Cooking up soundscapes with the Line 6 HX Stomp
If anyone were to ask me what Brand New Noise sound recorder to buy, I would tell them to get a Hubble every time. The kalimba itself is already an appealing instrument- allowing for serene and unusual sounds without much practice. The Hubble as a kalimba not only amplifies and repeats these sounds, but it also allows you to pitch bend and warp the kalimba sounds using a gritty onboard delay. Although you can’t play it in real time through the output, this is to the Hubble’s benefit; sound recording instead of live output means you can get crazy with effects and tweak it real-time without inducing feedback unlike a regular electric kalimba. It’s great for anyone who wants to get their sound design and audio engineering chops up to snuff.
The Hubble and Zoots kalimbas, and honestly all Brand New Noise audio gadgets, love effects. Sure, using them on their own is a treat- but throw any of the charming wooden boxes through a pedalboard or a multi-effects unit you’ll unlock some real soundscaping and beatmaking potential.
Multi-effects units, in my experience, are usually the less-preferred option in musical endeavors; menu-diving and questionable sound quality usually killed my creativity quickly. Older Digitech floor units and Zoom stomp-boxes come to mind. Line 6’s HX Stomp happens to eliminate those issues, and because of that it’s an extremely potent paring with any one of the Brand New Noise lineup.
The HX Stomp is the smallest unit in the Line 6 Helix family- a welcoming line of sound processors and sound design tools that replicate guitar effects and amplifiers using Digital Sound Processing (DSP). They’re more-or-less all in one pedalboards. Although they are built with guitarists in mind, they all accommodate synths, drums, and other sound recording devices and gadgets incredibly well. All that said though- the Stomp is the standout pick for me. It crams all the features of the most expensive Helix into something that costs almost a third of the price and sits on a crowded desk or preexisting pedalboard like nothing else. It’s at the top of Reverb’s multi-effects best-selling list for a reason.
I currently am running an HX Stomp on my pedalboard paired with the following effects:
- Electro-Harmonix Pitchfork- Great pedal for kalimba harmonies or octaves when recording a loop
- MXR Phase 95 – Awesome on the 45 Script setting to add subtle movement
- Mosky Silver Horse
- Ibanez Tube Screamer mini – This and the Silver Horse are overdrives and don’t pair the best with the Hubble kalimba, but can be used by strong willed audio engineers for more aggressive and striking sound design
- Walrus Audio Slo- Excellent stomp box to pair with the Hubble for big, dreamy soundscapes- especially the latching pad
- Digitech Obscura Altered Delay- 4 great delays in a small pedal footprint- might seem a little bit redundant at first because of the Hubble’s built-in delay but it really comes into its own when using the reverse setting on a kalimba.
I like using outboard effects with the HX Stomp because it conserves some DSP to be used on other, more unusual audio effects.
Before using the Hubble Kalimba with the Stomp, make sure to switch the input level to “Line” in the global settings- this will make the unit respond correctly to the Hubble’s volume output. When I run a Hubble through a Stomp, I almost always through it through the One Switch or Shuffling Looper and use the tap tempo feature. This allows you to get crazy with the delays and modulation to create complex rhythmic patterns that sync up with each other in interesting ways. I recommend checking out the Euclidian and Multitap delay effects using this method. The kalimba’s metallic tones and low sustain play off the effects extremely well and are great for sound design and other audio work. Smart Harmony is also a great effect to play with while the loop is playing back, leading to some interesting live performance and audio design opportunities.
There are of course some pedals that I wish I could pair with the Hubble kalimba: things like the Chase Bliss Mood, Blooper, and the newly released Habit, the Hologram Microcosm, the Meris Ottobit Jr, and the Empress Zoia all spring to mind. Any of these could easily cause me to lose weeks just creating weird and interesting soundscapes.
All that being said, if you have a Hubble and any kind of stomp box or audio effect unit lying around- get your lab coat on and get lost exploring!
GARY'S NOTES TO RICHARD: Link every effect, where to?
Exerpt- whatchu want?