The Mainframe Bit Crusher is a nasty little pedal that warps, mangles, distorts and produces lo-fi digital sounds and trippy sci-fi gizmo textures reminiscent of computers and video games of the ’80s and early ’90s.
Packed with beaucoup features, the Mainframe provides sample-rate reduction ranging from 48kHz to 110Hz. Additional filter functions warp signals even more; the High-Low Band-Pass filter allows the user to shape the artifacts of the bit crushing and sample rate. Ring-modulated filter sounds add extra-computerized weirdness and old-school Nintendo fun.
The Mainframe’s Sample Rate Tuning Mode analyzes the signal and sets the sample. Users can set intervals above the signal. They can also set the sample rate to match a song’s key or adjust the sample rate during the performance. Using an expression pedal, effect parameters can be adjusted for warped filter sweeps and twisted bit-crushed manipulations. Presets will save settings, and fans of synth guitar and bass will dig the oddball bleeps and functionality of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong effects.
While novice users might find it simply a well-designed noise machine, seasoned pedal lovers will enjoy the freedom to experiment as they conjure gnarly retro goodness.
This article originally appeared in VG March 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.