By Paul Uhl –
Reviewed by: Paul UhlRating:4.5On December 3, 2017Last modified:December 3, 2017
Infinite Jets. There is only one Infinite Jets. This is infinite Jets.
Infinite Jets is a work of art. Now, usually when you hear someone say that, it’s just hyperbole. But this is not hyperbole, and I may not mean this in the way that you’re thinking. A work of art is something that is created to express an emotion or a statement. A work of art, once finished, is finite in its existence, meaning it is now just there, presented to the world, open and ready for interpretation. Although a work of art is complete, it lives on with fluidity as it is interpreted differently by each and every individual that comes in contact with it. This is the concept that brings me to Infinite Jets. This effect box is just that. It is this work of art, presented to the world. Because of the unique nature of this effect box, it will be viewed, understood, interpreted, and ultimately used differently by each user. Therefore, there really is no way to write “the definitive Infinite Jets review” and be under 10,000 words. Much like differing opinions on a painting, your personal experiences with this pedal will likely differ from mine, and from anyone else. How exciting is that? I will do my best to bring you the facts and share some of my personal discoveries. Mostly, you want to know what this thing does. You want to know if it’s usable. You want to know if the effects are repeatable. Well, I’ve got great news.
As an overview, the Infinite Jets features two individual sampling channels to turn your incoming signal into something… different, yet, the same. In other words, a reinterpretation of what you are feeding into it. This allows for incredible results for those of us who feel stuck in a box, creatively. The sampling channels can be set up as “poly,” “mono,” or “manual.” In manual, you can activate the channels in real time with the foot switches and those can be configured in momentary, latching, or toggle.
The main encoder knob controls the “voice” or “mode” you are in. Ten in all, plus two additional user modes. You have options for “blur,” “synth,” “glitch,” and “swell.”
Three other knobs control envelope shape, envelope time (includes infinity), and dimension. Dimension performs a different task for each preset. Secondary controls for each of these include LFO shape, LFO frequency, and LFO depth. Two additional knobs allow for control of an analog drive circuit (with a secondary tone control) and a knob for wet/dry blend (With a secondary function of master volume). Personally, I feel like the most important knob on a freaky pedal is a wet/dry knob, and this pedal is certainly freaky.
The three switches are there to control bypass/engage, channel A, and channel B. The bypass/engage LED is pretty cool. Red when bypassed and blue when engaged. Press and hold the channel A switch to activate the LFO adjustments. Press and hold A & B together to calibrate the unit for the incoming signal.
Ins and outs are fairly sparse. Mono input, mono output, 9v power, and a TRS expression jack.
Infinite Jets gives you the ability to record and save knob movements, much like “automation control,” if you’re familiar with that concept in recording consoles. Further controls allow you to do things like change the brightness of the LED’s, save presets, and disable the automatic gain compensation. I told you thing goes on for infinity!
Let’s take a closer look at the features of this pedal.
Four Distinct Voice Presets. Four different voices divided into ten different preset variations. These presets are super unique in that they use several different ways of transforming the sound of your playing into something completely new, yet undeniably akin to the original sound. Yes. It’s magic.
- BLUR: The “Blur” preset is perfectly named since it
removes the normal attack and decay characteristics of your instrument giving is a sound with undefined edges. This is useful for creating a “hazy” and “atmospheric” kind of sound. For this preset, “Dimension” controls a combination of delay time, filtering, and feedback which drastically changes the perceived “space” of the affected sound. Automating the Dimension knob in Blur mode can create flanging, chorus, vibrato, and even pitch-bending. Blur is divided into four sub- categories. 0, +1, -1, and +/-1. This is how you can control the scale of the undertones generated in Blur mode.
- SYNTH: In “Synth” mode, your instrument’s signal is converted into one of two synth sounds. Synth A is a hard-edged, digital sound, while Synth B is a softer, airy kind of sound with a gentle chorus. When using Synth, the Dimension controls the low pass filter’s cutoff frequency. In combination with the Drive control, Dimension, and use of the LPF, lead sounds and pad sounds can be achieved.
