Looking for something absolutely unique in the pedal world? Well, Anasounds pedals are certainly that – in fact, depending on your taste, they may be the classiest looking pedals on the market. But how do they perform? Sam Bell finds out.
Anasounds is a young French company that clearly delights in being different. When I say 'young' I mean it, too! The company has pictures of the team behind these superb looking pedals and...well, let's just say they aren't exactly grizzled veterans of the pedal wars!
The first we heard of them was when a leading UK retailer (Sounds Great from Cheadle, Cheshire – www.soundsgreatmusic.com) contacted us to ask if we'd seen them yet. We hadn't, so they kindly put us in touch. A week or so later a package arrived from France... read on!
Before we get stuck into these pedals I feel it is important to point out the awesome design of the pedals. In fact you’ll get a taste of it by visiting the Anasounds website, too. It’s really well designed with a distinctly Gallic flair for good looks! Each pedal features a solid metal housing with a small pedalboard footprint and a unique carved wood panel on the front complete with transparent control knobs. The pedal has a really smart LED light behind a transparent blue Anasounds logo which looks classy in low light gig settings. OK, I think we can all agree they look great, and what matters most of all is how they sound, let’s dive in and take a look at the drive pedal, but not without saying that turning up to a rehearsal with these on your pedal board is certainly going to raise some interest from the rest of the band!
Anasounds Savage Drive:
Guitar Interactive star rating: Four and a half stars
This pedal is adorned with a creepy silhouette of a centaur, which is a subtle hint that you should cast your mind back to the legendary overdrive pedal known as the Klon Centaur. Anasounds claims this is their version of the compelling Klon. I think it’s important for me to admit that I have never had the pleasure of playing through a genuine Klon Centaur overdrive pedal, so I am not going to compare it on that basis - I'm going to broadly look at it as a modern take on a vintage overdrive sound.
First of all the pedal is apparently wired with a vintage electronic structure to maximise tone and dynamics without too much processing. The pedal features the three main controls that we all expect, know and love on overdrive pedals, and that is a level, tone and drive knob. The Gain/Drive knob increases the drive of the pedal, from a light crunch to a thick sustaining saturation. The Tone sweeps the high end frequencies, however doesn’t boost or cut, and I feel it helps tailor the mid-range of the pedals sound from a dark round tone to a bit more jagged and cutting. The pedal is also hiding a few features that can be found inside the enclosure. You can set the voicing to set the tone of the overdrive, an OD bass switch, EQ to switch the tone control between tone and treble and a clipping switch to select between a vintage and modern sound. For the demo we didn’t open the pedal up, I would assume the pedal is shipped with these features set as standard, so for the video section of this review, you are hearing the pedal out of the box with nothing else inside the unit affecting the tone.
I personally found the tone of the pedal to be very warm, sustaining and not too harsh, the tone control really helps shape the sound without adding anything unwanted and without taking away anything as you turn the control to more extreme settings. I used the pedal for a few of the other reviews in the magazine and found you could use it as a light bit of crunchy compression on a clean tone all the way through to a tight almost metal like distortion when used in front of a drive channel.
Anasounds Utopia tape echo with modulation:
Guitar Interactive star rating: Four and a half stars
The utopia is a 'tape echo' (not real tape - Ed) with modulation, very similar in design to the savage drive. It features three control knobs on the front panel, Delay, Repeat and Mix. Delay controls how long or short the echo/delay is, Repeat is how many repeats you get and the Mix controls how much of the effect you hear next to your initial signal. The pedal also features a Modulation switch on the front which adds a lovely analogue style chorusing to the notes, this is more noticeable at higher mix settings with more repeats and longer delays.
The pedal is calibrated for echoes from 0 to 400 ms, however it is stated it can go up to 600ms on the Anasounds website. This pedal sounds great for creating slap back delays to add ambience to your mix (or as Guthrie Govan calls it ‘comfort’!) it can also add some air to solos with longer delay times and chorusing. Just like the Savage drive, the Utopia features internal switches to further modify the sound of this pedal. There is a tone switch to modify the tone of the repetitions by adding a filter to them. A rate switch to set the modulation speed which is complimented by a depth switch that effects how deep/wide the modulation is, and a ‘more’ switch to take the 400ms delay up to 600ms. This pedal much like the Savage and Anasounds mission statement does have a vintage vibe to the sound, the Utopia emulates very well something similar to an old Echoplex in tone and dynamic.
These fine looking pedals definitely have vintage vibe to the sound but they can be used for modern contexts just as easily. I love the unique look and build of these pedals, definitely a worthy addition to any guitarists pedal board, especially those seeking a more classic vibe to their sound! They strike us as very good value for 'boutique' pedals, too and we look forward to seeing more from this young, exciting company.
Anasounds Savage drive and Utopia echo with modulation
Savage £169 US $200.29