Source Audio’s original Soundblox pedals offer a plethora of cool sounds, and among other added features, the new Pro series brings programmability to the table, which is particularly useful for live performance. The Soundblox Pro Multiwave Distortion and Pro Classic Distortion allow customized tones to be saved in six user locations, recallable via three footswitches and a Bank button. An optional expression pedal lets you morph from the preset on, say, Switch 1 Bank A, to its counterpart on Bank B. Alternately, you can use the expression pedal to access all six user programs without having to push the Bank button. A MIDI input permits external control of presets and parameters (though there are no MIDI Out or Thru jacks), and, as with all Soundblox pedals, the Pros are Hot Hand controllable. The optional Hot Hand ring only controls the Drive functions on these two pedals, so the most I could muster was a subtle tremolo effect. The onboard 7-band graphic equalizer also provides a massive amount of tone shaping power on both units.
With their controller rings and high tech design, Source Audio has typically been more interested in the future of stompboxes than their past. Surprising, then, that the new Soundblox Classic Distortion Pro ($299 retail/$219 street) offers 11 traditional flavors of distortion and fuzz, as well as a clean boost. While they have not attempted to exactly copy the Tube Screamer, Big Muff, Rat, Fuzz Face, etc., the resulting tones do capture the flavor of these and other referenced sources.
The Boogie-based Smooth Tube setting unleashed my inner Santana, while the Marshall- inspired Tube Drive recalled that amp’s classic British character. What was missing was the response to the instrument volume associated with some of these pedals. The “Big Pi” cleaned up more than a typical Big Muff, the “Fuzz Façade” less than a Fuzz Face. I also noticed some treble loss when backing off the guitar volume. Regardless of historical accuracy, every distortion sound was delightfully musical, while the abundant clean boost was totally transparent if desired, or could be shaped to taste with the EQ and Mid knobs.
Bottom line: The Soundblox Pro Classic Distortion provides a smorgasbord of great grit that would otherwise cost thousands in individual amps and pedals.
KUDOS A wealth of sweet-sounding drive from boost to fuzz.
CONCERNS Doesn’t respond consistently to guitar volume manipulation.
CONTACT Soundblox, (781) 932-8080; sourceaudio.net
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