Remember when all recording engineers and pro audio magazines were saying that digital recordings sound awful? Well, we guess that was so long ago that people are starting to actually miss that sound…
In fact, while many musicians strive for tone perfection, in the last few years a new, “contrarian,” often truly creative group of players and manufacturers started messing around with a concept that could be called “sound devolution.” Yes, you can track this phenomenon’s origins back to the lo-fi recordings of The Velvet Underground or the debut record of Pavement (or maybe Devo?), but the latest wave of “lo-fi” is way more technological and intentional than those records were.
Bit crushing is an effect that changes the signal to make it sound as if it was reproduced through ancient digital audio circuits, like 8 bit ones used in early videogames. It has been around for a while in audio plug ins, but it’s quite rare to find it in guitar pedals. Detroit based manufacturer Red Panda has always shown interest for this kind of effect (three out of four of their pedals feature bit crushing capabilities), but their latest creation, the Bitmap, aims at taking things one step further, offering a versatility that should find the interest not only of guitarists but also programmers and keyboardists.
This pedal lets you choose your bit resolution from the hi fi heights of 24 bits (which is better than the CD audio format) to the pathetic unresponsiveness of 1 bit. An integrated noise gate is tuned to provide maximum sustain without sputtering on staccato notes.
It also adds an extra element to sonic reduction, i.e. Sample Rate. Reducing the sample rate creates inharmonic overtones and aliasing distortion, adding sizzle to drums and high-end buzz to guitars when used lightly.
Some of the effects you can get out of this thing include video game sounds, scales transformed into inharmonic melodies, or morphing your tone into an entirely new textured sound (also through the use of triangle, square, or random modulation).
Check the video below for some lo-fi awesomeness.