Update 9/7/19: Making up for lost time!

Welp, I did a double take when I saw that my last blog post was pushing a year ago. It’s time for a big-picture update and some info on new releases. This is a long one because there is a LOT to discuss. 

With the manufacturing tweaks which came into effect at the start this year, the Longsword and Model feT are stable and in regular rotation with no changes planned. We still have some Longswords in stock and we will have a fresh batch of Model feTs (in a surprise special finish, no less!) in time for Black Friday. As long as you keep buying them we will keep making them, and for that we are grateful. 

Now for new things. We have four more releases coming before the end of the year. Some of these have existed in one form or another for over two years now and it feels great to finally have them ready. I like being open about the development process - it’s one of the perks of being such a small company. But a potential downside is how long it can take to get something just right while also juggling a day job/wedding planning/etc. I constantly learn as I go and am always striving to improve, which sometimes means it takes me a few iterations to get something where I want it—especially when I am designing original circuits where no prior reference exists. At any rate, these are all worth the wait and I appreciate you being along for the ride.

Without further ado, here’s the new stuff:

Kerria Lacca (September 24)

This is our new collab with Electrofoods Pedals, featuring their Lil Pig (an absolutely destructive percolator variant) stacked into our Surveyor circuit for two channels of noise rock bliss. One might call it Dude Incredible 2: Electric Dudealoo (thanks to ultimate homie Brian from Smallsound/Bigsound for that). A demo video from our friend Ian (aka Collector/Emitter) is coming out in a couple weeks. 

2019-07-28 09.01.10.jpg

Surveyor (September 30)

The better half of the Dude Incredible, aka the IVP Tube Voice circuit, now distilled into a 4-knob drive. All the clang, grind, and blown out solid state saturation you can ask for - now in a more compact package with soft switching. If you want to recreate the vibe of the Dude Incredible you can feed the Surveyor with a Dirge Even Anguish, Land Devices HP-2, or Champion Leccy Divvy - all percolator variants that stay true to the original while offering some useful tweaks. And if you miss out on the Kerria Lacca, there’s always the Lil Pig! We have a demo from Noise Generator right around the corner.

DSCF1041.JPG

Halberd (October 24)

The Halberd began as the preamp from Sending, but I must emphasize that it has evolved into something quite a bit different. The best way I can describe the flavor is if Neil Young played guitar for Drive Like Jehu. The Halberd is an obsessively tweaked transistor overdrive with a super clean 24V boost converter power supply for tons of dynamic range. My favorite part about it is the pre-gain bass control, which can allow for clangy or blown-out tones depending on your pickups and playing style. It truly was an exercise in manic over-engineering, but one that sounds just right. I can’t wait to get some demos out.

DSCF1081.JPG

Hypersleep (November 29)

An all-electronic analog reverb. What does this mean? The core of the Hypersleep is the rare MN3011 BBD. Compared to a traditional BBD with a single delayed output, the MN3011 has six delayed outputs that are staggered apart. This is a primitive way to emulate room reflections, and has a unique and haunting sound. A finely tuned exponential LFO turns the Hypersleep into a warped room sound or even a multi-tap chorus/vibrato. 

DSCF0940.JPG

The rest?

As for our other models which haven’t been in production in a bit (Dagger, Beholder, etc), we plan to restock most of them next year. And some of you have been wondering - what about Sending? I have said it elsewhere, but V2 is confirmed to be in the works. It will be some time before it crystalizes completely but I am excited about the overall direction of the updates. In a strange turn of events, all of my circuit tweaks that morphed the Sending preamp into the Halberd are not going to be practical (I literally doubled the number of transistors, and there’s NOS Germanium in there now) so the preamp is getting a facelift while still retaining that smooth and slightly fuzzy console-like character. Many other updates are planned and I will let you all know about them as they develop. For Sending V1 owners: we will be doing a firmware upgrade which is free for all original owners (and very inexpensive for everyone else) which will improve the tamp tempo performance and add an Easter Egg mode too. More on that in a couple months. 

In closing -

I’m having a great time over here. If you have any questions, my email inbox is always open. Thanks everyone!

Cheers,

John

Update 11/3/18: Model feT V3!

