EarthQuaker Devices is well-known for creating unique guitar effects with the Rainbow Machine, Bit Commander, and Organizer pedals being great examples of this reputation. And while they already one amazing experimental delay/reverb hybrid pedal in the form of the Disaster Transport SR, one of the best lo-fi delay pedals you’ll ever play, EarthQuaker Devices have released yet another inspired delay infused reverb pedal with the Afterneath.
The Afterneath uses a plethora of short delays to create unique reverb sounds unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. While there are a few subtle references to “hall” and “plate” style reverb sounds in the accompanying manual, these are but reference points for what is easily the most unique sounding standard-sized reverb stompbox I’ve come across. Is it the best experimental reverb pedal around? Let’s run down the features and descend to the cavernous depths in our EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath review.
- Length knob controls the decay length of the reverb.
- Diffuse knob adjusts the spread of the reverb. Sharper with more attack counter clockwise, more ambient and washy as you turn it clockwise.
- Dampen knob adjusts tone; clockwise for brighter tones, counter clockwise for darker tones.
- Drag: This digital reverb is made up of a bunch of short delays, this separates the delay lines creating a stuttering, pingy effect. This is the coolest control on the Afterneath, we highly advise slowly turning this while you let notes ring out for a cool warped speed effect. More delay as you turn it counter clockwise, more reverb as you turn it clockwise.
- Reflect: Controls the regeneration of the reverb, turn clockwise for more wash and echoes, counterclockwise for less. This will self oscillate if turned up high.
- Mix: Blends the wet signal into the dry. Though it does not actually go full wet, it will gradually lower the clean level as you turn it clockwise and give the appearance of full wet.
- Powered by 9VDC power adapter (current draw 65mA).
Sound & Performance:
The EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath is not your typical reverb pedal in any sense. If you’re looking for just a little subtle ambience, some moderate echo, or a conventional sounding space to place your guitar in, this pedal is probably not for you. The Afterneath is an entirely new style of reverb that will take your guitar into completely uncharted dimensions of experimental sound. While the beautiful noises this pedal produces can warrant a noticeable comparison to certain multi-tap digital delay algorithms I’ve heard being combined with reverb (minus the Afterneath’s “Drag” function), no pedal or effects processor comes to mind that has a single effect specifically comparable to the Afterneath. We’re dealing with such an original sound here that I wouldn’t be surprised to see another company try to emulate or copy the sound of the Afterneath in a virtual DSP algorithm at some point.
When you first glance at the Afterneath’s plethora of 6 knobs, it might appear to offer an overwhelming amount of control. The 2 knobs furthest right are easy enough to understand. Dampen adjusts the reverb tone from dark to bright. It sounds great throughout its range and is particularly useful for maintaining a reasonably full range sound with a little high end rolloff if needed. Mix sets the amount of wet reverb signal heard, from no reverb to a degree of wet signal that sufficiently covers your dry sound without actually being 100% wet. It’s basically safe to crank the Mix knob all the way up or keep it around the neighborhood of 3 o’clock more or less with great results.
The Length and Reflect knobs are quite interactive in my experience. Length sets the decay time of the reverb, creating the overall length of the sounds heard. Longer settings can produce cavernous, hall-inspired reverbs. The Reflect knob increases regeneration, thus adding to the reverb length with potential to self-oscillate into an infinite void of ambient chaos. I generally find best results by keeping one of these knobs set lower when the other is set high although it’s still fun to push them both up for a cascading swirl of reverberating sonic bliss.
The most unique and inspiring aspect of the Afterneath is its Drag knob which affects the reverb sound by changing the spacing between a series of short stuttery delays. You can dial this in for various rhythmic delay/reverb ambience or slowly turn the knob while it’s reverberating for mesmerizing pitch shifted reverb sounds. Hearing demo videos online is one thing, but you must experience it firsthand for the full interactive effect. The final knob, Diffuse, adds definition to the delays. Keeping it turn to the left lets those ping-ponging repeats some more articulated while turning it clockwise washes them out for a smeared and washy sound. With lower Drag, Diffuse, Reflect and Length settings you can achieve a clearer multi-tap delay sound.
While I’ve covered the general functionality, it’s how you find yourself using the Afterneath that makes it so appealing. While you can coax some interesting set-and-forget ambience from it, going on a knob-twisting journey of discovery is where the real fun is. EarthQuaker Devices excel at creating guitar pedals that are veritable playgrounds of sonic exploration, and the Afterneath is another gem among them. This is another pedal from EarthQuaker Devices that may inspire entire songs or become a huge component to an experimental guitarist’s signature sound.
While shoegazers will surely love twiddling knobs and creating alluring aural soundscapes – and I do love binging out this way myself from time to time – there are a few minor or significant concerns, depending on your performance preferences. Frankly, the Drag function is amazing and desperately needs expression pedal control. I find no excuse worthwhile that should require taking attention away from an audience to bend over a pedalboard and twist knobs. Though it might be inconvenient to overhaul the internal PCB/schematic design to accommodate this, I’m certain that the collective cry among guitarists who loves this pedal is that it would greatly benefit from added expressional pedal control. Here’s to EQD someday blessing us with an Afterneath V2. While they’re at it, my single biggest personal issue with EarthQuaker Devices pedals that do have expression pedal control is that they’re not compatible with CV (control voltage). While I myself would love to be able to use MIDI to CV conversion for automated and realtime Drag control, the Afterneath would also be a killer effect for modular synth junkies. Imagine the possibilities tif you could modulate the Drag with an LFO via CV. The only other issue I noticed was a bit of a raised noise floor at lower Drag settings most likely due to the longer duration of the delay time, but this didn’t really compromise performance or the overall experience of playing the Afterneath.
It must be said that as it is, the Afterneath is one of the most unique and inspiring reverb pedals around. It’s not meant to be your definitive ambience creating reverb. In fact, I really like stacking it with other reverb pedals for traditional ambience after the Afterneath. It’s truly a haven of experimental fun and one of the highlights in EarthQuaker Devices’ stellar pedal lineup.
The EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath is an “otherworldy reverberation machine” like no other. Let’s see the final result.
The EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath is the most original and unique reverb pedal I’ve played in years. Forgoing all the traditional expectations what a reverb pedal is supposed to be, the Afterneath offers bold new ambient sounds thanks to its surrealistic multi-tap delay meets oscillating reverb design. If you’re up for a little real-time knob-twisting, turning the Drag knob will send your guitar spiraling into oblivion. While some guitarists will have wished for expression pedal Drag control, the Afterneath is still an undeniably worthy addition to your pedalboard. It’s one of the best experimental reverb pedals around and one of the best pedals EarthQuaker Devices have released.
That concludes our EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath review. Thanks for reading.
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