- GLITCH: The “Glitch” mode is very unique. Divided into A and B, Glitch chops your incoming signal into looping fragments and reassembles them in two distinct ways. Glitch A creates short loops and allows the user to choose one of four sample lengths. Glitch B is much less predictable. The incoming signal is stored in one of six memory blocks selected at random and played back. You choose between having the intervals randomized or controlled. You get to manipulate the signal in real time and re-organize the sound into different stuttering patterns on the fly. I found the Glitch mode to be one of my favorites. But, then, I’m kind of a glitch guy, myself. Glitch B is not only very special, but is rather unique on this unit. The Dry control functions a bit differently here. When Dry is set to “0%” the output mix will full switch between the effected signal and the original instrument signal when the sampler is turned on or off. This allows the looping fragments to occasionally “interrupt” the dry signal. This preset is meant for, as the manual puts it, “chaos, unpredictability, and excitement.” The manual then goes on to my favorite part… “The loops that the preset creates are ephemeral and cannot be saved; as you create them you are hearing it for both the first and last time.” Oh, my! There’s something truly special about that. I guess if you’re really worried about losing something, and you really do want to cheat the universe, you could always dump your real- time playing into a looper pedal or your DAW.
- SWELL: The “Swell” preset really is fairly self- explanatory. With this preset, divided into A and B, you can add dramatic volume swell effects to your playing. You can even use the repeat waveform to create tremolo effects. The effected signal is fed into a delay (controlled by Dimension) which can be modulated by the LFO, envelope, or recorded knob movements. Automating this control, you can get sounds that range from tape warble, to chorus, even pitch-shifting vibrato sounds. Swell A uses the dynamics of your playing to trigger a volume envelope. Swell B adds waveshaping to the signal, allowing for that coveted violin-like sustained fuzz and distorted tones that are on the verge of destroying everything. Things are a little different in this mode as far as controls go. Since Swell doesn’t capture and sample your playing, the trigger modes work slightly different. In Poly mode, the Infinite Jets will play through the entire envelope each time a note is triggered. In Mono mode, it will apply only the attack portion of the envelope. This allows you to play faster without getting all muddied up. Think of this in the same way you might shorten delay trails for faster playing. Interesting results can be achieved when using the momentary switches to trigger A and B, injecting your playing into the delay causing your signal to jump out from the mix and occupy a very different space. You can then release the switch and the note will decay naturally. This is one of the more interesting effects you can get from the Infinite Jets. I preferred it with a nice cloud kind of reverb after it using my Empress Effects Reverb pedal.
Two Independent channels of sampling: The Infinite Jets features two separate channels where your signal is sampled and then manipulated offering infinite sustain of two different notes, sounds, or chords at one time. They can overlap, or meet up end to end. These samples can be triggered automatically, by note attack, or manually with the foot switches.
Two User Save Slots: Once you have found the perfect sound (and the Infinite Jets has more than ONE perfect sound) (ok, a LOT more than one) you can save two of them into the user presets slots. If you want to save more than that, I’d make an effort to come up with some method of saving and organizing. Maybe, at the time you save, take a quick cell pic and/or make some notes. This way you can repeat these same sounds later if you need to save over one of your slots. I filled both slots the first day I sat with the Infinite Jets. To save a preset, simply press and hold A and B switches for two seconds and then release. Turn the voice encoder knob to “Preset A” or “Preset B.” Then press and release the A and B switches again for two seconds. Easy.
Internal LFO: At your service is an internal LFO. There if you want it, waiting in hiding if you don’t. The LFO provides a continuously sweeping control signal that can be used to modulate the Dimension control. Six wave forms are available to choose from. Shifting the Dimension control in a predictable does a great job of adding complexity to the sound. All LFO settings are saved per preset.
*Bonus! You can change what Infinite Jets uses to modulate the Dimension control. You can use the Envelope Generator instead of the LFO! Press and hold the “A Switch.” While holding you can flip the “Trigger Toggle” left for LFO, and right for Envelope Generator. Envelope Generator can be pretty cool. Instead of a continuous sweep, like the LFO, the Envelope Generator only plays once each time a new note is triggered.
Three Foot Switch Modes: Infinite Jets allows you to alter the behavior of the foot switches. Choose between Momentary, Toggle, and Latching. This allows you to have specific control options for triggering the sampling engines.
