Joe Walsh opened up his last studio album with “Analog Man," a track airing his grievances of the new-fangled digital lifestyle. While I’m not on Walsh's level of cool, experience or guitar skills, I sympathize with some of his digital hesitation.
Biyang fashioned the Livemaster to warm skeptics up to a modernized pedalboard. It keeps the familiar knob-twisting and switch-stomping experience of a classic pedal setup while tucking individual effects or modules into a tidy controller, eliminating excess power and patch cables.
Thus far, Biyang has released 40 effect modules that can be placed in any order in the Livemaster’s controller or mainframe. The company creates both their own sounds as well as doing a good job of cloning other famous pedals.
Some of the modules offer multiple voices. The Distortion module, for example, offers three different sounds marked A, B and C. The mainframes are available in 3 sizes that can hold four, seven or 10 effects. I reviewed the LM-7, which holds 7 effect modules. Its dimensions are 13” x 5,” and the effects snap into the mainframe and have a numbered on/off switch. Once you tweak and find a combination of pedals you like, you can save that preset by holding down any of the lettered switches for a few seconds.
The LM-7 will store 8 presets. There’s also a Tap/Tempo button that works with the Delay/Reverb module. For my review I tried out the Compressor, Loop, Distortion, Chorus, Delay/Reverb and Boost modules. The Loop module allows you to run and power other effects through the Livemaster.
Since Biyang currently doesn’t offer a wah pedal, I ran my Vox wah through the Loop. For both clips I used various guitars (Fender Tele, Fender Strat and a Gibson SG) and played a Wangs Mini 5 tube amp into an Ear Candy 1x12 cab loaded with an Eminence Alessandro speaker.
Clip 1: It’s a long one! I went right down the line: Compressor, Distortion (all 3 voices), Chorus (Fast and Slow) and Delay/Reverb (starting with Delay and ending with the Room, Spring and Hall Reverb settings).
Clip 2: It’s shorter I swear! Here’s my Vox wah plugged into and powered by the Loop module. I fattened it up with the help of the Distortion and Boost modules.
For more on the Biyang Livemaster, stop by biyang.com. The street price of the mainframes runs from $59-$129, while the Effect Modules run from $21-$69.