*This pedal now goes by the name Sändare
Sending Tones into Orbit
We have heard the overdrive buzzwords so many times—transparent, touch-sensitive, dynamic, amp-like—the list goes on. There are so many options that boast these attributes, but in my experience very few live up to these claims. I must admit, I have a hard time getting excited about overdrive pedals, especially ones that claim “transparency” as the main tonal attribute. This is due mainly to the fact that I have abused the legendary Crowther Hot Cake for so many years and it just nails that role for me like no other. But, today I will speak of another pedal built by a New Zealander (there must be something in the water down there) that can add beef, heft and clarity without obscuring a perfect guitar-amp pairing . . . introducing Satellite from Magnetic Effects.
On paper, one would be forgiven for thinking that this graphically gorgeous little stomper was just another Klone with a pretty face. After all, it sports an internal charge pump for higher headroom and fulfills a similar role on the pedal board. This however is not the case and I can confirm from directly asking circuit designer Christian Livingstone that this is another one of his stellar ground-up creations. For those that don’t know already, Christian’s tweaked-to-perfection pedals are partially the result of many years rocking out with international touring veterans the Datsuns. As many may know, his White Atom is one of my favorite dirt pedals of all time and though this Satellite imparts less artful tonal artifacts into the equation, it will please pedal pushers that want transparency and that extra “something” to no end. Let’s get our fingers on those golden knobs.
Engaging the Thunder Switch
Contrary to intuition, a glance at the manual suggests that the player start off with the High and Low dials fully clockwise. This is a fresh reductionist approach to the fine-tuning process that makes total tonal sense if one is after transparent boost applications. Basically, this involves turning the Satellite on and shaving away excess bass and treble frequencies until a match is made with bypass signal. Then, adjusting Gain and Volume to taste finishes the dialing in process. This is worth the price of admission alone, but there are many other less obvious ways to tweak the Satellite’s versatile circuit. This thing is aurally ambidextrous.
One cool secret setting I found involved turning the Low switch fully CCW and cranking the High dial. This provided a needle-like transistor radio type of effect that would claw right out of the speakers on a guitar break or add some sharp percussive rhythmic interest to a song intro. On the opposite side of the tonal spectrum, with the Low dial whacked right up, the Satellite gets heftier than a elephant slathered in drying concrete. We are talking tight and huge as opposed to loose and flubby—think class A-B Power section not wanting to break up. I engaged the Satellite in front of my Victory Kraken with full Low settings during a big crescendo at band practice and my 4x12 cab rumbled the Eventide H9 and Source Audio Nemesis right off the top, pulling the short jacks out of the effects loop. This pure, unbridled brutality forced me to rename the box Thunder Switch.
What We Like: Killer graphics, golden knobs, top-mounted jacks, perfect gain range and hype-less actual transparency make the Magnetic Effects Satellite a top option for low gain OD and boost enthusiasts. The internal voltage doubler really does bring a more dynamic playing experience to the table and this bad boy could be a real contender for always-on status. The Satellite runs rings around other low gain ODs and for my money, it is a Klon killer if there ever was one. Speaking of money, the price is right as well. I have no idea how these handmade, artful and highly useful stompers come in at this price point.
Concerns: As with all Magnetic Effects, no concerns whatsoever.