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Best Bit Crusher Pedal

author
Bob Roberts
• Saturday, 21 November, 2020
• 7 min read

While this can certainly produce glitchy, lo-fi, computerized game boy sounds, it can also create crunchy fuzz tones and a wide range of distortion effects. Here’s a selection of pedals that use or approximate the sound of 8-bit audio to create their own unique sonic character.

(Source: www.hexeguitar.com)

Contents

There’s a bit knob to control the lo-fi effect, echo level, tense (feedback), and time, which varies the delay from 400 to 800ms. In normal operation, the pedal creates some heavy fuzz from the 8 bit digital conversion, and the control knob bends the pitch down and increases the distortion effect as you turn it counter-clockwise.

A high gain preamp and tone control feed its 8-bit computer, where a number of sonic options present themselves. Thankfully, you don’t have to work at CERN to use this pedal : the controls are surprisingly simple, and provide a wide range of tones: from standard overdrive and fuzz to absolute madness.

The third generation of Here’s Bit crushers, this model actually processes at 12 bits, for less background noise and more subtle distortion possibilities. Crush and down sample knobs control the bit distortion and sampling frequency (from 32Hz to 1kHz), and an expression pedal input can be assigned to either or both settings.

A blend control lets you mix the wet and dry signals, and the telephone knob is a band pass filter from 350Hz to 3.5kHz. In case that isn’t enough for you, an additional foot switch engages an internal LFO, which is controlled either by the down sample knob or an expression pedal.

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign (and not actually out until November), the Pitch Grinder is the first digital pedal from Dwarf craft, and it’s more exciting than fighting Bowler in a raccoon suit. Another cool addition is the glide switch: when engaged, notes will bend up to the next pitch, rather than jump directly to it.

i1552
(Source: www.tomtop.com)

Then after releasing the equally original and ethereal Context reverb pedal, Red Panda decided to revisit the Bit crusher effect that put them on the map, so to speak. The Bitmap is a “bit crusher with fractional bit reduction and sample rate modulation”.

It essentially mangles and destroys whatever sounds you feed it in twisted and beautiful ways. You can also reduce the sample rate to create all sorts of bizarre, ring-mod-esque harmonic overtones.

So let’s plug it in and find out if it’s the bestbitcrusher /resampling pedal in our Red Panda Bitmap review. Input gain switch to accommodate single or dual coil pickups and line-level signals.

Output level control for consistent volume, can also provide extra boost. I started out with Crush mode to hear the straight up bit crushing effects this pedal offers.

With the Crush knob rolled down and the Freq all the way up, you’ll get a clean sound at 24 bits with a 32 kHz sampling rate. Basically, it sounds dry and clean even with the Mix rolled all the way up (fully wet).

bit crusher
(Source: www.youtube.com)

At settings as low as around 9 o’clock, you’ll hear some sizzling distortion creeping into your signal. While old-school samplers and digital audio workstations (or Days, like Ableton Live) filter out distortion and aliased components when resampling/ bit reducing, the charm of a Crusher (and hence the Bitmap) is that it leaves all those interesting elements intact to produce the sounds bit crushing effects are known for.

At the subtle 9 o’clock Crush setting, something interesting happens when selecting between Hi/middle/Lo input options. While the middle position is generally a good overall setting to use with guitar, the Lo option (for drum machines, synths, and line level signals) causes a surge in input signal volume that results in even more harmonic aliasing distortion.

Red Panda assures that no harm will come from selecting mismatched input levels, so feel free to experiment with the Bitmap’s 3 settings as it really pays off for dialing in or removing distortion. As you crank the Crush knob towards around noon, the bit depth is further reduced, resulting in more distortion and an increasingly prominent gating effect.

If you feed a high level audio signal into the pedal you’ll hear it. Pulling it back immediately brings in some strange upper frequency harmonic content.

