NPD: Catalinbread talisman

PB+J

Member
Messages
2,060
Just thought I'd add a review of this

First of, I'm going for a "studio reverb: the kind of unobstrusive reverb that adds something without calling attention to itself: not reverb as an obvious effect, but as a sweetener or seasoning. And I'm using it mostly for home and for recording. Over the years I've concluded that plate reverb is what I like best--even in amps, I've never liked spring reverbs all that much, and various room and hall reverbs get in my way. Lots of people use them well, no doubt, just not what I'm looking for.

I've owned a lot of reverb pedals including a Flint, the TC HOF, sans amp Boost RVB, RV-5, Holy grail: i also have a lot of good reverb plugins for use in my DAW. i can never get the pedals to sit right: they are always too much, and they go from too much to "gone" really quickly. Most verb pedals have a tone control and a mix control and a "type" control. The talisman is different

First off, it's ONLy a plate, not a plate and a spring and a room and an etc. So it does one thing well. It's a familiar sound from thousands of recordings.

Second, it has two key controls, the "hi pass" filter and the "pre-delay" knob. These two are really important to getting it to sit right.

So a hi pass filter if you don't know passes high frequencies above a point you set. For example, in recording an acoustic guitar it's really common to high pass the recording at @100 hz. The advantage is it cleans up muddiness. I read an interview with roger Nichols, who engineered steely dan, where he argued for always hi-passing reverb at @ 250 hz, which is more or less your high E string. Sounds crazy, but it really works--you don't get a vague wash of muddy low frequencies interfering with your basic tone. I've been using the Talisman with the hi-pass set at around 1-2 o'clock, which mean that the body of the guitars tone is not verbing, while the highs are. You get a distinct dry tone that's not overwhelmed by reverb.

"Pre-delay" is the amount of time before the reverb starts. You hit a chord and THEN the reverb comes in, rather than it coming in right away. We are talking milliseconds here, but if you've done any mixing you know that pre-delay is really crucial to getting instruments to play well together in a mix. It can bring an instrument forward or back. The pre-delay here lets the uneffected tone ring out a tiny bit longer. But you can crank it up and get kind of a delay effect.

So some other features: it has a discrete preamp with a ton of gain. At default settings, the "volume" knob works even when the pedal is switched off and the LED not lit. I'm not sure why they did this, I believe it's so you can

a. have the reverb pedal also be a boost pedal
2. have the reverb tail off naturally when you hit the footswitch

I don't use it that way, so I opened up the box and set the internal switch to true bypass. Now when I switch the effect off, the preamp is out of the signal path.

The preamp definitely colors the tone a very little bit, mostly, as I hear it, rolling off some highs. But it's a pleasing sound and it's not dramatic unless you crank it. It does not overdrive on its own at least with single coils.

Also: 18 volts. It can run at 18 and predictably, I think it sounds better at 18 volts. The reverb gets less obtrusive. But to be honest I don't trust my ears on this. Thinking of doing some tests to see if I can reliably spot the difference in blind comparisons.


So in general I'm very pleased with it. It's a really nice sounding plate reverb with an extremely useful control set familiar to anyone who's used a plate style reverb in a mix. I think it's an unattractive pedal, primer gray with what seems to be a somewhat random red design and a two headed bird* and a green led, but it sounds great.


*I just realized the bird is a two headed eagle and kind of a masonic symbol which to be honest kind of creeps me out a little
 
Last edited:

jAcKoFsPeEd

Member
Messages
1,792
It does look like crap and has Catalinbreads top end killing preamp as used on several other pedals of theirs. Was hoping they would redo the finish on these like they did on some others they have in the past....not holding my breath.
 

PB+J

Member
Messages
2,060
It does look like crap and has Catalinbreads top end killing preamp as used on several other pedals of theirs. Was hoping they would redo the finish on these like they did on some others they have in the past....not holding my breath.

It's an interesting choice adding the preamp to the thing. I can see why people might object, although I guess you could argue it's part of the overall sound of the pedal. It'd be interesting to hear it without the preamp. I don't hear it as "top end killing" but it does roll off some highs. It may be less pronounced at 18 volts.
 

