EarthQuaker Devices The Depths Review – Best “Uni-Vibe” Modulation Pedal?

Reviewed by:
On November 29, 2013
Last modified:December 3, 2016



Guitarists have long-sought quality guitar pedals that simulate the three dimensional sounds of a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet, an effect originally designed for use with organ that delivers lush, swirling soundscapes. The first effect to emulate the rotary sound was the Uni-Vibe, and although it failed to accurately reproduce an authentic rotary sound, it become a remarkably well-regarded effect in its own right due to its unique sonic character. Listen to Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix or his Woodstock rendition of the Star Spangled Banner for a few legendary examples of the effect in action. Over the years countless variations of this now classic effect have been released, and EarthQuaker Devices have released a noteworthy modern update with The Depths.

Deep Sea Vibe Machine

The Depths offers real classic vibe sounds thanks to its optical circuit which features a flashing lamp flanked by 4 light-sensing photocells. The sequence of these sensors along with the pulsing light is what creates the lush, phasing rhythmic pulse and 3D swirling sounds. The Depths also gives you an array of knobs of tweak your tone and a Level control to boost your signal which is helpful since many vibe units are plagued by perceived loss of signal. Is The Depths the best “Uni-Vibe” style modulation pedal out there? Keep reading our EarthQuaker Devices The Depths review to find out.


Voice knob dials in the overall sound. Clockwise is fuller with more lows; counterclockwise offers a thinner, midrange focused tone.

Throb knob adjusts the low end pulse. It’s more apparent when used with the neck pickup or with dirty settings.

Intensity knob controls how subtle or intense the overall effect is. Counterclockwise settings are more subtle and classic; clockwise settings are more drastic and intense.

Rate knob controls the speed of the effect from slow (counterclockwise) to fast (clockwise).

Level knob controls the volume of the effect, unity being around 1 o’clock.

Powered by 9-18VDC power supply. 9V gives a warmer and more natural sound. 18V is stronger with more headroom and “sparkle”.

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Sound & Performance:

I was really excited to learn that The Depths is a real optical vibe machine, and I had to open it to see if the circuit was visible. Lo and behold it is! When you open the pedal, you’ll see a light surrounded by sensors, forming the core of the pedal’s unique sounds. You can also adjust the Voice, Intensity, and Rate controls to see how they manipulate the light which in turn affects the sounds The Depths produces. I highly recommend you look inside for yourself when you get your hands on the pedal. Getting a visual of how the controls affect the light may further translate to your understanding of how to get the sounds you want from the pedal.

To start I set the pedal to what EarthQuaker Devices recommends as the “classic” vibe sound, running the pedal at 9 volts, setting the Intensity to the 11-12 o’clock range, Voice at 3 o’clock, and Throb around 2 o’clock. I pushed up the Level to around 1 o’clock to achieve a unity gain level, and I started with the Rate at noon.

The Depths instantly engulfs your sound with a lush, swirling tone that adds dimension and character to your playing. It has a great tonality that can easily hold its own against any of the best vibe machines you’ve ever heard. If you want authentic vibe pedal sounds, The Depths delivers a heavy heaping of thick, pulsing saturation.

Turning the Voice control towards noon will give you a feel for how it affects your sound. Cutting the Voice control a bit accentuates the midrange and combined with a little Level boost will make The Depths great for swirling solo breaks that cut through the mix. I find that the sweet spot is somewhere between noon and 3 o’clock where The Depths achieves a balanced tone that maintains plenty of low end.

The Throb control is extremely subtle, but it seems to add a little extra presence to the bottom end without mudding up your signal. Crank it to the max if you want to beef up your lows a bit more. The Depths sounds absolutely massive as a quick a/b comparison with your dry tone will show, and judicious settings of the Throb control will only serve to fatten it even more.

The Intensity functions as expected and will give you phasing sounds from a gentle wooshing to a hard pummeling vibe. This will make your sound as mild or as extreme as inspiration demands. For classic sounds keep it around noon. Take it to the right for crushing vibe sounds that will awaken the krakens.

