First, this pedal (product page on Devi’s site here) is really, really cool. I could go on for a long time about how cool it is, but I’m going to save a comprehensive writeup for getting off my butt and writing up something for FrugalGuitarist about it, since it is a very affordable pedal compared to the boutique industry in general. Quick blurbs: it has a huge amount of range, I can barely believe it’s a two knob pedal. The Control knob has a MASSIVE impact on what’s going on. There’s a sweet spot for your guitar and setup where it gates at just the right moment and fuzzes up just the right stuff to make it sound really nice and synthy. Before that point, the gate clamps down big time and you barely get any signal through, losing both attack and sustain – a challenging sound to use, but probably useful nonetheless. After that point, it sounds more like a conventional, but very high-gain and full range fuzz, good for lead tones. It also has an incredible amount of volume output, because of an internal structure of cool cascaded boosting stages.
It sounds great DIRECT! How many pedals actually sound awesome direct into a DI or mixer? Not many that I’ve tried, even some which aim to do so. But this pulls it off with aplomb. Very neat pedal, my first Devi Ever pedal. I spoke with her on the phone to discuss getting it and I am really glad I did. Here’s a pic of it, lovely looking thing that recalls the classic Legend of Zelda cartridge from the NES days and gives you a bit of a push mentally toward using it to make old chip-synth sounds with your guitar 🙂
Second, LoudMax (home page for the plugin here) is a great cross-platform, free master limiter VST that enabled me to do something that I had trouble getting my go-to commercial tool to do! First, cross-platform freeware is such a delightful rarity that it deserves comment on that merit alone – but cross-platform suck would still be suck, right, so the fact that this is quite nice indeed makes it a stand-out, easy to use tool that I think more people should be aware of.
In particular, for my usage here, I found this to be really good at treating an exceptionally distorted and processed mix without losing detail in the individual tracks. So, here’s a track combining the really exceptional fuzz pedal run direct, and the really interesting and usable cross-platform free limiter. Hope you like it, it’s outside of my usual idiom but that’s just the way the pedal sounds, it wants you to play it like an instrument and so you kind of do.
This mix is SMASHED. On purpose. The stereo field exists because of the smashing, the panning of the drums, and some stereo effects that do a neat thing. Dynamic range is approximately ~0.1db or so.
Two things, EZdrummer twisted kit with Auraplugs freestortion GE Fuzz on it at a 40/60 mix, and my guitar into a Devi Ever Bit: Legend of Fuzz pedal direct into AT3 (amp and cab bypassed) with some carefully tuned effects and a multi-tap delay (two, in this case) to achieve a pretty precise sound. The limiting is really important to the track, because it has to very substantially control the interaction between the guitar track and its stereo effects and the drum track’s panning. Without it, it wouldn’t sound varied, it’d sound pretty samey – with the limiting smashing things right, the stereo field is much more complex, really turned out better than I could have hoped.
I’m posting the clip here because Loudmax kicked butt for me. I was having trouble getting my go-to limiter, T-Racks 3 Deluxe’s Brickwall Limiter, to do the trick. It was wanting to pump in a way that obscured the drums more than I wanted even in the advanced and saturation modes. I knew that none of my other limiters would really do what I wanted (TBT Pocket Limiter and Tube Limiter are two I use a lot on individual tracks to catch peaks, but I don’t like their behavior on a busy mix). So, I figured I’d try the new-to-me tool out to see how it would perform. I threw Loudmax on it and within about 30 seconds had it sounding exactly like I wanted it to just by adjusting the two sliders for a thorough crushing. Really had a kind of “magic button” effect, it just did exactly what I wanted right away. Very cool.
That said… It won’t replace the T-Racks 3 Brickwall Limiter for most of my stuff because I usually want to preserve dynamics and just prevent any stray peaks, which the T-Racks 3 Limiter does exceptionally well. Even for less dynamic material that I want loud but not too crushed, I like how the Clean and Saturation modes do different but equally impressive things. The TR3 Deluxe Brickwall Limiter just kind of “handles” the limiting all on its own. So this isn’t me saying “ditch commercial software, you’ll only ever need this freeware tool!”
But there’s something really, really cool going on with LoudMax and I definitely intend for it to be part of my tool kit in the future, especially when I am working with heavily distorted and crushed material and trying to achieve a specific sound. I like its behavior at the edge of what’s advisable and beyond. I look forward to playing around with it more to see how it behaves when things are less slammed. I figure if it can handle abuse, it probably does well with “use.”