Chase Bliss Generation Loss First Impressions

While I was traveling to Bangalore for work Chase Bliss dropped the Generation Loss, and unfortunately I missed the pre-order window on Reverb. I tried to check it out the next day, but it was already sold out. I spent the next few days wondering if I really needed this device, or it was going to be an effect I should just pass on. I checked out the Knobs video as well as Andy Othling’s video and I have to say, they both intrigued me. So I setup a feed on Reverb to keep me apprised of whenever Generation Loss might start showing up on the scalper market on Reverb and eBay.

When I got back home and to reality, and had a bit of jet lag, I happened to see Generation Loss start showing up, and yeah… I decided to bite the bullet and order one, for a reasonable (I’ll just have to keep telling myself this) cost of something that was marked up pretty high. I’m now seeing it pop up in my Reverb feed for $700 and higher, and while I fortunately didn’t spend that much, it was still pretty pricey.

Before dropping into impressions, a perfectly fair question would be, why buy it at all? I’ve already got effects that can do similar things as Generation Loss, such as the Eurorack Magneto, the OTO Biscuit, and plenty of software that mimics these old tape effects and digital distortion effects. To be brutally honest why I was interested in it, I don’t know, other than I really like the Chase Bliss Mood, and I’ve really started to dig the company. I am not a guitarist, but their pedals seem very well made, packed with interesting features, and I really feel like I jive with the company philosophy that they at least project in their marketing.

I really dig the old school sounds, and I’m a sucker for effects that both degrade sound quality while also imparting some new character to the audio. This totally pegs me as a sucker for lo-fi samplers, tape effects, bit reducers, FM radio, etc, and absolutely explains a large amount of my music gear.

To kick off initial impressions, I absolutely cannot suggest to anybody to pick up this pedal, no matter how amazing it is, for the prices it is going for in the over $600 range. If you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket, I mean go for it, but for the price scalpers are demanding, I’m going to kick myself and just tell you to pass for now. I hope that Chase Bliss sees the demand for this device and comes out with a non limited run version. Hopefully they are shocked in a good way at the demand, but the economics of this just don’t look that great. 1000 sold in less than a day is really amazing, but it is just sad to see the sale prices on Reverb. Hopefully it goes down in cost, and it’s entirely possible that the market value will correct as we continue to see more people dumping this pedal. I’m hoping a lot of these pedals found happy homes, but I can also see this as an effect that a lot of people might not be in love with.

All that said, so far I am really into this pedal. The controls are really hands on, and as with other Chase Bliss pedals are pretty tightly packed with features. Having a separate Wow and Flutter control is, hands down, a great feature that is not always seen in effects. The Generation control sounds pretty good for a bit of lo-fi digital bit crushing, and the Hiss switch lets you chose if you want no hiss, mild hiss with a little flutter, or heavy hiss with a lot of flutter. If these were the only things available to control I’d be happy, and I was definitely less interested in the High Pass or Low Pass filter. From the sound of it, the High Pass filter doesn’t sound to me like it adds any character, but the Low Pass filter does sound like it has some resonance and possibly another effect that helps the sound shine a bit further. The Wet knob is actually super handy, as it allows you to substantially drive the wet signal and can help keep the sound boosted in a mix where it might otherwise settle into the back due to all the flutter, wow, and (de)generation of your sound.

For the afternoon I’ve been throwing a bevy of piano, synths, bass, and drums at Generation Loss, and don’t worry, I’ll be recording some more patches to load up here in no time and get some A/B comparisons put together to show off what I think is special about this pedal.

For the piano and synth sounds I pushed through Generation Loss, I’ve got to say, all the knobs were worthing tweaking, and really gave some great results. In particular, dialing in the Low Pass and High Pass filters was great over a one or two octave range. Where I feel it feel down a bit was trying to make a full patch sound. This is something that in a traditional synth/sampler, you’d probably have the filter(s) follow the keyboard, but obviously as a pedal this isn’t something so easy to do. I can see how you can probably do one of LP or HP filter with the EXP/CV input, but I suspect for more advanced programming you’ll really want to dust off the MIDI manual and use the MIDI/AUX port. I’ve got plenty of time to get into MIDI, but this does look pretty full featured and ought to be able to control both the LP and HP parameters separately.

The bass sounds responded really well to the Wow and Flutter, but I felt like the LP filter also imparted some fantastic character. It is subtle, but sounds really good, Chase Bliss pedals often say “Digital brain Analogue Heart”, and the LP filter definitely sounds like it has a bit more of the analogue roundness that I enjoy. On the other hand, the bass that I was playing around with did not respond terribly well to the Gen knob. It wasn’t bad, but it went from a not very obvious effect to completely degraded quickly. Lower frequencies don’t need as many bits/frequency to reproduce (see Nyquist theory), so I suspect it is just harder to notice right away for bass sounds.

I’ll end with my impression on drums for the day. Here Gen was great, and really imparted some quick character to the drums, and instead I’d have to say Wow and Flutter just didn’t show through. This is to be expected for sounds that have a quick attack and quick decay such as a drum. I am positive that the Wow and Flutter were impacting the drums, but because they weren’t ringing out for any length of time it is just harder to hear unless you are really paying attention. Sure, there is probably some psychological character but I’m not sure how much it is worth spending the time for drums here. Of note though, the Hiss switch really did add a good amount of dirt to the drums in a way that was more obvious. If you like filter sweeps on your drums, I’d also say that the LP/HP filter sections on Generation Loss is quite good and will give you the usual results.

To me, this is a good device, and I can see it staying in my collection. That said, I’ll repeat that the astronomical cost probably puts it out of the reach of most sane people at this time. However, if you’re crazy like me, then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this device. I will be taking some time to get videos together showing off the device, so stay tune!

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