Some things really are worth the wait, and if you’re a fan of octave dividing pedals and analog guitar synthesis, the TWA Great Divide 2.0 is definitely one of those things. The Great Divide MkI was first unveiled back at NAMM 2011 to the awe of synth loving guitarists, but it took 2 more years to be finally released to the masses as the Great Divide 2.0 Multi-Voice Synth Octaver.
So why did it take so long to release the Great Divide? And what changed for the MkII version? Well, it turns out that this pedal was going to be costly to make, so some minor design changes needed to be made including the sacrifice of having presets. But worry not, as TWA made no compromises in the sound quality department. They even went as far as adding a few features for even more sound-sculpting options! You can tell that this guitar synth pedal was a real labor of love as TWA spent so much time perfecting it and squeezing in more variables to tweak than have ever been seen in an analog synth octave pedal. So let’s get on with the TWA Great Divide 2.0 review and find out if it’s really the best analog synth octave pedal around. Here’s a quick run down of the features before things get massive!
Access to 5 distinct voices including Syn, +1 Oct, Dry, -1 Oct, and Sub.
The Great Divide Mk. II features the following controls:
Dry Level Fader
-1 Octave Level Fader
+1 Octave Level Fader
+1 Octave Envelope Switch (sort of like Synth resonance, or maybe a cosmic death-ray)
SUB Level Fader & Switch with 4 Selectable voices ( -1, -1.5, -2 or -2.6)
SYN Level Fader & Clock with 5 Selectable Voices (0, -1, -1.5, -2, -2.6)
SYN waveform switch w/4 options (Saw/Pulse, Chopped Saw/Pulse, Square, Modulated Square)
Cross-modulation option for -1 OCT (tracks SUB clock)
Raw clock option for SUB voice (think MASSIVE, vulgar square wave)
12 Internal Trimmers to control various sound parameters (Tweaky-Tweak)
3 Voice Off Switches – shut off +1 Oct, Dry, and -1 voices (left to right, respectively).
EXP In: External Effects Loop to patch in other effects (AWWWW Yeah!) via TRS cable or connect an expression pedal to control the overall output volume.
S3™ Shortest Send Switching™ for uncolored true bypass tone. In the event of a power loss, S3™ switching automatically reverts to bypass mode.
Powered by 9VDC, tip-negative power source, 100mA minimum (PA-9 Power-All recommended).
Sound & Performance:
First, let me say… this pedal is a monster! From the moment you activate the Great Divide 2.0, it unleashes a commanding presence that dominates the frequency spectrum, particularly the low-end. This is one of the beefiest analog octave guitar pedals I’ve ever heard. While the DRY and +1 OCT voices keep plenty of mids and highs in tact, the quaking low-end possibilities make the Great Divide 2.0 a sonic force to be reckoned with for both guitarists and bassists alike. Of course, as you’ll discover, all the voices of this pedal can be tonally tweaked to your preferences, for example bringing in some extra high-end aggression to the lower octave voices for some unbelievably huge sounds.
I’m going to cover my impressions of the various sounds this pedal offers while keeping it light on the technical talk. Just watch the Great Divide 2.0 review video and listen to it in action. While this pedal may seem complex at a glance, it’s really easy to come to grips with and yields great results when experimenting with the various voices and settings you can adjust. Just remember to be mindful of your volume levels when plugging into the Great Divide 2.0 for the first time as this pedal is loud!
Starting with the -1 OCT voice, the Great Divide 2.0 produces a smooth, organic low octave tone that’s great on it’s own for monophonic synth bass lines. Right away you can’t help but feel that this pedal just begs to be used for recording and live integration within a band setting. The default -1 OCT tone is a pretty clean sound and tracks surprisingly well all over the fretboard. It can get get a little jittery on lower registers if you let notes ring out, but overall, the Great Divide 2.0 is right up there among the best (i.e. most stable) tracking I’ve heard from an analog synth pedal. Sustaining notes are smoother from around the 7th fret and up, although your individual results will vary depending on factors ranging from pickup type/selection, neck scale length, whether or not you’re driving the pedal with a compressor, and overall playing technique. Sloppy playing yields sloppy results, so tighten up for precision fatness! Also, a neck pickup (humbucker or single-coil) typically yields the most stable tracking.
The SUB voice features a dedicated SUB CLOCK that selects the interval of octave division. You can choose from -1 octave, -1.5 octave (an octave and 5th), -2 octaves, and -2.6 octaves (two octaves and a 6th) with the SUB CLOCK slider. Why these particular intervals? Well, this isn’t some digital synth emulation, and these are some of the most stable note divisions that can be achieved with real analog octave division. While you may not have previously thought of using a -2.6 octave interval harmony, you might find some interesting textures by experimenting with it as well as the -1.5 interval. Also, that extra super low 6th south of -2 octaves gives you extended low range for some incredibly deep sounds. Try using the SUB voice alone with the SUB CLOCK at -2.6 for some super low synth bass runs!