PB+J

Member
Messages
2,060
Also one more thing--for some reason there's no manual for this pedal. I had to use teh Google to find out about the true bypass switch. There are two trim pots accessible inside--one is labeled "gain" so I'm guessing that's preamp gain. the other has no label. Wonder what it does? I like the way the pedal sounds, so I kind of don't want to start tweaking, but on the other hand, I love tweaking


OOPS--I checked--there are no trim posts, just holes in the PCB where trim pots would be
 
Last edited:

sanfi4u

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,848
It does look like crap and has Catalinbreads top end killing preamp as used on several other pedals of theirs. Was hoping they would redo the finish on these like they did on some others they have in the past....not holding my breath.
I started answering this opinion but then decided to refresh my memory first. So I put CB Talisman, Belle Epoch and Echorec in front of an amp and tested just preamps (power supply at 9V). Here's the result (in the order of preference).
Echorec - mostly preserves overall tone of the signal but rolls off a top end a bit. Enough to make my Strat sound less dynamic.
Talisman - does the same thing but in a tad more noticeable way
Belle Epoch - changes the overall tone quite substantially; much more obvious than in case of the previous two pedals.
Talisman powered at 9V, 12V and 18V:
9V - see above
12V - virtually doesn't affect the input signal. The output tone stays almost exactly the same. There's a tiny difference but you'll have really hard time noticing it.
18V - the preamp changes the output but in a very pleasant way. It has more headroom and dynamics.
The output at 9V sounds pale and lifeless compared to the other two options. So I highly recommend using Talisman at 12V or 18V. You'll find your preamp problems are gone. Talisman is a great sounding plate reverb when it is used that way. As for the way it looks. Well, you know it's very personal. Probably not the best design in the world but good enough not to detract me from this excellent reverb pedal.
 

erksin

Member
Messages
23,125
Also one more thing--for some reason there's no manual for this pedal. I had to use teh Google to find out about the true bypass switch. There are two trim pots accessible inside--one is labeled "gain" so I'm guessing that's preamp gain. the other has no label. Wonder what it does? I like the way the pedal sounds, so I kind of don't want to start tweaking, but on the other hand, I love tweaking


OOPS--I checked--there are no trim posts, just holes in the PCB where trim pots would be

Nicholas never got around to writing a manual for this one. Once we get some extra time after NAMM it's on the list for us to complete one. In the interim, I'm happy to answer any questions people may have at [email protected].

All of the controls needed to adjust the pedal are on the face save for the switch you found. ;)
 

PB+J

Member
Messages
2,060
I started answering this opinion but then decided to refresh my memory first. So I put CB Talisman, Belle Epoch and Echorec in front of an amp and tested just preamps (power supply at 9V). Here's the result (in the order of preference).
Echorec - mostly preserves overall tone of the signal but rolls off a top end a bit. Enough to make my Strat sound less dynamic.
Talisman - does the same thing but in a tad more noticeable way
Belle Epoch - changes the overall tone quite substantially; much more obvious than in case of the previous two pedals.
Talisman powered at 9V, 12V and 18V:
9V - see above
12V - virtually doesn't affect the input signal. The output tone stays almost exactly the same. There's a tiny difference but you'll have really hard time noticing it.
18V - the preamp changes the output but in a very pleasant way. It has more headroom and dynamics.
The output at 9V sounds pale and lifeless compared to the other two options. So I highly recommend using Talisman at 12V or 18V. You'll find your preamp problems are gone. Talisman is a great sounding plate reverb when it is used that way. As for the way it looks. Well, you know it's very personal. Probably not the best design in the world but good enough not to detract me from this excellent reverb pedal.


I didn't try it at 12 v but that matches my sense of it between 18 and 9 v. It just tried it at 9 and 18 and 9v is sort of thicker sounding, in some ways it's good for Jazz, but 18 sounded bigger and yes more dynamic--more highs but not harsh, a little more interesting and pick-responsive. It's not huge but it's there and I'll prefer it at 18.

