Lo-Fi Pedals

 

    The addition of a Lo-Fi category seemed to be a necessity, though difficult to qualify. A majority of my pedals have a Lo-Fi component, albeit a chip, transistor or intangible likeness to old fashioned methods of recording. Ultimately, I only chose pedals that affect live sound and excluded delays. 

    While delay pedals were meant to reproduce tape and Compact disks (Catalinbread Csidman), they are not intended to affect a live signal. Hard choices to exclude were the Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe and the Catalinbread Epoch Boost. The components therein are exact recreations of the original Echoplex Ep-3 (manufactured in the 70’s). Ultimately,  although they affect live sound in a “classic” way, when the modulating echo is removed, they don’t demonstrate a loss of fidelity. Modulation is where I've found most of my lo-fi pedals before opening the new category. 

     Chorus pedals split a guitar signal and add an oscillation to one half before reintroducing it to its former twin. Traditionally this effect has been used to recreate a "chorus" of instruments. However, by eliminating the original signal, both Zvex and Hungry Robot have used the effect to create the sound of warped vinyl. Zvex Lo-Fi Junky adds compression to add to the effect of pre-recorded sound while Hungry Robot's Wardenclyffe adds a high/low pass filter to shorten the frequency response, similar to recordings made before 1950.

 

    While repeating modulation is used to replicate "records", tape and the associated mechanisms that tape requires age in unpredictable patterns. Mid-Fi Electronics has both the Random Vibrato and For Parts and Repair that randomly create fluctuations in pitch. The aforementioned For Parts and Repair goes so far as to add random drop outs to a live signal. Drop outs are momentary lapses in volume indicative of tape damage. "Scrape Flutter" mimics the sound of analog tape moving over non moving parts, such as a tape head, creating vibration and intermodular distortion.

     Unique to our arsenal of Lo-Fi effects is the Wardenclyffe Deluxe. While Lo-Fi effects seek to exemplify the limitations of mediums that transport sound, wireless transmissions are often forgotten. In a tribute to Nikoli Tesla, Hungry Robot has raised the bar when it comes to Lo-Fi by allowing the clock of the internal processor to be slowed creating ambient sounds similar to long lost radio transmissions.