Buzz, beep, and bloop – today’s Gear Spotlight is The Mainframe, a bit crusher effect pedal by Electro-Harmonix! Based on the lo-fi sounds of “old-school” games, toys, and terminals, the Mainframe Bit Crusher harkens back to when Pac Man and Donkey Kong ruled the arcades and the Commodore 64 was high tech.

It provides bit crushing ranging from 24-bit to 1-bit. What does that mean? Bit crushing is bit depth and sample rate reduction. CDs used a 16-bit bit depth meaning that each of its samples was represented by 16-bits of information. Higher bit depths can accurately represent a greater dynamic range while bit crushing increases the number of sampling errors and creatively degrades the sound to bring us back to those nasty “old school video game” sounds.

When the sample rate is reduced the quality of the audio is degraded and aliasing occurs. Aliasing means audible artifacts created when higher frequencies are sampled at an inadequate rate and the result is distortion. The Mainframe’s sample rate range is wide enough to take you from sounds that are quite pristine to sounds that are unrecognizable when compared to the input signal.

We could say more about this pedal, but really, you’re just going to have to watch this video and see and hear for yourself. We’ll see you in the comments section!

What are your impressions of this pedal? Is it something you could find a use for or do you see it as more of a gimmick? We offer in-home and virtual lessons if you want to learn about gear from a professional!

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