Why clutter a perfectly good pedal board with redundant effects? Such is the question that Crazy Tube Circuits wants its customers to ponder. The company’s new StonedHz modulation pedal aims to not only provide flanger, chorus, and vibrato effects in one unit, but it also aims to create those strange in-between sounds that aren’t quite flanger, chorus, or vibrato. Clear up some real estate in that far corner of the pedal board, readers, because everything sounds better when you’re using—the StonedHz, that is.
Crazy Tube Circuits really created a micro modulation factory here. Not only does the pedal offer controls and three waveform options (square, triangle, and sine) for the main oscillator, but it also features a second set of controls covering phase and depth for its secondary tremolo oscillator. Even small adjustments of the main oscillator’s Speed, Modulation Depth, or Waveform Distortion knobs will, for example, transform a chorus into a flange. Indeed, the StonedHz demonstrated how closely related vibrato, tremolo, chorus, and flange are. Whereas simple tremolo or vibrato might involve one oscillation circuit, chorus and flange require a second, delayed signal to pass through another oscillator. Depending on the delay and type of modulation applied to that signal, the resulting effect will sound perhaps like a chorus, a flange, or something in between.
The square wave setting created some curiously “electronic” sounds that were, by turns of the speed knob, like hiccups or blips. Further adjustment of the Speed and Wave Distortion knobs resulted in a fascinating, repeating on-off effect that’s probably most often heard on trip-hop records. Indeed, StonedHz lent a few barre chords the choppy tremolo sound akin to something played by Portishead. Yet the user can also add a bit of the second LFO in order to further modulate the choppiness, or layer one tremolo effect over another.
To dial in more of a chorus or flange sound, one need only to switch the modulation waveform to triangle or sine. Chorus and Flange have never seemed closely related as they did here, where it was possible here to turn the Feedback knob into a higher setting and transform the chorus into flange. With all knobs at noon except for Speed and Clock, both of which were set to around two, the StonedHz generated a rich, metallic chorus sound. When the Feedback was set above 2 o’clock, the flanger transformed into more of a Leslie-speaker vibrato while retaining its metallic flange qualities. Curiously, turning up the Speed here made the Leslie effect more obvious without any loss of the flange effect. A quick flip of the Tremolo LFO Phase switch added a pulsing tremolo effect, all while retaining the flange-Leslie sound.
At the extreme, the StonedHz generated detuned sounds that reminded this author of funhouse carnival music. With the speed up high, the Wave Distortion at 5 o’clock, the Clock at five, this author was able to play the off-kilter “Heffalumps and Woozles” tune from the old “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” cartoon (don’t ask him why this tune came to mind).
Crazy Tube Circuits has made a pedal whose exterior hides a powerful set of modulation circuits. It might be easy to overlook the pedal since it’s not as flashy as some others out there, but it’s what the thing sounds like that really counts.
What we like: Solid, unpretentious construction and ornamentation hide a powerful set of modulation circuits that can produce flange, chorus, and tremolo.
Concerns: None, really.