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9 of the Best Subdecay Effects Pedals

Effects Pedal MakersEnvelope Filter and Auto WahFlangerFuzzGuitar Synth and SequencerModulationOscillating FuzzPhaserRing ModulationSlicer and StutterSubdecay EffectsTremolo+-
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Subdecay is a brand which I’ve featured a lot on this site. All these pedals listed here have appeared or been mentioned several times on this blog, and it’s a surprise really that I don’t own more of these. In fact I have just two to date - the Harmonic Antagonizer and the Vector Analog Preamp - the latter of which falls just outside this preferential list.

 

There are several here I’ve been on the cusp of acquiring when another rising priority essentially took the funds away from the intended Subdecay. Each of these has appeal for me, and in particular the 3 synth pedals - which serendipitously all appear one after the other in the listing, then the TremCoder, and the Prometheus Deluxe Resonant Filter. In fact the Prometheus really is the top priority here for me - per the recent Filter Pedal Selection Article.

 

Also possibly the Source Audio True Spring has stolen some of Subdecay’s Super Spring Theory’s Thunder - meaning I’ve gone with the Virtuvian Ring Mod as my 9th choice. And finally I love a lot about the Quasar Phaser and Starlight Flanger - while I would kind of really prefer for those to have dual footswitches with Tap-Tempo. That said - the Quasar algorithms in particular are pretty stellar.

 

I certainly see myself owning the Prometheus, the three synths and the TremCoder at some stage.


Harmonic Antagonizer Oscillating Fuzz - $169

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Controls - Frequency, Sensitivity, Volume, Blend (Fuzz/Oscillator), Sustain.

 

This is far and away the first Subdecay I acquired - I've had this fantastically textured oscillating fuzz for a number of years now and always find it a joy to deploy. Actually really easy to dial in too.


M3 3-Oscillator Monophonic Guitar Synthesizer - $199

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Controls - Volume, Resonance, Parameter, Oscillators A-K, Algorithm 1-11.

 

Structurally I find this pedal somewhat similar to the Boss SY-1 albeit all the voicings here are monophonic, and you don't get quite the variety of the various Boss algorithms, even though you have the same sort of 11 x 11 modes/sub-modes configuration. That said I've always intended this to be an understudy for the SY-1 - it's really just a matter of time before I get one of these to have in on the rotation with the Boss.


Octasynth Octave Synthesizer - $159

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Controls - Pitch Blend, Pitch Level, Filter Depth, Filter Resonance.

 

The simplest of the Subdecay synths has just 4 variable controls - which makes it the easiest to deploy amongst these. This is the original Subdecay synth as far as I understand, and its longevity is testament to its enduring prowess. This has been on the wishlist for the longest time of all of these - I had intended to get this just after the Antagonizer, but it's just not happened yet.


Octave Theory Octave Modulator / Synthesizer - $199

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Controls - Filter Frequency, Amp Decay / Filter Depth, Filter Resonance, Volume, Modulation Modes x 10, Octave Mod Control.

 

Octave Modulations - LFO x 3, Envelope x 2, Shepard Tone x 4, Manual x 1.

 

This was the penultimate synth to launch and I voiced my admiration then and intentions to acquire, so this is another that's really just not happened quite yet. I have so many ongoing and changing priorities that this one has so far not made it to the top priority acquisition slot. I will look to acquire all these Subdecay synths somewhat opportunistically - so therefore dependent on pricing and availability of special offers really. While I do think I will have all 3 of these synths eventually - I'm patient enough to wait for the right opportunities to arise.


Prometheus DLX Resonant Filter - $325

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Controls - Warp, Frequency, Depth, Resonance, Wave Shapes x 11, LP/BP/HP, Mode x 11.

9 Functions - Analog Envelope (Forward and Reverse), Pixelated Envelope, Envelope Triggered LFO, Manual Envelope Speed Control (Fixed Envelope Gain), Envelope Speed Control (Fixed Minimum Speed with Variable Envelope Sensitivity), Step Filter (Based on the 7 LFO Shapes, Tap-Triggered LFO, Manual LFO, Tap Tempo LFO with Warp.

Shape Elements - Analog Envelope, Random, Sine, Ramp, Triangle, Saw, Triangle/Random, Triangle/Square, Special Envelope.