As The Depths produces such a thick sounding, hi-fi yet classic sound, I couldn’t help but notice that it makes an amazing pre-amp/EQ/boost when you roll the Intensity all the way down. Tweak the Voice and Throb to taste and adjust the Level, and you’ve got an incredible array of tones available for coloring your sound and adding thickness, presence, and vintage warmth. This extra use might be just the secret to sculpting your unique signature tone.

While most classic vibe pedals feature some kind of foot control of the rate/speed via expression pedal, The Depths forgoes that option in favor of allowing the player to dial in their specific tones. While some guitarists may prefer real-time Rate control, The Depths will find favor among those who like to dial in their desired tones without any fuss, setting it and forgetting it, so to speak.

EarthQuaker Devices have another killer pedal on their hands to go along with the likes of such epic pedals as the Disaster Transport SR, Rainbow Machine, Bit Commander, and Arpanoid. Let’s see the final result.



The Depths from EarthQuaker Devices is an excellent vibe machine that offers plenty of classic mojo and modern tone-tweaking functionality. The array of controls will let you sculpt the ultimate rotary/Uni-Vibe/Leslie style tones, making this pedal a great choice for those looking for some of that signature swirling pulse employed over the years by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, and David Gilmour among others. The Depths is one of the best “Uni-Vibe” modulation pedals around and another standout pedal from EarthQuaker Devices.

That concludes our EarthQuaker Devices The Depths review. Thanks for reading.


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  1. The best? No. Not even close to being the best univibe clone. I bought one – looking for a univibe that would save some space and operate at 9v. I was very disappointed in The Depths. It got nowhere near the sound of my MJM Sixties Vibe which IS a great univibe clone, and the best in my opinion. I like Earthquaker effects, and The Depths is an okay phase shifter, but as a univibe, the MJM Sixties Vibe is TRULY THE BEST.

    • …pretty sure this guy is an MJM employee or something, CTRL + F and search his name to read all his comments and you will see an interesting trend…

      Just saying.

  2. I love my Depths! The great guys at EQD even sent me some black knobs to swap out, as they’re easier for me to see…thus my Depths is even cooler with new knobs! \m/

  3. Would love to get my hands on one of these to see what I can pull out of my PRS guitar and Blackstar Amp. I am thinking it it could be very fun and interesting.

  4. OOOHHhh my! Lush,swirly,swishing,aural optical gooeyness! Sounds DELICIOUS!! All the players at the open blues jam I hoist each week WILL want one of these. I just took the leap put together a pedalboard for the first time in my life after wanting to for years and this would be the star on my newfound sonic landscape! Oh man,oh man, I don’t wanna sound like I’d beg, but…..

  5. I have the sea machine and the Grand orbiter. They are both amazing! I have no doubt that the depths will be anything short of amazing as well!

  6. I played one of these at the guitar store the other day and now I want one! EQD is a great company, got an Organizer for Christmas and it’s an awesome pedal. The only thing better then a Depths pedal, would be one for free 99.

  7. I’m very interested in trying this pedal out. I had a ghost reverb, it currently have the Hoof Reaper on my pedal board. I at one time had a vintage big muff I built, a Vox Tone Bender and a clone of a germainium Fuzz Face, but now this takes place of all three plus has a octave up. They do a really good job designing and building immaculately wired pedals.
    I expect more of the same out of this

  8. I was a little on the fence, but from the stuff from 8:57 on, i was impressed. Great comprehensive demo. Was the distortion before or after? I kind of like running the vibes before dirt to get more of that swampy Hendrix vibe.

  9. Eqd might just be the most in tune with what players are looking for. They take classic ideas and update them for modern players as well as making some truly fun stuff. Great vibe for a great price.

  10. “Lush” is the perfect way to describe this effect. I have the Organizer and Speaker Cranker pedals. Both are now mainstays on my board. ED is unparalleled in their construction quality. They’re the real deal!

