This list was updated on 02.07.2019
Although January, in the pedal world, rhymes with “NAMM” (with its bountiful promise of new “stompable” devices), the first month of the year also represents an opportunity to look back at what stood out during the previous twelve-month period.
At the end of each year, here at Delicious Audio we like to aggregate the “Best of 2019” lists compiled by the most popular sites and videographers covering pedals. What better way to state with absolute confidence which stompboxes made a splash than listening to the opinions of all the experts?
Here are the relevant “Best of 2019” lists we found so far – the results will be updated if new lists will be published: Demos in the Dark, Dennis Kayzer, EytschPi42, Guitar.com, Guitar Partners, Jay Leonard, Living Room Gear Demos, Music Radar, The Pedal Zone, Reverb.com, Rhett Shull, Thoman. The list by Pedal and Effects was added on January 9th, the list by JHS Pedals was added on February 7th.
How It Works
- We restricted our selection to guitar pedals (not bass ones) with a small footprint (not board-sized multi-effects).
- We didn’t consider sites that mentioned less than 5 pedals in their gear selection.
- We assigned 4 points to the top pedal, 3 points to the second, 2 points to the third and 1 point to any other position
- We assigned 1 point to each device in lists that were not organized numerically.
- To reward pedals chosen by multiple sources, we assigned an extra 0.5 points to each vote, after the first one.
- Some votes were not aggregated to this list due to a conflict of interests highlighted by the authors.
One trend we noticed compared to past years is an increased fragmentation in these pedal experts’ choices – devices are featured in this year’s list! This makes sense if we consider that many of the newer manufacturers born during the post-2010 “pedal builder explosion” are now in their prime, and coming out with designs that are original, great sounding and solidly built. On the other hand, some of the more established companies seem to have become slower in their new products’ launch, see – for example – Strymon’s release-less 2018 and Wampler’s and Empress FX’s prolonged “dry spells,” due to the perfecting of ambitious (and therefore complicated) digital pedals. However, with a few surprises, the more established companies still tend to be the ones whose products get voted by more than one pedal expert, and therefore float to the top of our aggregating chart.
But enough with words, here’s the Best Pedal of 2019 (at least for now!)
1. Walrus Audio Slö Multi Texture Reverb – 13 Points
The Walrus Audio Slö was the best selling pedal on Reverb.com in 2019, it was the top choice for shoegazer videographers Pedal Partners and also made the Best of 2019 lists for EytschPi42 and Guitar.com. JHS named it the best reverb of 2019. It’s a creative atmospheric reverb creating modulated, sleepy soundscapes through 3 algorithms: Dark adds a lower octave to the trail, with the X knob controlling the octave’s volume; Rise is an auto-swell reverb and X controls the length of the rise after a note is played; Dream is a lush reverb with a latching pad function; the X knob here adds a vibrato to the effect, controlling its depth.
2. EarthQuaker Devices Plumes Drive – 12.5 Points
The EQD Plumes was the #2 pick in the Thoman and Guitar Partners list and was also included in the Reverb.com and Guitar.com lists. It was notably also the overdrive of choice in JHS’s list. It’s an entirely redesigned TS homage presented as a “small signal shredder” and featuring three clipping voices selectable through a toggle switch placed in the center of the control panel: Symmetrical LED clipping for more Crunch and Compression; No Clipping for wide open OpAmp-style drive, good for clean boost, Asymmetrical silicon diode clipping for more transparency with a loose feel. It placed second on the Thoman and Guitar Partners lists and was also included in the EytschPi42 and Guitar.com lists.
3. Strymon Volante Magnetic Echo Machine – 11 Points
The Strymon Volante was chosen as the Best pedal of 2019 by Thomann and Guitar.com and was #3 in Music Radar’s list. It’s a delay/looper that aims at giving the modern guitarist three of the most sought-after vintage delay sounds: tape echo, drum, and reel-to-reel. Controls allow you to fine-tune the character, fidelity, brightness and age of the delay, for more or less vintage-sounding results.
