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Multiband Processor Pedal By William Stokes
Published July 2024 Golden Master

Designed to deliver an aggressive ’90s mastering sound on stage, the Golden Master could well come in handy in the studio too.

Alongside the Ghost Pedal that I reviewed — and was impressed by — last month, released the Golden Master Pedal, and I think this one pushes the guitar pedal format about as far as it could possibly go into studio outboard territory without physically morphing into a 19‑inch rack unit! It’s easy to see why these two pedals were announced within a day of each other too: although they’re both impressive on their own, they form something of a powerhouse when paired together.

Design & Functionality

Like the Ghost Pedal, the Golden Master Pedal is essentially a 24‑bit/96kHz adaptation of a Eurorack module of the same name, but it benefits from a few welcome enhancements and additions as well as a little extra panel space (the Eurorack module crammed the Golden Master’s functionality into just 6HP, which was no mean feat!). It’s a stereo multiband processor that’s intended as a quick and intuitive end‑of‑chain device for delivering ‘high pressure audio’, particularly in a live setting. To that end, it offers EQ, compression and Mid‑Sides processing in three frequency bands, and while it simplifies some aspects of this arrangement others remain highly tweakable. cite their love for the distinctive character of 1990s mastering techniques as a prime motivation behind the Golden Master’s design, as well as extensive experience with live music performance. I can believe it too — if you haven’t listened to the music of artist and company co‑founder Julia Bondar for yourself, I strongly encourage you to do so. As for the 1990s mastering reference, you’d do well to bear in mind the kind of no‑prisoners‑taken loudness of music by the likes of the Prodigy or Underworld. This is not to say it’s a case of ‘off or on’, but the Golden Master is capable of endowing your signal with all the angular, pumping aggression you could want on a master bus.

Considering what it’s possible to achieve with the Golden Master, its control panel is surprisingly modest. There are knobs for its three bands (labelled Low, Mid and High) along with three respective mute buttons. Above these are controls for volume, compression threshold and up to +10dB of input gain — that’s enough to push a signal into good‑sounding saturation that, to my ears, remains blissfully free of digital artefacts. There’s also a lovely looking and nicely responsive stereo level meter.

At the bottom of the panel are two footswitches, one for bypassing the pedal (with true or buffered bypass modes usefully on offer) and one for switching between the three available presets. On the left is a Mode button, with LED indicators for each of the three modes, and another button for switching the meter mode between input (after gain) and output. Needless to say, the Ghost and Golden Master pedals are cut from the same cloth in terms of architecture and construction. For instance, they employ the same mechanism for saving and loading presets. One conspicuous difference is that while the Ghost offers nine preset slots, the Golden Master has just three. It’s probably the right call, though, given the desire to keep things simple — it’s unlikely you’ll really need more than that for an end‑of‑chain processor.

The expression pedal socket doubles up as an external side‑chain input for the multiband compressor.The expression pedal socket doubles up as an external side‑chain input for the multiband compressor.

The rear panel hosts the stereo inputs and outputs, as well as an expression pedal input. I was excited to discover that the Golden Master serves as a capable DI box: its pseudo‑balanced outputs cover a multitude of sins when it comes to interfacing with a PA system and maintaining control when playing electronic instruments live. (A brace of TRS jack to XLR cables will likely be the next thing on your shopping list!) The expression pedal input also serves as a side‑chain input, with only a mildly confusing front‑panel button combo required to enter the mode in which you set the bands and parameters this affects.

The Mode button has an arrow pointing up towards the mode LEDs. From bottom to top, these are EQ, compression and Mid‑Sides, and this suits the typical workflow: I found that whether used per‑band or holistically, I generally preferred to start by adjusting the EQ, then hitting the Mode button to move to compression, before hitting it once more to work on the Mid‑Sides balance. Rinse and repeat. Of course, navigating knob positions presented a hurdle because, with all that mode switching, it’s rare that knob values match their parameters’ actual values. As it is, parameters snap to their represented values as soon as the knobs are turned. Again, all things considered this is probably the right choice as it avoids confusion, even if it does occasionally risk clunkiness.

