Origin Effects Halcyon Green Overdrive review

The Tube Screamer is the starting point for this ultra-responsive evolution from Origin Effects

Origin Effects Halcyon Drive
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

A player’s pedal, the Halcyon does everything a standard TS does but can go beyond that with some well-thought-out additional features that really extend versatility, not least a more nuanced dynamic response than your standard green clone that’s just waiting to be exploited.

Pros

  • +

    Origin’s usual high standard of build quality.

  • +

    Dynamic TS sound with no tonal compromises.

  • +

    Adjustable dry sound.

  • +

    Two voices.

Cons

  • -

    Nothing... but paying in excess of £200 for any TS won’t be agreeable to all players.

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It’s undoubtedly one of the most popular overdrives ever, but do we really need another pedal that’s based on the Ibanez Tube Screamer? The answer to that one is a very big yes from Origin Effects, who says that although its new Halcyon might be based on the ubiquitous green box, it goes way beyond what the average overdrive pedal has to offer. 

The basic idea here is to combine the magic of a vintage TS808 with the responsiveness of a good tube amplifier. Origin’s contention is that while the typical green pedal’s mid-pushed drive can be great for a thick solo tone, it can also become a touch thin and anaemic with reduced guitar volume or soft playing. The company’s solution is its proprietary Adaptive circuitry, which aims to adapt its voicing in response to pick attack and volume changes.

The pedal’s Level, Drive and Tone knobs will be familiar to anyone who’s ever used a Tube Screamer, but here there’s also a Dry knob. While a Tube Screamer has a fixed amount of dry sound mixed in, this lets you tweak that upwards to add definition when required, or even remove the dry sound altogether to improve performance when using the pedal for drive into a clean amp. 

You also get a Voice switch that offers the standard TS808 mid-forward voicing, which works great for a thicker tone with single coils, or the Mod setting that offers a sharper and brighter presence than the regular mid hump, a touch more aggressive and well suited to humbuckers.

Origin Effects Halcyon Drive

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

But it’s the three-way Adapt switch that brings in the tonal responses to your dynamic changes, with the mid-forward voicing fading away as the pedal cleans up. Position 0 responds like an original 808, but positions I and II offer increasing degrees of Adaptive behaviour. 

The amount of bass and treble roll-off that gives you that mid-hump is in direct proportion to the amount of clipping, so by using softer playing dynamics or rolling back the volume knob you’re not only getting a cleaner sound but also restoring bass and treble in a natural-sounding transition between drive and clean.

Specs

  • PRICE: $299 / £239 
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Overdrive pedal 
  • FEATURES: Buffered bypass
  • CONTROLS: Level, Drive, Dry, Tone Adapt switch, Voice switch, Bypass footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output
  • POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 80mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 64 (w) x  120 (d) x 58mm (h) 
  • CONTACT: Origin Effects

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Trevor Curwen

Trevor Curwen has played guitar for several decades – he's also mimed it on the UK's Top of the Pops. Much of his working life, though, has been spent behind the mixing desk, during which time he has built up a solid collection of the guitars, amps and pedals needed to cover just about any studio session. He writes pedal reviews for Guitarist and has contributed to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and Future Music among others.