by Bill Horist
For such a modest sized pedal, Meris’ multi-voice instrument synthesizer pedal, Enzo, has a lot going on inside its golden brushed aluminum shell. It’s a dual oscillator synth boasting three synth modes, triggered and envelope follower options, a super-glissy portamento feature, and 6 filter types, as well as envelope-controlled ring modulation, two tap delay, pitch shifting, and all sorts of MIDI madness.
Right out of the box I am immediately pleased with the quality of the power sup-ply as the cable is nice and thick. I know, not the sexiest of starts, but for those of us who spend time on the road, this is important. The 3-panel card that comes with the device gives a clear and concise overview of what each of its 6 knobs, 2 footswitches, and 2 buttons do, and also explains the 10 global setting options. Still, I found it helpful to have the more comprehensive user manual found on the Meris website nearby, and the fact that the manual name-checks Terry Riley, Joe Zawinul, and Vangelis makes me feel that I am among kindred spirits, emboldening me onward into uncharted territory.
Each knob and footswitch has main functions as well as ALT functions, accessed by holding the ALT button and messing with the knob or footswitch in question. The ALT button also gets you into global set-ting on power up, and saves presets. You can purchase a 4-switch proprietary unit for easy access for up to four presets, and Enzo also features 16 internal preset locations, accessible by MIDI Program Change messages.
The SYNTH MODE button selects be-tween MONO for single note madness, and POLY for lush, ambient chordal pad-ding. These are both reflected with LEDs indicating your selection and if both LEDs are illuminated you’re in ARP mode and will be flipping your lid over the deliciously Krauty arpeggiated invocations triggered with single notes and chords. If neither LED is lit you’re in DRY mode, which is anything but. Here, you have access to pitch shift, delay, filter, and compression for more guitar-like manipulations.
Despite the fact that there is so much go-ing on with Enzo, it’s pretty responsive to the uncarved block approach, and a great load of fun can be had right away. Enzo tracks both deft melodies and laden chords amazingly well, though every once in a while there are little half-step misfires in POLY and ARP modes, and sometimes re-ally dissonant chords seem to confuse the pedal while it tries to identify pitches. Still, the pedal stands up admirably to more conventional chord extensions and really only buckles under the weight of stacked seconds or chords where the pitches are really close together, as even one interval of flat seconds tracked well.
The two foot switches are BYPASS and TAP, which will tap tempo-set the delay as well as the arpeggiation. I love that I can tap the tempo of either the Delay or ARP while in BYPASS mode, a crucial detail for live offerings as it solidifies that grand and lock-stepped time warp into the 70s upon switching the effect on. ALT functions select filter envelope with TAP, and Synth Waveshape with BYPASS.
The knobs [PITCH, FILTER, MIX, SUSTAIN, FILTER ENV, and MODULA-TION] are pretty self-explanatory, as are their ALT functions. After some fussing these will make sense aurally even to those who may not understand synthesis on a deeper level. The Global Settings, accessed by holding down the ALT button on power up and waiting for the LEDs to flash three times, offer some great features that may be a little more down to earth than the celestial vaults of the actual synth options. Now all six knobs, both footswitches, and the SYNTH MODE buttons assign various properties regarding Mono/Stereo in-put mode, Line/Instrument level, Bypass Mode, Expression pedal modes [Variable control pedal; external TAP; Button switch [for external preset pedal] and MIDI], Kill Dry [for if you want only a wet signal when effect is on], Global Tempo, and other MIDI options. Also in Global Settings are the Trails and Split Output options. With Trails ON, the delay “trails” off, as opposed to an immediate cutoff when the BYPASS switch is hit, and the Split feature enables you to run the output of Enzo to one amp and the rest of your signal to another, thereby maintaining a pure, clean synth sound in one channel while rolling your unsullied guitar tone through whatever distortions, fuzzes, bitcrushers, and other effects are in rest of the chain.
Each time I sit down with Enzo I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it can do. Once you toke those first takes, become the knob-spinning stargazer you know you are, and start dialing in your trippindicular bliss, the celestial vaults of neo-Seventies will be conferred. That the Meris team is on top of their craft with Enzo is evinced by the excellent sounds, superb tracking, solid build quality, and overall attention to detail that this pedal holds within, a pedal that truly is so much bigger inside than out.