Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

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Whiny Minotaur
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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by Whiny Minotaur » Thu Jun 18, 2020 6:04 am

'Cheap Casio presets' is a great way to put how I feel about the new boutique pedals coming out these days.

Of course the sound quality of the effects themselves are great, and the pedal makers obviously put in a lot of thought and attention to these pedals when they're designing them. But ironically, the intricately designed nature of these new pedals are precisely what make them sound so boring and instantly recognizable in a bad way. Combining pedals is very much a part of sound design, and by divorcing the player from that process, it also eliminates the guitarist's personality from the sound.

For example, the only compelling use of shimmer delay/reverb effect I personally heard was from this performance of Videotape by Radiohead.

https://youtu.be/BTsH6jcyJgw?t=232

Instead of that sound being a 'shimmer reverb in a box', it's a combination of some fairly standard delay pedals, clever use of a wah pedal, some technique and a whammy pedal. It sounds unique, t doesn't instantly pull you out of the song because you recognized that sound coming from a Chase Bliss/Strymon etc. and more importantly the guitarist's personality shines through.

As for things like a RAT, CE-3 and the like being recognizable, effects like distortion, plate/hall reverbs, chorus etc. are simple enough that even if the effect is recognizable, as a listener you concentrate more on the guitarist's playing instead of thinking 'Oh, he's playing a Tele through a RAT'.

I do think this is probably something which would only bother people who actually play guitar/write music though, most listeners who aren't gearheads probably wouldn't notice lol. Also I'm not really one to talk since I have been wanting to get one these pedals, seems like they'd be fun to play with or be a useful performance tool. Probably wouldn't use them when I'm recording some music though

---

This is a tangent, but it's one of the reasons why I find ambient and shoegaze guitar videos as boring and pointless as the dreaded blooz riff demos. They all sound so cookie cutter because instead of the player doing something interesting and creative with the pedals they have, a lot of it is just strumming a Cmaj7 with a $400 delay pedal with built in chorus, pitchshifting and calling it a day. It's the guitar equivalent of 'Lofi hip hop beats to study to'. It was cool five years ago, it had it's time and now I can't wait for it to finally die.
mbene085 wrote:
Wed Jun 17, 2020 7:04 am
burpgun wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:22 am
The only sound effect I can't wait to see die is autotune as an effect on vocals. God do I hate it. It's wrecked rap music, it dehumanizes everything it touches, and not in a good way. That's what I want to see annihilated.
Honestly, its popular usage should have peaked ND died with Cher. For a high-profile musician to use something cutting-edge in a musical way in her 4th decade of topping charts was totally and completely reasonable. For it to become "the" sound plastered all over the place for another two decades has been excruciating.

Actually, all of its uses have been excruciating. It makes every song sound like yet another unbearable episode of Glee.

Back to the reverb. Nothing wrong with playing around with the flavour du jour, but it will definitely date things. Nothing wrong with that necessarily, as has been pointed out. The quality of music will always outlive the trends of production.
I dunno, James Blake does a lot of cool stuff with autotune. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYXM3uz1bjM
soundcloud.com/kkamaguicrow

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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by somanytoys » Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:27 pm

Very interesting discussion.

I don’t care for autotune used the way it typically is. It was novel with Cher, but instantly was everywhere, and I usually cringe when I hear it unless it’s done really well and tastefully. It actually reminds me of the Whammy - it has its place and it’s nice when it’s done well, but too easily becomes irritating if it’s used too often.

Glitchy/bitcrusher stuff can be cool or it can be irritating. I have a few pedals that will do it (Infinite Jets, Ottobit Jr, Count to 5). And just like filter and reverse & shimmer reverbs, I’ve tried to find ways to use the sounds that are more subtle and not in your face. Once in a while things can be very front & center and sound good, it‘s always in how it’s used.

I also recently got an Afterneath, which I like, but I use it in kind of a more subtle way. I wanted to like the Avalanche Run, but I could never really get into it. I wanted one to use instead of my old PS-3, but the sound didn't really seem even close, although that could be my mistake and maybe it is.

One thing I’ve thought about with some of this: just like amps aren’t supposed to be perfect audiophile quality (to give some character to the sound), how many pedals are going a little too clinically pure in their sounds, especially the digital ones?

Maybe some of the magic is the lesser clarity of some things, that blends better or isn’t so dominating. I appreciate that approach and ability of clarity, but it does make me wonder if there’s something to some of the older stuff like the PS-3, the better (SPX-90-esque) reverse reverbs, and certain other older pedals or rackmounts.

I’m caught in the middle, because I like and have both older and newer pedals, and appreciate them for what they are. But I really understand the Casio sound thing - just because it’s clearer doesn’t make it any better, unless you’re looking specifically for that sound.

Many people would never hear or notice the difference, but it’s all that some people can hear, and can take away from the playing or song.
-David

It's a boost booster, to boost your boost - it makes your tone much muchier.

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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by Paco » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:08 pm

Kudos on the Red Panda! That machine is an instrument by itself, but that is another (really interesting) debate!

