It was difficult for the bands who started breaking through on the rock and metal scene in the early 2000s to earn the level of respect that the older generations of musicians had.
Despite the bar being raised high, some of them managed to push through and build their own fanbase.
One of those is Avenged Sevenfold, a heavily guitar-driven band with Brian Haner Jr., a.k.a. Synyster Gates, doing all the lead duties. Of course, a huge part of the band’s success is his unique guitar work and his signature sound.
But among all the stuff in his arsenal of gear, there’s a rather interesting pedal that drew our attention. No, it’s not an overdrive, it’s not a distortion or a wah pedal.
This is what we could call a “dual effect” pedal, featuring both chorus and echo effects in one unit. Now, we will be getting into this pedal, made by Visual Sound, called H2O V1 Liquid Chorus And Echo.
Yes, you don’t need two pedals taking all that room on your pedalboard but just one doing these both roles. So let’s see how this thing works.
This compact pedal, based on 2-in-1 kind of idea, essentially has two separate parts, controlled with two separate sets of switches and knobs.
The pedal has a few versions, and Syn Gates uses the old model, which is called the V1 version. All of the models, of course, have a solid and sturdy metal casing.
First, we have the usual input and output jacks, with the signal going through both parts of the pedal. On the left side, we have the main switch and all the controls for the chorus section.
The chorus effect is managed with three knobs – speed, width, and delay time. These are essentially basic controls for any chorus out there, where you can create anything from a mild light effect to a completely off the charts wacky sound.
The echo and delay part of the pedal is located on the right side of the main panel. There, we have the effect level, repeats, and echo time.
Just like with the chorus part, these are also basic controls for any delay, where the “effect level” is a blend mix, “repeats” is what some other pedals have labeled as “feedback,” and the “echo time” is for the time between two repeats of the echo.
However, the delay part has another switch on its side, giving you two different ranges of the delay. With this switch and the time knob, you can get anything between 10 ms to up to 800 ms.
But aside from the main output, there is an additional jack on the left side. This output is a completely dry one and you can use it either for separate effect loops and for plugging into an additional amp.
The newer versions of the pedal, V2 and V3, have two outputs for a true stereo chorus effect. They also feature additional outputs and you can configure them as two separate pedals in your signal chain.
The first thing that you can notice here on the H2O is that it features a bit of an unusual casing, with the bottom part making the “V” shape.
Aside from that, the pedal is painted in a pleasant shade of deep blue with letters, lines, and logos in white. Although somewhat of an unconventional design, all of the text parts are pretty readable and clear, making it easy to use.
While it might sound like it’s not that important, there’s another pretty useful design solution. The LED lights for the effects are of different colors.
The chorus part has a green light while the delay is in red. At first, it seems like it’s not much of a deal, but in live situations where you’ve been playing for extended periods of time in darker clubs or venues, it’s pretty useful not to have these two effect indicators mixed up.
Two main things about this pedal, which make it a good choice, are practicality and simplicity. Although one might think that such a pedal with two effects in one unit might be a bit tricky one to figure out, the H20 V1 is pretty easy to use.
Even if you’re a beginner who has no previous experience with either choruses or echo/delay pedals, you can get a hang of all the features and controls.
As for the sound, the chorus goes well with pretty much any standard configuration of pedals that you might use today.
While not exactly flashy and complex like some of the stuff that you can find out there, the sound is good for anything between cleans to high gain soaring leads.
Which is pretty impressive knowing that some choruses might add to the muddiness with heavily distorted sounds.
Not too much philosophy behind the delay, but we do need to point out that there were no unwanted sounds nor abrupt stops or clicking when switching the delay on and off.
And while we’re at switching and controls, all of the knobs and switches work fine and seem like they’re not easy to break.
On the one hand, it’s a really great solution to have these two effects in one unit. Aside from the practicality, the pedal just sounds and works so good.
On the other hand, it’s not practical if you want to have additional effects between the chorus and delay.
Sure, you can add some modulation after it, but you might not get the desired sound with the default order of pedals in the signal chain, where nothing goes after the delay.
At the same time, you need to bear in mind that the V1 models are older and can only be found used. They’re not that expensive and they’re not that rare.
But maybe the better option would be to go with a V2 or a V3. But taking a listen to what the chorus sounds like and how well it works, we completely understand why Syn Gates sticks to this old pedal.