The +1 OCT voice utilizes a form of distortion to generate an overtone that’s one octave higher than your base signal. Think of those classic Octavia fuzz effects to get an idea of what’s going on here. It’s an aggressive sound that can add some ripping high-end to your sound if you really want to pummel an audience with an over-the-top sonic assault. There’s also a dedicate +1 ENV switch which lets you add further articulation to this sound via a dedicated envelope filter (more on that when we go under the hood in a moment).
The SYN voice is probably my favorite voice of the Great Divide 2.0 as it yields the most diverse range of sounds right out of the box. The SYN Clock lets you choose from 0 (unity), -1 octave, -1.5 (an octave and a 5th), -2 octaves, and -2.6 (two octaves and a 6th) intervals. This is similar to the SUB CLOCK voices with the added Unity voice option. The SYN Voice fader also gives you 4 waveform/tonality options: Chopped Saw + Pulse, Saw + Pulse, Square (which always uses Unity interval!), and Modulated Square. The SYN voice produces modulated sounds with an aggressive edge thanks to their Saw and Square wave origins. The pulsing effect is dependent on your input single and increases in speed as you rise in pitch and slows down as you play in lower registers. These sounds can be really cool on their own but work exceptionally well when combined with the -1 and/or SUB voices to create thick textures with hints of modulated movement.
The controls on the surface provide a world of analog octave synthesis enjoyment, but what if you still want more? The Great Divide 2.0 serves up even more tweaking potential if you dare to dive under the hood. 10 trimmer pots and 2 switches give you access to low-pass filters, volume/gain controls, and more. Try flipping the X-MOD switch to let the SUB Clock add subtle modulation to the -1 OCT voice. Then you can tweak the -1 LPF and/or flip the SUB LPF switch to adjust the -1 OCT and SUB voices to your tastes, giving you 2 distinct lower octave sounds to use for different situations. You can also tweak the response of the +1 ENV. The differences in texture provided by the +1 OCT ENV and +1OCT ENV SPD are somewhat subtle to my ears but still useful for getting the +1 ENV sound just right. The +1 OCT DRV lets you adjust the input gain of the +1 OCT voice to tame it or go for even more paint-peeling, face-melting insanity. Use with caution… or reckless abandon if that’s more your style. The +1 OCT on the pedal I tested was a little hot, resulting in noise between playing. A slight tweak of the +1 OCT DRV got rid of the noise while leaving the great tone of this voice intact. I also prefer to open up the SYN LPF for a full range sound and attenuate the -1 OCT LPF to adjust it to my rig. This all adds up to plenty of options for finding your sound!
The Great Divide 2.0 also features an EXP jack that has 2 possible uses. You can plug in a standard expression pedal for volume control. This lets you create synth pad-like swells. Use this in front of a reverb, and be blown away. The Great Divide with a reverb and exp. pedal are a killer foundation for some mesmerizing soundscapes. Also, the EXP jack lets you use a TRS send/return cable to patch in another pedal after it passes through the Great Divide and activate both with the Great Divide’s true bypass foot-switch. I got some awesome results adding a fuzz pedal to the mix. You could also try adding an EQ pedal for deeper tonal contouring of your synth sound.
There isn’t much to complain about really. One issue I did have is the slight bleed from the +1 OCT voice into the signal even when its not in use. Whether or not I cut the +1 OCT level fader down or deactivated the voice with its dedicated on/off switch, a faint +1 OCT sound persists in the sound. This isn’t a problem with some voices as the loudness of the other tones drowns out the noise. But when using the SUB -2.6 octave setting (one of my favorite sounds thanks to its extra smoothness when compared to the -2 setting), the faint bleed from the +1 OCT taints the pristine low-end sound. Reducing the +1 OCT DRV didn’t help but, but surprisingly, maxing it out removed the noise entirely! This worked to clean up the sound, but it comes at the sacrifice of quick access to a cleaner, lower gain +1 OCT in a live setting since you’d need to dive within the pedal to make this adjustment. But this is the only technical gripe I’m left with, hardly a concern that would keep me from purchasing this awesome pedal. However, it would be nice to see added signal clarity to clear up that minor issue if any slight hardware updates are ever made. It’s also a shame that the option for presets was scrapped to keep costs down as it would be nice to have a few of the great sounds you dial in available via foot-switch. But once you’ve got a feel for the pedal and know what you’re looking for, making a few quick slider adjustments shouldn’t be that difficult.
With all the great sounds this pedal offers, the Totally Wycked Audio Great Divide 2.0 is quite unlike any other synth octave pedal around. Let’s see the final result.
The TWA Great Divide 2.0 is an awesome beast of a pedal and the most in-depth monophonic analog octave guitar synth around. A total of 5 voices can be tweaked and blended to taste for some outright massive sound-shaping possibilities. The creative potential of this pedal really puts the “Great” in Great Divide, and whether you want to play it straight or dial it in with the internal controls, you’ll be in for an unparalleled treat of analog octave synthesis. And yes, this monster plays well with distortion, so crank it up! The Great Divide 2.0 is the ultimate contender for the best analog synth octave pedal and is a definitely a must-try!
That concludes our TWA Great Divide 2.0 review. Thanks for reading.
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