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3 of the Best Next Level Compact Boost + EQ + PreAmp Pedals

BoostBoost and OverdriveBufferChase Bliss AudioEnvelope Filter and Auto WahEQJackson AudioKlone and Transparent OverdriveModulationOverdriveThorpyFXUtility+-
2018GPX3SpecialCompactBoostEQ700-min.jpg

All three of the above pedals are exceptional, and I’m a big fan of all these pedal-makers. As reported in the recent 12 Degrees of Saturation article - I like having an always on Boost pedal to enhance my tone - add warmth and sparkle, as well as even out the core tonal characteristics. Right from the start I had a Xotic EP Boost at the start of the chain to set the core tone for the rig - while I’ve always also had a Boss GE-7 EQ after my ’Dirt Section’. Initially both these pedals were stock models, but I swapped them eventually for improved Alchemy Audio Modified versions. The GE-7 Alchemy Mod still occupies its same slot.

 

The initial always-on boost though has been covered by the Jackson Audio Prism for the best part of a year now. Since I have 39 pedals in my chain the included Buffer is key to maintaining my tone too. The Prism has 3-different boost type Transparent / Clean, Amp / PreAmp and Color / Treble Boost and I’ve tried all 3 while I mostly switch between the Amp and Trans modes. There are dual Tone Control Dials - Tone (Treble) and Body (Bass), while I would really prefer 3-Band EQ here which both the Chase Bliss Audio Condor and ThorpyFX Team Medic provide. I also think I would quite like a secondary footswitch on the Prism to kick in a ’More’ boost - as well as a surface toggle or obvious switch to change the Buffer between Off | On | Active - where the last option means it would only come on when pedal was active.

 

The Chase Bliss Audio Condor was announced back in January just ahead of Winter NAMM 2018 - and at the time I wasn’t quite sure what kind of pedal it was - as it could be used as a Resonant and sort of Tremolo - as well as all kinds of EQ and Gain options. I’ve rationalised this as essentially a similar sort of pedal that can be used as my Starting always-on Boost - albeit it’s missing a Buffer options which I really think I need, otherwise it has the usual 16 Chase Bliss dip-switches which makes it the most versatile pedal in this Trio.

 

The ThorpyFX Team Medic is the most recently release of these too, and underwent significant changes in production - so what we’re seeing is the actual V2 in real terms. The V1 had two toggle switches which controlled secondary Boost and Buffer, while it only had the single footswitch. The updated model has the Buffer switch now as a dip-switch on the inside, I believe Buffer is on by default, while the secondary Boost is now activated by a separate footswitch for an extra 20dB of Clean Boost. I checked with Thorpy about both that and LED state which does not change when Secondary Boost is active, nor is there an internal trim-pot to adjust Secondary Boost - Thorpy does not really like those, and besides there just isn’t space on the PCB for any more.

 

In any case, even though I’m very happy with the Jackson Audio Prism, I’m seriously considering the other two pedals here too.

 

Pedals are displayed / listed in alphabetical order by brand:


Chase Bliss Audio Condor Analog Boost + EQ + PreAmp + Filter - £349

The priciest pedal in this trio is also the most capable / versatile - courtesy of the usual 6 dials, 4 x 3-way Toggle Switches, Twin Presets, Dual Footswitches and 16 Dip-switches with ramping and bounce options. The Boost is essentially the 'Drive' section here - operated by the left-hand footswitch, while the EQ has Active Bass, Parametric Mids and LPF Shelf Treble - which simply cuts highs. The third toggle-switch allows you to select different Resonant Filters - and when applying different Mids Frequencies in conjunction you can get all manner of weird and wonderful effects - including Auto Wah / Envelop Filters and Tremolo. The only piece of the puzzle this one is missing is the 'Buffer' element - otherwise it's a really smart pedal, and a great substitute / deputy for the Jackson Audio Prism in most ways.


Jackson Audio Prism Analog Boost + EQ + PreAmp + Buffer - £259

So this is the incumbent / current champion which has served me so well. It's three Boost modes are all excellent and I do make use of all, although mostly the Trans and Amp settings. I use the Strymon Riverside further upstream for a more incidental Treble Boost. You can select whether to apply Low, Medium or High Gain versions of the 3 modes and then select how much of that you push out via the Boost dial. I actually operate just above unity at around 10 o'clock of that dial - and I have just a touch of Tone (Treble) and Body (Bass) applied. As stated in the intro, I felt this could do with the full 3-band EQ, a Secondary Boost footswitch and a surface-accessible Buffer mode selector - Off | On | Active. Even without those additions this is an exceptional pedal. I will likely start by pairing it with its forthcoming brother pedal - the Jackson Audio Bloom - Compressor + EQ + Blooming Boost - which does funnily enough have 3-band EQ and a secondary boost footswitch.


ThorpyFX Team Medic Analog Boost + EQ + PreAmp + Buffer - £219

I've been tracking this pedal for a long time now - since it was first announced around Winter NAMM 2018 at the start of the year. The original prototype had two 2-way toggle-switches above the footswitch which allowed you to you activate Secondary +20dB Clean Boost and turn the Buffer On/Off. Thorpy though latterly decided that those toggles introduced too much fragility to the pedal - and so the Buffer switch was internalised as a dip-switch, while the Secondary Boost was given its own separate footswitch. Compared to the Prism you get full 3-band EQ here and the additional Secondary Boost, although there is no control over that - it's just a standard +20dB Clean Boost. I feel this is the most likely replacement / deputy for the Prism, but they are not a like-for-like swap, so I really need to do the maths on what I actually use and therefore need.


Final Thoughts

As stated several times above, these pedals are not exact swaps for each other and each one has significant advantages and features / functions that are unique. I may acquire all 3 eventually for different purposes as I like what each of these can do - yet I feel that because of the 39 pedals in my chain, having a Buffer near the start of the chain is not just a nice-to-have but pretty essential - which kind of disqualifies the Chase Bliss Condor for that specific purpose.

 

When comparing the Prism vs the Team Medic you are weighing up the 3 different Boost types - versus the 3-Band EQ and extra Secondary Boost footswitch. I feel that the Team Medic may well be the next acquisition here - and I will then just have to trial it to see how suitable it is, and how well it fits my operational needs - it's amusing that in some ways it's more flexible and versatile than the Prism - but does not have those 3 different flavours - all of which I do actually use, albeit some quite a bit less frequently than the rest.

 

I have ordered the Jackson Audio Bloom pedal already which comes with 3-band EQ and Secondary Boost footswitch to pair up with its core Compressor function. Said pedal is due to arrive from the USA before the end of this month - so I will likely see how that beds into the chain first. I have communicated with Jackson Audio about the possibility of adding a Mids control to the Prism - so that may happen one day too - it's a case once more of stick or twist? I think most likely I will give the new Bloom a good month to Bed in, and then I will probably revisit this in the new year to decide which of the other two pedals is the best fit for me - I am certainly currently leaning towards the Team Medic.

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