Input Calibration: Possibly the most important feature of the Infinite Jets is the input calibration. This allows the pedal to “learn” your instrument’s output level and, equally important, your playing dynamics. It’s very simple to complete and should be done each time you plug in a new instrument or change your dynamics, i.e. playing a soft/delicate song vs. rocking out. Why is this so important? Well, for your notes to trigger properly and for the Infinite Jets to process the envelope, you will need it to “know” what you’re playing and how you’re playing it. I personally tested this out by tricking it. I set the calibration with really hard playing dynamics and then played soft. I had a hard time triggering the sampler. Also, the other way around, calibrated for soft playing and then rocked out. The sampler was sloppy and it didn’t “feel” right. Like we were kind of fighting. Proper calibration is very easy to achieve and make the pedal perform seamlessly. Just do it.
Knob Automation Recording: One very cool feature of the Infinite Jets is what they refer to as “Recording and Looping Knob Movements.” It’s simple to do, all you need to do is press and hold the center (Bypass) switch. Then turn the Dimension knob the way that you want it to go. Be creative! The pedal remembers your moves and then begins to play back and loop this movement. Keep your eye on the “Mod” LED to get a visual feedback of what’s going on. The brighter the LED, the more clockwise the Dimension control is. The unit will record your movements for 10 seconds, or until the Bypass switch has been released. The Mod LED will change from red to blue as you are getting close to the end of the 10 seconds. To stop and override the recorded automation loop, simply move the Dimension knob.
Controls For Everything: Ultimate sound-sculpting is at your fingertips with the control surface of the Infinite Jets. You have total control over the the envelope shape and time as well as control over the LFO shape, frequency (rate), and depth. Control over the analog drive circuit, wet/dry balance, tone, and master volume. You also can control the sampling engines with the foot switches. Furthermore, you can record knob automation or go with knob-twisting on the fly with an expression pedal assigned to anything you desire.
This brings me to the control surface of the Infinite Jets. Let’s have a look at the knobs in detail.
Envelope Shape: Change the attack and decay characteristics of the sampled notes. These conrols are very familiar to anyone that has used a synth-style keyboard. All the familiar wave forms, six in all, including a sine wave, a square wave, and three different sawtooth shapes, symmetrical, fast attack, and slow attack. A sixth option is for a randomized wave form. Envelope Shape control works in tandem with the Envelope Time control, which determines the duration of the selected wave form.
Secondary function for Envelope Shape is LFO Shape.
Envelope Time: Adjust the length of your envelope from very short to very long. Two additional options are “Infinite,” which will sustain your note, infinitely, until you play another, and “Repeat,” which loops the current envelope shape. Think of those last two like this… 1=Attack 2=Decay
Secondary function for Envelope Time is LFO Frequency.
Dimension: This is kind of a magical knob. It has a different job depending on which preset mode you are in. The value of this knob is displayed with the MOD LED. Here is a table of the functions of the Dimension knob, per preset voice:
Synth: Lowpass Filter Cutoff
Glitch A: Sample Playback Length
Glitch B: Sample Selector
When using Blur or Swell, Dimension controls combination of delay, filtering, and feedback which changes the perceived size and space of the sound. Automating the Dimension control can create flanging, chorus, and even pitch-bending vibrato.
When using Synth A and Synth B, Dimension controls the low past filter cutoff frequency. The filter can be automated or controlled by the internal LFO or envelope.
In Glitch A, Dimension selects one of four sample lengths to play back. Automating the control can yield interesting rhythmic effects as you move between short and long samples.
In Glitch B, Dimension can be used to scroll back through the six notes stored in the pedal’s memory. You can get super interesting combinations of small looped segments of rearranged audio. Continuing to play over it will overwrite old blocks allowing the pattern to evolve over time.
Secondary function for Dimension is LFO Depth.
Voice: The Voice encoder knob allows for control over four different voices, sub-divided into ten different modes. Two additional slots are there for saving your two user presets.
The Voice knob does not have secondary function.
