Well, the Asonix Nite-Owl ($160 retail/$125 street) does offer one feature that is decidedly different than most distortion pedals—an effects loop that engages whenever the pedal is activated. A little extra flexibility never hurt anyone, right? But the Nite-Owl’s first job is to produce distortion, and for this it gets major props. With the gain nearly off, the Nite-Owl still has enough distortion to inhabit the now classic “Tube-Screamer-On-Steroids” category, offering sustain for days and a fat, singing midrange. And at higher settings it gets wicked enough for shred and/or metal.
The EQ knob is the tonal heart of the Nite-Owl. Offering what Asonix describes as, “tone defining mids,” its sweep goes from scooped territory to musical, almost notched-wah honks. Between those extremes is where the real good stuff resides. From Clapton-like “woman tone” to Schenker to Brian May, the Nite-Owl brings out those signature midrange tonal tell-alls. The Owl is perfect for recording when you want to find a sweet spot amongst the other instruments, and onstage it’ll punch a solo through the room. The only problem—and it’s not a deal breaker—is that I wish this pedal had more output. I would hate for any of the Nite-Owl’s tones to get buried if the band is having a louder than usual night.