Back in November I wrote an article on the then new Mooer Micro Series line. Since then these diminutive little pedals have gone on to become very popular indeed & they now seem to be popping up all over the place! From newer players just beginning to dabble in the world of effects, through to the more seasoned on a tight budget (or with limited space), they've been a big hit for sure!
Anyway, with this (& a quickly expanding line) in mind, the guys in the store have asked me to do a follow up article...
This time around I have a selection of six different pedals at my disposal &, in the interest of trying not to repeat myself, I'll focus a little more on each individual unit rather than the range as a whole. For those of you who haven't read my first article on the range, please click here to read it; otherwise, do read on & I shall attempt to provide a helpful & informative look at some of the specific pedals.
With an already healthy number of dirt boxes in the range, the first up for review is a newcomer among the ranks: the Mooer Solo. This is a distortion pedal that takes its influence from a boutique unit by a highly regarded guitar brand whose name begins with the same letter (as with all Mooer units the clue is both in the font & the colouring of the enclosure). It's an articulate hi-gain distortion with a bright & aggressive character, & there's enough gain on tap to use in front of a clean amp or to turn an amp set to crunch into a fire-breathing monster!
In terms of controls, there's a 'level' knob, a 'tone' knob, a 'gain' knob & a three-way toggle switch. The first thing of note is that the gain knob is useable through its entire range & it allows you to use the unit to good effect for achieving a whole slew of different drive levels. The three-way toggle allows the player to choose between three slightly different voices (these are labelled 'Natural', 'Tight' & 'Classic'). I found the 'Classic' setting to be the most organic sounding of the three, whereas the 'Tight' setting was the most articulate due to its more focused bottom end; 'Natural' falls somewhere between the two. However, the differences are only subtle & the pedal imbues the same character regardless of your selection.
One of the stand-out features for me is how the pedal stays articulate no matter how much gain you choose to use. It never falls into that wooly, fizzy mess (that some distortion pedals can be notorious for) when used on higher gain settings & this makes it ideal if you're going to be relying on it for the majority of your dirt. My only minor niggle is the high noise floor that the Solo imparts when engaged; however, this is to be expected to a degree when using a high-gain pedal with this much drive on tap. Overall, a great little unit if an aggressive, modern distortion is what you're after.
Next up is the Ultra Drive & I shouldn't have to give you any hints as to which pedal this one takes its influence from! Take a trip to pretty much any music store on the planet & you should find the pedal that inspired this particular model.
In comparison to the Solo there's not as much gain on tap &, in terms of character, they could possibly be described as polar opposites. The Ultra Drive is a smooth distortion that works well when used to fatten up an already moderately overdriven tone. It may not have enough gain on tap for some tastes & it can sound a little honky when used in front of a clean amp; however, it isn't really intended as a primary dirt source, so you really do need to feed it into an already overdriven amp to understand its merits.
Much like the Solo, it is adorned with a 'Level' knob, a 'Tone' knob, a 'Gain' knob & a three-way toggle switch. Settings wise, I'd recommend that you keep the 'Gain' knob below the two o'clock position to maintain clarity & with this unit the toggle switch really does make quite a noticeable difference so be sure to experiment with all three options. 'Original' could perhaps be described as the thinnest, 'Extra' the beefiest & 'Ultra' somewhere in the middle; which one suits you best will probably depend on your specific setup.
If you're looking for an independent high-gain distortion then you'd almost certainly be better served with the Solo; however, if you're looking for a pedal that can give an already overdriven amp an extra dollop of smooth, fat, drive then that's where the Ultra Drive fits in. This is the kind of distortion for those who value smoothness over articulation & in front of a Marshall voiced amp it'll get you into that Vai/Satriani territory with your leads.
Of the three delay pedals in Mooer's range, the Ana Echo is perhaps the warmest & most organic sounding. (This is due to the fact that this particular unit is of the analogue variety whereas the other two are both digital). It only covers a delay range of 20ms-300ms (this is the standard for analogue pedals) so you won't be able to get long atmospheric delays out of it; however, there's a good amount of control when it comes to shorter delay applications such as slapback etc.
In terms of inspiration, this time it comes from a discontinued unit that was once offered by the same brand that inspired the Ultra Drive. These days said brand seems to have debunked a good deal of their classic analogue units in favour of digital technology; therefore, the Ana Echo may well be a good alternative to scouring the second hand market.
The three control knobs are labelled 'Echo', 'Intense' & 'Rate'. The 'Echo' knob controls the volume level of the repeats, the 'Intense' knob is what would usually be referred to as 'Feedback' (this allows the user to set how long the repeats continue) & 'Rate' is for adjusting the delay time. Feedback oscillation starts to occur with the 'Intense' knob set somewhere past the 12 o'clock position & dialling in your desired delay setting is a fairly straightforward affair for anyone who's already familiar with analogue delays.
In terms of tone: the Ana Echo didn't have as much character & warmth as I tend to look for in an analogue delay. There is enough of this present to let you know that the pedal is indeed of the analogue variety though &, as is the case with most Mooer pedals, it certainly is a bargain so I guess I'm being a bit picky here. All-in-all, the Ana Echo is a good option for those looking for an old-skool delay pedal on a tight budget (or if you have limited pedalboard space).