Drive: The Drive knob adds an analog drive stage at the output. All the way CCW, and the drive is off. Even thought the drive is 100% analog, the setting is controlled digitally, meaning the knob position is saved as part of your user presets. One very cool feature of the Drive control is that as you increase the drive, the output volume is is reduced, proportionally. Even though the drive is capable of providing more than 10x gain, it will remain smooth and consistent as you increase or decrease drive. Of course, if you don’t care for that, a different gain mode can be selected at startup. Genius.
Secondary function for Drive is Tone Control.
Dry: The Dry knob controls your wet/dry balance. This one is also digitally controlled and your settings are saved in your presets. At noon, your wet and dry signals are at 50/50, and the control goes from full wet to full dry.
Secondary function of the Dry knob is Master Volume.
Toggles, Switches, LED’s, Ins/Outs:
There is also a three-way toggle switch that allows you to select the Trigger Mode. Selections are Polly, Mono, and Manual. In Polly Mode, the two sample channels are overlapping as they play back and forth. In Mono Mode, each channel plays only after the other channel has ended. Instead of blending together, they play one after the other. In Manual Mode, you select the channel sampling manually using the foot switches A and B.
There are three soft-touch foot switches. From left to right they are:
- “A” This switch is for manually activating sampling channel A. It can be set up in momentary, latching, or toggle. Press and hold “A” to access secondary functions for the knobs, as described above.
You can also press and hold “A” to adjust what the pedal will use to modulate the Dimension. While holding, flip the Trigger Toggle, left for LFO, and right for Envelope Generator.
- “B/E” The center switch is for Bypass/Engage. When the pedal is bypassed, the LED is red. When engaged, the LED turns blue.
- “B” This switch is for manually activating sampling channel B. Like “A,” it can be set up in momentary, latching, and toggle. You can alter the switch behavior with “B.” Press and hold “B” and flip the Trigger Toggle. Switch left for “Toggle” operation (yellow LED). Switch to the center for “Latching” (red LED). Switch right for “Momentary” operation (blue LED).
A secondary function of the switches is for calibration of the unit. Hold down the “B/E” and “B” switches to enter calibration mode.
Besides the B/E LED, there are four additional LED’s located on the right side of the pedal. These LED’s are worth mentioning as they are super helpful in using the pedal properly. The main function of these LED’s is for real-time feedback of input signal, sampling channel playback, and modulation LFO.
Four LED’s arranged in a “T” shape, three across the top, and one on the bottom.
The outer two on top are for sampling channel feedback. Left side is Channel A, and right side is Channel B. You’ll see them see-saw back and forth as you play… When the LED is lit, the sampling channel is playing back. If you stop playing, you’ll see the LED’s lit as the sample plays, then turn off as the sample comes to and end (depending on how the envelope time is set). When neither of these LED are lit, there will be nothing coming out of the sampling channels.
The LED in between those two is for your incoming signal. When the Infinite Jets receives a signal strong enough to trigger the samplers, this LED will light up. This LED will also display automation data applied to the Drive control.
The LED on the bottom of this “T” is the MOD. This displays either the value of the Dimension control or the value of any modulation sources controlling Dimension. If you have ever had a pedal with a “Rate” LED, like the bottom left LED on a Chase Bliss pedal, it works just like that. If you have an LFO going you’ll see this LED “blinking” in real time with that LFO.
The pedal has surprisingly sparse ins and outs. A single mono audio input and a single mono audio output. For something this cool, I would love to see stereo on the output. Having the modulations ping-pong between channels would be incredible. Furthermore, additional creative options such as assigning Sampling Channel A to the left output and Sampling Channel B to the right output would open up some fantastic options in a stereo rig. I have seen a few comments online where some Infinite Jets users have wished there was a separate out for the synth itself. I think what they’re really referring to is an effects loop like the EHX Superego has where you can run the wet synth signal through its own batch of effects. Handy for using your own flavor of drive pedal or reverb. I’m not totally sure why they can’t just run the Infinite Jets into the drive pedal plugged in after it. But maybe a loop where you could insert between the synth and the drive would have been useful. I also hear a few wants for independent outputs for synth and dry. Hard to say. I, personally, like things fairly simple. I never would have thought of this if I hadn’t seen these comments online. But this goes back to where I wrote that everyone is going to use this thing differently. They’ll also have different ideas of what it “needs.”
