Zeppelin Design Labs Quaverato Harmonic Tremolo
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Zeppelin Design Labs Quaverato Harmonic Tremolo

Quaverato Harmonic Tremolo, Tremolo pedal from Zeppelin Design Labs.

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MGR/Brian Johnston 09/26/2018

Zeppelin Design Labs Quaverato Harmonic Tremolo : MGR/Brian Johnston's user review

"Possibly the Most Complete Tremolo Pedal"
5

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Value For Money : Excellent Audience: Anyone
SOUND:
The (tremolo) sounds from the Quaverato is enormous and can be extremely varied, as demonstrated in the YouTube video below:



There’s so much you can do with the Quaverato. First, you can decide if you want to have the signal phased in or out; phased in will give you a traditional tremolo effect, whereas a phased out signal off-sets the high and low frequencies to produce more of a warbling effect. You can decide how much harmonic mix you want, whether it’s all low-end, all high-end, a perfect blend or any variation between. This one makes a lot of difference as the sound can become very three-dimensional depending on knob positioning. The shape of the wave can make a difference as well, and there are five of them: Sine, Saw Tooth, Ramp, Triangle and Square. The Sine and Square produce very obvious results, whereas the Triangle is an example of a more subtle tremolo even when turned up high (great for adding a dimension to your lead playing without being too ostentatious). In that regard, I found that placing the Depth quarter-way gives a very subtle result that can be heard, but is not overbearing, whereas anything around 12-noon or greater is very obvious. Even then, when turned up full, you still hear the original signal very plainly (it’s not 100% wet).

And there’s still more – you can adjust the rate to have long waves or a fast stabbing pulse… or bypass that altogether with the Tap Tempo feature. And then you can adjust the ratio of tremolo-to-dry signal anywhere from 1:2 to 4:1. As well, the main stomp switch can act as an on-off (bypass) or a momentary switch, so that you can add some tremolo when you wish. If that wasn’t enough, there are dip switches under the chassis that allow you to further customize the high and low frequencies for some incredible custom programming, and the Quaverato includes open source software for any ‘hackers’ who want to customize their tone even further. All in all, there are so many possible combinations that the video could only touch upon some of them and while playing guitar; you can imagine how useful the Quaverato can be with bass and keyboards as well.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
With up to 15dB of headroom, this is the first pedal brought to you by Zeppelin Design Labs (they have other great gear worth checking out, including low wattage amps) – and they went all out in creating what must be the ultimate tremolo pedal, or very close if not. The possible tremolo combinations are huge, to say the least, as you’re able to adjust wave shape, how the rate interacts with the multiplier, the spacing of the LFO waves, the harmonic mix and so much more. If the Quaverato was not so much fun to use it could be intimidating. Perhaps it’s too much for someone wanting to play some basic Surf music, but for those wanting to experience an array of pulsating wonders you would be hard pressed to find a better tremolo.

The Quaverato has reached the upper level of tremolo technology for several reasons, besides all the features and the ability to customize wave frequencies via the dip switches, is that it combines three different types of tremolo. First, there is the Bias Tremolo, created by modulating the bias voltage (e.g., a smooth sine wave oscillation). Second is the Optical Tremolo, produced by using an optocoupler to modulate the signal in a preamp circuit, which creates a pulsating or throbbing sound that is somewhat lopsided. And then there’s the Harmonic Tremolo, whereby the signal passes through a crossover circuit that splits the low and high frequencies and plays them back out of phase from one another. The Quaverato produces all three types of tremolo to give you just about any option you can think of, and more. The price is only $189 USD, which is quite remarkable considering all you get (and if you have the courage to build it yourself, then it’s only $89 USD!).

EASE OF USE:
There is so much offered through the Quaverato as it stands that you would be experimenting for days and not experience all the pedal’s resources. I won’t even broach the subject of customizing the harmonic frequencies by adjusting the dip switches under the hood! The Quaverato is somewhat intimidating, but you need to break down some of the essentials of your tremolo sound. For example, determine what Wave Shape you want, since the nature of a Sine wave is very different from a Ramp or a Square. Once you get a shape you like, then you can determine how quickly you want it to pulse by way of the Rate knob (or tap in a tempo). In the meantime, keep the Spacing knob and Harmonic Mix at 12-noon. Next, the Multiplier affects the repeats of the tremolo, so that you can cut back on the repeats with a 1:2 ratio (in favor of the dry signal) or a simple 1:1 ratio for a straight forward tremolo. Beyond that you can increase the repeats of the tremolo feedback from 1.5:1 to 4:1.

Once the above is determined, you may favor a Phase In sound (traditional tremolo) or a Phase Out sound (more of a warbling effect). And then you further customize the quality of the tremolo with Spacing and Harmonic Mix. Spacing creates an ‘offset’ of (viz., warps) the LFO wave shape, but will produce different results with different waves and whether you’re phased in or out. You literally can hear changes in ‘space’ between the higher and lower frequencies or more lingering with certain frequencies, all of which really adds to the character of the tone (although it’s more obvious with ambient clean signals than those distorted). The Harmonic Mix gives you that final punch in overall quality, as you can adjust how much or little of the high and low frequencies you want to hear in the tremolo, which varies quite significantly. To explain, when mixing in a lot of lows or highs the tremolo effect sounds (and is) more subtle and one-dimensional, even with a lot of depth or signal mix. However, the result really pops (in different ways) as you adjust mixing between high and low frequencies. This may seem over-the-top for some guitar players, but when you’re trying to cut through the mix the Harmonic Mix feature becomes an obvious benefit and tool.

I also like to give kudos to Zeppelin Design Labs for producing a great user manual… one of the most complete I’ve read, outlining all the features with description on each aspect, as well as the science and historical background on types of tremolo, etc. Very well put together and thought out if you care to view it:

https://www.zeppelindesignlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/docs/QUAVERATO-OWNERS-MANUAL.pdf

RELIABILITY & DURABILITY:
Zeppelin Design Labs’ Quaverato Harmonic Tremolo is slightly larger than average (although not as large as I expected for housing so many knobs/pots and features), measuring in at 4 x 5 inches (10 x 13 cm). It has a sturdy 18 gauge galvanized steel chassis with a polycarbonate label to handle plenty of wear and tear. It is digitally controlled with an all analog signal path for clear and great sound production. It operates on a standard 9V power supply while requiring only 60mA to keep her running. All cable inserts are located the back, including the power supply, which helps to save on pedal board space while keeping any cables away from stomping feet. The two foot switches are spaced wide enough that there shouldn’t be issues of making contact with both simultaneously. The foot switches are far enough removed from the more delicate toggle switches (for Phase and Mode), whereas they are somewhat close to the knobs. However, the knobs are heavy plastic and will withstand some abuse. The knobs (pots) also are of very good quality and are smooth when turned.

Images linked to this review

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