The three EQ bands (20‑300 Hz, 300Hz to 3kHz and 3‑20 kHz) offer ‑20dB to +8dB of gain, which is similar to the response of typical DJ mixers. This also suggests that when balancing your image with the Golden Master, one is encouraged to start by attenuating frequencies rather than boosting them. This said, it’s not like the tonal response of positive values is unsatisfactory. Far from it, in fact: boosting the highs just the right amount often resulted in some crisp upper‑end enhancement, while carefully working the lows added pleasant beef without too much murkiness.

Compression Made Easy

When it comes to compression, I can imagine a fairly strenuous R&D process was needed to arrive at the Golden Master’s final design. Controls for typical compressors (at the most basic level, the threshold, ratio and make‑up gain) would quickly have congested and confused the layout. Instead, then, some parameters here are adjustable while others are fixed. Each band knob controls all of its primary compression settings (attack, release, ratio and threshold) one‑knob style, with anticlockwise values starting at 50ms attack, 1500ms release, 1:1.25 ratio and ‑12dB threshold. Turn the knob fully clockwise, and those values reach a maximum of 14ms attack (faster), 15ms release (also faster), 1:4 ratio (higher) and ‑20dB threshold (lower).

These controls might appear a little limiting, and they would be if it weren’t for the additional ±10dB Global Threshold knob at the top. This makes it possible to adjust compression across the three bands to taste, and then bring the threshold for the whole lot down or up and thus change the response of the multiband component. In practice, it’s something more like having two layers of one‑knob compressors to play with than tweaking an actual outboard compressor, and this suits the Golden Master’s self‑described aptitude for live performance perfectly. After all, no‑one wants to be faced with a compression knee control when they’re simply trying to get their bass pumping louder on stage. There’s also no real risk of things getting really out of hand signal‑wise, since the very end of the Golden Master’s signal chain has a brickwall limiter, and there’s also a fixed 1.5ms look‑ahead to avoid the clicky distortion of ultra‑fast attack times. So it really is a case of permission granted for wild knob tweaking.

Finally The Mid‑Sides mode does what you’d imagine for each band, supposing you’re feeding it a stereo image, of course. When centred, each band’s knob is in its default position. Turned fully anticlockwise it attenuates the Sides component, and when fully clockwise it attenuates the Mid signal. There’s the option to adjust this with the lowest band too — it’s rarely advisable to have the lowest frequencies of a sound or a mix anywhere but the Mid channel, but hey, who are to tell us that?! In any case, it was hugely satisfying hearing the difference when widening the image the further up the spectrum, as it could often add a real sense of three‑dimensionality to the overall sound.

Sound & Control

EQ, multiband compression and multiband Mid‑Sides processing are useful functions in and of themselves, and it’s rare to find some of them in a pedal, and certainly all in one. So it’s already a little different and potentially useful. But the Golden Master is so special in the way it combines the three to create a fast and intuitive workflow, and that makes it well suited to use during a performance — just a couple of twists and button pushes can both tighten and centre your low end while widening your mid frequencies and enhancing your highs.

There wasn’t anything I fed through it that didn’t sound noticeably better for it.

In terms of its sound, the Golden Master punches well above its weight. In fact, there wasn’t anything I fed through it that didn’t sound noticeably better for it. In this regard, I can actually foresee it having to battle the inevitable preconceptions that will be triggered by its guitar pedal form factor. Add its DI box functionality, and you’ve got a truly indispensable tool, units of which I can imagine littering the stage for any live electronic act. In fact, I might well have to get my hands on a few more!


A high‑quality, great‑sounding multiband processor that’s intended for use at the end of any chain, the Golden Master has a well conceived control set that makes it perfect for use during a live performance.


€354 including VAT.

€295 (about $300).