Origin Halcyon Green Overdrive review – the ultimate Screamer?
UK pedal maker Origin Effects turns its attention from amp in a box, to box before amp, and starts with arguably the most influential pedal circuit of all time. Make the best pedal ever even better? Halcyon days indeed!
At the risk of igniting the forums, in our opinion the original TS808 Tube Screamer is arguably one of the most important, yet most misunderstood, pedals ever made.
The legendary overdrive, designed by the legendary Ibanez engineer Susumu Tamura back in 1979, features in hundreds of pro rigs and appears on countless records. Used appropriately, a great Tube Screamer provides a gorgeous 800hz midrange boost that scythes perfectly through a band mix, juxtaposing enough clean clarity to maintain definition, with ample gain and forgiving compression to push a classic Fender tube amp into SRV blues perfection or evoke sustaining rock lead tones from your Marshall. The Tube Screamer’s cut in the low end has been the secret studio trick of many a producer to tighten up even extremely high gain guitar sounds when recording.
The doubters argue that the TS808 and later TS9 Tube Screamers, don’t excel as well as some other pedals as an always on overdrive into a clean amp at lower levels, and many bemoan the limited mid-heavy EQ and limited clean-up performance compared to other designs. Now the UK’s Origin Effects have sought to put this debate to bed by creating a Tube Screamer with all of the positives yet none of the drawbacks.
Intrigued? Well, as latest global estimates reckon a pedal company releases an ‘Screamer based overdrive once every 12 seconds, the Halcyon Green Overdrive uses its typical Origin Effects ingenuity to offer a genuinely original take in this congested market.
Squatter and more compact than Origin’s regular single pedal range yet retaining Origin’s solid construction, its pedalboard friendly top mounted jacks and buffered bypass switching mean the Halcyon not only takes up less pedalboard real-estate than our original TS808 Tube Screamer.
The Halcyon also features a two-way voice switch, a superbly handy Dry blend control and an intriguing three-way switch labelled Adapt. This clever feature changes the way the pedal reacts to cleaning up your guitar by rolling down the volume pot or simply playing more delicately.
Using our rosewood ‘board Strat and PAF-loaded Les Paul into both Fender and Marshall amps, and our vintage 1980 TS808 as a benchmark The Halcyon’s set to its 808 voice, closely approximates our vintage Tube Screamer, without quite matching the vintage pedal’s addictive velvety smooth breakup.
Where the Halycon has the edge over the vintage pedal however is in its sheer sonic versatility. Switching to the Mod voice give more bite and punch, the Dry control although not unique to the Halcyon, is a welcome addition facilitating more complex array fuller bodied or dual amp tones, and with a higher clean blend percentage dialled in going a long way to balancing out the oft-criticised TS midrange honk.
Engaging the ADAPT switch allows the pedal to react to playing dynamics and volume changes, as you clean up your playing the characteristic Tube Screamer midrange boost morphs into a more balanced clean signal with more top and bottom end than you’d typically get with a TS. We found the full adaptive tone a bit confusing with faster runs with the bass end phasing in and out somewhat, but enjoyed the more moderate position one setting immensely for edge of breakup chord playing, not typically a tone we’d use a TS for.
- PRICE £220
- DESCRIPTION Overdrive pedal, designed and built in England
- CONTROLS Level, Drive, Tone, Dry, two-way mid voice switch, three-way adaptive switch
- FEATURES Adaptive circuitry responds to volume changes and playing dynamics, Dry control, voice switch, buffered bypass, powered by 9V power supply only (DC 2.1mm centre negative adaptor)
- DIMENSIONS 124 × 58 × 64 mm
- CONTACT https://origineffects.com