  11. I am glad it mentions giving a good presence to the bottom end without making it muddy. I would hate for it not to live up to its name.

  12. EQD pedals are f-in awesome. I just recently got into effects (been playing guitar for roughly ten years) and EQD is definitely a brand I’ve noticed. They make some really interesting effects (the rainbow machine) as well as some wicked classics (disaster transport=awesome delay). I think EQD is definitely a brand I’m going to invest in (gunna have to save up some cash first).

  13. EQD make some really great stuff. Not all of it is for everyone, but listening to the above demo and reading this review the Depths is defiantly a winner. I will have to try and track one down for a try to see how it sounds!! For sure it will be one to get, so I’d better make sure I’ve got cash when I go to try it out.

  14. I went to get a new pedal and knew I would be leaving with an EQD piece. I played around with pretty much the entire catalog and wound up picking The Organizer, but this was definitely a close second. Such a creamy sound and with so much variability, you can use it to get heavy or set a more mellow mood. The Depths is such an apt name. the sound reminds me of the water levels on Donkey Kong and Mario, which is a good thing.

  15. Looks like this pedal would give you plenty of options (and time) to work on getting your distinct tone. Seems like it is definitely a lot more creative than a normal tremolo pedal…awesome!

  16. this is purdy. but i’d be super happy to win either one of these for my boyfriend. he’s obsessed with awesome gear :)

  17. Great graphics, great name, AMAZING sound. Just what i’d expect from these guys. Haven’t owned a pedal of this effect yet but definetly sounds appealing.

  18. Great sounding pedal tones of cool options, thanks for all the amazing reviews you always do, makes pedal shopping a lot easier.

  19. This thing is nuts. Tried one out a bit ago and it makes you force yourself to re-evaluate using anything else. AND the design is cool. Better start saving

  20. This pedal practically does it all! I currently use an EH Pulsar for my tremolo/vibe and this blows it out of the water. I especially love that with the right settings you can get super cool ‘Leslie’ sound out of it. Plus, EQD has some of the best customer service around!

  21. This seems to go so far beyond what a normal tremolo would do! I could experiment with this thing for hours. And what’s even better, I think I could use it for some seriously cool things in a live setting!

  22. This sounds very good.

    And this pedal comes just at the right time! I mean, it would just come… ;-)

    How does this compare to other univibes. Like dry bell, moon vibe etc.??

  23. This pedal sounds amazing! I have experience with EarthQuaker Devices’ Organizer and it is so good, great quality. The Depths pedal definitely gets that “uni-vibe” vibe going on, I would love to put this pedal on my board!

  24. I would love to put one of these pedals to use with my organ keyboard, I already have a pro sound rotating speaker but would still love all these different settings available to add to my rig.

  25. How could you not want this pedal…the vibe sounds this thing produces sound amazing!! I bet Gilmour is wishing he had one of these when he recorded Dark Side.

  26. Looks really cool. My experience with EQD is that they always have cool extra goodies in their pedals in addition to classic sounds. Definitely want to try this one.

  27. Really liking the renewed interest in Uni Vibe type pedals. One of my favorite effects and lends it self tpo experimentation for the pedal maker perspective which in turn creates the ability for players to find a unique tone with character. Earthquaker always make well built, quality stuff and are willing to patrol the boundary more than some. Looking forward to giving this pedal a decent work out soon.

  28. Really like the non-traditional take on the Uni-Vibe. It’s great when a designer brings a classic effect into the present like this.

  29. Fantastic review! I have a few EQD pedals and am looking forward to add this bad boy to my board. Everything EQD makes is off the wall, amazingly hand crafted, beautiful effect pedals.

  30. I was not that interested until after reading the review and then checking out other samples and now I really want one so I guess it is in my future even if I do not win,

  31. Definitely sounds like a very interesting effect! I imagine it can give me much more than I’m getting for what I amd using in a multi-effects board!!! I’d definitely like to own one!

