I first came across Flux Effects when I saw the Kickstarter campaign that launched the Liquid Ambience. I remember, at the time, being really struck by how much attention to detail had gone into everything - the engineering of the pedal and the ideas behind it; the design of the graphics and packaging. For a brand who was new to the market, they already seemed to be head and shoulders above the rest.
I was lucky enough to meet Michael Weavers (owner of Flux Effects) at the Signal Chain launch party last year. Apart from just being a really rad guy - hearing about his approach to building, designing and delivering a product like no other was really exciting. Basically, he sold me on the spot and I went home with a Liquid Ambience in my hand.
What is it?
The Liquid Ambience is a DSP-based polyphonic voice and reverb effect with the ability to add beautiful octave or fifth swells creating luscious soundscapes.
You can mix in the amount of of the dry and wet signal, control the size of the ‘Hall’, add in a slight bend of the notes or add in your fifth/octaves into the ambience and also really get crazy with the unique evolve functions. You’ve also got the option of having it true bypass or buffered bypass so you can make use of trails as you turn it off (which I love). One function that I haven’t even checked out is the dry loop - I won’t endeavour to explain it all in detail as I don’t really understand the complexities. Check out the Flux Effects site.
First strum of this pedal and I felt like nailing it to my board so that there was never any chance of it coming off … but I didn’t want to take my hands off the guitar.
The mix of polyphonic octave generation and hall reverb mix is magic. By setting all the controls at about 1 o’clock (pushing the BEND to it’s limit), my guitar is shimmering in ethereal space. By stepping on the MORE knob, my notes are sent into the stratosphere (guitar pun intended and accurate). By holding down the MORE switch (which functions most dramatically in BEND mode) your sound starts to oscillate and continue building and bending your notes. There’s a lot of fun and creativity to be found here. And that’s just the BEND mode.
With the Fifths and Octaves, you’ve got your own pad or string accompaniment. Flux Effects use the terms ‘bloom’ and ‘melt’ and I couldn’t have put it better - the super octaves/fifths bloom out of your guitar giving a glassy shimmery feel and the sub octaves/fifth melt in your wake covering the sound spectrum but never getting in your way.
In the Mix
The first gig I used the Liquid Ambience at was a solo gig where I was performing some of my songs. Usually I do this with my acoustic, but because I had a new toy, I wanted to it out.
Playing solo electric, it can seem really thin sometimes. So, for most of the set, I was using the LA to add a little something behind me. I had the mix at about 12 o’clock and it was perfect. Just filled things out a little. WIth one song, I wanted to get a little Radiohead on it. I pushed the settings up and at the end of a verse or chorus, I was leaning on that MORE knob like it needed my weight. My sound would be awash in oscillation and then next second it would fade into the verse. I had a lot of fun.
A few weeks later I was part of a live recording with a keyboard, acoustic guitar, drums, bass, singers. In this kinda setting, sometimes I’m wary of using ambience cause that’s usually the keyboardist’s job. So, I set it to give me that slight shimmer on my clean sound - running it into a Vox AC15 and a Fender DeVille … I nearly cried and I was only playing an A Chord.
One of the best sounds I got was pairing it with the Mobius Autoswell, a Delay and a medium gain overdrive. I’d hit a chord, the sound would slowly swell in, make it’s appearance known and leave without a fuss.
Is it going to stay on my board? The question should be, "is that board going to stay on my Liquid Ambience?"
I couldn't finish this review without commenting on Michael’s attention to design and packaging. The whole unboxing experience is up there with buying an iPad or a some Beats headphones. The pedal comes in this foam lined box - sitting there, not wanting to even leave it’s comfy home. Above it, with it’s own allocated space in the foam, is the manual. All is designed so well, explained so well, and leaves a lasting impression.
To me, this doesn’t just show me that Flux Effects are serious about their product, but it shows me that they’ve taken care of EVERY detail, inside and out of the pedal. There’s no mucking round and no corners cut - if anything, each corner has been taken about 4 times to make sure they’ve got the best angle on the turn.
The Bottom Line
I don’t even feel like I’ve made the most of the Liquid Ambience and I use it every time my guitar is plugged in. Is it going to stay on my board? The question should be "is that board going to stay on my Liquid Ambience?”
For reference, I’m also running a reverb pedal. The LA isn’t a reverb replacement, for me anyway. I found it really useful to add ambience and space to my sound - that isn’t always necessary so it get’s switched on and off and placed in the song when necessary. For blues or rock stuff, you wouldn’t be leaving it on. For more experimental, instrumental, slow rock, pop songs, ballads, solo … it has tonnes of applications and I’m doing my best to find all of them.
Apart from the fact that I think Michael Weavers is a rad dude. Apart from the fact that I’m swayed by great design and this pedal ticks all the boxes for me. Apart from the fact that I was a total fanboy and had Michael sign it for me (don’t judge me). AND, apart from the fact that I’ve never played anything like it: the Liquid Ambience makes me sounds 100 times better than I am. And that’s all I’m after.
The hard part is getting hold of one.
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