Hey folks, trying to do these updates a bit more frequently - and for good reason, since we’ve had a busy fall! Here is the first production build of Model fet V3.

2018-11-03 09.40.12.jpg

Aside from some purely functional updates (SMD parts, relay bypass) changing this design did not come lightly - but since I was laying out a new board from scratch I seized the opportunity. The Model feT design has remained unchanged for a few years now—from V1 to V2 all we did was shrink the enclosure and leave the internal “Presence” trimpot at a fixed value, because 1) it barely did anything of use and 2) folks couldn’t find it and were adjusting the bias controls instead.

This past summer, before diving in to the new layout, I revisited my original simulations of the Model T and my corresponding transistor emulation. I’ve learned a great deal since those original simulations, and spent time matching up all of the frequency responses to a greater deal of accuracy than I could previously. The end result has more low end, clearer breakup, and a much more natural sound when stacking pedals in front - all good things for a preamp pedal that can work with both guitar and bass!

Release info and some demos will be coming soon, via social media and our email list as usual. Thanks everyone.

Update 9/28/18: Oops I did it again

It's been a while since my last update! This summer (and hell, the month of September) has passed in what feels like a blink of an eye. Between work, wedding planning, vet stuff (don’t worry, all is well now), and barely holding down a social life I have been working hard to ensure EAE functions smoothly. This update is mostly about that. And I must apologize in advance, as it’s a bit lengthy.

Quick housekeeping: 1) I remain immensely thankful for everyone who preordered a Sending. We are in the midst of shipping out preorders and can't wait to get your feedback. And 2) huge thanks to everyone who took part in our last sale! The Beholder preorders are slated to ship in mid to late October, and we will post regular updates until then. 

My relationship with pedal building is in somewhat of an unfortunate pattern: when my day job is in a lull I experience a period of productive R&D and prepping for build runs, whereas manufacturing often coincides with chaos elsewhere in my life. To break this pattern we are modernizing our manufacturing methods by moving all of our main products over to surface mount technology (SMT) – a process that has been underway since early Spring.

SMT is not a new thing but given the fact that the audio world places every component under intense scrutiny, I feel compelled to elaborate on our motives. SMT allows for much faster production – rather than 20-30 pedals going at a time we can easily do 50-100 and beyond. We have partnered with a manufacturer here in Massachusetts for circuit board assembly and will be doing final assembly and testing in-house. This is not for some “made in the USA” jingoism cred­­, but rather to form a close relationship to continue making our work the best it can be. I find the most joy in the art of designing and that, rather than some particular way of placing components and wires in a box, is how I leave my personal mark.

So I've already posted about a few SMT prototypes on social media, but I kept this one under wraps:

2018-09-05 09.07.17.jpg

Say hi to Longsword V4. This is a direct evolution of V3. The main changes are 1) the new control layout, which places the Boost control on the exterior of the pedal and 2) soft-touch bypass switching, for increased cycle life and reliability. The signal path remains largely unchanged – I reduced the noise floor and adjusted the center of the High tone control a bit towards the darker side, but on most setups the change is negligible.

Manufacturing has begun and we fully expect to have a sizable batch available this fall, with specific dates TBA. We are so excited to get this out there.

Other updates for those who are curious:

  • I posted a teaser of Model feT V3, which is also SMT and features revisions I have wanted to make for a long time. We are waiting on enclosures and I will provide more details once we have them.

  • Ian from Collector/Emitter posted an excellent video of some new prototypes from
    Fear the Riff that you can watch here. More about those pedals:

    • The new drive pedal is called Halberd. It is based around the same transistor gain block used in Sending’s preamplifier, but with some tweaks for more gain and tonal range. It’s somewhere between a console-style overdrive and a “transparent” overdrive, with some elements reminiscent of our µ Blaster boost. The latest prototype sounds fantastic, but we are using a special power supply design that needs some stress testing before it is market ready.

    • Unfortunately, Hypersleep is going back to the drawing board. It turns out that at high volumes, the LFO bleeds a ridiculous amount of RF noise into the ground line of other pedals – even when using a high-end isolated power supply. I like to design around the worst case scenario—we use an off-brand supply for R&D—so the noise level is not acceptable. I will most likely be replacing the entire clock infrastructure with a microcontroller, which is going to take some time. I really want to release this thing, but only when it’s right. There is only a finite supply of MN3011s in the world and if I am going to use them, I do not want to half-ass it.  

