Captain's log, stardate 41153.7: We've hit turbulence
Modern modulators have upped the ante for players seeking out warped tones from their stompboxes. Luckily for daring players, the crew at New York's Death By Audio have sought out such sounds and produced a compact pedal to match the demand in the form of their latest creation, the Space Bender. This modulation unit falls to Earth to deliver messages from the great unknown. A couple of unique controls and one click of a footswitch separate you from a one-of-a-kind modulator. One small step, as they say.
Falling perfectly in place with their line of distortions and noisemakers, Death By Audio creates a pedal worthy of its warped and reality-altering moniker. The Space Bender taps into a unique space where washed, wavering, and inverted modulation tones come easier than ever before. If you've ever sought out a fast lane to spacious noisemaking, you've found it. The Space Bender presents modulation in a uniquely designed package for anyone to sit back, relax, and let the beautiful noise wash in.
A Fork in the Road
Plug in the Space Bender and you'll immediately take notice of its arrangement of controls. Two dials and three two-way switches will naturally beg some questions, but rest assured, musical answers are on their way.
One of the best ways to enter the Space Bender's world is through the deep end. The pedal's two knobs, Depth and Speed, offer a gradual entry to the effect experience, but the forks in the road produced by the three tone-shaping switches produce quick tonal results. Since you have to enter the Space Bender with each switch engaged either way, why not take the plunge?
The top switch on the Space Bender controls the delay time of the modulator. With one side at "x1" and the other at "x10", the Space Bender will quickly show off its abilities to lag and stretch the modulation. This selection, when used in tandem with your Speed and Depth controls (with Depth capable of charmingly ramping up to 12), shows off what the Space Bender can do in smooth fashion.
The middle switch alters the source of the modulation through either a sine wave oscillator or an envelope filter – oscillator to the left, envelope to the right. At this stage of effect shaping, the Speed knob will either control the LFO speed or envelope sensitivity. Fully counterclockwise, the speed of the LFO will be at its fastest and the envelope will be at its most sensitive.
The bottom switch swaps the Space Bender's voice between higher and lower intensities. On “Lo”, the Space Bender's modulated voice will subdue. On “Hi”, the modulation will become stronger with a fuller signal and deeper expression. Intensity will allow you to explore the pedal's modulating powers to get a sense of what it is capable of.
Noisy clashes of modulation – the name of the game for the Space Bender. DBA's design puts you in the middle of the action right off the bat with the two-way tonal control switches. This method of tone-shaping makes experimentation and A/B comparison effortless as you swap between the effect combinations at hand.
Setting out with your delay speeds, an "x1" selection can land you in a glassy modulated space. The short delay time will be reflective and responsive to your playing patterns, reminiscent of a quick and swirling chorus effect. Match "x1" with "Lo" on your modulation switch and you can reel in the Space Bender's overall modulated movement. Dial in a sensitive envelope, dig into your picking, and you can start to get a flanger-like tone that bounces along rhythmically.
A tame chorus or flanger effect makes for a great sonic companion but swap over to the more intense side of the Space Bender and you'll be taken for a ride. Click on "x10" and "Hi" and let the Space Bender lead the way in lovely noisemaking fashion. The Space Bender on "Hi" makes for a highly responsive pedal where very minimal input is required on your part to bring the effect to life. Soft picks, slow strums, and even firm taps in between frets springboard the Space Bender's voice out to be as warped and wrangled as you see fit. Pick an open tuning and strum along with the Space Bender to pile its crowded and modulating waves on top of one another to get a unique static-sounding trail with plenty of internal movement.
The resonations created by elongated delays and high intensity settings offer a chance for players to interact with their modulation in real time. Producing modulating delay trails, the Space Bender allows the ability to reach in and adjust the Depth and Speed knobs, which results in the tonal warping you'd expect from a spacey effect of this type. Your sci-fi blaster warbles await!
Death By Audio Space Bender Final Thoughts
Capable of pushing your signal out to a respectable level of "is it supposed to sound like that?", the Space Bender delivers quite a bit in its compact size. The Space Bender easily punches above its weight class as it effortlessly warps a signal beyond recognition, a quality you might expect to find in a larger and more intricate pedal. In whatever ballpark your modulating needs land, the Space Bender finds a home. Its unique control configuration offers an ease of access not normally found with modulators of its kind. The three tone control switches allow for some laidback modulating with little tinkering required, if you don't want it. Kick back and drift off with a couple of strums on the Space Bender and its wild modulating powers won't steer you wrong.
Lost in space without a clue? The Space Bender knows the way.