May 13, 2010

Line 6 excels at packaging the best elements from a collection of vintage analog effects into a single digital stompbox. Their classic “green delay pedal” (DL4) is one of the most versatile delay modelers/loopers available. While the FM4 Filter Modeler is not as user-friendly or universally appealing as the DL4, it follows in the same creative footsteps.The FM4 re-imagines a number trademark filtering effects from companies such as Moog, Korg and Oberheim. From the arpeggiated “throbber” to the stabbing “attack synth,” the FM4 models an astonishing array of effects ranging from vocoders to synth modules. The FM4 can be heard on numerous albums from the early part of the past decade, including those by The Flaming Lips and the Unicorns (listen to the intro of “Jellybones” for an example of the Synth-O-Matic). Capable of everything from full on freak-outs to subtle sweetening, this pedal is ideally suited for those interested in modern psychedelia, noise/ambient or synth-inspired dance music.

Potential gripes come more from the pedal’s layout than its sound. Save for the mix knob on the far right, the three other dials control variables that sometimes change dramatically, depending on the preset mode. On the plus side, the ability to store pedal settings by holding one of the 4 footswitches does improve navigation.

Electro Harmonix’s HOG may offer clearer note tracking and a Roland GR20 probably features increased midi capability; however, no pedal in its price range ($250) matches the FM-4’s smorgasbord of quirky sounds. – By Ezra Tenenbaum

Related Posts