Chase Bliss and Goodhertz’s Lossy is a pedal that makes your guitar sound like a crappy MP3

If you’ve read any of my music gear reviews on Engadget, then you probably know that I love all things broken and lo-fi sounding. And you might also know that Chase Bliss is one of the best out there when it comes to making your instruments sound like they’re coughing up digital dust after crawling out of a decades long hibernation. The company’s latest pedal, Lossy, is a collaboration with Goodhertz, a top notch plugin maker that has an incredible lo-fi pedigree all its own. In fact, it’s based on the company’s VST effect of the same name.

Lossy takes whatever you feed it, and makes it sound like a crappy MP3 from the late ’90s. It’s a realtime digital degradation machine that introduces artifacts, resonance and crunch that will bring back warm memories (or chilly nightmares) of waiting hours for a single bootleg to finish downloading from Napster.

The heart of the pedal is the Loss control which has three different modes and determines the overall character of the sound. It can deliver the familiar sound of a low bit-rate MP3 (Standard), play only those frequencies stripped out by compression for an especially tinny tone (Inverse), or spit out washes of out of unsteady glitches (Phase Jitter).

Of course, there’s lots of variety within those three modes depending on how high you have the Loss and Global knobs turned. While Loss determines the total amount of the effect, Global is a macro that sets the intensity of the effect. These two things combined shape the core sound, but the Packets switch is also vitally important. When off you just get the core Lossy sound, but you can turn on Packet Loss for dropouts reminiscent of a bad cellular connection, or switch it to Packet Repeat which fills those spaces with frozen audio for something more akin to a skipping CD. The Speed knob determines how often the effect interrupts your playing.

There’s also a dedicated Freeze function, which is unlike any other I’ve seen on a pedal before. Rather than simply grabbing the last fraction of a second of audio and repeating it ad nauseam, it actually evolves over time. It stretches out notes, changing as you play to create ambient pads, drones and shifting soundscapes.

Rounding out Lossy is a lowpass filter and reverb section to help glue everything together. Plus there is a hidden limiter and auto gain function that brings all the nuances your playing to the fore and ensures the tiny details of the Loss effect aren’t, well, lost.

Last year Chase Bliss shifted to a direct to consumer model so, the only place you can pickup a Lossy is straight from the company’s website. It’s available now, however, for $399 and buying a pedal gets you 50-percent off the Goodhertz Lossy plugin that inspired it, which is normally $79.

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