A very classic Filter pedal which is hovering a little under the radar these days - this one could really do with some presets as there is so much versatility and variety onboard. I initially had the Dwarfcraft Devices Happiness Filter as the next priority filter acquisition - but decided I actually prefer the Prometheus DLX to that. This is my top priority here mentioned - while I would really want to acquire it for quite a bit less than the full RRP / MAPP of $325.


Quasar Phaser V4 - $199

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Controls - Depth, Color, Offset, Rate, Modes x 11.

 

Modes - Cross Modulation x 4, Step Sequencing x 2, Envelope x 2, Traditional x 3.

 

For both the Quasar and Starlight I was originally considering acquiring the larger DLX versions which both came with dual-footswitches / Tap-Tempo and a few more modes and algorithms onboard. Many players though tell me that the newer compact varieties have somewhat more enhanced albeit fewer algorithms, and that for most - those are probably preferable choices. Part of the reason I've hesitated here is that I'm also hoping that Subdecay will see fit to introduce Tap-Tempo at this form factor at some stage. Generally I have an overriding preference for compact enclosure pedals with dual footswitches - and these have plenty of comparative prowess at that level, while I probably have a few preferred choices above each currently in terms of priority and preference.


Starlight Flanger V2 - $179

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Controls - Manual, Depth, Regen, Speed, Modes x 6.

 

Modes - LFO x 4, Shape x 2.

 

The circumstances for the Starlight are almost identical to those of the above Quasar - where all that same context applies. Overall though I feel that the Quasar is slightly stronger overall and with more variety onboard. But both of these are pretty decent, and would be even more so with dual footswitches and presets. Subdecay needs to start looking around at competitors like Alexander Pedals and Walrus Audio as to what they're doing with their more advanced pedals. Jackson Audio also to a degree - I feel Subdecay could learn and borrow innovations from each of those to bring its pedals further forward.


TremCoder Stereo Pattern Tremolo / Sequencer - $199

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Controls - Shape 1-9 + Sequence A|B, Depth, Speed/Sequence Select 1-11.

 

The TremCoder is a very formidable and smart Pattern Tremolo - with 2 Banks of 11 Sequences, tap-tempo through holding down the single footswitch, and Stereo output via TRS Y-Splitter Cable. The fact that all of this is just controlled with 3 knobs and the one footswitch is really quite ingenious. This is another long-terms wishlist Item that I've been meaning to acquire, but there still remain a lot of other priorities in those categories, in particular with a few new Tremolo pedals due to be launched this year - so we will need to wait and see what happens here. This will undoubtedly be added at some stage though.


Vitruvian Mod Ring Modulator - $199

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Controls - Mix, Tracking : HI/0/LO, Steps I - VII (E|A|D|G|B|E|A), Volume, Entropy : ↑ Order / Chaos ↓, Fine Tune (±3 Semitones).

 

It's funny that when I think of Ring Modulation - then the DOD Gonkulator and this Virtuvian Mod are the first pedals that come to mind. There's also another superb one that I keep forgetting about - the Pigtronix Ringmaster Analog Multiplier. For me the main competition and particularly in the compact enclosure area is between those three and on any given day you might choose a different one of those three as the preferred choice, In fact for a time I was considering having the Super Spring Theory on this slot, but decided that the Source Audio True Spring has stollen much of its thunder - and that even though I'm not that particularly fond of Ring Modulators - that the Vitruvian Mod was for sure the most appropriate 9th choice from the Subdecay range! Each of the Vitruvian, Gonkulator and Ringmaster offer slightly different advantages.


Final Thoughts

Of these 9, the main priority for me is the Prometheus Deluxe, then the 3 Synths - likely in reverse-chronological order, and followed by the TremCoder.

 

I will likely bide my time with the Quasar and Starlight - in the hope and expectation that we might get tap-tempo versions of those eventually. Which just leaves the Vituvian Mod - which is not really on my radar at the moment, event though it's a strong contender within its category.

 

I considered these options long and hard - and was at one stage debating having the Super Spring Theory vs the Vitruvian Mod Ring Modulator as the 9th choice. In the end I decided that the Vitruvian Mod was the slightly stronger proposition and candidate overall.

 

I still quite like my Vector Analog Preamp, but that does not get much of a rotation nowadays, while I also considered at one stage including the Compact Flying Tomato Fuzz. In fact I'm something of a Fuzz fanatic - so I might still pick up a Subdecay Flying Tomato if I find one in the right condition and for the right price.

 

Do you readers have any favourite Subdecay Pedals of your own? Are there other pedals from the overall range that should have figured in this roundup?

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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