The ZVex Instant Lo-Fi Junky is very interesting little box. Seriously, no other guitar pedals are like it. The cute phonograph graphic art on the top gives you a basic idea of what this pedal does. It gives your signal a low-fi character reminiscent of an old record player or tape deck. It even comes complete with a vibrato/chorus/Leslie-like effect to add a bit of that warped record feel to your sound. The combination of modulation, lo-fi sound, and compression make this pedal a very interesting hybrid effects pedal. Is it the best vintage-style tone guitar pedal? Keep reading our ZVex Instant Lo-Fi Junky review to find out!
Let’s run down the features of this pedal and dive in to the review.
Volume control knob sets overall output level.
Tone control knob lowers the brightness of the Lo-Fi signal (the vibrato sound). It doesn’t affect the compressed signal.
Comp/Lo-Fi control knob blends between full compression and full vibrato mix. Blending the two in the middle creates a chorusing effect.
Depth control knob sets the depth of the Vibrato on the Lo-Fi signal.
Speed control knob sets the speed of the Vibrato on the Lo-Fi signal.
Waveform 3-way toggle switch sets the waveform of the Vibrato’s modulation.
Powered by a 9-Volt battery or Boss-style power supply.
Sound & Performance:
This pedal really caught me by surprise. I really enjoy weird sound manglers but typically only if they’re musical in addition to creating interesting soundscapes. The ZVex Instant Lo-Fi Junky fits this requirement exceptionally well.
You might have to warm up to this pedal like I did. It’s one of those pedals you may not realize how much you like until you really spend some time with it. Trust me, this one’s worth it.
Starting with a Strat into a clean amp, I turned it on with the Comp/Lo-Fi knob all the way to the left. In this setting you’re at full-on Compression, and none of the other controls (besides Volume) affect the signal.
The Compression is bright and as ZVex describes, “spanky”. While there are no controls to adjust the compression itself, it sounds so good you may not want to. It’s bright, has a satisfied snap when you dig in, and responds well to the dynamics of your playing just as a quality guitar compressor should.
The real magic of the Instant Lo-Fi Junky comes in when you start using the Comp/Lo-Fi knob to blend the Compressed and Lo-Fi signals. This affects the tone in the most wonderful ways.
With the vibrato Depth knob all the way down, you can blend in the Lo-Fi signal to find some darker coloring to accent the pristine Compression sound. Adjust the Tone and Comp/Lo-Fi knobs to taste to find the Perfect combination of Compression and Lo-Fi thump. These tones are nice and thick with the perfect amount of push and clarity. It really beefs up your tone.
With the Comp/Lo-Fi knob all the way right and the Tone knob pulled down, you’ll find some great tones for some delta blues complete all the hiss from those old recordings.
And more magic is still to come. We haven’t even tapped into the chorusing effects of this pedal.
With the Tone and Comp/Lo-Fi knobs set around noon or so, crank the Depth control and you’ll be treated to a shimmering chorus effect. Pushing the Speed to the max yields some dizzying sea-sick sounds. Try the square-wave for some really extreme special effects.
My favorite settings are Tone around 9 ‘o clock, Comp/Lo-Fi at 1 or 2 o’ clock, the Depth maxed out, and Speed at around 8 o’ clock with the Triangle wave selected. This setting produces some great full sounding and punchy tones with a shimmering depth for chordal work. It’s great from some Hendrixy excursions. I really dig it.
My only gripe with this pedal is that I wish there was a switch or gate control to clean up the signal if desired. Maybe they’ll do that with an Instant Hi-Fi Junky sometime (Hear that, ZVex?). I was able to insert the Instant Lo-Fi Junky into the Send/Return of a noise gate at the end of my effects chain with great results for eliminating the hiss during silence. If the noise is your only issue, this might do the trick for you, too. But the hiss and noise adds the charm of this pedal, and it really needs to be appreciated for what it is. If you want lo-fi, the Instant Lo-Fi Junky is your fix. It’s another instant classic ZVex pedal like the Fat Fuzz Factory, Fuzz Factory 7, and Sonar pedals.
Let’s see the final result.
If you’re looking for a way to add some lo-fi charm to your sound or excite your tone in dynamic new ways, the Zvex Instant Lo-Fi Junky may be the pedal for you. If offers an exceptionally responsive compression, great vibrato/chorus sounds, and a decidedly lo-fi character that will take your tone back in time. The Zvex Intant Lo-Fi Junky is one of those pedals that adds a certain magic to your tone that can’t be found anywhere else. Try one and see if the Instant Lo-Fi Junky becomes your new addiction.
That concludes our Zvex Instant Lo-Fi Junky review. Thanks for reading.
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