Will mini pedals from an up and coming Chinese brand re-set my opinion about Amazon pedals?
Flamma Innovation has recently carved out a bit of space for itself in the pedal world thanks to their larger pedals which feature an impressive amount of features for the $100 and lower price tag. However, their most recent releases make use of the mini pedal form factor while still packing in quite a few flavors of reverb and modulation. The FC-02 (reverb) and FC-05 (modulation) are $40 pedals that might look just like any old Amazon mini pedal. However, there is definitely a little bit more attention put into this little boxes.
The FC-05 holds a whopping 11 modulation effects in one pedal, with control, speed, and depth knobs for shaping each one. Classic modulations like Tremolo, Flanger, Chorus, Vibrato, Phaser, and Rotary Speaker are all present. A uni-vibe like “Liquid” voicing precedes an auto-wah (that’s kind of cool to see here), Ring Modulator, Stutter, and finally a bit crusher-type effect. Their website is exceptionally lacking in details about these pedals, though the control knob seems to work as a sort of mix or volume parameter that seems to change with the effect type. It’s a real grab bag of fun stuff that would be great for a utility role on a crowded gigging or recording board.
The FC-02 features 3 distinct reverb types by the name of Studio, Church, and Plate. Church has a sort of echo-like quality, while Studio sounds like a water down Spring reverb. The big decay knob seems to sort out how much body and echo the reverb effect will have. Mix allows for control over the blend of the reverb signal and your original clean signal, while tone seems to really sharpen or muddy up the reverberated signal.
Review & Opinion:
It’s unfortunate to say, but the FC-02 is fairly underwhelming. It is fine as a standard reverb pedal if you want to thicken up your sound or add some atmospherics. But I hear little difference between the three modes. Maybe I’m picky because I’m a bit of a reverb fanatic (Unforgettable Fire is one of my favorite albums), but it just doesn’t really do it for me. In fact, most of the sounds on this pedal aren’t really too useable. The decay knob isn’t super sensitive, though the mix knob can dial in some more precise tones. Including a tone knob seems a bit wasteful on this pedal as well? Below noon it is pretty muddy and turns your signal into a bit of a swirl of sound. If you’re into that real lo-fi sound maybe this is for you! But for most standard reverb applications, this isn’t really doing it for me.
I definitely think there are a few great sounds hidden in here and guitarists more creative than me might have no problem pulling them out. On the other hand, the FC-05 is one of the most fun pedals I’ve had in awhile. None of the effects will wow you with sound quality, but they are all mostly passable. For me, pedals like this are super convenient because I’m often making sacrifices on a live board, demo board, or even my home studio board when it comes to modulation. I rarely feature more than 2 on a board at a time, even though I’d love to have phaser, flanger, tremolo, and chorus at the least.
Getting all of those and more in one little box is super convenient if you’re not a world touring guitarist like myself with real space and budget limitations. There are a few redundancies and disappointments, but nothing that wouldn’t make me buy this pedal. The stutter is basically a faster tremolo, the auto wah is really a bit more phaser-ish than you may want. Also, the bit crusher is just…weird? It’s not very musical, though I think I just need to spend more time with it. The ring mod was a cool feature to have thrown in with the otherwise standard modulation mix too.
Conclusions & Final Ratings:
Flamma Innovations FC-02 Reverb: 5 out of 10
Flamma Innovations FC-05 Modulation: 6.8 out of 10
The FC-02 Reverb grades out as roughly average to slightly below average. I think it is a perfectly competent reverb if you’re only looking for a few, simple sounds. For anything more than standard tones, you should look elsewhere. And it really is a bummer that it doesn’t have a good spring sound because that is becoming more and more popular, especially in the new wave punk music I prefer. The $40 price tag represents fine value, but overall the pedal is just sort of boring, though not offensive. Which is what a 5 out of 10 really feels like to me.
The higher grade for the FC-05 Modulation is due to the higher versatility and thus higher value for money score I handed out while doing my ratings. There’s some interesting choices and unpleasant sounds, but overall, the FC-05 is a ton of fun that can solve problems and save board space for the needy musician like myself. Both pedals also feel a bit more sturdy and well put together than your average $40 mini pedal. So for me, it is safe to say they grade out above your Kmise, Amazon Basics, or Mosky products. I definitely am intrigued by the larger, more complex Flamma Innovations pedals after trying these, as I think they might be on to something here with just a bit more of a refined touch.