May 25, 2014
Tone aficionados kept telling EHX’s Mike Matthews about a pedal that had achieved a lot of buzz because it was only obtainable at an exorbitant price. That pedal was the KLON CENTAUR.
A believer in bringing great tools to starving musicians, Mike tasked his trusty team to create an affordable alternative, and that is how the SOUL FOOD was cooked up.
The SOUL FOOD delivers transparent overdrive with great touch and response. Its circuitry features boosted power rails to provide abundant headroom and increased definition. Best of all, you don’t have to be a rock star to own one!
So… what the hell is a Klon Centaur anyway? To be honest, I haven’t got a clue. It’s one of those pieces of gear that’s shrouded in mystery and hype, and due to its rarity, hardly anyone in your network of musician friends will have played the real deal (see also anything by Dumble). The myth inspires people to buy clones of clones of Klons and bat around words like “transparent”, “like your amp but more” and “amp-like” and various other TGPenis terms without ever knowing what the source material truly sounds like.
Well, today, I can’t help you with that at all.
I don’t intend on paying extortionate prices for a Klon Centaur, or going on a tone quest to seek the pure and true original Klon tone (besides, we all know you have to be a Level 400 Mage to be able to complete that quest).
What I do intend on doing though, is demoing a new, ridiculously affordable overdrive pedal from EHX, which purports to be based on a Klon. And if you haven’t already pressed play on the video above, well, now’s the time.
Like any other EHX Nano series pedal, the Soul Food is housed in a no-nonsense aluminium box. No fancy folded metal here – take a cast box, slap a bottom plate on it and you’re away. A simple yet inviting graphic is printed on the front, with the basic but powerful control trio of Volume, Drive and Treble. The great thing is that EHX are passing the savings from the more austere, basic manufacturing style straight on to the customer – at Music Planet NZ, these retail for a scant $129 NZD, including a power supply!
Does it sound amp-like or what
I’m not going to answer that. Honestly, no overdrive pedal ever reacts completely like an amp – otherwise, we wouldn’t be spending so much money on expensive amps all the time. Amp-like is often used as a fancy schmancy way of saying “responds well to playing dynamics and using the guitar volume knob” – but the Boss OD1X I played at NAMM did a helluva job of doing that, so maybe it’s not such a cool elite word after all?!
Anyway, tangent. I can go on for days about the crimes perpetuated by the cork sniffing modern day internet guitarist. (But hey, let’s not judge – we’ve all been there)
What I will say though, is that the Soul Food sounds great. Running the gain on zero and the volume all the way up, it’s a really nice clean boost which adds a little bit more spank and sparkle to your guitar tone, but doesn’t bring the honky mid hump of a TS-variant. I felt that it was similar to another much-hyped pedal, the Paul Cochrane Timmy, except it had a little bit more of a unique character to it, while the Timmy’s sound du jour was a very flat boost which didn’t add its own special sauce to the mix but merely served to push your amp just a little bit more.
Once you start mixing in the Drive control, it develops a stronger midrange voicing. Not as forward and pushy as a TS, it has its own distinctive voicing which I thought was really cool. Not too in your face but not passive either – something that I think would sit comfortably in a band mix, with the ability to cut through further if necessary using the Treble detail.
As you’ll hear in the video, I ran it through my Mark V’s pristine clean channel setting, and the results were great. It did everything from add sparkle to bring the big, meaty drive sounds. Once you really start to max out the Drive knob, string separation can get just a teensy bit less distinct, but in general I was really impressed by how it could go from boutique-style transparent drive to fat rock monster with such ease.
Great! Not just for the price. But certainly, bloody good for the price. If you’re looking for a boutique-style drive that can do everything from clean boost to grunty rock but don’t want to break the bank, this is the pedal you want. No – this is the pedal you DESERVE. Minor points off for a very slight muddiness creeping in at extreme gain settings, but in general, let’s call it:
4.5 F*ck Yeahs
EHX Wars – the Saga Continues
Special thanks to Music Planet NZ for hooking us up with a bunch of their new pedal range from EHX! In the coming weeks I’ll be covering the EHX Glove OD and East River Drive, and possibly quite a few more. Don’t forget to check back, and as always, thank you guys for sharing, reading, commenting, and just being the general good bunch that you guys have always been. My pedals runneth over! (Like, seriously)
Ed – out!