EarthQuaker Devices always keeps one foot on solid ground and the other in exploratory waters. At times this is exhibited well in 2 separate simultaneous releases, The Depths and Arpanoid or The Terminal & Pitch Bay for example. For every traditional concept contained in one of their guitar pedals, there is usually some unconventional twist that takes their designs into uncharted territory. And sometimes one of their pedals ventures so far off the deep end, there’s just little else you could possibly compare it to. The Rainbow Machine is one such pedal.
The EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine is a polyphonic harmonizing modulation pedal quite unlike anything seen or heard before. Its digital oscillators create real-time polyphonic pitch-shifting for harmonies from a 4th down through a 3rd up and every atonal pitch in between. You can add an accompanying octave up to the harmony with the Secondary knob and create insane pitch take offs and descents by activating the Magic. This is a tool for sonic explorers, not traditionalists. Is it the best polyphonic pitch-shifter pedal in this dimension? Keep reading our EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine review to find out.
Pitch control knob adjusts the pitch of the harmony from a 4th down to a 3rd up. Can be controlled by an expression pedal as well.
Primary control knob adjusts volume of the Primary pitch-shifted signal.
Secondary control knob adjusts volume of the Secondary pitch-shifted signal. The pitch is an octave up from the Primary signal.
Tracking control knob adjusts the lag time between the direct dry signal and the shifted wet signal for delay-like effects.
Magic control knob creates ascending and descending pitch regeneration effects and is highly interactive with the Tracking knob.
Tone control knob rolls off the high-end of the wet signal when turned counter-clockwise.
Exp input jack allows use of an external expression pedal for real-time control of the Pitch parameter.
Magic footswitch activates and bypasses the Magic effect.
Activate footswitch engages and disengages the Rainbow Machine via true bypass.
Powered by 9VDC power supply.
Sound & Performance:
The Rainbow Machine is not for the faint of heart. This is one of the most otherworldly pedals I have encountered and should be approached with extreme caution if you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. This pedal will mangle and deform your signal, sometimes beyond recognition. What it does can be extreme and arguably unmusical or absolutely beautiful and breathtaking to behold. But for those that can harness the power of this mesmerizing machine, a world of sonic wonder awaits.
A good place to start for feeling out what the Rainbow Machine can do is setting the Primary, Pitch, and Secondary controls at noon, the Tone and Tracking fully clockwise, and the Magic switch to “Off”. On this setting the Rainbow Machine will produce a hi-fi sounding replica of your signal, doubling your sound with a pristine digital sheen. Slightly off noon settings of the Pitch knob create lush digital chorusing effects. With the Tracking rolled all the way to the right, the response time of the harmony is quite fast with barely a hint of perceptible latency. By rolling the Tracking knob counter-clockwise you can produce some interesting ambient effects that sound like a mutant delay/reverb hybrid. These beautifully bizarre sounds are some of my favorite that the pedal produces.
From here there are several interesting things you can do to sprinkle some magic on your sound. Engage the Magic with the Magic knob rolled to around 1 or 2 o’clock and the Tracking around 3 o’clock for some resonating metallic robot reverb textures. Then try adjusting the Pitch to either 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock. The Rainbow Machine creates wildly cascading pitch effects that ascend to the heavens or descend to subterranean depths, producing hypnotic trance-inducing sonic spirals. I really like setting the Pitch knob just above or below noon with the Magic engaged for a sound that creates a feeling of perpetually rising or falling. The Rainbow Machine may instill dizziness and vertigo. You’ve been warned.
The Tracking knob is highly interactive with the Magic. This warrants plenty of experimentation to find the sounds you like best. From sprinkles of fairy dust to cosmic cacophonies, the Rainbow Machine produces some of the most ethereal and otherworldly sound effects around.
I highly recommend trying the Rainbow Machine with an expression pedal with a minimum level knob. I used the Roland EV-5 for my review. (EarthQuaker Devices says the Moog EP-3 Expression Pedal works, too.) Using the full range of an expression pedal with the Rainbow Machine lets you create radically chaotic pitch effects in real-time. Using the level control of the expression pedal, you can also tune the low pitch as desired. Try tuning it to unison pitch, so you can take off on a wild pitch ascent and return to a chorus-like effect at will.
You’ll notice when turning the Pitch knob fast that there’s a delay in the glissando from one pitch to another. This creates a noticeable delay when rapidly turning the Pitch knob for a glide that takes a moment to catch up to the Pitch knob’s current position. This delay in Pitch control is also apparent when using an expression pedal, a benefit to great musical effect that’s similar to how a rotating speaker speeds up and slows down.
The Rainbow Machine is another one of my favorite EarthQuaker Devices pedals that I’ll be spending plenty of time with. Let’s see the final result.
The EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine is one of the most creatively twisted pedals ever to be imagineered and unleashed upon the world. From digital cloning, chorusing, and delay-ish reverb to all out psychedelic surrealism, the Rainbow Machine inspires sounds that can only be made with this pedal. Do you crave dreamlike, phantasmagorical soundscapes? The EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine is quite possibly the best pitch-shifting/modulation pedal for making such dreams a reality.
That concludes our EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine review. Thanks for reading.
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