Well after I truly fell in love with the Element 119, I needed to see how their other offering held up!
There are few fuzz pedals out there that are more user-friendly and flexible than the On Air from Interchange Noise Works. With dual fuzz bias options controlled via the toggle switch, you can choose from a more distortion-style fuzz (FM) to a thicker, “bazz fuzz” influenced sound (the AM channel). The signal knob controls the output of the fuzz circuit, and the gain level of this fuzz circuit is controlled by the static knob. Bass and treble controls give a much more versatile 2-band EQ than you’ll find on your average fuzz as well. Lastly, there is a volume knob to control the overall output of the boost switch, the right hand footswitch on the pedal. Oh, and did I mention there is a built-in boost circuit to really help you cut through the mix or open up for a solo and lead line. Top mounted jacks are also a nice touch on this unique looking, and sturdy stomp box. I will never get tired of those wood burned tops on these pedals. While it may seem like a tone-tweaker, the controls are user friendly and relatively simple to understand. A volume for the fuzz and boost, a gain, and then 2-band EQ. Plus, you can dial in a pretty impressive spectrum of fuzz and distortion sounds.
Review & Opinion:
Versatility is the name of the game with this pedal. It doesn’t hit you in the face the same way the Element 119 does, but it really can do almost anything you might need out of a fuzz pedal. The boost footswitch is also a huge addition, as it really makes this feel like a two in one pedal. You can set a nice smooth, rhythm fuzz or distortion sound to build your song or performance around, and then push it into orbit for a solo, breakdown, or lead line with ease. When you use the more distorted, less fuzzy “FM” channel, there is really incredible clarity when playing chords. It is a very musical fuzz in that sense, as you’ll find you can use it a fair bit more than you might want to use a fuzz face or big muff. Single lead lines will obviously be warm, sustaining, and fizzy, but I love that I can use this for punk, classic rock, and anytime that I need to make my amp sound like it is naturally distorted and blown out. The 2-band EQ is actually super helpful as well, because with different guitars I like to be able to adjust the bass and treble on the fly. My Strat never gets to ice pick-y, my Howl Sirena (think LP) never gets too bass-y or muddy. I’m a big fan, and this is likely to wind up on my live board, because that is where the boost function and flexibility will be most useful in my opinion.
Final Conclusion & Rating: 8.0 out 10
While I have loved one knob fuzzes and more stripped down pedals, the On Air is still deserving of such high marks. In my opinion, it is so great because the controls are so easy to understand and use. It seems like a complete tone tweaker, but it really isn’t, it is just built to let you figure out how you want to use it. And by that I mean that it can sound great out of the box with everything at noon, or you can dial in dual fuzz/distortion settings to boost as you wish. I love when fuzzes have a distortion-like feel, because it makes them so much more functional when playing chords or sitting lower in the mix. And that is why I’m harping on that point so much with this pedal. The On Air can get as crazy as some of the other velcro and sizzle fuzzes I’ve reviewed, but it can also do this cranked amp in a box thing that I love so much. It’s creative engineering and a nice idea for a fuzz that doesn’t feel too derivative, done to death, or repetitive.