric rack. It's a 24 bit converter. 

The pedal does also have MIDI control and a "step" function where you can scroll through the EQ sounds to create a sort of EQ slicer effect. This can be quite cool but you really need to set 4 extreme EQ settings to get much use out of this and then you can't really use the 4 settings for specific sounds - though if you wanted to use the step effect for a specific song it might be quite cool.

Reliability & Durability — 8
It's a very solid metal box and seems very well made and dependable but then I've only had it a short time. It certainly seems like it would be of EHX/Boss enclosure quality. I suppose it has a bit more going on in it's guts than a basic analog pedal so there's more to fail but so far, so good. It's an aluminium chassis that looks very neat and tidy and the jacks/Midi are very well made and solid looking - like a high end piece of outboard kit. It uses a lot of LED's which I suppose could go rendering it rather difficult to see what's going on - but then lacking physical sliders there's less to get knocked/damaged being stomped on every night - so plus and minus I guess. So far had nothing go wrong though and I'd probably rather replace a faulty LED than try to fix a snapped slider.

Overall Impression — 9
I'm the only guitar player in a 3 piece electronic-rock band. That usually means I'm not clashing as much with my sound, but as we have a lot of triggers/synths/samples on the drums and the bassist has a lot of electronic effects and spans a bigger frequency range than a traditional bass, things can clash sometimes. I always liked messing with EQ settings on recordings and my amps are set up to fit in for most songs but I have found the more exotic our layers of effects get, the more likely the guitar is to lose out live and get swamped, especially at gigs where we don't have our own sound guy. EQ pedals seemed a bit dull, but I saw another guitarist using about 3 Boss EQ pedals in his rig to really help shape the sound for different songs and thought I should give it a try. My pedalboard is already packed and so after looking at a few of the standard EQ pedals I found this Source Audio one and liked the idea of having 4 options for different settings without needing to kneel down and mess with the sliders.

I'd definitely keep this in my rig now and if it died or was stolen I'd replace it as I really like the multiple options and simplicity.

In terms of downsides, well it's programmable nature is a bonus in that you have multiple pre-sets to use, but obviously re-programming it uses a menu type back forward setting and you can't physically get down and alter the EQ quickly like you could with physical sliders. So if you wanted to use the pedal to tailor the sound to a room say, you'd be better off with a BOSS or equivalent pedal with actual sliders as it takes a few minutes to alter sounds on this, not a few seconds. Also this means you can't just sit and play with your EQ settings on the fly with a guitar, you need to sit down and really get your settings done at a practice session. To be honest though if you want a major EQ you can modify on the fly, I'd get a rackmount. I'd treat this more like a pre-set stompbox effect for dynamics - more like a booster or compressor.

0 comments sorted by best / new / date