The input and output are side-mounted On an enclosure this large, I would like to have seen top-mounted jacks. Up top you will find a standard TRS jack for expression. It would be very lonely up there were it not for the only other jack, the 9v input. 200mA minimum current required.
Then the obvious… No MIDI(?!). This is by far the largest complaint in all that I have read by those using it and those interested in it. I certainly get that. I have a MIDI brain and kind of just expect MIDI on something like this. Other “do a lot” pedals like the WMD Geiger Counter, the Earthquaker Palisades, and the Strymon Sunset have made the mistake of giving you countless options and no way to keep a bunch of them ready at your beck and call. Now, unlike those others I just mentioned, the Infinite Jets at least allows you to save two onboard presets. If any of you are familiar with the early versions of Chase Bliss Audio pedals (the MkI versions), then you understand this ability to save and recall two presets. Chase Bliss Audio quickly abandoned this as the only option for saving & recalling presets on their complex pedals and ran with full-on MIDI capabilities. I am not sure why the Infinite Jets does not have MIDI. After all, the groundbreaking debut pedal from Hologram Electronics, the Dream Sequence, is fully MIDI-enabled. To be totally honest, the Infinite Jets’ lack of MIDI functionality was a big complaint of mine when I first started researching the pedal. Now that I have been using it for quite some time, I am certainly far less concerned with a lack of MIDI. Two user slots are nice, and I use them with rotating ideas, but this pedal is kind of an ever-evolving, creative fluidity kind of thing. Locking in presets doesn’t seem completely useful unless you come up with something very specific in the studio and you need to emulate it perfectly on a live performance using the Infinite Jets. I don’t plan to use this pedal on stage, personally. My current boards are very small and just wouldn’t support such a large pedal, larger horizontally considering its side-mounted jacks. If you needed to use it on stage and needed to emulate some exact sounds, you’ll have three presets at your disposal. The two user presets and your “live mode.” But, again, I don’t see this as being a “live pedalboard” kind of thing. It’s a creativity tool used mostly on the front end of song writing and recording. I look forward to many of you proving me wrong, though! Let me see those massive live rigs with one or two Infinite Jets laying it down for our enjoyment!
If you’d like to see a multitude of instruments ran through the Infinite Jets, have a look at this video from Knobs.
Sound & Performance:
Get Ready To Go To Space.
Not only does the Infinite Jets LOOK like something off of a spaceship from the Alien series, it produces sounds that’ll take you there. Feed this box the most simple signals and you get more than your fair share in return. It’s like putting in a dollar and getting back $49.95. I gave it kind of a workout. I fed it a Les Paul, a Strat, a Yamaha digital piano, and a bass guitar. Everything sounded cool and correct. It helps a lot that the volume automatically levels off properly with increased gain. Also, the ability to globally compensate for tone and volume control helped when changing instruments. The thing that helped the most, and maybe where this guy really shines, is the input calibration. When opening the package, the first thing you’ll see is this little green card reminding you to calibrate for your instrument/playing dynamics. It’s the first thing you see because it’s SUPER important. It’s a very simple process, but if overlooked, will greatly alter the ability of your Infinite Jets to process your signal properly.
The Infinite Jets is a combination of digital DSP processing and digitally-controlled-analog circuits. The main processing gets done in a DSP processor at 48kHz sampling rate, then goes to an analog drive and tone section at the output. The drive and tone section, although all-analog, is digitally-controlled, meaning all of your settings can be saved as well as controlled with expression. The dry signal path on the infinite jets is 100% analog. In early prototypes of the Hologram Dream Sequence, the designers were never really satisfied with the sound of the pedal until they ran it through an analog dirt pedal to “rough it up a bit.” Eventually, they decided to just build it into the pedal itself. Although it seemed a little on the bright side for guitar, I really loved the sound of the drive when using a bass guitar.
Inspiration, Philosophy, And Interpretation
At the start of this review, I got into the idea that this pedal is going to be open to different interpretations and different ways of being used by everyone that plugs into it. In a recent conversation with designer Ryan Schaefer, we talked about some of the inspiration for the pedal and some of the philosophy behind its many uses.
