How much would you pay for a phaser that allowed you to select the effect’s frequency sweep and depth? What if it could compensate for the volume drop found in most analog phasers—now how much would you pay? And if I told you this pedal eliminated the tone sucking properties of most vintage phasers by allowing you to either make it true bypass or activate an excellent buffer—what would you pay now? But what if this phaser actually was an envelope filter that allowed you to select and assign six modulation sources (plus hybrid settings) to different filters, and then allowed you to save two presets for easy use? Well, I’m hoping you’d be willing to pay at least $169, because that’s how much the excellent and versatile Source Audio Stingray costs, and the features mentioned thus far only skim the surface.
The Stingray offers 10 filters (one high-pass, five low-pass, one single peak and three multi-peak) and two phasers. That number doubles when switching to Extended mode, at which point the pedal’s range is extended fairly dramatically. The Mod Source offers six different modulation effects—slow attack envelope, sine wave LFO, square wave LFO, random sample-and-hold, sawtooth wave LFO and fast attack envelope—and these can be blended for additional wave shapes.
The Option Select function allows the user to toggle through and select—via the Option knob—the center Frequency, the Resonance (or amplitude) of the effect, the Mix, the output volume, an internal Drive function (which is surprisingly dynamic and articulate) and a Tone control. The Depth control not only controls the depth of the effect but the direction of the wave (i.e., up or down).
All of the above can be combined in a variety of ways, and the options may sound overwhelming but it’s actually more daunting to read (and write) about this pedal than it is to use it. To start, it helps to think of the low- and high-pass filters as less complex, and better suited to the funkier sounds one expects in an envelope filter (I always gravitate toward Orange Juice’s “Rip It Up” as a baseline). The single peak and multi-peak settings are more full-range and more complex respectively, and do well with the random sample-and-hold setting (think of an old synthesizer oscillating, as in The Who’s early ‘70s work) and the sawtooth setting.
Sweeping the Frequency setting enables the user to quickly get a sense of how this parameter works. Once the sweet spot is found, a similar sweep of the Resonance control’s range will quickly allow the user to find the right setting. After that, the Mix, Volume, Drive and Tone controls should be fairly easy for any player to manage.
I was very impressed by the Stingray’s sound quality. The filters are clear, articulate and present, but not antiseptic; they’re just a pleasure to listen to. They’re also incredibly dynamic, with every setting proving to be very responsive to pick attack. It’s also worth noting that the envelope follower responds to the incoming clean signal even after turning up the pedal’s internal overdrive, for a far more precise response than could be achieved from running a distortion pedal into a traditional envelope filter.
Users can save two presets, with each one being assigned to one of the two footswitches. Once a preset is engaged, the other footswitch can be used for tap tempo. Source Audio’s Dual Expression Pedal can be used to control any of the Stingray’s parameters—and I do mean any—assigning control to the Mix, Depth, Frequency and Resonance functions can result in very cool effects. If you have filtering needs, the Stingray has your solution.
What we like: The sound quality is excellent. The flexibility is amazing. The form factor (top jacks!) and price are right. I can use it as a buffer or run it in true bypass.
Concerns: This pedal may inspire users to spend more money. There’s a lot more to love in here than two presets can capture (although I’d argue that two presets at this price are a steal), and I suspect many people who buy this unit will feel compelled to buy Source Audio’s HUB controller, which allows users to save 128 settings.