I came to Chase Bliss Audio relatively late, but in these last few years I’ve picked up 5 of Joel Korte’s pedals - and they are all a pretty permanent fixture within my studio pedal chain. In fact I only acquired the 5th one - the Warped Vinyl MKII in November, so I was a touch annoyed around a month later when Joel announced a new HiFi version of the pedal was coming at the end of December - with wholly redesigned circuit!
Then in the first week of January the Condor Analog EQ / Pre / Filter pedal was announced and just in these last few days - the Thermae Analog Delay / Pitch Shifter. These pedals are normally £349 a pop, barring the more expensive Tonal Recall at £499. The higher price owing to the expensive rare Bucket Brigade Chips used for the Delays. So the Thermae will also be super pricey - as its internals are quite similar to the Tonal Recall.
As a now loyal Chase Bliss fan, all of these go straight onto my wishlist. I did not really need another delay as such - so I haven’t got around to acquiring the Tonal Recall - nothing can compete with my Empress EchoSystem at the moment, but the new mix of tones the new Thermae brings puts that at the top of the list - even though that’s a kinda sorta delay. Next will come the Condor, and I’m in no hurry right now to swap the Warped - that can surely wait a while.
The guts of the new HiFi version have changed significantly and the electronics have been further fine-tuned - with a still even brighter and sparkly sounding pedal - each version has been progressively brighter - the top middle dial has also changed from Volume to Lag - which means the former will need to be adjusted via internal trim-pot as is the case for some of the other pedals in this range. The Lag gives you far greater scope in adjusting the warp of the tone. I must admit it sounds as delightful as ever, and it does indeed sound quite a bit more twinkly. It's a lovely pedal for sure, but I cannot justify its acquisition so soon after I acquired its not-that-old predecessor. So I will definitely get one at some stage - just a question of when really - unlikely this year.
We've not had too many details on this one yet - we can get a decent idea from the dials as to what this pedal brings, but in terms of promo materials we only have the above 51 second video currently to go from. Obviously a combination of EQ, Pre-Gain / Pre-Amp, and some sort of Envelope filter. We are not yet clear what the various dip switches control yet and the 3 toggles are still a touch obtuse - while the EQ dials - Bass, Mids and Low Pass Filter are clear, and the Gain and Volume would related to the Pre-Amp portion, while the frequency dial is surely the sweep for the Envelope Filter - it's yet another clever original from Joel - which we will need to get our heads around a little to figure out how best to utilise it, no doubt more videos will come after NAMM.
With a grand promo video produced by Joel's best buddies 'Knobs' we get a rather brilliant overview of what this pedal is capable of. As I stated in the intro - the Stereo Empress EchoSystem is a far better all-rounder delay proposition for my stereo rig than the Chase Bliss Tonal Recall RKM (Even though I like that a lot, I just can't figure out how it would fit into my chain). But this new pedal type is an entirely different beast - and yet another genius Joel Korte innovation. Yes it's stupidly pricey because of the rare Bucket Brigade chips it contains - but it produces some truly wonderful new textures. We can again pick up much of what the pedal does from its controls. In the top row - Mix (Ramp) | LPF | Regen, and in the middle - Glide | Interval 1 / Speed | Interval 2 / Depth. The final row of the usual 3-way toggles is still a little more obtuse for me in some ways (though not as much as the Condor) - although I can clearly see the delay divisions - quarter | dotted eighth | eighth - and wave shapes - triangle | sine | square. The one concern I have is the tiny legends on the interval dials - you will need eagle-level eye sight to pick those out, and I sincerely hope those particular dials are ratcheted / notched - otherwise they will be really difficult to set in a hurry. Otherwise I can already imagine how I would use this cool pedal - which I believe will become an exceptional and classic tool for ambient players - now it's just a matter of saving up...