While the Ana Echo caters to those looking for warmer, shorter delays, the Repeater dishes up delays of the pristine, long, atmospheric variety. Its repeats are notably clean reproductions of the dry signal, it has a delay range of 25ms-1000ms & extremely long feedback times are possible before self-oscillation starts to occur.
The controls are labelled in a fairly self-explanatory way: 'Level' for controlling the volume of the delays, 'Feedback' for setting the amount of time the delays continue to trail & 'D. Time' for adjusting the tempo of said delays. As well as the standard controls though, there is also the addition of a 3-way toggle switch that allows one to select 'Mod', 'Normal' or 'Kill Dry' functionality. 'Normal' operates as a standard delay, 'Mod' adds an atmospheric chorusing effect to the delays & 'Kill Dry' cuts the dry signal so that only the delays are present at the pedal’s output (this enables one to use the pedal in a parallel effects loop should they wish).
The Repeater certainly does offer a ton of features for such a tiny little unit &, while it doesn't offer the organic chewy tones of an analogue delay, the clarity of the repeats & the large delay range give it a different focus altogether. For long atmospheric delays, or for accurate guitar doubling type effects, the Repeater performs admirably. If you're looking for a modern sounding delay without the need, budget or space for features such as programability & tap tempo then this is the unit that Mooer has in mind for you.
The Funky Monkey is certainly an apt name for an autowah & funky filter sweeps are the order of the day here for sure! While autowahs arguably lack the expressiveness of a manual wah pedal, they do offer ease-of-use, are less hassle when mounting to a pedalboard & can work particularly well for adding movement to tight rhythmic work if set correctly. The Funky Monkey offers a good deal of control over the filter style &, true to Mooer form, there's more features here than you'd expect at the price point.
When using the Funky Monkey, the first thing you'll want to experiment with is the 3-way toggle switch. This essentially dictates the main character of the wah. I'd venture to say that the 'Mid Peak' setting puts you in the most familiar wah territory, whereas 'Low Peak' shifts the wah to a lower frequency range (resulting in a more subtle & subdued effect) & 'Hi Peak' garners a higher, squelchier, almost lo-fi funk result.
The control knob layout contains a 'Range' knob, a 'Q' knob & a 'Rate' knob. 'Range' allows the user to specify the frequency range in which the wah operates (the further clockwise you go the wider it gets), 'Q' allows the user to adjust the intensity of the wah (as you turn clockwise it gets more vocal & pronounced) & 'Rate' is for setting the speed of the sweep. One thing to note is that the 'Range' knob seems to suit better in different places depending on which peak mode you're using, so be sure to experiment with the controls independently within each option.
In summation, there's a lot of control here for such a reasonably priced unit and you can really set the character of the pedal to suit your own specific needs. Personally, with both a standard wah pedal & an envelope filter on my pedalboard, an autowah has never really appealed to me. They're far less expressive than their aforementioned relatives & I've always found them to be most effective when used more like a phaser of sorts; however, I can see how an autowah may be of interest where a standard wah pedal is proving a little tricky to use (or maybe just isn't practical for your current setup). If you fall into either of these categories then the Funky Monkey is a capable little unit that can put a number of different tonal options at your disposal.
Ever wondered how the more experimental among indie guitarists manage to make their guitar sound like it's being run through an old Atari games console? Well, the answer to this question is the sample rate reducer. The concept behind this effect comes from purposefully trying to recreate the glitchy lo-fi sound that ensues when recording digitally at very low sample rates. (Think of samples as audio snapshots: the more of them there are the more realistic the sound reproduction; the fewer, the more glitchy & less accurate).
The Lofi Machine has three modes available, all accessible via the 3-way toggle switch: 'Guitar', 'Bass' & 'Synth'. (These modes don't particularly change the sound of the pedal, but rather optimise it for your desired choice of input). That's right, the Lofi Machine is not just a guitar pedal, but it can in fact also be used with bass or even a synthesiser should one desire! It features a sample rate range of 60Hz-31250Hz & a sample depth ranging from 5bit-16bit.
In terms of controls, the Lofi Machine features Mooer's usual three knob layout & this time around they are labelled: 'Mix', 'Sample' & 'Bit'. The 'Mix' knob allows you to dial in your desired blend of wet & dry signals, the 'Sample' knob controls the range of sample rate reduction & the 'Bit' knob controls the sample depth reduction. To me, the pedal starts to get interesting with the 'Bit' knob set from around one o'clock onward. Used in this range one can essentially change the tune of the created artefacts much like the way in which you would tune the carrier frequency on a ring modulator. (In fact, when used to optimum effect, you could perhaps best describe the sounds that this pedal produces as a 'poor man's ring mod'). In practice, the 'Sample' knob essentially serves to add additional noise & interference to the sound; I found that the magic position for this was at around eleven o'clock (anywhere past twelve & the noise gets too overpowering for my tastes).
As with any sample rate reducer, the Lofi Machine really is one of those effects whose results will most certainly differ depending on the users tastes & how they choose to have it set. Getting that usual glitchy games console indie sound is a piece of cake; however, to me it starts to get interesting when one is more particular with the settings. By using it in this manner one can create a sort of faux ring modulator vibe & this can perhaps serve as both a less-costly & an easier-to-use alternative to the real thing. Either way though, the Lofi Machine is an interesting effect that certainly isn't for the faint of heart!
For more information on any Mooer pedal, give us a call on 01202 597180 or click the link below to view our range online.