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* True Bypass. Short handwired signal path in bypass.
* Effect engaged: input impedance 666K ohm. Output 7K ohm max.
* Low noise ("hiss"). All analog.
* Good battery life.
* Bright LED indicator with filtered switching.
* Bass response not limited to guitar range -- useful for bass. Bandwidth slightly controlled at high gain settings.
* Components, construction and design for excellent audio quality.
* Standard AC adapter plug.
* 4.7" x 3.7" x 1.4" (120 x 94 x 37 mm) cast aluminum enclosure.
The MIX control provides 5 ranges of sounds. Three of them produce mixed distortion sounds where one of the distortion components dominate in sound over the other two. Fuzz is produced over two ranges in-between where the the in-phase components (D1+D3) can be continuously varied against the out of phase one (D2). The left sweep slightly emphasizes the lower distortion D1 while the right side strongly emphasizes the higher distortion D3. In each fuzz range, note the Gate point where cancellation is strongest for clean signals, and the Zombie point where cancellation is strongest when distortion is maximum.
The HI blend control cuts highs of one of distortions D1 or D3. The actual effect depends on the position of the MIX control and is interactive to it. It changes the mixing effect in the high frequencies but by then changing the MIX the bass can be the part that is different, and fuzz effects can be shifted through the midrange or into the treble. It can produce some ordinary tone control function such as boosting or cutting highs, but is different in its effect on distortion dynamics. For example, it can make the treble stronger and cleaner at the same time, while an ordinary treble boost does the opposite.
This BLEND section can set various thresholds for the dynamic variation of the sound, but the GAIN control sets the ratio of input level to this. It is centered on where the three distortions are most different and provide a "vocal" emphasis. Lower gain settings shift this emphasis into the attack of notes, and high settings go "over" the dynamic threshold into either complete turbulence or smoothness with a "swell" effect on sustained notes.
VOLUME is used to match the volume to the bypassed sound and compensate for changes in volume due to the other controls. Both the standard and Filter versions include an "autotone" feature that enhances bass and is set up by an internal trimpot. The fuzzier, brighter, but quieter sounds get the most bass when adjusted to match levels.
FILTER (5-knob VERSION ONLY) is a form of Tone control (see above).
Tech Notes: MIX YOUR OWN DISTORTION
For all their controls, most distortion units provide no substantial control over their actual distortion response. There is pre-distortion control (gain, sometimes EQ) and post-distortion control (volume, EQ) but this should not be confused with changing the sound of the distortion section itself -- the nonlinear transfer function. There are exceptions, but so far these tend to be limited ... mostly, players get different distortion responses by using different devices such as fuzz and overdrive.
Subzombie's method of distortion variation is to use mixing, including antiphase mixing. This allows control of how distorted or fuzzy the sound is seperate of gain and sustain. Also this can be easily varied with frequency. Some of the results sound "blended" while other mixes produce a new sound with little hint of its constituent parts.
example to the right shows graphically how this works.
"A" is the positive portion of a distorted
wave. "B" is more distorted (more gain) and
inverted (upside down). "C" shows how these add
together, forming a harsher, more complex
"foldback" waveform. Adding a third distortion
source would allow a "double-foldback"
waveform. This still only hints at the sonic
Note that you can produce some distortion mixing by combining normal distortion pedals with your own mixing device (etc.). However, this would be more complicated and the strong filtering in most distortions limits the interaction effect. Instead, this device handles the parallel paths internally, allowing distortion mixing effects while masquerading as an ordinary distortion pedal. The possible combinations of distortion types and controls in this type of effects are endless, so it is desirable to provide a coherent matched set of functions. In the case of SubZombie, my "zombie fuzz" distortion configuration of 3 different distortions of the same type, but at differing gains and in cascade, is combined with a simplified 2-knob mixing arrangement to provide easy access to a very intriguing SUBset of the possible sounds.
The distortion elements themselves use assymetrical LED pairs for a gradual onset of distortion and a mix of harmonics. The second and third stage only add a small amount of gain each (2.2 X). The middle level of distortion (D2) is preset to antiphase, relative to the lower (D1) and higher (D3) distortion sources. Even with this and other simplifications, it can emphasize 1 distortion, 2 distortions inphase or inverted, or all 3 with double-inversion. The resulting sounds can have characteristics of ordinary distortion, fuzz, gated fuzz, dying amp, envelope follower/auto-wah/synth, "turbo" or "warp", ring modulator, and more. Since even these more tortured sounds are produced by cancellation between otherwise natural-acting distortions, some of the less desirable aspects of these other kinds of effects can be avoided and natural guitar properties tend to make their way through. Also, response is always instantaneous. Altering the frequency response of one distortion source relative to the others causes a change in distortion characteristic with frequency as well as a conventional tone control effect (i.e., a nonlinear filter).
"Stick Figure" SE-4B
original standard versions
Plus version w/ special green handcolored text
and bright aluminum knobs
Copyright 2006-2010 Bill Spencer/Spencer Amps [tm]. See also Intellectual Property Statement . Guest clips are copyright the creators and are used with permission. Other trademarks are property their respective companies.