flavorful overdrive to total destruction
The Germanium filter from the lords of Death By Audio pedal is a perfect marriage of simplicity and style. Let’s take a closer look.
Ever since distortion was recognized as a “thing” rather than a flawed sound to be avoided, guitarists and producers alike have looked for ways to put their own spin on it. Sure, cranking up a tube amp and hearing those raucous, warm barks drove many into ecstasy, but what if you want a little more, or something a little meaner, or just destroyed (in the most glorious way possible, of course)?
If there’s one company that knows how to push sound to the extreme, it’s Death By Audio. His latest model, Germanium Filter, is that of DBA “love letter to stick a pencil through your speakerphone.” Delivering fizzy fuzz and crackling crunch that reacts to the dynamics of your playing is no small feat, but that’s exactly what the Germanium Filter delivers.
Death By Audio’s aesthetic has always gone hand in hand with the tonal signature of each pedal. Fuzz War, for example, looks like military-grade gear you’d be happy to take into the trenches; Echo Dream is an 80s-inspired technicolor fantasy. You get the picture. Likewise, the flash of Germanium Filter speaks of the direct aggression in the console that is offered here.
The operation couldn’t be easier. You have two buttons — the top one controlling the Filtered: turn left for bassy, turn right for bright. The bottom one controls the Germanium (at the heart of the pedal are two low-gain Soviet MP10B NPN germanium transistors): turn left for smooth, thrusting console sound, turn right for total destruction!
Germanium transistors are a niche component, but have always played an important role in the history of audio. They were in vogue in the 1960s and contributed greatly to the aesthetics of distortion before the more stable silicon became favored in preamps and pedals from the 70s onwards. But due to its unique flavor, it is definitely on the rise and much sought after by guitarists in love with Link Wray/Dave Davies.
And if you pay close attention to this tone, you will realize that this is no ordinary distortion. It hisses and spits, is perfectly imperfect, and has nothing to do with the flat, high-gain color of modern crunch. And on the DBA Germanium Filter, there is no “clean” setting, despite the button indicating otherwise. It’s colorful from the start, producing creamy overdrive, while pushing into “dirty” territory delivers irreparable fuzz.
The “filter” button greatly adds to the versatility of the pedal. And while it’s just a single control, players will have many hours of experimental fun tweaking this button. In “heavy” territory, it leans towards a doom sound with big bass and mid-range boosts. “High” is perfect for cutting through the mix, with less than 300Hz attenuation and 2kHz boost.
The Germanium filter is also very responsive to incoming audio (which can also be adjusted via the internal potentiometer inside the chassis). There’s so much fun mixing and matching single coil and humbucker pickups with this pedal, as well as adjusting the volume and tone pots on the guitar itself to create completely unique combinations. Although its two buttons may indicate a guided experience, all you need is a little imagination to open up a world of possibilities.
Head over to Death By Audio for all the details.