It adds a hint of harmonic complexity to your single notes and chords alike. As you roll the knob down, you’ll hear your melodies becoming less recognizable as their tonality is replaced by the seemingly random digital computations.

elta console music pedal cartridges delay reverb cartridge effects based digital
(Source: motorcityguitar.com)

Keeping the Mix set at moderate levels will let your dry sound peek through the cacophony to anchor the noise with some semblance of melody. Switching to Mod mode lets you automate the sample rate modulation with an LFO.

The Crush knob acts as a Rate control instead of adjusting a bit reduction, and there are triangle, squares, and random options at your disposal. Cranking it to the max produces cool tones that sound similar to running a tremolo or vibrato pedal at high speeds, only in a bizarre bit crusher sort of way.

When stacking fuzz/distortion in front of the Bitmap and using Crush mode, you’ll notice how adjusting the output volume on your fuzz/distortion affects your tone. Also, depending on whether you’re using moderate or extreme settings, it’s worth experimenting with delay pedals before and/or after the Bitmap.

I’d recommend keeping your reverb pedals after the Bitmap to create a space for the chaos (the Red Panda Context works well). The only faults the Bitmap I can find are my usual wish for MIDI control and perhaps having some user presets.

It’s not too bothersome for slow-moving ambient sounds, but I generally prefer very precise expression control for faster movements. Also, a bit crushing isn’t for everyone as it’s a pretty unorthodox effect, but if you love it weird, you’ll have no problem making a little room on your pedal board for the Bitmap.

mainframe its
(Source: www.musicradar.com)

The Red Panda Bitmap is a bit crushing beast that will chew up your guitar and spit out beautiful noise. The Red Panda Bitmap is a chaotic and beautiful pedal worth exploring for guitarists seeking excellent bit crushing effects in a stomp box.

However, thanks to the number of innovative, weird and futuristic stomp boxes on the market, all those associations will be lost, like tears in rain. In space-year 2020, your six-string is more capable than ever of launching you into hyperspace, evoking an endless cosmic void or providing the soundtrack to a bleak cyberpunk dystopia.

Launched at this year’s NAME, the Walrus Audio Make D1 packs in an impressive amount of features for a stomp box of its size. So you’ve got plenty of room to combine it with other effects for even more out-there results, if over a hundred synth patches just aren’t enough.

Dr Scientist’s Bequest offers some fresh takes on eight different effects: flange, filters, bit crusher, reverb, ring modulator, harmonizer and delay. The bit crusher reduces the sample rate of your digitized signal, resulting in distortion that evokes old computer hardware, perfect for adding a robotic edge to your tone.

The reverb is described by Dr Scientist as ‘infinite,’ and while that’s a bold claim, demo videos will show that you can leave the pedal running without a new note indefinitely. The ring modulation found here is particularly layered and strange-sounding, and its frequency setting (controllable by an expression pedal) gives off some distinctly oceanic ambience.

fuzz pedals effects guitar pedal builder distortion scientist dr
(Source: www.bestguitareffects.com)

The delay is a modulated one, and excels in sitting on the balance between disintegrating into complete oscillation and keeping the repeats tangible. The delay is named after the area surrounding a black hole, hence its controls skirt the edge of the pedal.

These then act on the grains, whose size you can also adjust, and the resulting sounds can fall anywhere from modulated delay shimmers to reverse and stutter effects, to extreme glitchy rhythms, to indescribable, kaleidoscopic pitch-shifted alien modulation patterns… It’s an extremely powerful and endlessly creative toolbox. The main chassis (tiny, with entirely top-mounted sockets) has a volume thumb wheel, a foot switch for toggling hi or lo intensity mode and a dial to control the harmonic overtones of the fuzzy distortion.

Boasting an all-analogue signal path, a quiet circuit and ‘true pitch’, this Chase Bliss Audio pedal offers comprehensive digital control over vibrato and chorus sounds, as well as the ability to save settings and alter the shape of the modulation waveform. The Space Age-style chassis houses a range of preset octave up and down sequenced patterns, with additional control over pitch-shifting and rhythmic timing, the shape of the ADS envelope and much more.

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Sources
1 www.motorcycleid.com - https://www.motorcycleid.com/2020-indian-scout-luggage-systems-saddlebags/