Guitarists have long-sought quality effects 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 aunthentic 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”.
Visit EarthQuaker Devices for more info about The Depths.
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. 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.