Presented as a “modulated ambient machine, the Side FX Sputnik is a rather intense stereo (or mono, via a toggle switch) delay+reverb pedal with a lot of extra effects embedded in the circuit, including pitch modulation, filter, tremolo, and a kill dry switch, just to mention a few.

Hosted in a rather large case about three times the size of a compact pedal, this device boasts a considerable number of controls – we count 12 knobs, three toggles, and three footswitches – therefore putting a noteworthy if not infinite sonic palette at your toe tips. But the controls are extremely straightforward, something that can’t be said for other similar ambient-leaning organic multi-FX pedals.

The reverb and delay controls are conveniently color-coded: black knobs for delay and white knobs for reverb, and each feature different modulation circuits, let’s take a look at each one of them:

Tremolo+Reverb Side
Generated by a BTDR-2H solid-state chip, the reverb is preceded by a Tremolo, which has two separate white knobs on the left of the pedal controlling Rate and LFO shape, which can be square, triangle, or the glitchy random. An extra knob in the center of the pedal sets the Depth, i.e. the tremolo’s intensity. Next in line, the Reverb Mix and Decay controls, with the latter setting the length of the reflections.

Delay + Modulation Side
While on the reverb side the modulation (tremolo) is placed before the time-based effect, on the delay one it follows it. The delay circuit has a 50-1000ms range and is based on the classic PT2399 chip. It features controls for Time, Mix, Feed(back) and Filter – all pretty straightforward, with the latter allowing to darken the repeats for warmer/analog-sounding tones, or to simply remove the high-end artifacts created by the chip at longer delay times. The modulation, of the chorus+pitch kind, hence the Pitch Depth knob, and also has controls for Rate and LFO shape, with the same wave options as the tremolo (square, triangle and random). In Random mode the pitch will jump from note to note within a range determined by the Pitch Depth mode, up to one octave.

Routing (Left toggle)
Interestingly the 3-way dly/rvrb toggle lets you reconfigure the routing of the effects:

  • Up: The dry signal is split and sent to the two delay and reverb channels
  • Middle: The dry signal and reverb signal are both sent separately to the delay channel
  • Down: The reverb signal is sent to the delay channel, which lets you, among other things, have a modulation placed after the delay.

The Sputnik has other remarkable extras that deserve mention:

  • Separate footswitches for each effect
  • Tails Footswitch doubling as a momentary footswitch for infinite feedback.
  • Two FX Loops to route the effects separately and insert other pedals in between them
  • Kill Dry toggle lets you remove entirely the dry signal, for super spacey ambient tones.

Check out how it sounds in the videos below. We added the Sputnik to our article about the best pedals for Ambient and Shoegaze music.

Side FX Sputnik, Builder’s Notes

This ambient machine was designed to cover anything from typical reverb – delay to outerspace exploration.

The Sputnik is reverb-delay hybrid that achieves amplitude(tremolo) and pitch modulated reverb without the use of algorithms and microcontrollers but only solid state devices: the BTDR-2H reverb brick and PT2399 delay chip. It features a Reverb and a Delay channel that work in parallel and can be mixed together in mono or sent to separate outputs for huge stereo ambience.

Each channel has its own unique modulation circuit with triangle, square and random waveforms that offers a huge range of subtle slow fluctuations to ring mod pitch and amplitude modulation. If that doesn’t cover your tinkering needs, you can add external effects to each channel via the dedicated fx loop jacks. The Sputnik also features a momentary footswitch for infinite feedback, a tails footswitch and a dry kill toggle.