Every now and then a pedal comes along that redefines expectations of what it is possible from a small metal box with knobs and foot-switches. The Meris Enzo is one of those pedals. While its range of sounds is wide enough to make it somewhat hard to pigeonhole, the Enzo is essentially a guitar synth pedal and one that offers an impressive gamut sound design possibilities.
At its core are a trio of synth modes–Monophonic, Polyphonic, and Arpeggiated–which are each worthwhile paths of exploration. A forth mode–Dry–turns the Enzo into a classic monophonic pitch shifter that also offers an impressive range of modern options. Then there are extras like a two-tap delay, ring modulator, and a deep Filter section that add to Enzo’s suite of potential.
The Enzo arrived with big expectations. Meris have demonstrated a heightened expertise when it comes to creating bold instruments that offer modern musicians new sounds from pedals that rival high end rack gear and cutting edge software plugins. Their Mercury7 Reverb is simply one of the best reverb pedals I’ve ever heard. The Polymoon is one of the more original and inspiring delay pedals to come out in recent years. And the Ottobit Jr. is an impressive sound mangling instrument that can bit-crush, stutter, filter, and arpeggiate audio in ways unlike other pedals that came before. The Enzo carries on Meris’ streak of releasing gear that resides in the upper echelon of guitar pedal greats while further defying the expectations of anyone thinking they know where this builder is going next.
Now let’s dig in and see what the Enzo is capable of.
Sound & Performance:
Jumping right in with the Monophonic synth mode, the Enzo left me awe-struck over how tight and smooth its tracking is. What’s especially impressive is how well the pedal responds to string bends and vibrato. It simply feels instantaneous with no obvious latency, and this is without any special pickup or custom setup. With the Pitch knob you can dial in fat sub-bass synths or ripping synth leads. Switching between the Sawtooth and Square options for the Synth Waveshape lets you achieve the ideal sound for your synth voice. And adding in some Portamento lets your synth leads achieve that cool pitch gliding effect you’ll find on most keyboard synthesizers.
When switching over to the Polyphonic mode, the Enzo offers a similarly impressive playing experience, only now you’ll notice that it tracks chords more accurately. I find this mode more suitable for textural playing and pad-like synth sounds. Try adding in some of the Enzo’s two-tap delay, pushing up the Sustain, and maybe adding a hint of Modulation for some truly lush synth sounds. Filter swells sound really great with this mode.
Things get even more interesting in the Arpeggiated mode. Enzo will respond to the notes in your chords and play sequenced patterns of notes at the rate set by the tap tempo. A synth accompaniment will bloom around your playing to create some truly mesmerizing sounds. When you get this mode locked in and start writing passages that work with the Enzo, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Meris have achieved. While the tracking and sound quality are already enough to solidify Enzo’s reputation as an outstanding guitar synthesizer, the Arpeggiated mode really pushes it to the forefront of innovation in this area.
It’s worth stopping here and pointing out how impressive the Enzo’s Filter section is. Meris’ Ottobit Jr. already delivered an impressive synth-quality low-pass filter, but the Enzo offers an even more feature-packed filtering experience thanks to its deep set of options. There are 6 Filter Types: Ladder Lowpass, Ladder Shelving Bandpass, Ladder Highpass, State Variable Lowpass, State Variable Bandpass, and State Variable Highpass. You can adjust the cutoff frequency of the Filter with the dedicated Filter knob, and an Alt Function for Filter Bandwidth lets you set the resonance like on filters found in most traditional synthesizers. The surface Filter Envelope knob lets you apply some dynamic filtering movement to your playing; synth pads can swell in or your synth bass lines can have a quick filter cut-off. Synth veterans will really appreciate the Enzo’s filter section, and it’s more than good enough for processing external synthesizers and other audio sources.
The Dry mode is not to be overlooked. It bypasses the Enzo’s synth sounds and serves up a very solid mono pitch shifter. It’s especially fun for adding static harmonies to single note riffs or blending in an octave voice with your dry guitar signal. An interesting creative aspect of this mode is that instead of having the Portamento from the other synth modes, that Alt Function is replaced with a switch that lets the Filter Env affect the pitch. This lets your playing dynamics trigger automatic pitch bends for some truly astounding pitch effects (Update: it sounds like Enzo’s auto pitch bending effects have recently been adopted by notable effects using guitarist, Tom Morello, in his recent live performances).
I’ve already covered a lot of the Enzo’s major functions. But there are still some surprises in this pedal’s bag of tricks. The Ring Modulation function is interesting, adding atonal and dissonant aspects to your wet signal in all modes. The Ring Modulation can also be affected by the Filter Envelope for some sweeping movement. The Delay section (which is accessed via 2 knobs’ Alt Functions) lets you choose between a single or double tap delay with controls for Delay Level and Feedback; tempo is set via the Tap foot-switch. It can also pull off a solid ping-pong delay in stereo. In the Dry mode, the Modulation knob will adjust the mod speed and depth. It’s a straight-forward delay setup and has a pristine quality to be expected from Meris considering the overall quality of every other sonic aspect of this pedal.
The Enzo can be integrated into a variety of gear setups thanks to its mono/stereo capabilities, Line & Synth Level options, and MIDI functionality which lets you control the pedal’s parameters and access presets from an external MIDI source. Meris’ 4 Button Preset Switch (sold separately) also lets you access the pedal’s 16 presets. There’s also an option to Split the wet and dry signals at the outputs, useful if you’d like to split your guitar and synth sounds in parallel to different destinations.
I’ve come to see the Enzo as an all-in-one inspiration station for achieving some very distinct sounds. While you could pair it with a reverb, delay, or other pedals, its a powerful instrument in its own right that stands on its own and could define a piece of music it’s used in. While I can’t really complain about much, I do wish Enzo had more Waveshapes to further expand the range of sounds available. The Enzo also makes me wish Meris would offer more MIDI accessible parameters on their pedals (like Output Volume control for really getting those levels just right). And considering how impressive the sounds available are, it makes me wonder what other possibilities Meris could offer in future pedals through further development around the Enzo’s impressive synth framework. In the meantime the Enzo stands as a paramount achievement in the realm of compact guitar synth pedals.
The Meris Enzo is an impressive foray into guitar synthesis and offers musicians one of the most inspiring sonic playgrounds yet realized in a guitar pedal. Enzo’s tracking is impeccable, and the sounds it produces are superb. The Monophonic and Polyphonic modes are both at the top of their class while the Arpeggiated mode offers a new guitar synth experience unlike anything heard before in a compact pedal. The pitch shifting, ring modulation, delay section, and amazing filter section serve to add even more value and inspiration to this incredible package. Enzo is simply a high-end instrument on all fronts and will become a go-to source of inspiration for the musicians to add this pedal to their setup.
That concludes our Meris Enzo review. Thanks for reading.