I wouldn't like in any way to come off as a purist or anti-boutique pedals guy, I love and use all kind of effects in my own music (I'm sure i cant live without my Boss DM-2 or my Crowther Audio Prunes & Custard, to name some). But it feels curious to approach certain specific guitar sounds, like Wilco's and Deerhunter circa 00's, and find old Holy Grails or DS-1's all over them! In a non-ironic, not Joyo-between-Strymons kind of way, obviously. And it works the other way too. In Deerhunter's case specifically, this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY6eNxYDWMo has an Eventide Modfactor preset literally all over it on guitars, all of Halcyon Digest has Eventide shit (Space, Timefactor, Modfactor) on every song. I absolutely LOVE both the record and the song, for me these arpeggios are a big, important element, but I really wonder how all these era-specific sounds are gonna be perceived in 30 years, even by a superfan like me.

Are these complex pedals instruments by themselves? I really think so, and this is relevant. Maybe we need people like Bradford Cox or Alan Sparhawk or Tim Gane to reinterpret these gadgets and make music out of them, not tutorials :whistle:

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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by jorri » Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:14 pm

I'd always go for something more versatile, experimental and instrument-like. I don't know what 'eventide signature' is really because the Space has 12 algoryhthms and can be vastly changed. I am however hesitant to dial in that one setting 'shimmer', which might count for 1% of the pedal's capability. I do use it but mostly on unusual settings, or pitch at 30cents for chorusing. I only recently discovered the mangleverb again after 7 years- really liking that- where is the overuse of that effect?

I also sometimes long for my yamaha rack, or even my zoom's mixer reverb I guess, for cheap charm maybe.

Nonetheless having a more complicated pedal doesn't exclude me

I've found some analogue pedals just as "preset" sounding. When will i crack out my small stone and have it not sound really obviously like a small stone?!

I get the casio preset analogy for some. Like the ehx synth/keyboards, or most other synth pedals short of the Meris or weirdo analogue combos....Well the result is a cheap keyboard sound, in fact a cheap synth would do it better. And for the Meris? perhaps a synth of that price does it better?

Others like chase bliss have never sonically inspired me. Yet there are DIP switches to change seemingly arbitrary things to a guitar player, and yet i never hear anything that extraordinary compared to pedals of less knobs really. so its not all about options or no options...just build a versatile pedal or not.

Just like the Space, so can a Rat be versatile through the gain knob alone, from treble boost to big muff levels of fuzz and it alters tonality doing it. Or any delay really, can respond so differently to playing with 3 knobs, or throw in modulation and I end up using that more than bigger delays.

And the Red Panda. its pretty specific but if you chase that sound then go for it. I like the look of the hologram microcosm which seems like a fully equipped sampler/granular strapped to the guitar, and for that reason might be stuck less to one 'flavour'.

But pedal demos. Always bring out the worst. usually... well they can only be as creative as the player who's probably not trying at that point but rather showing that a pedal can do a 'current trend' or not in order to have viewers. They do not display the actuality of some of these pedals...Afterall didn't ed o' brian end up with a ton of strymon-classed things on his board and aren't his sounds getting even better and prominent? Wonder if he now uses for those "in rainbows" effects, but i seem to recall he updated what he was using to produce them.

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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by Paco » Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:32 pm

The point is not if "modern" or "complicated" pedals are good or not. It's not a battle between the analog or digital, or the lots of knobs vs three knobs. It is far from that as it is not that simple, and I don't think anyone is right or wrong. I'm not judging anyone's gear, I'm just trying to make a point. No place for hate here 8)

I think all gear is good, really. Evidently the performer makes the difference. Even Casio shitty presets can be awesome in it's own way, the Yamaha PSS series or the Casiotone's are famous among pros and non pros for precisely that. I had an Eventide space and I deeply loved it and used it until it died on me! The EQD hummingbird was my first approach to the Vox Repeater circuit, and this is something I think is a big factor on the gear industry success: one of the main reasons boutique pedals exist is because they recreate and make affordable interpretations of sometimes impossible rare, vintage, obscure gear. In a way, it can even be educational. You see, I still can't afford the Vox guitar with the repeater circuit on it, but I can sure get the EQD hummingbird. I'm sure that's good :)

The real question is if the sounds that we are able to create with today's tools will sound dated in some point in history. And let's be clear with this, something that sounds dated is not necessarily bad, at all. So what determines it? Can people really notice it or is it just a musician's thing? I think these are valid, important questions.

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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by jorri » Fri Jun 19, 2020 4:03 am

There is a historical cycle. What makes us cringe from five to ten years ago whilst seeking out sounds from decades back :). Shimmer was created way back by Brian Eno for example for U2. Likewise shoegaze got a revival at similar time to its recurrence. There are times when synths were out of fashion or when reverb was steer away.

Culturally, with even fashion, people get on a trend, then proliferation increases, then they get bored of overuse, then decades later it seems rarer and they seek out the times it actually worked in genuine moments of creativity, not all the trendy misuses that lose out in curation and get forgotten- then repeat! Until those nostalgic 'hipsters' / enthusiasts find it too prevalent again and complain.
The difference now: will all those guitar demos and identikit post rock bands stay accessible in fifteen years for a revival?

