T.C.ELECTRONIC : The great Dane
'If I hear any hum, I jump.'
At the exact opposite of ELECTRO HARMONIX philosophy stood the Dane legend, t.c.electronic. They start their business in a time where everybody wanted low-noise effects. Times where most of the home recordings were made with stereo reel tape machines with the SOS system. For the youngest of us , SOS did not mean that your music badly needed help -while it was often the case- but sound on sound, a prehistoric way of obtaining pseudo multiple track recording by disconnecting the erase head of the tape machine in order to layer multiple parts. While neat and cheap, this method had a major inconvenient: horrendous signal/noise ratio. After four SOS recordings, the tiniest hum of your favourite pedal turned into the soundtrack of Wuthering Heights ( Kate Bush , if you read this please contact me ). Now you understand better the success of tc and why, nowadays humming pedals can be used again in digital recorders.
This is a great pedal. Its overdrive, tube-like boost has always been an inspiration for me and I really think this box is a professional toy. Do you see the XLR on the left of the pedal ? Serious symetric stuff, a distortion pedal with XLR plug. Hendrix meets Mc Laughlin. Fire and ice. And that is not all: you have a pro noise suppressor at hand in case you still can hear some unwanted noise. In France we say trouser belt AND suspenders .
Rather rare, this fine preamp is very useful, as preamps must be silent and transparent, domain where tc excels. Too bad they do not make this kind of pedals anymore. You can use this preamp with anything, including voice where its richness is really welcome. And of course it comes with the sober, modest and unexciting famous tc looks.
This, is a rack. Once again very pro and noiseless, it has a major advantage upon his little sister the chorus/flanger pedal: you can obtain a twisted sound! Of course you have to drift away from the examples of sissy settings given by the tc brochure. But then you enter a real chorus sounds like I like them: lush and present. It is a true stereo machine with 2 separate chorus engines which enhance greatly the stereo image. Part of my guitar rig for a long time, I have now upgrade it to my studio rig where it is used as a spatial expander and it is for the best. This box was absurdly expensive but I suppose you had to pay for high end audio this kind of ransom. (see my MXR rack). You may hit a bargain as it has not been produced for a long time so open your eyes, it really is worth it! And if you do not find the operating manual with it, you can easily download it on the net. Do not miss the introduction on human perception of stereo which can painlessly open an episode of the Twilight Zone. Eerie.
I got this box recently and it has been a real good surprise. While not usable very often, phasing remains one of my favourite time based effect. Before this box, my taste was between the big Roland rack and the EH small stone. Now I have to count with this tc star. Among its good points (other than usual tc ones) are :
-versatility: a lot of sound can be otained through the fonction and filter parameters
-the program input. This was a neat gadget. You could plug in with the special jack ( I have never seen one but they were part of the package ) and control the pedal from your axe. Or you could link two tc XII in order to synchronize them ( same rate for keyboard and guitar for example) . Or you can plug in a volume pedal to control rate by foot. Great wacky features ...
-It is given with a whopping factory 2160 degrees of phase shift. Waow. Beat that. You play a simple A chord and next thing you know it spins 6 times around you like a boa.
-A special BASS/KEYBOARD model was available with a working range of an octave below. Rare find indeed.
At least somebody taking care of keyboards players...even if I can't hear any difference...
The famous tc sustain with its "is it working ?" distortion switch is a must-have of the bunch. The best definition I could use will be a clean sound finalizer. As the "turn it down" add suggests , this pedal is really useful to obtain "loudness" in the hi-fi sense, which means having a good colored clean sound at low level. The famous distortion switch is to be translated like: I allow some distortion in my sustain/ I do not allow any distortion in my sustain. If you remember this sentence, you will see it works. Once again , a very pro and useful pedal.