Pro Audio

EarthQuaker Devices Sunn O))) Life Pedal: A Doom-Heavy Distortion, Octave and Boost

We took a look at the brand new EarthQuaker Devices Sunn O))) Life Pedal. Originally a limited edition release in conjunction with hooded riff lords Sunn O))), it’s now here to stay.

We’ve checked out a fair few EarthQuaker Devices pedals in the studio, and we’re always impressed. EarthQuaker Devices are a super cool company out of Akron Ohio (the original home of Devo and Lux Interior from the Cramps), that started in the basement of founder Jamie Stillman in around 2004.

They’ve created a range of about 50 pedals covering nearly every aspect of sound imaginable and constantly continue to innovate with interesting creations all the time. Their latest offering is this Octave Distortion + Booster, the Sunn O))) Life Pedal.

The Life pedal is essentially a doom-heavy distortion pedal with a switchable octave generator and an additional boost at the end of the chain. It’s been set up to the standard of distortion lord Sunn O)))’s Greg Anderson, and is based on the octave of a Shinei FY2 Fuzz, the distortion of a white-face Pro-co Rat, and a clean MOSFET boost at the end to really push the input valves on your amp.

Internally, it’s a surface-mounted component PCB. The distortion is based around the LM308 OpAmp — much like a Rat, I’m guessing (although I can’t find it amongst the tiny components) — with additional diodes to clip the signal in either a symmetrical or asymmetrical way depending on what you’ve selected on the front of the box.

Symmetrical mode is more like your Rat style of diode clipping distortion, while Asymmetrical adds two diodes and an LED to the clipping circuit, and OpAmp skips the clipping entirely.

It’s a fairly straightforward box — 6 knobs and 3 clickless footswitches in a 1590XX style enclosure. The jacks and a standard 9V power socket run along the top for pedal board real estate squeezing, as well as an expression pedal — for the octave section for handsfree extra depth.

Across the front it’s got Magnitude — this is the boost section of the pedal. It’s controlled with its own footswitch and is tweakable via a knob directly above it. Next along is the Octave footswitch which is controlled via the next knob along, and lastly in the footswitch section is Amplitude — this is the distortion toggle.

The distortion control works across the next 4 knobs — a 3-way selector to choose the type of Distortion between OpAMp, Asymmetrical, and Symmetrical, then Distortion level, Filter (essentially a tone control), and Amplitude — which is the overall volume of the distortion.

Overall, it’s 3 styles of distortion with an octave generator and a boost section at the end. There’s a decent range on this thing — if you’ve ever played a rat you’ll get an idea of the distortion style, although I feel this thing is a bit more versatile in sound than a straight-up Rat pedal.

Then you’ve got the Octave section which adds a nice extra bit of weight to lead lines up the neck, or a really clanging to chords if you wanna go in that direction. And then there’s the Boost at the end which doesn’t really add any colour — just straight up level to the box to really push your volume and squeeze the front end of your amp.

The EarthQuaker Devices Sunn O))) Life Pedal comes in at $589 Australian and is available from all good pedal kiosks. For more info on the pedal head over to earthquakerdevices.com