It’s always an exciting day when a screen-printed Death By Audio package shows up in the mail, and today we received the brand new Space Bender: a universe of sound in a neat package.
Death by Audio is a company that’s consistently on the forefront of pedal design, inventing intensely creative units that can flip from subtle to incredibly extreme, and always with an unassuming, uncomplicated layout. Just a handful of switches and knobs are all you need to make these things sound both interesting AND amazing.
On first encounter with the Space Bender, you’re given an impression of a delay box, like a smaller sibling to their Rooms reverb pedal, however, once it’s switched on it’s clear that this is a comprehensive, creative modulation unit.
The screen-printed 125B-style pedal enclosure is small in stature and all the knobs and switches are well spaced out. For the pedalboard real-estate watchdogs, that’s 122mm long x 66mm wide x 39.5 high.
The Space Bender DOES have a delay section, but it’s more like a combined massively tweakable delay, chorus, flange, phase, and modulation set-up that can push from subtle to beyond extreme, to the point where it can become a beautiful drone or brutal textural creation unit (or both concurrently!).
It’s a world of wobble commanded by a selectable LFO or set envelope, and whilst there’s only two knobs on the box, combined with the three switches, the Space Bender presents an incredible realm to be explored. Rather than a simple slap-back the unit’s super fast delay pushes firmly toward modulation territory and with the twist of a knob and the press of a sturdy button easily shifts to a longer phased-out delay. It holds an intensity that can expand from subtle through to all-encompassing drone and textural soundscapes if you give it a push and a tweak.
The trio of switches are: Delay time (selecting from super fast, phasey 1x through to more of a medium-long 10x), Modulator (selects between a sine wave LFO oscillator and envelope filter) and Intensity (toggles between Lo and Hi aka extreme intensity).
The duo of knobs are: Speed, for control of the delay speeds, the speed of the LFO, and the sensitivity of the envelope. At shorter settings you’ll be phasing, chorusing and flanging, and at longer times this thing modulates and gets itself unhinged. Depth controls the depth of the LFO and the envelope, and the feedback of the delays.
The input and output situation is very standard too, with a jack in and out, and a 9-volt power input, accompanied by a solid footswitch.
Inside the pedal it’s a tight, well designed surface mounted component unit featuring a FV-1 Spin Semiconductor that I assume is controlling the algorithm for the delays and the modulations of the box and working in tandem with the EEPROM also inside.
This gets a little help from the oscillator crystal which I’m guessing is controlling the LFO speed and doing any clocking that the FV-1 isn’t taking care of. There’s also an MCP6002 op amp that I assume is boosting the signal and there’s an internal trim pot to control the level of the effected signal.
Overall, what we’ve got here is an incredibly tweakable modulation unit – it’s essentially a wild delay with a modulation section controlled by either an LFO or envelope which presents a UNIVERSE of cool creative sound.
It truly ranges from somewhat subtle to one of the most extreme modulation pedals I’ve had the pleasure of messing around with – from great sounding workable choruses, phasing and delays through to absolutely extreme soundscapes and textures, it can really get wild!
As it’s a DBA pedal your guitar tone tends to sound better the moment you switch any of their units on. It’ll work great in the studio or in a live setting, and if you wanna get weird with this thing it’ll definitely look after you.
As far as creative modulation pedals go, I feel like this is definitely the peak of the mountain. There’s a great disclaimer on the paperwork that sums up both the unit and the company: “High-intensity settings can create oscillations, feedback, and crazy noises. DBA is not responsible for what your audience will think of you, unless they love it, in which case we are.”
The Death By Audio Space Bender retails for about $270 US dollars, which is approximately $400 Australian dollars at the time of writing this review.
For more, head over to Death by Audio’s website.