At the MI Workshop, I have always wanted to fully trick-out a Crunch Box to see how many mods and features we could fit into its small enclosure. So one rainy afternoon I did just that, and decided to give three away for our Facebook and Twitter followers.
I was pleasantly surprised with how the Crunch Box sound had evolved with these added features. This, plus the constant feedback from customers wanting this new Crunch Box, led us to prototype the Super Crunch Box.
The Crunch Box has been around for quite a few years now, and has even inspired several clones and knock-offs. So I threw some ideas around the workshop, and came up with a design that expands the flexibility of the original, without an large rise in price.
First Upgrade: 18V Internal Supply
All stock MI drive pedals can be run up to 24V for more headroom, giving more clarity and a tighter bottom end. We know that a lot of our users run our pedals at higher voltage, but are aware of the troubles of running extra adaptors for these pedals. So a feature I am looking to implement in our future designs is the addition of circuitry to double the input voltage of your 9V adaptor/battery to supply 18V to the pedal. This is a great feature that your pedal board will happy with. The pedal sounds bigger, tighter and more responsive at 18V.
Second Upgrade: External Presence Control
The internal presence control was implemented to integrate easier with every user's amp setup. Some amps are brighter or darker than the ones we use to test, so by dialling in the Presence control you can control the shape of your sound through your setup. By placing it as an external control, you can really pull some great sounds that sit well in a mix, or to have more control with a range of guitars/amps you might use. The interaction with the Tone control is important as dialling in more Presence can cut really well, but also the lows won't feel as powerful, so use it with that in mind. This greatly increases the versatility of the Crunch Box, but for those who want to rock it old school, just leave the presence at 50% and proceed as normal!
Third Upgrade: Lo/Hi Gain Switch
This switch adds a great amount of tones that will suit many different playing styles. In Lo Gain Mode, the Crunch Box really cleans up well with the guitar volume knob and has a glassier tone. It still has a lot of gain (it is a Crunch Box after all!) but there is more string definition and top end than Hi Gain Mode. Hi Gain Mode is the stock Crunch Box amount of gain, so you can still get that "hot-rod" sound as with previous versions.
Fourth Upgrade: Clipping Selector
Like the Lo/Hi Gain Switch, this switch aims to tap in to the lower end of the gain spectrum. The switch selects between two different clipping structures, with one still the stock red LEDs as in the original. The other clipping mode provides a softer clipping of the signal, again to provide some flexibility to the overall distorted signal. The softer clipping mode, coupled with the Lo Gain Mode really provides a sparkly, break-up sound that you wouldn't think comes from a Crunch Box.
I'm proud of the layout of this design and how all of these features were able to be incorporated around the core Crunch Box sound. There are a few hitches we are working through, and a few IC/diode combinations we are experimenting with. Once I'm happy with the outcome, a video demo will go up showing all of these new features. We're hoping for a mid-year release on this one and for the price to be $149 all things going well, which I'm super excited about, give all the extra features we're putting in.
Hope you guys like it!