By Sebastián Chacana Nov 30. 2018

The Dawning of the X Era

Two new pedals and the beginning of a brand-new era for Darkglass. The X series represents our desire to cover the whole bass distortion spectrum, allowing players to go from articulate high gain to punchy mild overdrive, raw and gnarly fuzz and everything in between. “We wanted to engineer a circuit with all the capabilities of the tools producers and audio engineers have been using in the studio for decades” says Darkglass CEO Doug Castro, “these allow you to perfectly sculpt the bass signal to perfectly sit on a mix, and control every aspect of it, definition, attack or low-end size”.

It’s been very busy and very challenging” adds Tommi, our Chief Technology Officer, “but these challenges are one of the best parts of the job”. Each of the new pedals, the Microtubes X and Microtubes X7, have a multi-band distortion for affecting the high and low frequencies of your tone accordingly. Additionally, the Microtubes X has a low-pass filter to retain low end and a high-pass filter for setting the cutoff frequency to be distorted, while the X7 includes compression for the low pass signal, separate level controls for each signal, a 4-band EQ, a parallel output, and a DI with ground lift.

The feedback from musicians has lived up to the hype: “The response by the pros has been incredible” Doug tells us. “Tim Lefebvre and Alex Webster, to name a few, have told me how blown away they are by the new series” he adds, “and if they say it, they mean it… we are very happy to hear that level of endorsement by some of the greatest bassists in the business”.

We had been planning to make this pedal for a long time”, Tommi explains about the design and manufacturing of the series, “and the distortion circuit itself is heavily based on the existing Microtubes pedals”. There were also challenges during the process, “I had to find new custom potentiometers for the LPF and HPF controls on the X series, which was a bit tricky”, he tells us “and fitting the pots on the PCB and chassis of Microtubes X at first seemed almost impossible as there’s so little room… I probably caused a lot of headache with the tricky assembly for the nice and hard-working people at our factory!”.

The most interesting part was designing the compressor circuit” Tommi adds, “Rafael (Castillo, Darkglass Senior Engineer) and I put together the compressor design, heavily based on the SSL bus compressor, after which the Bus-mode on the Hyper Luminal compressor is modeled”. “I think by PCB revision six the compressor was finally working” he says, “the dual VCA bus compressor was a clear winner the first time we tried it, and I feel kind of proud for having stuffed it on such tiny PCB area”.

Everything we do it’s meant to be a stepping stone to something bigger and more ambitious engineering-wise”. Doug concludes, “we look forward to applying the lessons and solutions developed with the current X series into the next generation of Darkglass products”. And there’s a lot to look forward to. “We’re working on the releases for next year already” says Tommi, “so the X and X7 projects already seem like they were easy to do in retrospect”. With more work, there are new possibilities, “We are actually looking for more engineers at the moment too” he tells us, “check here if you think you have what it takes in