- Optical Photocell-based Phaser Design
- 6 Stage Analog Sweeping
- 5 LFO Wave Shapes Plus Manual Mode
- Expression Input for Sweep, Speed & Manual Mode
- Vintage Vibe with Jewel Lamp Indicators
Spaceman is a unique company out of Portland Oregon, building one of a kind limited-run boutique pedals. Each one is hand wired and soldered, with a cool stamped serial number plate attached to the backside. The first thing you will notice on their website is that the majority of their products are already sold-out. Once these limited number pedals run out, the prices go up on the open market. It’s a very out of the box approach in this modern world of mass outsourcing to China etc. The focus is quality not quantity. They do dig up some spare NOS parts from places unknown, but they’re all built-by-hand to military specs right here in the USA. The Explorer Deluxe Phaser is one of their newest must have pedals. It’s an all-original design, loosely inspired by such classics as the MXR Phase 100, Mu-Tron Bi-Phase and the Small Stone Phaser. Spaceman considered their favorite things about each classic, and came up with their own unique pedal design that’s very distinct and musical.
OUT OF THE BOX:
The Spaceman pedals come with a cool presentation. The white cardboard box has an astronaut on top, and stickers with serial numbers and logos adorning the four sides. Inside are instructions, a 3-year transferable warranty card, an astronaut sticker, a Spaceman logo sticker, Rubber feet and a spaceman pin. The pedal comes wrapped in a space age silver metallic drawstring bag, with an astronaut printed on the outside.
This attention to branding and detail shows that there is a lot of thought, pride and love put into each pedal. There are five different case options for the Explorer Deluxe. They all have the same engraved white on black vinyl face plate, but the five Aluminum enclosure options are as follows: Silver aluminum body and Solid Black powder-coated body both with a red/blue jewel indicator (shown above), a White powder-coated body with an opaque indicator, a Chrome body with red/blue jewel indicator and custom knobs, and finally the coveted Copper body with an actual NASA circa 1959 aerospace dimmable indicator, and custom engraved knobs. On the Right side are the Input and Expression. The Output and 9-24v DC Boss type power jack are on the left. The higher voltages will add increased headroom, mostly noticeable in the resonant control feature.
On Top are four large knobs Resonance, Speed, Range and Shape. The Shape knob has 6 possible wave shapes: Sine, Saw-Up, Saw-Down, Triangle, Square, and Manual mode controlled via expression pedal. There are also two mini knobs for level and mix. In the middle are those cool jewel light indicators like on a guitar amp. And below that a heavy duty TPDT true bypass footswitch.
Inside the pedal you will find a trim pot for use with a higher output signal like a synth, also a switch to turn the speed/rate indicator LED off in Bypass mode.
The Speed control has a wide range from super slow to blazing fast. The Resonance knob adjusts the amount of frequency focused resonant feedback. This gets you to those classic vintage Phase tones.
The Range knob uniquely affects the low-frequency phasing extension. At lower settings to the left, the focus is high frequency phase. As you turn it to the right you go to low frequencies for deep sounding phasing.
The Explorer Deluxe uses a custom analog optical circuit that lives right underneath the jewel indicator. This allows you to see the interplay between the light & receiver and how the wave shape is affecting the sound.
The first thing I usually do is open a pedal up & peek inside. The Spaceman is impressive. It’s completely packed with two PCB boards loaded and stacked on top of each other, with picture perfect wiring. They even have added wire relief in case you have to ever replace
I find the Explorer Deluxe to be very musical. The Optical circuit has a rich, smooth and organic sense about it. The pedal is user friendly in general, and it’s very quick to get the vibe you’re looking for.
The Sine wave mode gives you that classic deep, lush even phase especially at slower speeds. If you bring the Resonance down with the Speed and Range at 12 & 1:00, its suddenly transforms into a sweet vibrato. Flipping through the different wave patterns you can get some unique outside the box approaches to vibrato. The Saw-Up, Saw-Down and Triangle are recognizable and perfect for funk guitar. The Square setting is very rhythmic and at faster speeds has a choppy synth-like arp vibe, especially if you play arpeggio patterns. As far as the Expression pedal input goes, it’s fantastic in the studio. In Manual mode it’s kind of a wah thing, or in the five other wave modes it’s a LFO speed control. I like the ability to control the intensity going from a slow wobble to strawberry fields speed with the pedal. I’ve always loved the sound of distortion going into a phaser. I ran my guitar into the Spaceman Titan Il Fuzz, (we’ll review that next month), before the Explorer. It sounded super throaty and psychedelic. Instant inspiration!
On bass it is equally delicious. It’s got the clarity of high-end studio gear, and gives you that 70’s funk with a modern twist. The low end is tremendous when you crank the range knob up. I tried it with a Roland System 8 in Mono and it was killing on both staccato rhythmic stuff and for leads.
I am a fan of Phase pedals. You can do a lot with them. I’ve had engineers complimenting the sound even subtly in the background. Subtle is easy to do on this pedal with the mix knob. Phasers are also fantastic at adding movement to swells and ambient stuff. To my ears the Explorer Deluxe is one of the best phase pedals out there. It sounds super fat, and has a quality about it that separates it from any digital competition. You can’t deny the rich analog tones and ease of dialing in the classic patterns that phaser fans love. It’s fantastic on bass and synths. I would pick it over any vintage Phaser that I’ve ever heard. It’s quiet, has a rich bottom end, and can do so many things. You can get a lot of mileage with the Explorer Deluxe. I hope you get a chance to hear one before they run out.