Friday, 4 January 2019

TC Electronic Sub 'N' Up MINI Octaver Pedal Review

TC Electronics do a number of interesting pedals, a bit like Electro-Harmonix. When it comes to octave pedals, there's little doubt that the EHX POG leads the way (although Boss may have something to say about that).

What's important in an octave pedal is that the pedal plays both the octaves but also tracks the note accurately and responsively. This is where EHX have led the way in my view.

So what of TC's version of the micro POG - the "Sub N Up"? This comes in a couple of versions - the 'regular' size pedal and the mini pedal.

The difference between the two, other than the physical footprint is that the regular Octaver has two sub bass control knobs, whereas the Mini Octaver only has one. The regular Octaver also has a switch for its 'Poly Toneprint Classic' sound.

Both have the ability to beam TonePrints to the pedal, as well as a mini USB input. The regular one also has the ability to be true bypass - or optionally can be set up to be a buffered bypass.

A buffered bypass is often used at the front of a pedal chain with lots of true bypass pedals and considered to punch the sound through the bypass pedals more effectively). On my pedalboard setup I have a sadly discontinued Open Road overdrive at the start of the chain and this is a buffered bypass. Does it make the sound better? Hard to tell but I think it probably does.

The Octaver Mini itself has three control knobs... The top one controls the wet and dry signal. If the knob is turned fully to the right it is completely dry (so the pedal is not heard). If the knob is turned fully to the left, the signal is fully wet (so the original guitar sound isn't heard). I've left the pedal in the middle position mostly.

Below this there are control knobs for the octave sub (left) and the octave up (right). The more these are turned clockwise, the greater the amount of effect will be added. Simple.

The other good thing is that one of TC Electronic's TonePrints will allow you to have the octave Up pedal as a separate sub, so you can use the pedal to go down 1 and 2 octaves. Otherwise your sub pedal gives you an octave down and the up gives an octave up.

Of course in use with a delay and reverb (and even a chorus), this pedal will help giving a swelling shimmer reverb sound if wanted.

For me, the pedal now finds its way at the start of the pedal chain on both my acoustic (when playing solo or as a duo) or my electric board. On acoustic, the pedal can act to give me a bass line while my partner in musical crime carries the chords. Or on both acoustic and electric, the octave pedal thickens up a lead line, either to give a specific effect or simply as a 'boost' to thicken the tone.

In practice, I find that the Mini Octaver tracks single lead lines perfectly well for my need anyway!

With chords it's more tricky for any octave pedal as it has to separate out each string and apply the effect simultaneously. I have to say that the Mini Octaver tracks even chords impressively. Here I'm talking about worship songs which generally have a fairly standard rhythmic strum pattern. But even with both the sub and up activated I find it works well. There is a slight bit of latency on some of the bass as you'll hear in the clip but as long as you don't overdo the amounts (when using chords at least), I think it works fine!


Overall, my conclusion is that the pedal works very well. It actually reproduces bass well on a completely wet setting. With chords, it's more varied, especially the higher the settings you use as you'd expect). It can begin to have a slightly detuned, chorusy type of sound. But for adding something else to the tone and adding character, it works very well.

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