In the words of the great Monty Python, “Now, here’s something completely different…”
The Pefftronics SB-101 Super Rand-O-Matic is a modulation effect unlike anything we’ve heard. It can create basic chorus, flanger, phase shifter, or delay effects, but it’s much more versatile and can produce sounds usually obtainable only when manually manipulating the control knobs on an effect while playing.
While the unit’s controls look and function like those on many other stompboxes, the Super Rand-O-Matic is indubitably unique. It has six control knobs: Range (selects between six delay times; the first two for phase-shift effects, the rest are short delays for flange, chorus, and doubling), Depth (controls the intensity of effect), Rate (controls the speed at which the triangle wave oscillates), Feedback (reintroduces sound at the input; used to create flange and comb filter effects), Mix (controls the balance of wet and dry signals), and Randomness (controls the amount of activity). Additionally, a Tri/Rand switch selects triangle or random waveforms. The footswitch is a basic on/off stomp-switch that’s totally silent, so you won’t hear any clicking when turning the pedal on or off. The unit is powered by a single 9-volt battery or optional 9V DC adapter, and a red LED (in the center of the O in the logo) lights up to indicate when the pedal has been activated. Pefftronics recommends operating the unit with the adapter.
Most of the controls are familiar to players who use effects, but the Randomness feature is a bit difficult to explain; it adds a random and somewhat irregular dimension to the more typical effects. The Randomness element works by creating out-of-tune pitches, bleeps and bloops, which occur in varied, off-time spots, with the rate of occurrence based on the position of the control knob. The feature is what sets the unit apart from more common modulation effects. The only way to duplicate the functions and effects the Super Rand-O-Matic creates is to twist the knobs manually while is playing.
The Super Rand-O-Matic has diverse tonal capabilities and does an excellent job creating the basic chorus, flange, and phase-shifting effects, as well as some great doubling effects. But for those who dare venture to the outer limits, you can create some pretty off-the-wall sounds. Ever wondered what a chorus would sound like if you slipped it a hit of acid? And just in time for the new Star Wars movie, get a Super Rand-O-Matic and you’ll do a great impersonation of R2D2. As you experiment with the features, you’ll discover more useful and interesting sounds to spice up your tonal palette. One of my favorite effects occurs as the mix level is turned past 12:00. After the attack of each note, there’s a subtle fuzztone that gently fades into the background as the notes decay. Very cool.
If you’re a stompbox aficionado, search this one out for your listening and entertainment pleasure. It’s more fun than should be legal. A stereo rackmount version will be available soon. Separate wet and dry outputs will further expand the spatial dimensions of the effects.
Pefftronics SB-101 Super Rand-O-Matic
Type Of Unit: Modulation effect, stompbox format.
Features: Controls for Range, Depth, Rate, Feedback, Mix, and Randomness, Tri/Rand switch (triangle and random waveforms); on/off switch; operates using a single 9-volt battery or an optional 9V DC adapter.
Contact: Pefftronics, 2501 North Loop Drive, Ames, IA 50010, (800) 548-PEFF, fax (515) 296-9910. Website: www.pefftronics.com
This review originally appeared in VG‘s June ’99 issue.