“Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes, they call me on and on across the universe” - John Lennon
Whatever corner of space you’re reaching for, you’ll find no shortage of exceptional musical devices to get you along your space-faring way. However, you’d be hard pressed to find a pedal quite like the Black Hole Symmetry.
The Angers, France-based Collision Devices takes sonic exploration to a new level. Founded between 2016 and 2017, the Collision Devices team consists of three musical masterminds – Baptiste, Nicolas, and Denis – who hold authenticity and innovation as high priorities in design. The trio produces devices of the highest quality and shares roles in design and production.
All of this is evident in their premier pedal, the Black Hole Symmetry.
Following through in Collision Devices’ innovative ethos, the Black Hole Symmetry comes together as a love letter and exciting new experience for effect pedal fans – space dwelling or otherwise. Hand-assembled in France, the Black Hole Symmetry differs in setup from a traditional effect pedal of this caliber. The three footswitches and assortment of knobs that populate Black Hole Symmetry’s faceplate make it quite a bit to take in, but the intuitive operation and easy experimental detours possible make it easily manageable and exciting to play. One ¼" input, output, and a 9 Volt DC power intake make the Black Hole Symmetry take off effortlessly.
Three Interstellar Paths
The Black Hole Symmetry features three distinct spacious effects housed within its monolithic casing. Across the three effects, players will find distinct tones within each effect individually with a true sense of unity. Each effect plays into the others with versatility and each is complementary to the others in any configuration. Three footswitches may seem steep, but Collision Devices keeps the entire playing experience of the Black Hole Symmetry inviting.
A departure from other spacious effect experiences, the Black Hole Symmetry features a fuzz, reverb, and delay effect each assigned to its own independent footswitch and dials. Engage an effect by itself or all three at once and the Black Hole Symmetry comes alive fairly quickly.
The first effect of the Black Hole Symmetry, Singularity, is an effortlessly fluid and adaptable fuzz. Singularity is controlled by a lone dial in the center of the pedal, Disintegrate. This single control sizes the shape and form of the fuzz to fit into the equation of the two other effects and provide a loving gravitational kick or a fuzzy leap into a new hemisphere. Disintegrate’s abilities to influence the full character of the Black Hole Symmetry make it a formidable effect to dial in.
The second effect, Event Horizon, is a pitch-shifted reverb. Ethereal and engulfing, Event Horizon produces a room-filling reverb that wanders with each pitch-shifted note picked. Event Horizon’s modulation capabilities create an interesting mix of effects, as controlled by Echo, Radiancy, and Pitch settings – Echo controlling decay trail length, Radiancy controlling the pitch-shift proportion to the reverb effect, and Pitch controlling the amount of pitch shifting applied to each note. The shimmering resonance produced by Event Horizon is easily summoned and accurately adjustable. Trailing pitch-shifted glimmers blink out and fade away when picking single notes and letting the Black Hole Symmetry breathe. Event Horizon is a standout example of the Black Hole Symmetry’s spacious and dark radiance at work.
The last effect, Ergosphere, is a modulated delay effect. Precarious and dizzying, Ergosphere produces delay trails that warp and waver with each picked note. The dual-oscillating capabilities Ergosphere offers are dialed in with Feedback and Speed knobs. This combination of time-shifting abilities, when used in tandem with the Modulation control, produces delay trails of varying degrees of offset modulation. Increasing and decreasing the pitch-shifting modulation amount on the trails produced by Ergosphere makes for a perfect dive into the Black Hole Symmetry’s endlessly experimental side.
Black Holes and Revelations
Individually, each effect on the Black Hole Symmetry tells a tale all its own. The deep customization possible on each independent effect makes each effect a journey unto itself. When stacked, the true majesty of space opens up. All three effects can work together to riff along in spacious harmony or collide in a most peculiar way. The modulating effects Event Horizon and Ergosphere carry can meld together to shape a delay trail that subtly wavers in pitch or bounds through the cosmos leaving a trail of noisy oscillations in its wake.
The long decay trails possible on both Event Horizon and Ergosphere make the Black Hole Symmetry an easy pedal to tinker with in real time. With such long trails resonating outward, reshaping the time and pitch parameters does not require much of a rush on the part of the player to reach the controls again. Perfect for experimenting with noise at a desktop DAW setup or onstage with shoegazing righteousness, the Black Hole Symmetry’s time warps are something to write home about. Pile Singularity’s fuzz on top of those oscillating effect trails, and all bets are off – outer space has opened on your pedalboard.
Collision Devices Black Hole Symmetry Final Thoughts
The effect experience Collision Devices offers through the Black Hole Symmetry is something unique in its tonal nuance and sonic power. Either end of the musical spectrum can be explored with spacious subtlety or inverted noisiness. The Black Hole Symmetry provides a full package of an astronomical effect experience, effectively covering an enormous amount of ground in its single casing. Each effect interacts and stacks well with the others to create different tonal blueprints to build off of and explore beyond. Balanced and powerful yet capable of going off script and taking tonal detours, the Black Hole Symmetry’s monolithic presentation partly speaks for itself as a formidable effect pedal with elements of mystery.