The time between 1990 and 1994 was one of the most significant periods in music history. This sentence might remind you of many different achievements, but today I am talking about the overdrive pedal that turned the world upside down. In 1990 Bill Finnegan hand-built a unit that turned a new page in electronics and made us rethink everything we knew about music. This renowned stompbox was Klon Centaur. Since it is discontinued, its value has risen significantly throughout years and the sounds it created are becoming more and more sought after. The reason why it became so prominent is that it created the overdrive that was transparent – it did not color your tone, but still steeped everything in girth. Such character is appreciated till this day, but not all of us can spend 2000$ on a single unit. That is why we keep searching for clones and that is why the brands keep coming out with them. Electro-Harmonix has heard our prayers and has put together Soul Food – a pedal that is supposedly capable of capturing that legendary character. If you want to experience Klon Centaur without spending all of your savings, then keep on reading as I introduce features, controls and sound of Soul Food to you. Let’s begin!
Electro-Harmonix decided to satisfy the hype by creating a simple pedal with a sole purpose of replicating the sound of Klon Centaur. That attempt is probably the most prominent features out of the whole package, since Soul Food does truly create a transparent distortion (be it overdrive or fuzz). The effect is focused on adding gain without altering the tone and even though nobody knows the secret ingredient of the legendary original, this affordable clone still manages to capture the same character. Soul Food has boosted power rails that extend the headroom and make it feasible to create defined, yet transparent sounds. This rugged beast is built with quality material and promises to last through years of vigorous utilization. The design is simple but beautiful, featuring red patterns on yellow surface. The sides are silver just like with other pedals from the brand, letting you know it is EHX even from far away. More importantly, Soul Food has internal switch that allows you to choose between true and buffered bypasses. The former keeps your tone intact, while the latter passes the signal through buffered circuit before it reaches the amp output. Tonal purists, particularly, will appreciate this feature, as it gives you more precision when it comes to the qualities of your sound. Conveniently, this puppy can be supplied with power either with an included adapter or a single 9V battery. There is no battery compartment, so you will have to deal with those nagging 4 screws on the bottom plate. If you are a lazy person like me, you will probably stick to the power supply regularly. On the whole, Electro-Harmonix has basically reinvented the simplicity with this pedal. Though we do not have any bells and whistles here, the mere resemblance to the Klon Centaur is enough to make this one a sell-out.
If you have ever played with a fuzz box before, only a glance at Soul Food will be enough to grasp the extent of its controls. We get a typical deal here and the knobs include the ones that are needed to wander around in the world of distortion. There is nothing more exciting than a pedal that has just the right amount of controls and puts you in charge of your sounds with a couple of tweaks. It will not hurt anybody to go through these controls once again and explore their capabilities.
We have a standard set here: Drive, Treble and Volume. The first one is responsible for saturating your sound with distortion. It acts as a clean boost at minimum settings and offers high-gain tones in the fully clockwise position. By rotating this knob, you will notice that midrange will be enhanced just a bit with more girth. The second one acts as a tone control and enhances bass or high-end in your tone depending on where you set it. And the third and final encoder modifies the level of the overall output and can help you in increasing the distortion as well. The footswitch switches Soul Food on and off, traditionally.
Before discussing the sonic palette of Soul Food from Electro-Harmonix and its resemblance to the Klon Centaur, I just want to say that this is essentially an overdrive pedal. Even though the extreme settings can get quite dirty and even attempt to enter fuzzy territory, it is still marketed as an overdrive. The highest settings on this one will not be as crazy as on other fuzz boxes out there. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s see how close Soul Food comes to the legendary stompbox.
It is safe to say that this pedal comes really close to the Centaur. It would be an exaggeration to state that it is the exact same thing, yet it is capable of capturing the same feel and vibe. This baby manages to stand out as something that still has a character of its own, but retains the transparency and warmth of the original. The full frequency spectrum is well-rounded and defined and none of the frequencies lose any qualities when you change the settings. Soul Food is a wonderful clean boost and has many virtues on hand.
All in all, Soul Food from Electro-Harmonix is not an exact replication of the renowned Klon Centaur. It manages to capture the qualities that made the original so famous, but it still has a very distinctive character on its own. This baby is magnificent if you are looking for a wonderful overdrive pedal that gets high in gain when maxed out. Soul Food is really interesting, as it takes you back in top and puts famous sounds right at your fingertips. Try it out and you will be able to compare it to Centaur yourself. Good luck!
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