By: Brady Lavin
Looking for a new toy? Source Audio’s new Soundblox Guitar Envelope Filter Effects Pedal might be exactly what is needed to spice up any collection of guitar tones.
This monster of an effects pedal features 21 different filter sweeps, and each is completely customizable. The Frequency knob sets the center frequency of whichever sweep is selected, which can range from super-low and bassy to bright and brittle. The Sweep Range knob controls both the direction of the sweep (up or down) and how wide of a frequency range it covers. The Speed knob controls both the speed of the sweep’s attack and decay. On the left side of 12 o’clock, the Speed knob controls the attack and decay together, but on the right of 12 o’clock, the attack stays on the fastest setting and the knob only controls the decay.
These three knobs allow complete control of each filter sweep’s sound, outside of changing the actual design of the sweep itself. There are pedals that can do that, like the Moogerfooger MuRF, but the other features of the Soundblox make it more versatile and actually usable in a performance situation than the MuRF.
The Soundblox works by detecting how hard the guitar is being played, and based on that, it applies whichever filter sweep is selected. The harder you play, the stronger the filter sweep is applied. For those unfamiliar with filters, they work by filtering out part of the signal, and the part of the signal that is filtered out sweeps across the frequency spectrum. This can create many different sounds, from “wah-wah” type of effects to phaser-type effects.
What sets the Soundblox apart from other envelope filter effects pedals is the huge range of sounds available. Running through a Fender Princeton 65 on both clean and overdriven channels, I was able to find settings that sounded like an actual wah pedal I was controlling, which sounded amazing with a healthy dose of crunch. On the clean channel, with the bridge pickup selected and the tone rolled all the way on, the Soundblox gave me a bouncy funk sound with turning just a few knobs (Speed knob on fast attack and decay, Frequency at 3 o’clock, Sweep range at 9 o’clock). Many of the twenty-one filter effects also can give a beautiful, uniquely shimmering quality to fingerpicked chords.
Also included in the filter effects are two phaser effects, which are achieved by two and three frequency response notches, which effectively double and triple the signal, phased slightly off from each other.
The absolute coolest and most innovative feature of the Source Audio Soundblox is the Hot Hand motion sensor. The Hot Hand is an accelerometer that modulates the effect based on how fast it moves. It can fasten to the player’s finger (picking hand, obviously) or headband/hat, and the movement of the player’s hand or head controls the how the filter is applied to the guitar’s signal. This gives the Soundblox a feature that no other filter effect pedal has: a built-in wah-wah pedal.
The Hot Hand comes in both wired and wireless versions, but using the wireless over the wired version is advisable, as the cable got quite annoying after using the Hot Hand for a couple minutes. While the Hot Hand is sold separately, it is undoubtedly worth the extra money.
One of the most versatile guitar effects pedals out there, Source Audio’s Soundblox and Hot Hand combine forces to create a three-in-one package. The Soundblox is an envelope filter effect, phaser, and new age wah-wah all wrapped in one (plus a little extra for the Hot Hand). For any guitar player interested in increasing their tone palate by incredible amounts, the Soundblox is a great buy.