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S-CAT Double Trouble

S-CAT Double Trouble

This dual‑distortion box is equally at home with guitars, synths and drum machines, on a dusted‑daily desktop or a filthy stage pedalboard...

Space Cat Audio Technologies (S‑CAT to their friends) started life in the UK almost 15 years ago, with Arron Courts and Abegael Saward modifying vintage electronic instruments and selling them on eBay. More recently, the two began to work on their own, original designs and enlisted the help of circuit designers John W Oram and Dave Cherry. The aim was to create a range of hands‑on devices that would be well suited to live settings, while being influenced by Courts’ and Saward’s love of experimental circuit bending. The Double Trouble analogue filtered distortion, reviewed here, comes in the form of a desktop‑friendly stompbox, and promises versatility and power in equal measure.

It Takes Two

The Double Trouble can be thought of as two distortion pedals in one box. Powered by an external 24V DC supply, each distortion stage has its own input and output courtesy of quarter‑inch jacks on the rear. They can be used independently or in series, and the latter can be achieved internally so you only need to hook up a single input and output cable. With a sturdy metal chassis and firm knobs, the box has a solid, weighty feel, and its satisfyingly inclined panel seems more typical of a desktop synth or audio interface than an effects pedal. Since it’s intended as much for use as a pedal as on the desktop, footswitches engage/bypass each distortion. That’s not unusual by any means, but as someone who tends to use these things mostly on a desktop I’d like to see manufacturers offer an option for quieter and more hand‑friendly switches!

S‑CAT cite a dearth of good distortion pedals that work well with line‑level signals as a key motivation behind the Doube Trouble, but say experimentation with instruments including guitar (because, well, duh...) presented various applications and this sparked a shift in the design direction. The preamp stage was rejigged to better handle high‑impedance input signals and a buffered bypass was added so that the pedal could sit nicely between a guitar/bass and the line inputs of a console or audio interface.

The first processor is Distortion I. This employs a germanium diode circuit and, S‑CAT say, is intended to offer “edgy break‑up tones”. To compensate for the tendency of distortion to squeeze the dynamism out of some sounds, there’s also a switched Transient Boost knob with three settings (Low, Mid, High). The manual says this blends back in “the initial transients that have been squashed... giving more punch” and it works — more subtly than I’d like, at points, but you can use it to dial in dynamic front‑end detail and attack, particularly for percussion sounds. It sounds to me as though there’s more to the circuitry here than simple parallel distortion.

The ‘high‑gain’ Distortion II, on the other hand, is conceived as being more like a console’s preamp stage, and offers a slightly less...

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