Sweden's EBS has become one of the big name players in the bass world since its first pedals were launched in 1992. Now the company has launched revised versions and new models under its Black Label Studio Edition tag. Dan Veall got to try the first four in the country.
As we revealed not long ago on GI's news website (you are all visiting daily to get the latest gear and artist news, aren't you? www.iguitarmag.com) those fine bass experts from EBS Sweden have a new range of Black Label Studio Edition pedals. There are going to be six available eventually but we grabbed the first four to arrive because we couldn't wait! In addition to these four, you can expect a MultiDrive and a UniChorus in a month or two.
Each of the devices promise to house studio grade effects offering low noise and a wide dynamic range to ensure our bass tone is intact right through the signal path.
EBS Black Label MultiComp SE
Starting off with what is certain to be a favourite among bass players on busy Internet community forums, the MultiComp is a true dual band compressor pedal.
In the video review I explain what the main differences are, but in essence we have three different types of compressor in one box. In TubeSim mode, a 'full band' compressor mates with a 'tube simulator circuit for extra warmth and harmonics'. To my ear, I like what this mode does to the midrange of my bass. Definitely my favourite setting on this pedal. 'MB' mode is the multi-band setting that activates two separate compressor circuits, one for your higher frequency content and the other for your lower frequency part of your bass signal. This is a brilliant way to keep your bass signal articulate and clear even through complex musical passages. I found that even on higher compression settings, the effect itself was less obvious, more transparent despite clearly doing its job. Ideal for those who want to control their dynamics but not have too much of a squashing compression effect. Finally, the last setting switches the pedal to a regular full band type compressor pedal. Go for this if you like to use the pedal as an 'effect' rather than a dynamics tool for some truly squashy compression effects when the comp/limit is maxed out!
Internally there are a couple of controls for fine tuning each compressor threshold level. You can even set either band to bypass, thus giving you a low-pass or high-pass compression only - a very nice touch!
EBS Black Label OctaBass SE
With three EQ modes of operation, this update of the original 1992 EBS pedal makes mixing an octave below sound with your original bass note very easy indeed. The three way switch in the centre allows you to sculpt the tone of the octave effect but will leave your dry unaffected bass tone well alone. Just what I like! The high setting adds upper midrange and top end accenting, giving the octave effect grit and presence whereas the lower setting creates a more sub-bass style bottom end that leaves space between the two octaves. The mid setting is just that, melding both signals smoothly.
Either side of the mode switch are level controls. On the left is your dry signal volume with the right for the effect output. You can if you so wish have just the octave effect on its own or, of course, anything in between.
The pedal tracks well as an analogue effect and it is suggested in the manual that you play high on the bass neck for best results, which is sensible advice.
EBS Black Label MetalDrive SE
Dishing up a range of mild to full throttle distortions, the MetalDrive can 'do' gentle but it's not for the faint hearted on higher settings! For some truly mushy bass dirt, crank the drive control and stand back.
Once again some nice simple controls are self explanatory - the three way switch dials in a choice of drive characters to further help you sculpt your bass sound. I liked the 'tube sim' sound and unusually, at a lower gain setting than I usually go for. There's a nice sweet spot where the tone just breaks up - brilliant for warming up the midrange of your instrument. Use it as an amp simulator when recording. I think it would work a treat. To hear the range of grit, look no further than my video review!
EBS Black Label DynaVerb SE
I'd like to use just one word to describe this pedal. “Wow!” However, I may get in to trouble with my editor for leaving you hanging! (you're right! - Ed)
This 24bit digital reverb has so much to offer in such a small pedal sized box. There are eight different effects initially, but as you'll have seen in the video review, I could have dialled in so many different overall sounds, you'll have been forgiven for thinking I was sat in front of a full-spec rack unit! With the filter control on the right hand side all the way clockwise, the wonderful rich top end is airy and crisp, digitally pristine. Backing the knob away from maximum slowly trims away the top end which has the effect of adding realism to the effect - as if using an instrument in different live spaces, all the way down to zero for a dark, lo fi reverb that adds warmth to a mix.
The DynaVerb is true stereo too. You have left and right inputs as well as dual outputs, but should you just need one mono input and output as we did in the review, you'll still be greeted by stunning results. This one is a real winner.
Each of these EBS Black Label SEs comes in a superb metal casing that is just big enough to fit in all the electronics, connectors and a 9v battery. The small footprint means that pedal board space doesn't suffer as much as it does with some larger space-eating types. The pedals feature top mounted power jacks as well for supplying pedal power from an adaptor.
Each pedal features new true-bypass electronics with an on board relay. What this means is that the foot switch has a much softer action than the previously used 'on/off' switches. A nice touch for sure that delivers absolutely silent switching of effect. I loved them all, especially the DynaVerb, and can't wait to try the two that are still on the way.