Review: Source Audio Gemini, LA Lady ja Nemesis

Source Audio is an American manufacturer of guitar and bass effects, who has a new and exciting holistic approach to what an effect pedal can be.

Because most people feel slightly intimidated by devices that look unfamiliar, Source Audio has chosen to give their One Series pedal range a familiar stompbox look. These pedals may look like regular floor effects, but there much more going on than meets the eye.

Source Audio’s basic philosophy could be summed up as ”maximum flexibility and maximum controllability coupled with the best possible audio quality”.

Despite their deceptively simple looks the Series One pedals offer such a large range of tonal options that a review, such as this one, can only give you a little glimpse at all the available options.

****

The Source Audio Gemini (current price in Finland: 152.15 €) comes across as a traditional chorus pedal.

As a physical stand-alone device the Gemini offers you a choice of three different chorus modes – the vintage-style Classic mode, the fatter Dual mode, and the very lush Quad mode. In addition to the regular knobs for Depth and Speed, there are also controls for Tone and (Effect) Mix.

The One Series’ overdrive pedal is called LA Lady (152.15 €).

The LA Lady, too, comes with three different overdrive flavours – Classic, Crunch, Smooth – and four controls (Drive, Level, Bass, and Treble).

The larger size, as well as the number of different controls, of the Source Audio Nemesis delay (296.65 €) already hints at the wide array of options available.

As a stand-alone unit you can chose from 12 different delay-types, with algorithms ranging from the traditional (Slapback or Analog) to the far-out (Helix or Shifter). Three controls adjust the main delay parameters (Time, Feedback, Mix), and another set of three knobs control the pedal’s modulation section (Mod, Rate, Intensity).

In addition to the On/Off-switch there’s also a footswitch for the Tap Tempo function. The corresponding mini-switch lets you choose from three different tap tempo divisions (quarter notes, dotted eighths, and eighth triplets).

The Nemesis’ preset memory has been placed between the footswitches. You can store eight preset patches for fast recall.

All One Series pedals are true stereo effects, meaning they can process and output stereo signals. The stereophonic effect signal isn’t just processed stereo – with the right channel being a phase reversed copy of the left channel – but there’s a real stereo spread with both channels carrying discrete signals.

The reviewed pedals all need a power supply (included in the package) unit to work properly.

The Control Input is used by a range of different Source Audio controllers, while the mini-USB port lets you update a pedal’s firmware (Windows/OS X).

The Nemesis Delay adds a 1/4-inch Pedal In jack, which can be used with a regular expression pedal for preset switching.

There’s also full MIDI-implementation on the Nemesis.

****

As I’ve mentioned at the beginning, what can be seen from the outside is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In reality each of these Source Audio effects is fully-fledged digital effects processor, specialising in a certain effect type, and the user can access and adjust any parameter, even in real time, using a mobile device or one of Source Audio’s range of controllers.

Using Source Audio’s free Neuro-app gives you full access to all of the parameters inside the pedals from your Android- or iOS-running mobile device.

A special cable is included with each pedal that plugs into your phone’s (or tablet’s) headphones output and the right channel input of your One Series pedal. If you use several Source Audio pedals on your pedalboard, there’s no need to plug into each one separately, because you can connect to any One Series pedal in your signal chain simply by plugging into one of the pedals. Still, you can only remote control one pedal’s parameters at any given time. You have to select the pedal you want to edit, before you can perform the parameter changes.

Despite the large number of different parameters on offer Source Audio’s Neuro is surprisingly easy to use. Personally, I do prefer using a tablet, because of the larger display, but a smartphone will work fine, too.

In the Gemini Chorus’ case, Neuro will give you access to such parameters as effect algorithm, additional tremolo, low-pass filter, modulation type (sine, square, dynamic filter), and the parametric 4-Band EQ.

Thanks to the open architecture of the Series One pedals, the Neuro-app enables you to use (and edit) patches of the model range’s other modulation effects (the Lunar Phaser and the Mercury Flanger), too, turning the chorus pedal into a phaser or flanger.

Here’s a short clip of different modulation patches:

There are even more editable parameters offered in the LA Lady overdrive than in the Gemini chorus using Neuro, but the most interesting one surely must be the access to a second ”overdrive engine”. The two engines can run two different overdrive types simultaneously (with options ranging from vintage fuzz to modern distortion), and each engine can then be adjusted with things like EQ.

You can choose from a range of different signal routings using the I/O Routing Option menu. In addition to different mono and stereo input and output options, you can also decide whether to run the two overdrive engines in parallel or in series.

Using the Neuro-app let’s you turn your LA Lady into a different One Series drive effect (the Kingmaker Fuzz and the Aftershock Bass Distortion).

Here’s a short clip of different overdrive and distortion patches:

Using Neuro will double the available number of delay-types in the Nemesis Delay from 12 to 24. The additional delays include complex multi-tap rhythms (Complex Rhythmic), wildly pitch-shifting repeats (Compound Shifter), and a number of low-fi and vintage options (Oil Can, Lo-Fi Retro, Warped Record, Binson).

Additional internal parameters include things, such as the tone of the feedback signal, the sweep filter, or the distortion and noise levels of a tape echo.

The Nemesis, too, offers you a number of different signal routing options.

Here’s a short clip of different delay patches:

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The Neuro-app isn’t the only way to control Source Audio pedals.

In addition to traditional expression pedals the company also offers a range of different controllers:

The Hot Hand 3 controller uses a special ring for parameter control. The ring senses 3D-movement and has a transmission range of 30 metres.

The Neuro Hub is Source Audio’s very compact switcher that allows you to store up to 128 different sets (so-called scenes) of patch settings of up to five Source Audio effect pedals. The scenes stored in the Neuro Hub can be recalled on the fly, for example via MIDI. The Hub Manager software (Windows, OS X) lets you adjust scene settings and patches using a computer connected to the USB port.

Source Audio’s MIDI-switcher is called the Soleman.

****

Source Audio’s holistic and open approach to effect pedals is so all-encompassing, that a review article, such as this, can only scratch the surface of what is possible. I’m sure I could have spend a few weeks more with these pedals, without ever becoming bored.

This is a cool trio of effects, even straight out of the box. The Gemini Chorus and the LA Lady Overdrive both offer three different effect modes and plenty of scope for quick adjustments. Even as a stand-alone unit the Nemesis Delay is something of a flagship delay pedal, with its 12 delay-types, its modulation section, and the internal preset memory.

Many users would already feel satisfied by these three pedals as they are, because they are easy to use and sound terrific.

Source Audio’s Neuro-app, along with the company’s range of controllers, turns these pedals into full-blown sound laboratories, where only the sky (and your own imagination) is the limit. A new era of effect pedals has dawned…

****

Source Audio One Series effect pedals

Gemini Chorus – 152.15 €

LA Lady Overdrive – 152.15 €

Nemesis Delay – 296.65 €

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

Pros (all models):

+ sound

+ wide scope for editing

+ flexibility

+ overall concept

+ can be run in true stereoSave

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