EQ pedals are among those tools that aren’t extremely popular with most guitar players. This is probably because an EQ pedal is designed to be noticed only if it is used wrong. When you have it dialed in right, your audience shouldn’t even know that it is there. With that said, an EQ is easily one of the more essential tools you have as a guitar player. There are several types of EQ pedals out there. You have your graphic EQs and parametric.
All things considered, the former is much more popular than the latter and for a good reason. A graphic EQ allows you to visualize a curve of your tone. Besides that, it’s much easier to work with for most users. Now, when a graphic EQ has more functionality than just the slides it comes with, that is a cause for celebration. Why? Because a normal EQ is a powerful weapon, but one that is even more advanced is a real game changer. In short, that is what Source Audio SA170 EQ is.
What sets Source Audio SA170 EQ apart from other graphic EQs is the fact that it is digital in nature. Because of that, Source Audio didn’t have to use extremely wide pedal chassis. On the contrary, they have chosen a fairly standard shell to house their electronics. This means that you can squeeze this pedal onto your pedal board without worrying whether or not it will fit or if it is going to be in conflict with your other pedals.
In terms of build quality, this thing is great. When you pick it up, it feels good and well made. It has that weight to it which inspires confidence. Not the literal weight, but that ‘weight’ a quality piece of gear has. The chassis features a dark blue top paired with brushed aluminum sides. From a purely aesthetic point of view this thing is extremely easy on the eyes. Looking at the top of the pedal, we see a graphic EQ but one without sliders. Instead you have a digital display that shows your standard EQ bands and a main control wheel beneath which is used to set the frequencies.
When it comes to the core stats for SA170 EQ, you are looking at 7 frequency bands with +-18 dB of adjustment. In terms of clean boost, there is 12dB to work with. That main wheel is not the only piece of controls available. You have your frequency band select buttons as well as Save and Select buttons. This should probably give you a hint of what SA170 EQ has in store. Since this is a digital package, it would only be logical for it to have some of the most common features found in digital pedals. One such feature has got to be the ability to store various presets. In case of Source Audio SA170 EQ you can store up to 4 different presets.
This is a good thing although we will touch upon why a bit later. To select different presets all you have to do is press and hold the foot switch. When you do so, the pedal will start shifting between presets. What’s cool is that you can actually adjust the speed with which the pedal switches between presets, so that you can be positive that you will nail the right one in a pinch. But wait, there’s more. You can also optimize SA170 EQ to work with bass guitars. All you need to do is access the Bass mode and the frequency bands shift into a set that starts with 62Hz and ends with 4kHz.
At this point Source Audio SA 170 EQ looks pretty cool with all of its nifty features, but what does it sound like? Is it truly a good EQ or is it just a cool gadget? Fortunately for us, it really is a proper EQ. For starters it is quite transparent. In other words if you were to leave all of the parameters at 0 and turn on the pedal, your signal chain wouldn’t have a different ‘color’ to it. This is partially due to Source Audio’s great bypass solution but also the fact that the circuitry inside really is transparent. With that said, all of the frequency bands are fairly accurate and don’t sound off in any way. One cool thing about that automatic preset switching thing we’ve mentioned earlier is that you can use it as a modulation effect of sorts. Just dial in a few presets that you like and let the pedal cycle through them as you play. Although this isn’t all that important, it definitely is a cool little feature.
The verdict on this pedal was super easy to make. It is by far one of the best EQs you can get. It packs so many cool features but also allows you to tidy up the core of your sound. The fact that it is digital should definitely not worry you. If John Mayer is using it than you should be just fine as well. After all, he is all about that vintage organic tone and Source Audio SA170 EQ has proven to work quite well with that type of setup.