PRS Horsemeat, Mary Cries, and Wind Through The Trees review – ignore the names, enjoy the sounds
Paul Reed Smith’s unexpected entry into the world of effects pedals was made even weirder by the esoteric names the company chose for them – but this is no mere flight of fancy.
PRS Mary Cries, Wind Through The Trees and Horsemeat
$249/£279 (Horsemeat), $219/£219 (Mary Cries), $349/£349 (Wind Through The Trees)
Paul Reed Smith’s entry into the world of guitar effects was a surprise, but most of the chat around their launch seemed to be about the names, and not nearly enough about the fact that one of the world’s most respected guitar brands was now making effects pedals in the same Maryland factory that has produced some world class guitars.
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But PRS’ latest venture is not unsurprising when you think about it – in recent years the brand has diversified from electrics into acoustics and amplifiers, and while they might not have seen the success that the electric guitar line has, there’s no doubt that each brought something different and uniquely PRS to the table.
What are the PRS effects pedals?
The story is the same with these first three effects – the Horsemeat overdrive, Wind Through The Trees flanger and Mary Cries optical compressor. Normally when you launch an effects line, you don’t start with a flanger, but PRS always does things its own way, and so here we are.
Smith is clearly very proud of this first batch of pedals, and you can tell that just from opening up the manual for each one. Inside you’ll find Paul’s personal pedal settings for each one, along with two other suggested starting points to begin your sonic journey.
There are just these three pedals being launched to start off with, but rumours abound that more will be added down the line – certainly the lack of a delay or reverb pedal would indicate some gaps in the range that you’d imagine will be filled sometime.
What do the PRS effects pedals sound like?
Horsemeat is marketed as a ‘transparent overdrive’ pedal – a term that means a lot of things to a lot of people, but can be broadly summed up as sounding like you’re pushing your amp to the point of overdrive (whether you do that using a green box or one with a mythical beast on the front). The Wind Through The Trees is a dual analog flanger that should have you thinking of spacey sounds (or the 80s!) and then finally we have Paul’s favourite – the Mary Cries is a heavy-duty optical compressor pedal that offers sustain for days.
Starting off with the Horsemeat ($249/£279) and out of the gate we get a nice gritty blues-like overdrive with searing treble, but can also be pushed to fuller and heavier overdrive tones. The control layout is straightforward, though if it were up to me I would have maybe preferred swapping the Voice knob for some sort of midrange-EQ control. Rest assured though, the Horsemeat will certainly add some gallop to your sound.
The Wind Through the Trees ($349/£349) provides two separate flanger effects in one device with LFO1 or LFO2. The manual describes The Wind Through the Trees as being like two flanger pedals fighting each other – and that’s a nice way to describe it. If you like swishy, organic, slightly hallucinogenic soundscapes and sonic experimentation you will like this effect.
Like Paul, my favourite of the bunch, however, is the Mary Cries ($219/£219). This effect was created with the LA-2A studio compressor in mind, and it’s a seriously impressive take. If you’re after an alway-on compressor that can improve, sustain and tighten up the frequencies in your sound chain, this is it.
But that’s not all – Mary Cries can also double as a booster thanks to the output/gain control, but really that’s just a bonus. In a crowded field, this is a studio-quality compressor in a stomp pedal configuration, and who doesn’t want that?!
Should I buy a PRS effects pedal?
Each of these PRS pedals is made to the high standards we’d expect from the brand, and use premium components – each also features true bypass switching. There’s clearly been a lot of thought and R&D gone into refining these pedals before they reached market, and as first efforts go, this is a very successful one. Yes, the names might be a bit on the strange side, but the effects pedals deliver where it counts – in the sound.