  • Surveyor is in limbo because I managed to spec out a transformer that is perpetually out of stock. I have these transformers on back order, but I am holding off on placing an order at the PCB manufacturer until after I get transformers in. I can’t afford to sit on a pile of partially populated boards for very long.

  • The SMT Beholder will be identical to the through-hole version, which is why we didn’t rush it for the batch that is currently up for sale. And shout-out to my friend Wooly at Champion Leccy who is assembling this run!

  • There WILL BE another run of Sendings, whenever it gets the SMT treatment it desperately needs.

That’s all for now!

Update 5/29/18: Sending

This is an exciting moment for me so I'll try not to get too hyperbolic. After well over a year of R&D, Sending is here. The official preorder date  is Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 2PM EST, at which time you can order through our reverb store. This first run is handwired and will be limited to 50 units at $400 plus shipping. The first demo by abunchofpedals can be found here, and we have another demo coming from collector//emitter on Thursday. I'm incredibly thankful for their ability to show what this thing is capable of - be sure to subscribe to their channels!

For those who are out of the loop: Sending is an analog delay with tap tempo and a sophisticated input preamp. It’s surely the most ambitious EAE pedal to date. Starting with a pair of MN3005 reissue Bucket Brigade Devices (BBDs), we added tap tempo and a unique, all-discrete preamp that is capable of "always on" harmonic enhancement or console-style overdrive. Its delay times go up to 1000ms if you care about fidelity, and nearly 2000ms if you don't. And finally, there is an FX Loop which patches in after the delay line to add additional effects to the delayed signal. For additional details and a sneak peek at the technical manual check here.

sending front view.jpg
sending guts straight.JPG

A few notes on the preorder process: these are very complex builds and will be assembled by hand. At this time I estimate the lead time will be around 8 weeks (translating to a ship date in mid August for those who preorder on launch day) but I'll be sure to maintain the utmost transparency throughout the manufacturing process. We have all of the long lead-time parts including PCBs and enclosures on hand, but said PCBs are huge and I want to take the time to do them properly. 

On that note, "I want to take the time to do it properly" is the mantra for everything we do at EAE. But never did it ring more true than during the design process for Sending. Analog delay is my favorite kind of effect, so even the thought of approaching one with the standards of my favorite delay units was an incredibly daunting task. The very first sketches and block diagrams came about in late Fall 2016, before I really even understood what a BBD truly did. In March 2017 I built the first prototype, which had my first take on the preamp as well as a simpler delay implementation inspired by classic Boss and DOD pedals. I loved this prototype but realized that it had some quirks that wouldn't fly in a professional delay, and it also needed more features to justify a price point that would in turn justify its part count. It took a couple months to rig up tap tempo, and another couple months to cram that tap tempo and all the other stuff onto a single PCB, and then another couple months to make that PCB not be a noisy mess. In the process I overhauled all of the filtering, dynamics processing, and clock control until we had a truly unique design. I spent most of this past year dialing in subtle things like control tapers and tap tempo firmware, and finally got to the end result that I'm so excited for you all to check out. So here we are! As Ian from Collector//Emitter put so well: Sending is my love letter to analog delay.

If you made it this far thanks for reading and supporting what we do. 

Until next time,
John

Update 4/19/18: Making some moves

I actually can't believe it's been nearly three months since the last blog update. So with no fanfare, let's get into it with a few updates. 

1) The Beholder launch is in a week! This long-awaited foray outside the world of dirt is coming on 4/27/18 at 2PM EST. Also worth noting: we will be moving our e-commerce over to Reverb, as our transaction fees (everyone's got them) are better spent on a platform that is by and for musicians. We'll make the changeover painless by ensuring the links are super clear to follow. 

2) Seriously, thank you all so much for the successful sales we've had thus far in 2018. Model feTs and Dude Incredibles have all been flying off the shelves and we couldn't do it without you. I will address the unfortunate lack of Longswords so far this year—Zach had a major foundation leak in his basement workshop and was forced to relocate to a new shop which is just getting up and running. There WILL be more, they just took longer than expected. Thanks for being patient.

