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Aaron's Bass Hole - Transmissers From the Satellite Heart

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Aaron's Bass Hole - Transmissers From the Satellite Heart

Aaron Rogers

Happy holidays! I know what boys (and girls) like - bass guitar effects pedal demos. Am I right? Since you’ve all been so good this year, you can have a taste of the Transmisser on bass.

When we pulled this thing out of the Upside Down back in October, it was hotter than a stack of Eggo waffles, nailing those creepy Stranger Things vibes with its extra resonant, highly modulated filter swept ambience. A true black hole generator for musical instruments.

How’s it Work?

The Transmisser sends your input signal to an extended reverb which most closely resembles a hall-style effect, if the hall in question were Dr. Manhattan’s Martian palace (If you can ignore the fact that space is a vacuum), which is then modulated by a highly resonant filter.

From there, the Transmisser’s Decay, Darkness, and Freq controls alter the aural qualities of the reverb signal. Decay sets the reverb length, Darkness adjusts the reverb’s tone, and Freq sets the center point of the filter, which we’ve conveniently preset with high resonance, just at the edge of oscillation, so you can really dial in the spectral focus of this sonic specter.

Manipulating the Freq control is especially helpful when playing the Transmisser with a bass guitar because it allows you to locate the ambient space between say, the kick drum and guitar. You might also set the filter frequency to the key of the song, or park it at one location to make a particular harmonic overtone really shine. The expression control is hardwired to the Freq knob so you can make hands-free adjustments on the fly, or ride the filter for Tangerine Dream-inspired filter sweeps without blowing out the knees on your favorite pair of bell bottoms.

Finally, the Warp, Rate, and Mix knobs adjust the reverb’s behavior. Warp works in tandem with the rest of the controls to fine-tune the decay time of the reverb, along with the resonance and overall harmonic content of the Transmisser. Rate selects the speed of the system-wide modulation. This control animates the ambience, bringing the Transmisser to life as it continuously modulates the Decay, Darkness, and Freq, for a sound both organic and synthetic. Mix, as one might expect, controls the wet/dry mix.

How’s it Sound?

Out of this world. No, really. The unique attack envelope of the Transmisser lends itself to all styles of playing - pick attacks explode like a supernova, and working the volume knob for ethereal swells is a surefire way to get lost in space.

As I’ve stated before, my personal tastes lean towards short reverbs and delays on the bass guitar, but I found that digging into the Warp and Freq controls allowed me to carve a sonic space for the Transmisser’s trippy extra-long decay to live peacefully in the mix. That said, I gravitated toward lower Decay settings, because old habits die hard. Even sticking to the lower end of the Decay dial, I found enough sonic variation in the rest of the feature set to solidify the Transmisser as a versatile, unique, and above all, a downright musical effect with a variety of applications.

Example 1

In Example 1, I play around with right hand placement to demonstrate the Transmisser’s explosive attack envelope, and use lower Warp and Freq settings to add a bit of roundess and warmth to the reverb signal, which sounds both wonderful and strange.

Example 2

For Example 2, I pair the Transmisser with a Bellows Fuzz Driver and bring up the Warp and Freq controls to accentuate the upper harmonics. Paired with an overdrive, the Transmisser no longer comes in peace, as it mutates the signal into a swirling cacophony of sound. This howling din lends an air of creepiness and unease to the lopsided bassline. In other words, it’s perfect. Listen as the final note decays, and you can really hear the system-wide modulation in effect. In both examples I’m playing a 1976 P-Bass into a Tech21 Sansamp RBI, directly into my DAW. 

Just for the hell of it, here’s my favorite King Diamond Christmas song. It’s not a standard yet, but give it a few years.

Bassists, let us hear you! How do you use your Transmisser?

Photo: Josh Novak

Photo: Josh Novak

Aaron Rogers is a Circuit Builder, Blogger, Blog Editor, Content Marketer, Copywriter, Social Media Contributor, and Trade Show Rep at EarthQuaker Devices. He also works as a freelance live sound engineer. He plays the bass guitar in Ultrasphinx.