The inspiration for Infinite Jets makes a lot of sense once you understand what it’s doing. Ryan has clocked a ton of hours in the studio producing his band, Royal Bangs, as well as records for other people. Often times in the studio, he would feel “stuck” on a song. It needed that little something extra, but sometimes it’s hard to know what that is until after you find it. Many of us can relate to this concept. He said that they’d just reach for whatever oddball pedal or plug-in they could find and let the (often limited) parameters determine the characteristics of the sound coming out the other end. I know I have done this, for sure. Many times I will just randomly rearrange the order of effects as well as partner effects that normally don’t go together. The Infinite Jets is your “stuck in a box, randomized sound-sculpting creativity tool” effect pedal. At the very least, keep this thing around for those times when you just cant find a cool bass guitar sound. For when you wish your piano just had something COOL going on. For when you want your guitar to sound like it’s doing so much more than what your fingers are putting in. When you’re stuck in that creative rut, the Infinite Jets will pull you out.
“The Infinite Jets definitely has a lot going on.” Ryan Schaefer told me. “I think it probably asks a lot more of the user than some other pedals, but hopefully the end result is that it can be that something that helps generate ideas you wouldn’t ordinarily arrive at without it.” This statement not only hints at what I was just covering in the above paragraph, but it also gets back to what I was saying earlier about the philosophy and interpretation of this effect pedal. I could see some people being less than patient with it and giving up too soon. It took me quite a while before I really understood what it was doing. It wasn’t until that moment that I understood what I could use it for and how to interact with it. Consider this… It is similar to the idea of how you interact with a delay pedal. The best example I can come up with is a dotted 8th delay. When you set a delay pedal for dotted 8th notes, the feedback of the delay signal making an impact on your ears literally determines how you will play. You suddenly kind of merge with it and work together. It’s totally automatic, and maybe many of you have never even really thought about this before. I definitely arrived at a point where I finally understood what it was doing and I began to interact with the Infinite Jets in a way that totally made sense and it began to change the way I was playing. Now, I’m not saying you need to go to the “Infinite Jets training course” or anything. I’m not saying this pedal is daunting or intimidating. Quite the opposite, really. I am saying that it will seem that way when you first start using it. Stick with it. Try all kinds of things and don’t be afraid to push buttons and twist knobs! You will begin to see what is happening and then react accordingly with your playing and/or pedal settings. With a little patience, your efforts will come back in beautiful waves of Infinite Jets.
The Hologram Electronics Infinite Jets is a unique work of art in pedal form that will be highly sought after for its truly one-of-a-kind sounds and highly coveted for its ability to inspire, change, and ignite creativity on a whole new level. It’s fairly impressive when a pedal can change your ideas and even the way you approach your playing style. The Infinite Jets kind of shook me up and asked me to think about things in a new way. In a world where it seems like every effect has already been thought of and nothing is new, the Infinite Jets politely begs you to reconsider. This pedal is now my personal new “go-to” when I want to create something completely different. When I am in the studio and I am wanting that piano to be just a little different, or that bass line to just have a little something extra, or those guitar riffs to just go completely off the charts… I’m going to reach for the Infinite Jets.
That concludes our Hologram Electronics Infinite Jets review. Thanks for reading.
January 23, 2018 at 6:54 am
Picking one of these up ASAP, love the breadth of effect and iterations of tonal facets. Stellar unit.
January 23, 2018 at 5:27 am
Wow, totally far out. Pedals keep getting weirder and weirder… I love it!
January 7, 2018 at 5:39 am
Sounds absolutely amazing, would expect nothing less.
December 25, 2017 at 2:59 pm
Thanks a lot for your detailed and comprehensive review. I’m an acoustic fingerstyle guitar player and I’m thinking of using IJ in my wet signal chain to create atmospheric textures underneath my dry acoustic tone. I have seen many demos of the pedal and have fallen in love with what’s capable of doing.
My only concern is, since I change chords constantly, it’s important to avoid overlapping and I’m not sure if I can achieve that with IJ. I’d love to hear your opinion on this matter. Do you think it is the right pedal for an acoustic fingerstyle player?