4. Chase Bliss Audio M O O D Granular Delay/Looper – 9.5 Points
The M O O D is another creative delay/micro-looper by Chase Bliss Audio, this time in collaboration with Old Blood Noise, who took care of the suite of live spatial effects in the pedal’s Wet Channel, and Belgian engineer David Rolo from Drolo FX, who designed the Loop Channel. A stompbox that belongs squarely in the category of experimental devices for sound explorers, the M O O D is presented as a “study in interaction,” which “is internally collaborative, allowing audio to freely pass back and forth between its two sides, evolving and transforming over time.” As for all Chase Bliss pedals, the amount of tweak offered is borderline infinite, but the main feature here is in the way the two channels are routed, which can happen in three different ways. The M O O D made the second place in the Reverb and Dennis Kayzer lists, and was also selected by Pedals and Effects and the Living Room Gear Demos.
5. Strymon Iridium Stereo Amp & IR Cab – 9 Points
The Iridum is an amp emulation device with an analog, JFET based mono preamp and full stereo signal throughout the amp emulation, impulse responses and Room circuits. The three amp options offered are for Fender® Deluxe Reverb (Round), Vox AC30TB (Chime), and Marshall Plexi (Punch), while 9 impulse responses offer a variety of cabinet colors. The Room knob allows the player to open up the sound a little with some stereo early reflections through Small, Medium and Large room modes. This pedal was Music Radar’s top choice and Rhett Shull’s silver medal.
6. Empress FX ZOIA Modular Multi-FX Pedal – 8 Points
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The Empress Effects Zoia is a compact, stereo grid of musical anything. Use modules to construct instruments, effects, utilities, and even synths (it has oscillators modules). Blocks can all be linked freely to multiple sources & destinations, and three programmable footswitches allow for on-the-fly effects and preset switching. New modules are released regularly for renewed excitement. It features also MIDI i/o, CV & clock in, Random create function and Stereo in and out. It was voted #1 by Demos in the Dark and also made the Pedal Zone and Dennis Kayzer lists.
Positions from 7 to 18 – from 7.5 to 3 points
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18th Position – 2.5 Points
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21st Position – 2 Points
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25th Position – 1 Point
22. Alexander Pedal Marshmellow, Anasounds Element Reverb, Becos CompIQ, BOSS Synth-1, Carl Martin Panama, Caroline Sommersault, Champion Leccy The Woozy, Ear Fuzz FX Buzzaround, EHX Parallel Mixer, Electrofoods Ultd Eye of Ra, Farm Pedals Fly Agaric, Fender Pinwheel, Fender Tre-Verb Tremolo/Reverb, Hamstead Subspace, HB Thunder 99, Hudson Broadcast AP, JHS Pedals Cheese Ball Fuzz and Colour Box 2, Keeley DDR, Keeley Synth-1, King Tone Duelist, KMA Logan Drive, Life is Unfair Synaptic Cleft, Mad Professor Supreme, Mask Audio Electronics No Octave Fuzz, Mastro Valvola LEM, Matthews Effects Astronomer, Mooer Ocean Machine, Ohmless Detonator, Old Blood Noise Rever and Minim, Origin FX Revival Drive Compact, Pelican Noiseworks / Spruce FX Pelitaur GE V2, Pine Box Customs Sirens, Red Panda Particle V2, Redbeard Effects Red Mist Mk IV, Seymour Duncan Dark Sun, SolidGoldFX Lysis, Source Audio Collider, Thorpy FX Deep Oggin, Heavy Water and The Dane Drive, Vertex Nyle Compressor, Walrus Audio EB-10, Wampler Terraform, Wren & Cuff De La Riva, Rainger FX Drone Delay, Gamechanger Audio Plasma Coil, Fender Trapper, Source Audio C4.