It must be the preamp that's being affected by the voltage--more volts can't make a digital chip sound better

i've been playing through it all day and just loving it. Although as an old catholic the masonic thing still creeps me out
 

Super Locrian

Member
Messages
1,512
I thought the point of the preamp being always active, was to avoid a volume drop or boost when engaging the reverb. Anyway, nice review by PB+J, I agree on most points, and the Talisman is really a great, great reverb pedal. My only gripe with it, is that the lettering is hard to read. Any hope for a special limited edition with fluorescent letters? ;)
 

rte1023

Member
Messages
781
I'll have to check this out soon enough as I love plate reverb. Ordered the SFT, I love everything I've tried by Catalinbread
 

Super Locrian

Member
Messages
1,512
And by the way, the double-headed eagle is not a Masonic symbol, as far as I know. It's more of an imperial symbol, used (among other places) in the Byzantine and Russian empires. But the rest of the Talisman's graphics seem to have some mystical connotations. Maybe Erksin can initiate us in the true meaning of the graphics?
 
Messages
12,568
Having lived in Portland, I look at the art as more just a typical Portland-type design, not to be taken very seriously. If you have Blue Moon beer in your town, which was brewed there, you will notice a similar aesthetic on the packaging, for example. That style of art goes back to a brewery called McMenamins, which brewed Blue Moon, and then built a lot of pubs and bed&breakfasts with tons and tons of intricate designs of various kinds -- Alice in Wonderland type stuff. My take is that the design sort of refers to the fact that the plate reverb itself is located in Portland not too far from the brewery, but I may very well be wrong. My point is just that similar art is everywhere in Portland, ads, posters, etc. I think it is unlikely to be a serious refernce to a particular religion. JMHO, may very well be wrong. More funky. And yes there is also a lot of "Rasputin type" art in Portland. Same general aesthetic style. Basically just being ornate and fantastical, a bit old-hippie influenced.
 
Last edited:

erksin

Member
Messages
23,125
Having lived in Portland, I look at the art as more just a typical Portland-type design, not to be taken very seriously. If you have Blue Moon beer in your town, which was brewed there, you will notice a similar aesthetic on the packaging, for example. That style of art goes back to a brewery called McMenamins, which brewed Blue moon, and then built a lot of pubs and bed&breakfasts with tons and tons of intricate designs of various kinds -- Alice in Wonderland type stuff. My take is that the design sort of refers to the fact that the plate reverb itself is located in Portland not to far from the brewery, but I may very well be wrong. My point is just that similar art is everywhere in Portland, ads, posters, etc. I think it is unlikely to be a serious refernce to a particular religion. JMHO, may very well be wrong. More funky And yes there is also a lot of "Rasputin type" art in Portland. Same general aesthetic style. Basically just being ornate and fantastical, a bit old-hippie influenced.

Interesting theory!

The amazing David Medel/weirdbeard72 does our artwork - and he's located in Detroit. :D

http://weirdbeard72.bigcartel.com/

As to what it means, I think David was just trying to conjure a mashup of several talismans used throughout history. No deeper meaning than that - OR IS THERE..?
 

PB+J

Member
Messages
2,060
Interesting theory!

The amazing David Medel/weirdbeard72 does our artwork - and he's located in Detroit. :D

http://weirdbeard72.bigcartel.com/

As to what it means, I think David was just trying to conjure a mashup of several talismans used throughout history. No deeper meaning than that - OR IS THERE..?


LOL

Masonic two headed wierd thingie

There was once an entire political party in the US devoted to the idea that the Masons were engaged in a conspiracy to take over,...well, everything. Google "anti-masonic party."

My parents, who are in their 80s now, would cross the street to avoid going past the masonic lodge, because those people hated Catholics. Not making this up.


Anyway, Love the pedal, dislike the graphics. I'm thinking of stripping the paint off, getting a metal letter punch set, and just punching PLATE into it. fill the letters in with black. Or maybe TALISMAN. With that eye on top of the pyramid, WTF is that about anyway...

Very impressed with this pedal
 
Last edited:

<JT>

Member
Messages
335
Man I've got GAS for a Talisman! I think they look great. But here in Oz they cost around $300 brand new and are rare as hens teeth in the used market.
 

0xeneye

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,771
Fantastic Review PB+J, I agree on all points.

An original "Beatles era" plate reverb had a 'driver'/pre-amp to drive the signal the actual plate saw. I assume the Talisman needed to emulate the same thing in a pedal to get it to sound right.

As everyone comments, this is the plate sound for over driven rock sounds, especially in a Marshall type amp. I use mine at the end of my chain, and yes, pre-delay and hi-pass are essential for getting it to sound right, a thing other reverb pedals often overlook.
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom