Night Wire by EarthQuaker Devices

  • By David A. Evans @tonereport
  • March 11, 2016

Among modulation pedals, EarthQuakerDevices’s new Night Wire fills an interesting niche. Billed as a harmonic tremolo, the sparkling black and purple pedal combines traditional tremolo, filtration, and phasing. This fusion produces some pretty useful twists on otherwise standard effects. The Night Wire provides Uni-Vibe-like phasing, auto-wah envelope filtration, and even a more straightforward, shimmering tremolo all at the twist of a few knobs.

According to EarthQuakerDevices, the pedal combines a traditional tremolo circuit with a harmonic filtration circuit. The latter circuit consists of two filters, one a high pass, and the other a low pass. After the signal passes through these filters, a low frequency oscillator further modulates the signal. What makes the Night Wire unique, says the company, is that the filters themselves are adjustable. Fortunately, EarthQuakerDevices didn’t skimp on the number of possible effects settings because the Night Wire provides six combinations of tremolo and filtration via two “master” toggle switches.

The toggles offer two options for the tremolo circuit and three options for the filtration circuit. While the tremolo’s Rate switch allows for either Attack or Manual mode, the filtration circuit’s Frequency toggle allows for those two modes plus a fun LFO, or Low Frequency Oscillator mode. The LFO filtration mode sets the two pass filters to sweep, back and forth, thereby creating a cool sound that’s a little like phasing. Perhaps the most fun of all, however, are the two Attack modes, both of which directly link their effects to the strength of the inputed signal.

As might be expected, changes to the Frequency and Rate toggle positions create radically different sounds.  A Manual Frequency setting combined with a Rate setting of Attack produced a tremolo whose speed varied directly with the strength of the input signal. A quick flip of the Frequency toggle to the LFO setting added a long, phasing sweep to the mix. The layering sounded a little like a tremolo that was also backed up with a phaser. The separation between the two effects gave the impression that not one, but two pedals were in play.

The most dramatic of the pedal’s sounds were found when its two toggles were both set to Attack mode. The sound was layered so that if a chord were struck, the pedal’s tremolo increased in speed, then decreased as the input level faded. Simultaneously, the pedal opened, and slowly closed a filter that sounded like a wah pedal. At high input volumes, the filter was “open,” as a wah might, but the Night Wire’s filtering was a bit more subtle and less shrill than many wah pedals tend to be. Even the most dramatic settings weren’t so over-the-top that the pedal felt useless—far from it.

The Night Wire was also able to layer a broad, gradually sweeping sound with an input-dependent tremolo up front. So, the pedal seemed to slowly phase in the background while the tremolo responded to playing dynamics. The sound makes sense when the settings are considered: the tremolo, in the Attack setting, responded to the input volume, while the Frequency, in the LFO setting, slowly swept the filters’ center points back and forth.

For less than $200, the Night Wire does a great job providing a curious, high-quality, and useful mix of modulation effects. And, like all EarthQuakerDevices pedals, the Night Wire is built for the long haul.

The Night Wire proves to be a curious and useful addition to EarthQuakerDevices’s stable of winners.

What We Like: A cool integration of three typically distinct effects: tremolo, high/low pass filtering, and phasing.

Concerns: None.

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