Meris Ot­to­bit Jr

In­spired by vin­tage ar­cade games, this bitcrush­ing stut­ter and se­quenc­ing pedal takes us back to the 80s

Guitarist - - Contents - Words Trevor Cur­wen Pho­tog­ra­phy Neil God­win

In the world of stomp­boxes, we’ve never had it so good in terms of sheer va­ri­ety. Com­pa­nies are go­ing be­yond the tra­di­tional to cre­ate ped­als that pro­duce sounds many would never con­sider to be part of the gui­tar’s sonic land­scape: who’d have thought the sound of 80s gam­ing con­soles could be a valid tonal com­po­nent? Well, Meris does – the US com­pany has taken the essence of its Ot­to­bit mod­ule for stu­dio en­gi­neers/ pro­duc­ers and put it into a dual-footswitch pedal. At the heart of the Ot­to­bit Jr is bitcrush­ing to de­grade your sig­nal, but it has many other facets in­clud­ing stut­ter and se­quenc­ing ef­fects.

Any gui­tar player plug­ging into the Jr for the first time could eas­ily be con­founded by the out­right ca­coph­ony that can em­anate from this lit­tle box, but read the man­ual and a me­thod­i­cal ap­proach to pa­ram­e­ter set­ting comes up with the goods. The top three knobs ba­si­cally al­ter the tim­bre – there’s ad­justable bit rate, sam­ple rate and a low-pass lad­der fil­ter. Fully clock­wise, you get a nor­mal gui­tar sound, but re­duc­ing the bit depth of­fers some fuzz sounds that you can tonally al­ter with the fil­ter. By it­self, re­duc­ing the sam­ple rate adds a metal­lic flavour, from ring-mod-type sounds to rumbly noise. Care­ful com­bi­na­tions of all three knobs yield a wide range of al­tered tonal­i­ties, both rel­a­tively con­ven­tional and bound­ary-push­ing.

Tak­ing things fur­ther, a six-step se­quencer can be as­signed to se­quence ei­ther pitch, fil­ter fre­quency or sam­ple rate at a range of speeds set by the tap tempo. A value for each of the se­quencer steps is as­signed to the six knobs (ac­cessed by hold­ing down Alt). The myr­iad pos­si­ble sounds are too numer­ous to de­scribe, but if you’re fa­mil­iar with bleepy ar­cade games or a synth’s on­board se­quencer, arpeg­gia­tor or sam­ple and hold func­tions, you’ll get the pic­ture. On top of that, you have 22 on/off stut­ter ef­fects that can be frozen as long as you hold down the tap tempo switch.

For more live tweak­ing, an ex­pres­sion pedal can be set to morph be­tween two com­plete sets of knob val­ues. Such a range of pos­si­bil­i­ties cries out for pre­sets; while there are none di­rectly on­board, you can send and re­ceive them us­ing MIDI.


Niche it may be, but this classy and cre­ative pedal ex­erts a strange al­lure to those yearn­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent.

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