Back in the day when Jimi Hendrix was creating his best pieces Tycobrahe Sound Company manufactured Octavia – a pedal that changed history, turned the world upside down and basically shaped our conception of stunning fuzzy octave pedal. No matter where you look at, any pedal that combines these two effects is compared to that wonderful unit. That is not surprising by any means since the vintage wonder could blend together fuzz and octave without depriving any of them of their character. This way the result was saturated and defined, no matter how crazy the distortion would get. Of course Jimi’s name skyrocketed the prestige of Octavia, but it truly deserved every bit of fame it had. Not only are newer models compared to it, but the attempt to replicate its sound and circuitry is a very common practice as well. The pedal we are going to talk about today does exactly that and we are here to judge to what extent it succeeds. Voodoo Lab Proctavia claims to have the same exact circuitry as the original and, thus, promises to sound similar. We will discuss its features, controls and sound of this baby to find out if it comes close to the Octavia and how it performs on its own. Without further ado, let’s begin our juicy and interesting journey!
Before we get specific I want to mention the fact that the products from Voodoo Lab are handcrafted, which means they pay attention to the tiniest details and make sure their pedals do not have any technical flows. Proctavia represents that attitude perfectly, as it has rugged chassis that is made out of aluminum. The switching is true bypass to make sure that your tone is not ruined as it passes through the deactivated stompbox. More importantly, this bad boy has the same transistors, germanium diodes and unique transformer coupled output stage as the original Octavia. For that reason, it shares the same vibes and delivers the sounds that have similar character. Proctavia combines octave doubling effect and our beloved distortion in order to provide you with diverse sonic options. The design of this baby will remind you of some ancient cults which is a bit creepy but works perfectly for the nature of this pedal. We shall not forget that it can be powered by a single 9V battery or an adapter just to make your life a bit easier. As you can see, Proctavia is extremely simple in its essence, but it still leaves you with the opportunity to turn yourself into Hendrix and every Haze into a Purple one.
When I discuss the control section of different pedals, I always feel like I am boring the readers out. For some reason, this part of the effects units does not seem as exciting or interesting as the rest. Yet it is the part that makes all those sonic results possible. It unveils the full potential of pedals and lets you grasp what can be done and how. And that is why I keep defining the functions of each control – I want you to know what you are going for before making the purchase. Voodoo Lab Proctavia has a user-friendly layout that consists of only two controls. You will have to tweak those to get the desired results, but the range of each will still give you quite an interesting sonic canvas to build upon. You simply have to learn how to play with it, which is something that can only be achieved with practice. Anyway, let me stop rumbling and get to discussing the individual controls.
The panel begins with Volume which determines the level of the affected sounds. It lets you get louder or quieter just by a twist and intensifies the character of fuzzed up octave at the same time. The next knob we have here is Boost, which adds gain and girth to your sound and forces it to sustain more. Depending on how you set these two, you can achieve either subtle and tamed down sounds or go completely crazy and see what happens. Of course, we have a footswitch that triggers the circuitry with a single tap and deactivates the pedal whenever needed. Take your time and you will definitely find the settings you have in mind.
Voodoo Lab Proctavia has the sound that can’t be described that easily. What I mean is that it has to be looked at from different sides in order to be understood. On one hand, it has great tracking and recognizes your playing wonderfully. It goes higher than you would expect and lets you enter Hendrix territory in no time. It is sensitive to your picking dynamics and guitar volume, so be careful if you are going for subtler sounds. If you want the pedal to go completely crazy, your picking should be complementary. On the other hand, the fuzziness of Proctavia is not as extreme as with the original. It might not be distorted enough for many, but if you pair it with an overdrive, it will sing with the language only octave aficionados understand. Proctavia will let you replicate the sounds you listened to from the very childhood, but you can easily exceed that territory and create something of your own. Yes, it does feel amazing when you are able to emulate the sound of legendary musicians, but nothing beats the feeling of playing your own pieces. Proctavia will definitely let you do either, so you decide what you want!
To conclude everything said above, Voodoo Lab Proctavia is definitely one of the best options in the affordable range. It is hand-built and that feature can be felt in the details of the pedal. The sounds are not 100% similar to the Octavia, yet the brand managed to capture the character and main vibes. But if we forget about that vintage unit for a second, we will realize that Proctavia is still able to withstand competition even on its own. Good luck!
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