Experimental Noize's (EN) Spin Cycle is the company’s only product for musicians, but it appears EN’s put a great deal of thought into its lone offering. At first glance, the Spin Cycle has a lot in common with most other rotary speaker simulators: It’s big, it has a lot of knobs, it’s not cheap and the overdrive emulation is no good. However, it stands out in one particular area: the Spin Cycle really adds heft to your tone, and, to my ears, that’s what makes the difference when you’re working with a digital emulation of two rotating speakers.
Let’s start with the many controls the Spin Cycle offers. There are the standard Speed controls to determine the rate of rotation in both Fast and Slow settings (the Slow setting isn’t kidding around—it can crawl), and a footswitch to toggle between those settings. The Acceleration control sets the ramp time between the two speed settings when players transition from one speed to another, and there’s a Brake switch that momentarily “freezes” the effect while it’s held down. The Distance control affects the intensity of the effect. Tube Emulation is intended to replicate the drive of an amplifier (and there’s a switch on the back of the pedal to add 12 decibels of gain, too). There’s also a control to adjust the balance between the Rotor (high end) and Drum (low end).
Less common are controls for the Drum:Rotor Ratio and Cab Emulation. The Drum:Rotor Ratio dials in the degree to which the rotation of both speakers are offset from one another; this control really helps sell the authenticity of the Spin Cycle’s effect by adding depth. The Cab Emulation is designed to capture the reflections of the signal within a rotary speaker’s cabinet; in my experience, it added a solidity that really gives the Spin Cycle an authentic throb.
In addition to the thoughtful complement of controls, the Spin Cycle offers impressive tweakability just because the knobs have a huge range of travel. The amount of control you have over each parameter is pretty astonishing: the difference between a dull swirl and the lively chirp of a Leslie’s rotor is the difference between 11 o’clock and noon on the Balance control. The difference between a flat digital representation of the Doppler Effect and the sense of weight thrown out by a rotating bass speaker is the difference between 7 and half past 8 o’clock on the Cabinet Emulation control. The Spin Cycle has stereo outputs so players can really immerse themselves in the Doppler Effect, but even in mono, the ebb and swell is palpable once the pedal is dialed in.
The Spin Cycle isn’t perfect. I’m not sure why EN chose a momentary switch for the Brake rather than latching. More baffling is why EN—and seemingly every other rotating speaker manufacturer—is able to do so well at replicating such a complex effect, but can’t manage a decent drive setting, despite the fact that we now have approximately 50 years of decent gain technology to draw on. Worse still, the switch that amplifies the gain is active whether the pedal is on or not. The good news is that the Spin Cycle stacks well with drive pedals, so fret not—this pedal excels at its main task: Providing a complex three-dimensional effect that typically requires a big, heavy speaker cabinet and machinery in a (relatively) small box.
What we like: The Spin Cycle creates an almost-tangible Doppler effect that manages to sidestep the artificiality of many other rotating speaker pedals.
Concerns: Given there are more expensive boxes out there, we can give a pass on the price, but the size is daunting, and some of the secondary functionality is a bit awkward.