  32. awesome pedal, i love earthquake devices, the grand orbiter phaser is essential to my tone and i’d love to get a great vibe effect for more modulation variation

  33. EQD strikes again with an amazing take on a classic effect! The Depths is everything you want out of a vibe pedal. It’s got the sturdy and space-efficient design EQD pedals are known for, excellent bypass, 5 knobs for minute adjustments and a wide variety of tones. This is by far, my favorite vibe pedal available.

    PLZ PICK ME :)

  34. sounds like the best of the boutique vibe pedals available right now, from what my friends who’ve bought this say. the THROB control makes ALL the difference! WANT – to get my BOG sounds on!

  35. Very cool pedal, I’ve really been wanting a vibe pedal and I think this one would be a perfect fit for my board. Thank you so much for having these giveaways, I really hope I win!

  36. Love these pedals. The quality and sound of these are truly one of a kind. I’d Love to own one. Would make it a good xmas present since I’m all alone at the office this holiday.. Thanks for the contest. Really is a good idea and to make someone happy this season. Good luck all!

  37. Have had my eye (and ear) on this pedal for some time. Been a Hugh fan of that Jimi Band of Gypsies sound since first hearing it back in high school. Playing machine gun 1000 times and each time hearing something new. Could there be a new guitar effect pedal that influenced me to find my own unique voice on the guitar? This latest offering from Earth Quaker Devices might just be that pedal. All the classic tones and new possibilities of musical landscapes await in this little metal box! It would be a dream to add it to my pedal board. Thank you for this rockn’ contest! ^_^

  38. Great in Depth (Haha) review, I’m really interested in trying one of these along with my Organizer now.
    EQD have kinda crept in on my pedalboard, along with the Organizer I’ve a Bit-Commander and they are both top notch.

  39. I’m seriously considering picking this pedal up to replace my MuTron I. I know it’s not the same thing, but this is more compact, versatile, and seems to sound even more thick and lush than the MuTron.

  40. The Depths is such amazing sounding pedal. The songs and soundscapes I could create with that would be an amazing addition to my pedalboard.

  41. First: I like the color! It looks really cool and during the last years I had some vibe-pedals but sold all of them because I need a pedal with more than one or two knobs so this one is great!
    And check out the YT-demos! Great Pedal!

    Good luck to all of you!

  42. Have been on the market for a vibe pedal for a while – the Drybell Vibe is currently on the top of my list but this pedal sounds great as well!

  43. I like the feature of reducing the overall intensity level and turning this pedal to an “always ON” tone shaping camelion. I’vebeen reviewing many vibe pedals and I would appreciate having The Depths by Winning this from the giveaway

  44. Earthquaker always takes an already great circuit and pushes it to give the user more tweakability and ability to create some new sounds. Would love to a-b this with some other vibes.

  45. Great looking pedal! I’m sure it sounds awesome too. Seems like it has a lot of variations for experimenting with the vibe effect.

  46. I would first lean toward interest in the craziness of the Arpenoid, but this review makes me think the Depths would be something I’d use more, across the board (so to speak). Great stuff from Earthquaker!

  47. Great review. As for the pedal , with all these parameters controlled by knobs -and especially the blend/volume level knob, you cant go wrong. I wish I had this pedal!

  48. Very cool pedal – Earthquaker Devices make some awesome effects – it’s really cool that they use an optical circuit. nice review

  49. I have a mass produced ‘vibe’ pedal so I could really use this pedal. I often use a subtle vibe effect when playing clean; just as some blues players might throw in some tremolo. The ‘Voice’ is a nice feature, but I believe the real flexibility can be found in changing between nine and eighteen volts. Of course, for myself and my general use the nine volts would be best. I haven never owned an Earthquaker Devicess pedals, but I regard them highly and have often almost pulled the trigger on a few of their fuzzes.

  50. Love this pedal. Not a fan of modulation pedals in general, but this one I would totally get. Awesome vibe sounds. Earthquaker Devices makes awesome pedals.


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