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New Pedal Day: First Impressions Of Source Audio Orbital Modulator

Discussion in 'Bass Pedals, Effects & Preamps' started by Bassist4Eris, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    This pedal does pretty much all modulation types: chorus, flanger, and phaser, and gives you several flavors of each type to choose from. You can only save two presets, but I only use two mod pedals anyway. It seemed to me that if I could get a decent chorus programmed to one footswitch, and a decent phaser on the other, I could swap out two pedals for one, freeing up space for another goodie.

    The phaser was the quickest for me to dial in. I've been very loyal to the humble Boss PH-3 for years now, really enjoying its 10-stage setting. But I quickly found a 12-stage phaser setting on the Orbital that puts the Boss to shame, at least in my living room. We'll see how it fares in the mix next week at rehearsal.

    The chorus was trickier to dial in. To be blunt, this thing does not have a good chorus hiding in it, at least that I could find. All the chorus settings I tried sounded harsh and unmusical when A/B'd with my MXR Chorus (and I am not in love with the MXR by any means). I was about to give up when I ventured over into flanger land. I'm not 100% convinced just yet, but I'm thinking I might like the "zero thru" flanger setting on this baby better than I like my MXR chorus for the bass lines I normally use chorus on. So there's hope. Again, the mix will be the final judge, but I'm hopeful I can make this thing work for me.

    One neat feature that this pedal has is a "mod source" selector knob. This lets you choose between sine and square waves LFOs, or modulation can even be based on the envelope, something like the Pigtronix Envelope Phaser. I found a setting under the "classic" mode (an alleged cross between chorus and flanger) that could easily stand in for an envelope filter in a pinch.

    @ectoflanger currently has a tremolo thread going, and I promised him a report on this unit's tremolo capabilities. I'm not blown away, to be honest. It doesn't have a tremolo setting per se, but a tremolo parameter. So generally you get your tremolo paired with another effect. The instructions manual does show a setting for a straight tremolo sound, but it's pretty subtle. I was hoping for a wider range of volume fluctuation. It would be cool if it could go from completely silent to full volume, but it doesn't come close to that. I was really hoping one could use the envelope modulation in conjunction with the tremolo to make a Boss Slow Gear type of effect, but alas, it was not to be.

    Again, these are just first impressions from my living room. I'll post again as my opinions evolve. A pedal this complex is bound to give up its secrets slowly.
     
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  2. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    To be honest I’ve never liked the results using either a chorus or flanger with a bass. But the MXR Phase 90 (or any phaser) rocks- the reason being is that it works via phase delay/frequency as opposed to the flanger’s working by time delay.

    If you haven’t tried one - I recommend the old school MXR 90 (with the cursive script). That’s how Anthony Jackson got that cool sound on The Love of Money.
     
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  3. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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    Care to explain what "based on the envelope" means? What is the envelope? As you can probably tell, I 'm clueless about modulation effects.
     
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  4. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    It’s the threshold when an effect kicks in- for the example an envelope filter only filters set frequencies (like s low pass or high pass filter) as set by a variable potentiometer or capacitor-
     
  5. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    It’s also term used with synthesizers
     
  6. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    Unless it’s third class- sorry, my smartass envelope parameter was slightly exceeded—;)
     
  7. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    In general I like chorus for "pretty" parts, and phaser for funky parts. They both sound good with slap bass, IMHO. I'm not much of a flanger guy, but I did have an MXR flanger in place of my chorus for awhile.

    I always wanted to ty the "script" Phase 90, but never got the chance. I've tried the "block" Phase 90, but didn't like it as well as the Boss PH-3. But I heard the script was superior to the block.

    Basically it means that the effect follows the attack and decay of your note. A lot of times you'll hear auto-wahs called "envelope filters" for this reason. The filter sweep is tied to the volume of your signal, so as you hit the string, the filter opens up, and as the note decays, it closes. This creates that wah-wah sound you hear in funk tunes sometimes. Or, if you're a deadhead, it's a sound you'll recognize from Jerry's guitar solos.
     
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  8. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    Well the script 90 sounds like the bass on For the Love of Money- sounded pretty with the Steinberger XL25A.

    Now they make a new one based on the original circuitry so you don’t have to shop for a vintage one-
     
  9. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    I just got done playing around a bit more, and at this point I still like the MXR Chorus better than anything I'm getting out of the Orbital in terms of a chorus or flanger. Comparing the two, the MXR has a warmth and musicality that just screams "analog", while the Orbital is screaming "digital".

    I do really like the Orbital's phaser, though. It would be ironic if the only thing this pedal purchase accomplished was to replace a pedal I thought I was satisfied with.

    It does mean that I could save that second footswitch for more experimental sounds, though....
     
  10. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    Here are a couple of sound samples. First is a demonstration of the phaser sound I dialed in yesterday. This riff is from a work in progress I call "Uncle Lester". (The link should bring up an audio player.)

    Dropbox - Uncle Lester with Phaser.mp3

    And here is an attempt at recreating the "envelope flanger" I had described in the fourth paragraph of post #1. This the main riff from another work in progress called "After Hours".

    Dropbox - After Hours riff with Envelope Flanger.mp3
     
  11. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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    All I can say is that the pedal sounds really "hi-fi". Which is a big plus imho.
     
  12. XXL

    XXL

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    Yeah I haven’t bonded with any of the Source Audio pedals I’ve owned.
    Gave em shot but there was just something missing to me.
    Really like the Mobius for all my modulation needs these days... it’s digital but sounds better or just as good as other analog pedals. Amazing pedal!
     
  13. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    Yeah, I kind of feel the same way. This is my third one. I also have the Bass Multiwave Distortion and the Bass Envelope Filter.

    I do really like the phaser sound in this thing, though. I may just set up two different phasers in it.

    Right now I've been messing with an envelope phaser setting, trying to emulate the Pigtronix Envelope Phaser.

    Here's a fingerstyle riff. I'm playing with exaggerated dynamics to test the responsiveness of the effect: Dropbox - After Hours riff with Envelope Phaser.mp3

    And a slap riff: Dropbox - Criticality riff w Envelope Phaser.mp3
     
  14. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    Well, I made it official today and put it on the pedalboard in place of the Boss PH-3. Feels like the end of an era.

    Just one more criticism of the Orbital is in order, though. One thing I was having trouble with was some loud electronic popping from the footswitches, even though they're the "soft switch" type. This would also typically be accompanied by the pedal malfunctioning for a few seconds and putting out some truly strange sounds. The pedal has a feature that lets you switch between true bypass and buffered. I switched it to buffered and it solved the problem. But still.
     
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