Review: Death by Audio/Levitation Speed Tripper

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Videos by American Songwriter

Death by Audio has created some of the most curious, interesting, and innovative effects of the last 10+ years. I never know what to expect from them and though I own a few and use them regularly they aren’t your dad’s effect pedals, nor “do it all” universal devices.  However, they do impart a unique sonic imprint and always stand apart from the crowd.

The Speed Tripper is no different. It’s a collaboration with the folks at Levitation, which is a psychedelic music festival based in Austin, Texas, and named in honor of Austin legends the 13th Floor Elevators. The Speed Tripper is at heart a delay pedal but one with a phaser inserted in the feedback circuit. This creates some wild and wooly potential as you can imagine and is definitely psychedelic for sure.  On first listen it seems geared more towards synth players but upon further exploration, I got some really cool, spacey sounds that worked quite well on guitar.

It has up to one second of delay on tap which is quite cool, and a bit more than I expected.  The speed, intensity, and feedback knobs are highly interactive and can get pretty far out sonically. It can function fairly simply as a great sounding delay by turning the speed and intensity down which makes it very versatile and not just a one-trick pony.  However, the real magic happens when you start introducing both speed and intensity and slowly bring the feedback up clockwise. I say slowly because it can really take off with the feedback past noon, over-oscillate the phaser, and contact alien life. Without the speed and intensity engaged oscillation occurs just past 3 o’clock on the feedback dial. The intensity itself will cause feedback sooner as you bring it into the circuit moving clockwise. You may even hear the pitch changing in the phased signal as you work it with the feedback which is not unusual.  Speed affects the phaser speed primarily but again it works in concert with the intensity and feedback knobs to create new soundscapes.  You can almost get into ring mod territory with the speedfully clockwise depending on the intensity and feedback knobs position.

Initially, as previously mentioned, I thought “Oh, this is for synth heads”, and surely keyboard players are really going to enjoy the Speed Tripper by having it at arm’s length stuck to the top of their keyboards for instant madness but I wanted to challenge myself to find deeper uses for guitar and a quick manual read pointed out that there’s an internal trimmer for the effect mix. Yea!! Just what I was hoping for. A few minutes later after a little gentle tweaking, I found just the right spot where even when it was feeding back it never overtook my signal and at lower feedback and delay settings it added a super cool texture to my sound that was quite pleasing and unusual, especially before delays and reverbs. I definitely missed it when I bypassed the pedal and it worked exceedingly well when a fuzz pedal was employed, which isn’t that strange since fuzz and phasers can be very evocative.

One last little trick: If you turn all the knobs counter-clockwise you achieve a crazy, slightly fuzzy, ringing, hollow sound that would certainly stand out in a mix and is pretty neat.

www.levitation.fm

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