3) The Dude Incredible will be going on indefinite hiatus. The IVP side is going to live on as the Surveyor, which is just getting the final touches for surface-mount assembly. (Yes, you read that right. The future is now.)

4) Sending, our long-awaited tap tempo analog delay, is coming. The final artwork is approved and we are in the process of ordering some of the longer lead-time parts (PCBs, enclosures, etc). Once all that is squared away will be working out demo videos and a proper announcement. One important thing to note: we're going to be breaking our "no preorders" rule because these pedals are expensive to build. More info soon. 

5) Re: other new stuff: we're getting there but ultimately it's best to space things out. I obsessively optimize anyway.

Until next time,
John

Update 1/30/18: Too many irons in the fire!

Hey everyone! I have lots of things to talk about but they've been a bit disjointed lately. Social media is most conducive to short-form updates and the mailing list is not inclusive by default, so I'm re-starting the blog for updates like this one. I'll try to keep it off-the-cuff without rambling. 

To start: I am not a businessman, social media expert, or anything of the sort—at the end of the day I'm mostly a tinkerer with a webstore, (and one who is happy to have you all along for the ride). The truth is I enjoy design work more than most other things and it's easy to chase a new idea rather than follow through with building dozens of the same device. If I hack together something new that I'm excited about I have zero impulse control when it comes to sharing it... but I'm also a bit of a perfectionist. As a result there is a bunch of confusion about what designs I may or may not have finished!

Fortunately for all of us I'm doing the follow-through now. It's high time to buckle down and release stuff for real: our first forays into time-based and modulation effects. I posted a tentative release schedule the other day on Instagram which had a positive response but I think it deserves elaboration. So, here's my best attempt to list what's coming out and where things stand. 

  • Longsword, Model feT, Dude Incredible: These are rock solid. We make little tweaks under the hood every now and then but general functionality is always going to be the same. As of the time of this post, we're hoping to have more of all of these in February
  • Beholder: the fuzzed-out reverb I've been tweaking on and off since mid 2015 or so. The design is verified, but we're in the middle of transitioning to a new enclosure shop which held us back somewhat. In the mean time you can hear some clips on the product page here. This is slated to drop in March if all goes well!
  • Hypersleep: an analog modulated reverb based on the MN3011 bucket brigade IC. It's somewhat lo-fi and has a room-like decay with the option to modulate the trails, for a weird chorus effect. There are some clips on our instagram (like this one), but there will be a more official demo video before it comes out for real so you know what to expect. The release date is tentatively going to be some time in April
  • Surveyor: This is the IVP side of the Dude Incredible. Lower price point, smaller size, no germanium transistors, yadda yadda. Good if you want to BYOPercolator and get a Dirge Even Anguish or hell, use an original HP-1. Unfortunately the compact transformer used in this design was out of stock for a few months so we put it on the back burner. The design should make a debut in late spring, but that depends on our other releases. 
  • Sending: the big one: analog delay with a built-in discrete preamplifier and tap tempo. A good analog delay is my white whale and I won't release it until I know it's my best possible work. That said, I made some major strides in the design over the last few weeks and I finally feel like it competes with the heavy hitters in my personal collection. If the next PCB layout works I'll be doing the release for this one a bit differently, so stay tuned. 
  • Other stuff: an all discrete ring modulator (2018 is the year of the ring mod apparently), Claymore V2 (Longsword + Blend + bass friendly features), a revamp of our Acoustic 360 style preamp pedal, and a smattering of collaborations with other companies. No set date on these, but mentioning for the sake of transparency since I have posted about them before. 

Anyway, here's a family photo of some of the new stuff! We had these prototypes at Fear the Riff and got some excellent feedback which brought us to the current iterations of each design. We can't wait for you to hear all the final versions. 

2017-10-06 12.28.39.jpg

TL;DR: We're getting there. Thanks for bearing with us. 

Cheers,

John

Test post/hello

Hi everyone, I have decided to migrate our blog to the main site. You can find our old blog, which was hosted on Tumblr, here

In the mean time I will be using this for longer-form posts about general goings on at EAE, some tech talk, etc. I don't expect updates here to be frequent, but some things are just too long for instagram and facebook algorithms are a nuisance. 

Cheers!