It’s been an interesting few weeks of late - where we’ve seen JHS Pedals encroach on Spaceman territory by launching pricey teaser-campaign limited edition $400 pedals. While Spaceman Effects is now extending its reach into the mass-market with an always-available Standard Edition pedal available at the relatively low price of $179 (Compared to other Spaceman pedals).
The Standard Edition pedal is the former baseline unpainted steel enclosure, and has the lowest cost plastic knobs - while all other elements/components remain the same - in the current batch you can also get Black (80 Units), Red (55 Units) and White (44 Units) limited edition pedals which have painted chassis and higher quality black machined aluminium knobs. I’m not sure though why I would pay a near $100 premium for a coloured enclosure and better knobs - where all other elements remain the same - but perhaps that’s just me.
The opening statement too is rather amusing for English speakers on this side of the pond:
"Simultaneously a harmonic-laden boost and low-gain overdrive, the Saturn VI eludes categorization."
I would have though that statement just categorised this pedal as a Harmonic Boost and Low-Gain Overdrive???
It is an evolution of 2012’s Saturn V as predicted by many - and with an added Tone control for more tone-shaping versatility obviously. The Saturn V was initially described as a more subtle and subdued version of the Aphelion Harmonic Overdrive which I own and really love. To be perfectly honest, the Saturn V never particularly appealed to me - it did not seem to have any of the real magic and sparkle which makes the Aphelion so great - and the newer expanded MK VI version - while an improvement on the Saturn V - for me gets you nowhere near magical Aphelion territory.
I think it’s admirable that Zak Martin is finally producing unlimited and affordable pedals, but I’m not sure that this one was the best vehicle to launch the Standard Edition on - as the Standard Edition may wrongly be associated with something which is not as magical as most of the other pedals in the range.
I’m a huge Spaceman fan generally and have to date in chronological order - Sputnik I Germanium Fuzz, Spacerocket Intermodulation Fuzz, Aphelion Harmonic Overdrive, Mercury IV Germanium Harmonic Boost, Titan II Fuzz Machine, Nebula Fuzz / Octave Blender, Polaris Resonant Overdrive, and Gemini IV Dual Fuzz Generator - 8 really fantastic pedals.
Furthermore I still have the Rumblefuzz Fuzzstortion, Wow Signal Alien Fuzz Communicator and Explorer Deluxe 6 Stage Optical Phaser on my ’nice to have’ wishlist - I’m just biding my time until I find the right versions of those on Reverb.com for the right price. I’ve watched several Wow Signals and Explorers come and go, but have not seen any Rumblefuzzes for quite some time. If Zak is going to make another 3-knob Standard Edition pedal - please make it a Rumblefuzz II!!
I’m sure there are players that will find the Saturn V really usable, even though when compared with the rest of the Spaceman range or new overdrives like the Jackson Audio Broken Arrow or KMA’s brand new Logan Transcend Drive - this particular pedal comes across as something slightly pedestrian. Spaceman has always made its reputation on original, unique, innovative and inspiring circuits - while I remain to be convinced that this belongs anywhere near those lofty heights.
By all means let me know if you think I’ve been too harsh in my critique here - and whether you’ve been tempted by the Saturn VI yourself and intend to acquire one such. It’s not a bad pedal per se - Spaceman doesn’t do bad - but it does seem somewhat ordinary to me ...