You know what is the best part of musical apparatus? Surprises. Yeah, you heard me, I am not naming neither quality, nor sound. Sometimes you take a look at the pedal and think that it is as simple and plain as it can get, but then you scrutinize its features and find out that it has some hidden gems under the hood. That excitement equals to a baby getting his first puppy, as you get way more to work with than you initially thought. Apart from bringing joy to the life of childish people like me, such configuration is rather intuitive as well – it saves a lot of pedalboard space but still gives you everything you need. What can be better that? Probably the part where all of that comes at an affordable price point. You have guessed it right; I am describing the pedal that I am about to introduce to you. It is from the brand Xotic which is one of the best manufacturers out there. They always have top-notch products and could easily brag a lot if they wanted to. The stompbox we are going to chat about is EP Booster which is so versatile you will not believe your eyes and ears when you take it out of the box. Let’s get this article started and find out what I was hinting on earlier!
Xotic team always awes me with their limitless creativity and genius approaches to their products. EP Booster looks like a micro pedal that is capable doing a single job. But in reality it is way more than that. This baby is a discrete FET preamp that will work wonderfully in the beginning of your chain. It offers up to 20dB of clean boost that will amplify every good quality in your sound. It has noiseless operation due to top grade circuitry that displays its virtues throughout whole experience. More importantly, it has internal pots that unveil full potential of this fella. By opening up the chassis you get the ability to mess around with the EQ and craft your tone more precisely. You can also set the lower margin of the boost: it can be either 0 or +3dB. This means that can choose to have some amount of boost active all the time to help out not only with special parts but with the whole piece. EP Booster requires a single 9V battery or a 9V adapter in order to start operating. However, it can run on 15V or 18V with the help of Xotic Voltage Doubler. This little accessory will enable you to enhance the headroom and create cleaner sounds. Of course, you have to purchase it separately so think of it as an extra tool that can improve this pedal even more. This puppy has eye-catching design with its LED and transparent encoder (that also has an LED). And I don’t think I have to mention just how wonderful the build quality is. All in all, Xotic EP Booster is a sneaky pedal as it convinces you that it has very small to offer when in reality it is one of the diverse options out there.
The control section of Xotic EP Booster can be bisected: we have external and internal controls here. On the outside you will see a single encoder mounted on the surface, while the interior features some additional switches that give you more control over your sound. Though such design has its own virtues, it can be a bit limiting: you cannot mess with internal controls on the fly and would have to take a break in the middle of your performance just to make small adjustments. I guess you just have to set the pots the way you like it better and leave them at that.
On the surface the only knob you will see is nameless. But it goes without saying that it modifies the amount of boost that is added to your sound. It goes all the way up to +20dB which means it has multiple possibilities up its sleeve. The lower margin of boost can be set using the internal pot (1) that shifts between 0 and +3dB. You can also modify the tonal color of this one by turning the Bright Switch (2) on or off. This way you can accentuate the high end and add more harmonics to your sound.
You know how in fairy tales the wizards wave around their magic wands with complementary spell and everything stars to twinkle in mesmerizing colors? That is what happens when you plug in Xotic EP Booster. It thickens up your sound, brings life back to its lackluster notes and turns everything into a better version. It is really hard to put its sound into words as there are things in this life you should experience yourself, my friend. But to torture myself some more I will tell you that it adds a special character to your sound that seems to work perfectly no matter what guitar you are playing and what is the nature of pickups. It will turn your world upside down when utilized as a preamp and still do an amazing job if you move it up and down the signal chain. You can employ it with clean channel and add considerable boost, or go with the traditional way and overdrive those tubes. Either way, Xotic EP Booster won’t let you down. This pedal can be trusted with the most important moments in your career and I am not even exaggerating!
Being a reminiscent stompbox of legendary Echoplex, Xotic EP Booster is a magnificent beast. It adds versatility to the straight-forward boost effect and it does so by retaining all of the qualities of your original tone. Though I wish those internal controls were on the surface, I understand why the brand chose this configuration and I am perfectly fine with it. Once you hear the sound of EP Booster, you won’t complain about a thing, especially such a minor one. Good luck!
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