First Listen: Chase Bliss Audio Thermae
Since 2013, Joel Korte of Chase Bliss Audio has been blowing the minds of guitar pedal lovers all over the world with his incredible creations like the Warped Vinyl, Tonal Recall and Brothers. With the release of his latest innovation, Thermae, he applies his mantra of "digital brain, analog heart" to a pitch shifter and delay pedal.
The Thermae is an innovative reimagination of the delay pedal that is so incredibly capable, both in function and tone. With the amount of controls, whether it be knobs, switches or dip switches, the sound options with this pedal are endless. The Thermae showcases an incredible leap in technology, one that leaves you scratching your head when you realize just how far out you can take an analog signal path in 2018.
Watch Dustin McLaughlin's demo of the new Chase Bliss Audio Thermae below and continue on after the video to read more of his thoughts on the many different controls featured on the pedal.
In terms of being an analog delay, the Thermae gives us a very soft, yet slightly harmonic quality to the repeats. This is thanks to four MN3005 bucket brigade chips. If you dig in with your guitar, especially with a humbucker, the repeats will actually break up slightly.
The LPF (Low Pass Filter) is a slightly resonant tone shaper to make the repeats as dark or bright as you want.
This control on the Thermae sets your regenerations. You can get a single repeat at around 7 O’Clock or go all the way to self-oscillation around 3 O’Clock, depending on how hot your output is.
Int 1 and Int 2 is where this pedal goes from a standard delay to something pretty extraordinary. By tuning the interval knobs to a specific interval as marked on the pedal, your first and second repeat will jump from your unity pitch to an octave down and up, a fifth, a fourth and so on. Here, you can create arpeggios and rhythmic, pitch shifting lines that are truly inspiring. Just by feeding the Thermae a single pitch and experimenting with the interval knobs, you can clearly tell that this is a standalone performance tool.
Once you start working in some pitch shifting into your delay line, the Glide control will add a portamento shift to each interval from very subtle to very extreme.
The leftmost switch controls the rhythmic subdivisions for your tap tempo, including quarter, dotted eighth and eighth notes. The middle and right switches control the timing of Int 1 and Int 2 based on the overall delay time. Experimenting with these will render many different rhythmic combinations.
You may have noticed a very critical element to every delay pedal missing from the Thermae's front panel. A Time knob! Delay time is controlled completely through tap tempo. Speaking of delay time, Thermae can produce extremely long delay times. Up to 40 seconds of analog delay! Pretty sure that’s a world record right there.
You’ll notice as you begin to slow your delay time roll, the quality of the delay degrades, darkens and morphs into a bell-like almost ring-mod sounding repeat. Also, in a similar fashion as the Tonal Recall, holding down Tap will send your repeats into self-oscillation.
Like other Chase Bliss pedals, you have up to two onboard presets, MIDI, CV and expression control.
Once you’ve mastered the front panel, I highly encourage you to learn the dip switch grid on the back. Here are some notable features exclusive to the Thermae:
Step Mode allows you to manually scroll between your unity repeat, Int 1 and Int 2 by clicking the Tap switch. Once to skip to each interval.
This switch turns Int 1 and Int 2 into Depth and Rate controls, as well as the switch below into waveform selectors. You can use modulation both with intervals engaged or without.
The Mix knob doubles as a rate control to modulate any of Thermae’s parameters. I would definitely try to ramp the LPF first for some nice filter sweeping action.
Upon getting lost in the darker corners of this pedal, I have to slap myself back into reality by saying, “Wow, this is an analog signal path!” With that in mind, the polyphonic pitch-tracking is remarkable. This is another groundbreaking release from Chase Bliss Audio and one of the best pedals we’ll see this year.