Red Witch Empress - a preliminary review

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by teddy boy, Jun 19, 2006.


  1. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

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    Gentlemen,

    Just received my Empress today. Arrived from weekend over the weekend. Thanks to Joe from Vintage and Rare Guitars for the fast delivery!

    The pedal is every bit as much quality as it looks. I installed a battery to jam at home as my pedal board is at the practice pad and found a really neat components layout as I popped the bottom plate off. Theres alot of stuff crammed in here!!

    I was a little confused as to which output I should be using as they were not labelled. Adding to the confusion it seems the mix control, atleast on my unit works anti-clocwise, ie. more clean signal as I turn the control past noon.After i figured out these I set out to dial in some tones.

    It was really quite easy to get some nice CE-1 type sounds by turning the voice to about 3 o'clock with the depth at around 1 o'clock. The voice controls the delay of the chorus circuit. The more it is turned clockwise the richer and fuller the chorus becomes. It's funny how every little move of the voice knob brings a different type of 3D quality to the sound, especially after 1 o'clock.

    Switching the the mini toggle over to the vibrato setting from the chorus with the same settings introduces a really smooth and usable vibrato. It can get pretty wild too if needed but I was really inspired by the milder vibrato.

    Turning the voice down under 12 o'clock on the chorus setting gives a more milder, more 80's type chorus, especially with the "high" mini toggle engaged. This adds soem highs to the chorus. I found it hard to find a usable sound here yet but I'm pretty confident I can coax some high sheen stuff here once I give the unit some more time. The knobs, especially the voice and depth control, seem to interract with each other quite alot and tiny tweeks make remarkable changes. I think I'll start fooling around again!

    Here she is!!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. RickB

    RickB Member

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    Nice review. :AOK I am still toying with the idea of checking one out to compare with my Choralflange. There was only one clip of it that I liked though. I think it was the second clip. I use chorus with the speed pretty much off and the depth turned high to get some shimmer and stereo separation (yes, I run the Choralflange in stereo). So I am still uncertain if the Empress would get me there based on the clips I have heard and the reviews I am reading.
     
  3. endo23

    endo23 Member

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    The Empress-- to my ears-- seems to walk the middle ground b/w the CFlange, which was too "hi fi" for my tastes, and the Clone Chorus, which is more lush/vintage/thick.

    The Empress can do the hi fi thing (lower Voice setting, shimmer switch engaged) but thickens up nicely as you turn the Voice knob past noon. Doesn't sound quite as lush as my Clone on any setting, but it's way more versatile so it's a keeper.
     
  4. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

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    Yep,

    I'm beginning to get somewhere with the low voice settings. This thing sure is versatile, that's a given!

    The lush settings are what really win me over though! Wow!
     
  5. endo23

    endo23 Member

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    And teddy, FYI, yours is not the only Empress with the "backwards" mix pot. The first time I plugged into the pedal, I had the Mix dimed and thought the damn thing was DOA... Took me ten minutes of twiddling to figure out what was up. HA!
     
  6. BenFulton

    BenFulton Member

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    Hi Folks,
    I've added info regarding mix reversal and output socket orientation to the instruction manual. thanks for the heads up:).

    Glad to hear that you're digging her!!

    cheerio,
    Ben
     
  7. RickB

    RickB Member

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    I got an Empress yesterday from Brad at www.tonefactor.com I put in on my board in stereo in place of my Choralflange and spent a good amount of time with it last night. In a word, "wow"! This pedal delivers. It sounds amazing in stereo. The bright switch is very useful and gets me the chorus sounds that I like which are nice and bright and shimmery. I didn't know what to expect with this one and quite frankly thought that I would never like another chorus as much as the Choralflange but the Empress is a winner. It can get so bright and airy but at the same time remains very organic sounding. Nothing metallic about it. Also, it is dead quiet. Great job Ben. :AOK

    Now my questions to Ben (I guess I could just email him but I think it would be helpful for this to be explained for others to read). Could you please explain the outputs on this? In your last post, you said you have updated the instructions. Can you share what you have written in them? I am confused by the instructions were you say that if you are running in stereo and want to balance out the wet/dry, to simply switch the chorus/vibe switch. Does the pedal only do chorus when using both outputs? To use the vibrato mode, do you have to be using only one of the outputs? It seems that hooked up in stereo, it is not switching to vibrato. I am running the Empress stereo out into the stereo ins of my Echo-Park and then stereo out of the Echo-Park into a pair of modelers. I found that switching the outs of the Empress around with the ins of the Echo-Park changes the sound quite drastically.