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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by burpgun » Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:18 am

I've been at this long enough to have started with pedals when that's all there was, messed around with initial generation of rack stuff, and then that faded as pedals got better and more varied.

Like one of the comments higher up, the next stage could well be some sort of box that allows more pedal types that can be mixed. There's some of that now with things like the Line 6 HX stomp, which allows you access to a huge range of the top pedals and amps ever made, however you want to stack them up.

I wonder that as people slowly get onboard with digital amps that very accurately model traditional gear the damn will finally break, and the guitar future will all be things like Fractal gear. If we do get there, that unlimited palate would be a boon to sound creation and freedom and would allow more people to create new things. I wouldn't do it, but imagine running your guitar into a Macbook running Mainstage into a PA. You've got your amp sim and access to whatever plugs you want, regardless of whether they are guitar dedicated. That's a huge palate if you can shed the legacy gear.

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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by fuzzjunkie » Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:34 am

TC Electronic has experimented with that idea ^^^ in a couple of formats over the past 20 years. They could probably do something today with their impulse tech.

In many ways the Ibanez UE-400 and 300 series were the precursor to that idea and maybe made the best use of it. Craig Anderton championed modular design in his old effects pedal book from the 80s.

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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by jorri » Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:45 am

I'd be all over such a virtual system. Something like the eventide H9, however that discludes the drive and amp selections.

But two ways tech seems to go, the other being is people liking the limitations, so digital things feature analogue-like limitations.

A bit like mediocre Leica cameras that feature no LCD screen or only shoot monochrome for 8 grand.

I mean, some will embrace it and some will was strange modular designs that involve buying many small variants, as opposed to just allowing an 'algorhythm selection'... Even if its as simple as allowing the pre-existing code to un-limit selections. I feel ripped off if many variants are to be made of different digital FX when it could be contained in a menu - yet a few companies have been successful at that.

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Re: Is this Red Panda/ Granular thing going to get old?

Post by cestlamort » Fri Jun 19, 2020 11:15 am

Despite this brave new world of modeled circuit behavior / swiss army knife effects, it all comes down to input of electrical signal to sound wave. Some of my favorite sounds, for example, are "poor" representations of the original signal (for delays: filtered in old BBD chips or low bit rate copies from early digital chips or all the magic that happens when tape is involved). I'm sure all the "very fast math" (as an engineer friend put it) gets the digital models closer to the things being modeled, but the imperfections and accidents seem to lend a bit of magic to things. For delays, the Belle Epoch deluxe sounds pretty darn close to an echoplex, as much as I'd ever need, probably. But El Capistan misses the mark somehow. (Or I missed the mark when I used it, always a distinct possibility).

The whole current guitar effects culture is fascinating in any case:
Most (all?) of us run guitars through a series of dedicated effects processors from a variety of different manufacturers and eras and technologies, cobbling together some sequence of signal processing that (hopefully) sounds pleasant and/or inspiring, spending hundreds in creating our own special mix of stuff (or is it thousands? a few $200 pedals add up quickly... and surprising how the price of entry has crept up over the years and many of us now have multiple pedals over $300 or more).

One positive aspect is that all the different steps are easily replaceable in our homemade modular systems. Don't like that particular overdrive? Just buy another and switch it out. Read some reviews, watch some youtube videos, know that you can probably get 90% of your purchase price on some forum or other (and the individual pedals are more or less consistent with each other, so no worries about buying one online, etc). The effects economy is just fascinating, based on collectibility, exchangeability, etc. How many of the current buyers grew up in the Beanie Babies bubble? Comic books? Magick cards? (Is it coincidental that with the effects boom, where every bedroom player has mission control, shoegaze – one of the most effects-dependent genres – has had a revival? I certainly can't cast the first [small] stone here [sorry, that's a horrible joke])

As far as prescriptive modular effects (such as all multi-effects), they limit choice of flavors, in that you can't easily switch out one manufacturer's effect for another. In other words, whereas individual effects are standardized (when it comes to function, if not necessary form or power), multi-effects force you to go all in with one system/designer/manufacturer and that's a commitment to that ecosystem. (yes, some have loops to add x or y effect, but that's a relatively awkward compromise).

In my own experience, I love the ibanez UE racks (2 x 4 analog effects) because I love their individual effects (I also like the Boss ME-5 and Roland GP-8 for the same reason). However, I like some other brands' versions of those same effects more (example: the ibanez flanger on there is very good, but the old MXR flanger is amazing). I used the UE racks + an eventide H9 for years, figuring the H9 could do all that the racks didn't cover. Yes, it did it, but it wasn't quite right (or I'm not good at programming more than two parameters), so I recently did a reboot and made a small pedalboard with flavors I like more. The UE racks are something like 35 years old, so not the latest technology by any means, but the same would hold true for any multi effect system that isn't an open platform (such as a laptop or other computer).

Maybe if effects makers could agree on some common hardware-based modular system (an update version of whatever modular multieffect pedal, was it Korg that did the one with modules?), it'd be more attractive or interesting. Tangentially, some of the most interesting things happens when things are put to unintended uses / misused, and that's maybe more difficult to do in a closed system.

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