Panos Sotiropoulos recently reached out to me to remind me of Vs Audio’s 3 really cool new pedals - which are exactly the sort of thing GPX / I typically gravitate towards. These could have been handy to feature before or in my recent ’6 Key Guitar Pedal Trends’ feature, but they arrive equally serendipitously to support several of the key arguments put forward in that article.
On the surface we have two analog bucket-brigade-device based pedals with digital control surfaces, alongside a dynamic high gain PreAmp distortion plus boost pedal - where each pedal has some GPX-style on-trend features to raise them well above the typical mainstream equivalents.
The Alchemy Chorus and Project Diana Delay both benefit from stereo output alongside 6 user-editable presets which are selected via the right footswitch and signalled by the changing colour of the lower LED - Blue > Green > Red > Purple > Yellow > White. Both pedals come loaded with factory-set presets which you can of course edit and adapt to your own preferences. You can also use the stereo output port of these pedals to sync preset application across the two pedals - courtesy of a TSR patch cable. This means that if you have the sync cable in place then as you scroll through the presets on one pedal - the matched pedal correspondingly aligns to the same colour preset! You can adjust the secondary pedal independently, but everything the first / master pedal is triggered for preset it automatically syncs with the same on the second/slave pedal!
For the Aftermath Distortion the benefit is that the footswitches can be used in both latching and momentary fashion - actually the same applies for the two previously mentioned pedals too, while the +6dB boost can be deployed independently too courtesy of the right-hand footswitch. I will feature each pedal in a little more detail below. Suffice to say that each of these pedals are very much to my liking and come blessed with the kind of innovation I continue to support and endorse on this site. These are all 3 really great sounding, fully featured and innovative compact pedals - almost exactly how I would want them.
All three pedals were introduced originally at last year’s end-of-year Guitar Summit per the below demo :
An ingenious take on a BBD Chorus - utilising a re-issued MN3207 BBD Chip at it's core with 4 intuitive controls - note the beautiful graphics here too! :
The additional smarts comes via the right hand Preset footswitch which allows you to scroll through 6 editable settings punctuated by a change in lower LED colour. The footswitches have combined latching and momentary functionality - and you can sync the presets of the Alchemy with those of the Project Diana Delay via utilising a TRS patch cable to connect the otherwise Stereo output port. I might subtract one point here for lack of tap-tempo on the chorus as that is a feature I really like on my Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl - yet the presence of 6 presets really more than offsets that - this is a very fine choice for versatile chorus and still remains somewhat under the radar.
The Diana utilises a re-issued MN3005 BBD chip at its core for those beautiful analog repeats. It's the one Vs pedal I'm not particularly enamoured of for its particular graphics, but the functionality more than makes up for it in this versatile Chorus-modulated delay - which has 4 self-explanatory controls :
The upper LED flashes in time with the tempo of the speed set by the Tap Tempo footswitch. Hold down the Tap Tempo to access and scroll through the bank of 6 Presets exactly as per on the Alchemy Chorus mentioned above. Once more the Stereo Out jack on this pedal can be connected with TRS cable to the Alchemy for syncing Presets between the two. This is a really elegant design of Delay with a fantastic degree of utility and versatility from the least amount of controls. NOTE that the individual demo video above is not for the most recent model, but the previous version - for sound sample purpose only really therefore!
Most know by now how much I like dual-footswitch compact pedals, and obviously gain pedals in that category in particular, and it's still relatively rare to get a gain + boost pedal in this format - rarer still for the boost to be independently deployable. The Aftermath has 5 very straight-forward controls :
Besides the independent boost, this pedal benefits enormously from Vs Audio's 'Hold-Release' footswitches which enable intuitive Latching and Momentary deployment. In light of my Jackson Audio Broken Arrow - I would have thought Vs Audio could have gone a couple of steps further here by including 6 Presets in some fashion on this pedal - as its versatility certainly support that. You could then add in the second output socket for enabling Syncing in the same way as the Alchemy and Diana above. I still fell this is an excellent drive/distortion + boost pedal - it really captures that warm fat sound that MOSFET is so readily associated with. Having the presets would make this pedal an even more essential purchase.
All-in-all 3 really great pedals here - two of them also pretty good looking - and where the Alchemy Chorus and Project Diana Delay are particularly clever with their 6 syncable Presets.
I've long advocated for this type of functionality at this enclosure size, and it's wonderful to see so much of this innovation coming to fruition. The Alchemy and Diana are pretty unique in what they do overall - with no other obvious equivalents - the new Keeley Eccos Delay obviously has different benefits to its format - but the Diana is pretty much equally smart and easier to deploy.
As I said in my recent 6 Key Trends piece - it's no longer enough really to be releasing great sounding pedals, they need to be innovative and suitably different enough to matter - otherwise local availability and pricing become the only significant relevant factors.
These are not the cheapest of pedals - they obviously sit firmly within the typical boutique maker price range, and their components and feature sets - and hand-made nature obviously substantiate these costs. There are numerous not altogether dissimilar competitors around for the Aftermath which I still really like, while it's the Chorus and Delay here that are the standout pedals.
I've featured Vs Audio a few times on this site - for their Royal Flush Dual Overdrive and Operation Trinity Distortion Pedals - while this trio of newcomers certainly raises the stakes on innovation. I tend to have a long list of more workstation-like Stereo Delay pedals on my wishlist, alongside numerous dirt pedals, so it is the Alchemy Chorus here that stands out in particular for me - being able to switch between 6 Presets should deliver all the Chorus you need from this format - just really clever for live and dynamic playback.