    If you could help clarify this, it would be most appreciated. Again, the Empress is a fantastic pedal. Two very big thumbs up on it. :AOK :AOK
     
  8. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

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    I fiddled around with mine at band practice and found loads of great applications for it. I was surpirised how well it does the leslie emulation. What a winner!! Delay next?

    Oh yeah, I'd be really interested in hearing the descriptions for the outs too...
     
  9. BenFulton

    BenFulton Member

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    Hi Folks - Really pleased to hear how much you're digging the Empress - it really was a labour of love. The primary goal was to take the essence of the Medusas multi chorus features and expand on it dramatically.

    To clear up any confusion regarding the outputs........

    The upper output socket is the mono out - when using only one amp use this output. You'll be able to access both chorus and vibrato options via the Vibrato/Chorus toggle switch.
    The lower output socket is the dry stereo out - when a plug is inserted into this output it immediately switches the mono output socket into a wet only out. So you'll have just wet (it's sounds like vibrato (cause it is!)) coming from the upper output and just dry, uneffected signal from the lower output. The key to getting the chorus happening in stereo is to set your two amplifiers to very similar settings .

    When the unit is running in mono the wet and dry blend is occuring in the unit - when used in stereo it's happening in the air between the two amps. Snazzy.

    When used in stereo the second output will pass dry signal when bypassed - so it doesn't cut out when not engaged.

    When used in stereo you can adjust the level of the wet signal by switching the chorus/vibrato switch.

    Hope that helps.

    Many thanks again for all of your kind words. They really do seem to be selling well - just got an email from my friend Dave at True Tone Music in LA - he just sold one to John Mayer and Michael Thompson. Coolio!:)
     
  10. BenFulton

    BenFulton Member

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    Just reread the question - yerch, brain a little slow this morning - I've been getting into playing some drums recently - man I am so loud and so bad (by bad I mean bad in the heinous, awful sense rather than the cool awesome hip jive lingo etc etc wetcetc) Anyway - had a jam with some friends last night - I've got one Bonham triplet fill and my When the Levee breaks groove - somehow they didn't really fit in with the Jefferson Airplane and Neil Young Songs my friends were playing. It was late one.


    To answer your question - the unit will only do chorus in stereo - though you can get a more Vibrato sound by adjusting the levels of the two amps. Chorus will only happen "mid air" when the amps are balanced - set them up off bal;anced and you'll hear more Vibrato.


    And now for some sleep.

    Cheerio,

    Ben
     
  11. gitpicker

    gitpicker Silver Supporting Member

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    My Empress arrived today - I am still getting to know her, but my initial reaction is that this is a very impressive effort. The Chorus has a very 3-D sound to it that is wonderful. I may write an in-depth review in a few days after the intial honeymoon is over, and after I have a chance to play through it at a couple of gigs this coming weekend.
     
  12. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Any more folk have experience with the Red Witch?
     
  13. Ambient Exposure

    Ambient Exposure Member

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    Yep. Redwitch is a top notch company who make some great gear.
    I used to own a Pentavocal Trem, and I have a Deluxe Moon Phaser on the way.
    The two thing that I really like about the company is Ben (and whoever else designs the pedals) likes to think outside the box with the pedal designs, and the customer servers is VERY good. :aok

    Plus the way Ben says "pid'le" instead of pedal is gold. :D
     
  14. vicenzajay

    vicenzajay Member

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    I've had an Empress for about 4 months.

    Great pedal - but to be honest, I'm using it more for the vibe now than the chorus. This is certainly not a "ding" against the chorus sounds at all...I'm just much more into phase and/or vibe for modulation as a whole. Go figure.

    Anyway, what the folks say above is correct - the knobs on the Empress are VERY interactive. This is not a one-trick pony and it WILL take you some time to dial in the sounds you like. It works well either in front of the amp or in an effects loop. One thing I have noticed is that unless the mix is straight up, there seems to be a bit of a volume increase (yep, increase...NOT a drop) in chorus mode - opposite (i.e. a bit of a drop) in vibe. This is, I'm sure, a function of the mix of the two effect circuits and not a pedal defect.

    For chorus, when I do use it that way, I put the mix at 10:00, the other three knobs at 12:30. I do adjust the velocity to taste, obviously, depending on the song.

    For vibe (how I normally use it), I have the mix at 1:30, the depth and voice at 11:00, and the velocity at 1:00....GREAT vibe, especially mixed with the Carbon Copy delay set at one repeat and the modulation on. It's a clean tone with movement to die for.

    Hope that helps,
    Jay
     

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