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Source Audio Programmable EQ

March 26, 2012
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EQ pedals are often simple creatures: an on/off switch and a bunch of sliders for various frequencies. An exception was Boss’ discontinued EQ-20 double pedal, which introduced programmability. Source Audio also offers preset programming in a much smaller pedal and adds some new twists to this overlooked sound-sculpting tool.

The Programmable EQ ($209 retail/$149 street) packs seven frequency bands into a cast-aluminum package no bigger than an MXR Dyna Comp. It also offers an eighth, bass-guitar-friendly 62Hz band, which is accessible through an Octave Extend function. Left and right arrow buttons choose the frequency to be adjusted, while a single knob lets you tweak the amount of boost or cut within a plus or minus 18dB range.

Once dialed in, the tone is saved to one of four programmable user presets by pressing and holding the Save button. Presets can be stepped through with a Select button, or accessed by holding down the footswitch while the pedal scrolls through each preset at an adjustable rate. To engage the desired preset you simply release the footswitch. A MIDI input permits MIDI selection of user presets, and remote on/ off control. The Programmable EQ also features a clean boost of up to 12dB and a true bypass footswitch.

The pedal runs on a 9-volt battery (included) or with an optional external power supply. I found the powerful processing eats up batteries pretty quickly. An alkaline battery should last for most gigs, but for long rehearsals or sessions you will definitely want external power.

Tested with a Fernandes S-type guitar through Orange Tiny Terror and Carr Sportsman amps, I was immediately impressed by the Programmable EQ’s transparency. With the EQ set flat, cranking up the glowing blue output knob created a wide range of boost options while maintaining the tonal integrity of the guitar and amps. Differing amounts of boosted midrange frequencies and attenuated highs turned the Fernandes’ single-coil tones into a variety of humbucker flavors. Setting another preset for scooped mids helped change the Sportsman’s Fender-ish sound into a more Marshall- like one. I set a third preset to boost the low frequencies and roll off highs and high mids, transforming the solid Fernandes into a jazzy sounding “archtop.”

Pressing the left band Select button and the Save button together entered the Backpage Parameters where I could set the unit for Auto-scroll and adjust the speed at which it scrolled through my presets. This created a rich sequenced filtering effect, its speed indicated by the blinking of the output knob’s blue light.

Stompbox equalizers may not be as sexy as fuzz or delay, but they are featured on plenty of pro pedalboards. Source Audio has come up with a version that adds glamour by combining great sound with programmability, MIDI control, solid construction, and snazzy styling, earning it an Editors’ Pick Award.

KUDOS Transparent, wide-ranging equalization in a small package. Cool Autofilter/ tremolo-type effects.
CONCERNS None.
CONTACT Source Audio, (781) 932-8080; sourceaudio.net

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