Audio Kitchen The Big Trees Review

At the absolute cutting edge of effects and amplifier design, you will find two names: Audio Kitchen and The Big Trees.

Seeing the Forest for The Big Trees

The outstanding reputation of Audio Kitchen brings in musicians, producers, and engineers from far and wide to sample the brilliant devices the London-based operation cooks up. Each creation is carefully designed and handmade for the best experience the name can offer – tonally unique and technologically awesome. The name is known around the world for good reason, and The Big Trees is a testament to that reputation.

The Big Trees is an all-valve Class A amplifier and preamp. Though the device may seem like a larger-sized quirky pedal, looks can be deceiving. Within the pedal-style casing, The Big Trees features its unique electronics setup – a 2.5-watt amp built around ECC82 and ECC83 pre-amp and single EL84 output valves, a Baxandall-based EQ, and EL84 headroom control. What this all adds up to is an amplifier that can double as a pedalboard-friendly preamp, essentially getting the best of two worlds in one device. Plug The Big Trees directly into a speaker to play like a traditional amplifier or lead The Big Trees into an amplifier to play like a preamp, the choice is yours.

Audio Kitchen’s expertise in crafting unique tones shines through in The Big Trees. Already functioning differently from a traditional pedal or amplifier, the sounds of The Big Trees are all its own. Clean boost, teetering overdrive, and broken up, fuzzy goodness are all specialties of The Big Trees and cannot be found in any other device. The custom craftsmanship and innovative thinking of The Big Trees puts it in a league of its own and must be seen to be believed.

The Redwood of Tone

Two tonal sides make up The Big Trees – a clear, clean boost and a versatile preamp. To start, the clean boost is unique right off the bat compared to any other boost effect you may find. The clean output of The Big Trees provides a sound that has a great deal of body and form – a boost you can feel. While the clean boost provides a natural bump up in volume when it is lower on the dial, the boost becomes fuller at higher settings without sacrificing clarity. The clean output mixes well with amplifiers that are teetering on the edge of breakup to enhance its natural tone. Making the smallest qualities of your amp shine, the clean boost provides plenty of lift – not quite a kick, but an overall enhancement of a clean tone.

The other side of The Big Trees, the Class A amp, is more complex yet very intuitive. If you are looking to let your cleans bloom in a natural and organic-sounding way, this is the way to go. The Big Trees preamp side functions differently when played speaker out or line out. When connected out to a speaker, the Dirt switch controls the output level of The Big Trees, decreasing the output and headroom power as it is turned counterclockwise. This makes The Big Trees quieter and more broken up. When connected out via line, The Big Trees warms up naturally with its EQ control and Dirt switch to summon truly unique tones. The Dirt switch plays a key part in The Big Trees by introducing heavier levels of breakup while an internal accentuator makes up for the lowered output level. This balance keeps The Big Trees distorted and textured without affecting volume.

Between the two sides of The Big Trees, there are many avenues to take to sculpt your cleans with breakup or give them a bright lift altogether. The overdriven tones of The Big Trees sound organic and natural, fresh but also broken-in. Rich and refined, the distinct Audio Kitchen amplifier tone is infatuating and is sure to win over any authentic tube aficionado. Along with its unique tonal texture, The Big Trees works as an effective direct out to re-voice guitars running into a DAW for recording, as well as working wonders for synthesizers, drums, keys, and vocals. The Big Trees is as functionally versatile as it is tonally, a real amplification wonder.

I Speak for the Trees

One would be hard pressed to find another device like The Big Trees. The innovative thinking and artistic touch of Audio Kitchen brings to its amplifiers shines through in The Big Trees for an amp that is equally technical and musical, all while remaining pedalboard friendly with its reasonable size. Its technical prowess cannot be overstated, and its musical chops are once in a lifetime, truly not to be missed. The next time your search for an amplifier with plenty of tone, charm, and character starts up, The Big Trees is a great find and worthy candidate. Audio Kitchen’s name is heard around the world and once you hear The Big Trees, it’s a name you won’t forget.

Also, read our take on the Audio Kitchen Fake Plastic Trees Review and The Small Trees Review.