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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Feature Gear Review : Visual Sounds H2O pedal

Joined at the hip

Incorporating 2 great effects together is not an easy thing to do but the guys at Visual Sound seem to be doing just that.
At first glance its a very attractive blue, pro graphics, heavy duty casing, road ready for sure.It came in a professional box with an info sheet with sample settings that was very helpful in the testing process.
One really nice feature is the battery cover. It can simply be flippe
d to the side for a quick battery change before a gig. A very handy feature.

Another unique design from Visual Sound is the footswitch placement. The 2 on/off switchs are placed close enough together to turn both off or on at the same time with ease. Thats a great feature to me as i find myself using delay and chorus at the same time alot. As the Visual Sound president Bob Weil explains "I designed the switches to be close enough together so you can hit them both with your foot at the same time if you want to. That means you can turn them both On or Off, or if one channel is already On, hit both switches at the same time to turn the one Off and the other On. Simple, isn't it?" Well said Bob.

The H2O features a second output for an uneffected signal. In the included info sheet there is a simple mod to make it an effected output. Its nice having a choice.

Lets take a look at the echo side first. You get Echo time,Repeat control, and effect level knobs as well as a short or long delay switch. While it is a digital effect it is analog voiced and more analog sounding than any other digital Ive tried. I was assuming since it was an echo it would do some cool slapback stuff and maybe a short delay. Up to 800 ms of sweet warm delay! The H2O not only excels at slapback/ Echoplex type echoes but nails some long analog delays as well ! I was very impressed with the delay side, from lush Echoplex like echoes to long trailing delays I could easily see using this as my only gigging delay with no qualms whatsover. The really spectacular thing about the H20 is that with other Echo pedals when you dial in a good Echoplex like delay its missing that chorus warble that alot of the old units have. The H2O has the perfect chorus right there to add to it to get that chorus warble happening for a really beautiful echo tone. Not a bit harsh and warm analog delay tone in droves. If this unit was only an echo and priced where it is I would still consider it a great value. 

The chorus in the H2O really is a great sounding one. Alot of times a chorus will sound great great but is NOISY! Not the case here. Dead quiet and adds a beautiful shimmer to your clean tone. I kept finding myself playing old Police songs and nailing the tone. Bump up the speed control and it gives a nice rotary speaker/ Leslie type effect. It also does the seasick underwater tone. Not something i would use but Im sure it could be used somewhere! All around a killer chorus that deserves to be heard especially with a world class echo attached to its hip. Its worth noting that in June 2004 Visual Sound updated the Chorus in the H20 to get a faster rate and improved overall tone. 

The thing that really knocked me out about this pedal is how QUIET it is. Even with both effects engaged it is virtually noise free. Power was supplied by a ONE SPOT power adaptor, again noise free.

Seems alot of folks these days when you start talking about a pedal the first thing they ask is
" Is it true- bypass?" Well the answer on the H2O is no. I truly believe the "true bypass" issue to be a little funny. If you have a quality pedal with a quality buffer installed it actually helps drive the signal on the other pedals in your chain and keeps the strength of your signal strong. There is a pedal builder to the stars that has thousand dollar pedals that has the same thoughts. A bad pedal is a bad pedal. The H2O worked great with other pedals and sounds wonderfull all the way around. Heres Bob Weils thoughts on the subject when asked if his pedals are True Bypass.

"No, but for some very sound reasons. And they have something which may be better: Pure Bypass.
First, the switches required for "true-bypass" are far more expensive than ours and are less reliable in the long run. This would make our pedals in the $200+ range (list price) and they wouldn't last as long. Our unique electro-mechanical switching system with heavy-duty switches and a "switch chip" should last a good long time.
Secondly, the buffering system in the pedals was taken from our Pure Tone pedal. This pedal was built originally for guitarist Neil Zaza who needed something to clean up his bypass tone for all the pedals he used (VOX wah included). Pure Tone, when placed first in the chain, made it sound like you were plugged straight into the amp even when going through notorious tone killer pedals. We ended up selling about 200 of these to very happy tone conscious guitar players before we put it into Jekyll & Hyde as an added feature. So, if J&H or Rt. 66 is first in your chain, it will buffer everything that follows it as well as itself. Even if it's in the middle of the chain, it will still work to some extent.
Thirdly, the Pure Tone buffer also keeps the Hyde circuit (in Jekyll & Hyde) stable. In the early stages of design, I noticed that the Hyde circuit was prone to occillation and feedback until I put the Pure Tone circuit before it. Somehow, it left all the good characteristics in tact and eliminated the ugliness."

In closing I absolutely love the H2O . Super quiet operation and truly inspiring tones are to be had here. At only 199.99 retail a bargain for sure. The pedal is built like a tank and backed up by Visual Sounds great customer service and warranty.

See for more info or to order your very own H20. From Visual Sound

Visual Sound H2O:
H2O Chorus Mod: As of June 2004, the H2O Chorus Channel has an even sweeter sounding chorus, and a faster leslie speed potential.

H2O Liquid Chorus & Echo continues the Visual Sound tradition of combining two professional quality effects into one reasonably priced pedal. First, you get liquid analog chorus created by using rare NOS BBD ("bucket brigade") chips. With controls for Speed, Width, and Delay Time, you can get an endless variety of chorus sounds from subtle to lush to under water. Then there's the echo channel. Up to 800ms of analog voiced, digital echo. You can switch from short to long echo times on the fly and dial in just the right settings with the familiar controls: Echo Time, Repeats, and Effect Level.

H2O even has a second output jack for sending a dry (uneffected) signal to a second amp.

Like other Visual Sound pedals, you can use either channel by itself or combine them together. Just stomp on both switches at the same time to switch from one channel to the other or to turn them both on or both off. Come on in, the water's fine!