REVIEW: Source Audio Soundblox Multiwave Distortion

The Source Audio Soundblox Multiwave Distortion is not your standard grit box. It’s a whole new approach to the way we make our guitars scream, cry, wail, grind, howl, grunt and growl. It features 21 variations of Source’s digital distortion algorithm – some conventional, some definitely not – with seven ‘normal’ settings and 14 multiband ones. Reeves Gabrels is a fan. not hard to see why.

The pedal is divided into two distinct sections – effect and switch – and while the switch is of the momentary variety, it triggers an active analog bypass which fully routes the signal around the DSP for pure tone when the effect is not engaged. At the heart of the unit is a state-of-the-art DSP — source’s proprietary 56-bit Digital Signal Processor, the SA601 and crystal-clear 24-bit converters. There are only four controls: Effect, Sustain, Drive and Output. Effect selects between the 21 different sounds; Sustain adjusts the input gain to increase the level going to the distortion effect; Drive modifies the gain of the signal going to the distortion; and Output is your standard volume control. You can also pair it with Source’s Hot Hand motion sensor ring and wireless adaptor to

The sounds are incredible. The ‘normal’ settings offer classic overdrive and distortion flavours by applying the distortion to the entire signal, just as you would expect. Some of these, like the octave settings, are satisfyingly complex and endearingly interactive. Pick harder and the pedal responds differently to if you pick softly, giving you either more or less of the octave effect depending on how hard a whack you deliver to the string. The ‘foldback’ settings are intriguing and open up many creative possibilities as the distortion fades out and increases again, literally folding back on itself dynamically. It creates some freaking weird sounds in the form of various underlying harmonics which just have to be heard to be believed. For instance, pick softly and you’ll hear just those harmonics, minus the underlying note. Pick harder and the true note comes through. Amazing.

In the Multiwave mode, the input guitar signal is divided up into multiple frequency bands, each of which is separately distorted before the results are recombined. This maintains clarity between the various notes of chords, and it means you can get some very entertaining effects by playing arpeggios at different velocities. The multiwave versions of the settings are even more  entertaining, with greater note separation and bolder harmonics. You can summon some truly alien textures as well as some ‘there’s something odd about this sound but I can’t quite put my finger on it’ ones. When played off against the more traditional non-multiwave sounds, it makes for an extremely versatile pedal.

The Soundblox Multiwave Distortion might freak some players out because it’s so different but it offers incredible creative potential for those bold enough to explore its possibilities. Visually, I kind of feel the unit’s design is a little bit dated – it reminds me of the sort of rounded boxes you would see in graphic design in the late 90s or early naughties, and uses the exact same typeface as a magazine I wrote for way back in 1999 (Hi Dave, Cath and Kate). It’s a distinctive look, to be sure, but it doesn’t quite have the timeless visual appeal of some other stomp boxes. That doesn’t really matter though, because the sounds are definitely from the ‘inspire you to new heights of creativity’ school. And that’s really all that matters.

LINK: Source Audio

[geo-in country=”Australia” note=””]This is an extended version of an article originally written for Mixdown magazine. Source Audio is distributed by Thump Music Australia.[/geo-in]