December 13, 2023

Electro Harmonix Stereo Talking Machine

Guitarists have been experimenting with sound possibilities for as long as they have been around. Many recognize the voice as the most expressive of instruments and many guitar FX pedals have tried to emulate that expressiveness through various talk-box like effects.

Electro Harmonix (EHX) have produced a very versatile pedal in the Stereo Talking Machine. It not only has great presets right out of the box, it’s also highly programmable giving you even greater control over the way the pedal alters your notes. With 9 selectable voice types, you too could be  AH-OOing and OW-EEing in no time at all.

Like the sounds created by a mouth harp, where the metal reed is plucked and the vibrations altered by changing the shape of the players mouth, a Talk-box takes the sounds/notes you put in to it and alters them according to the volume you’ve played them and the shape of the specific filter you have chosen.

Because the sweeping effect is driven by how hard or soft you play the strings there is a massive scope of what sonic sounds can be achieved using the EHX Stereo Talking Machine. And because each sound choice responds so differently, it’s worth spending time experimenting with each to get a good grasp on what is possible.

The unit is a rectangle box affair, with the 6 control knobs across the top: Blend, Voice, Attack, Decay, Sensivitiy, and Preset. The preset knobs gives access to auxiliary functions for each knob including Volume, Fuzz tone, Fuzz Gain, LFO Rate and LFO Shape. A Low frequency Oscillator or LFO is a filter that responds over time rather than to playing dynamics and creates a more regular filter sweep.

You won’t find any lose of your guitar tone, but instead applies the different tonal colors of the ‘voices’ available from the unit. From the dark and smooth/soft tone of the EE-ER voicing to the midrange-heavy and rather resonant sound of the I-A voicing.

For each voicing, you can reverse the voicing for example EE-ER to ER-EE or I-A to A-I which gives you further options with the flick of the Preset/Sweep knob. You can also control this function via the expression pedal option.

The Stereo Talking Machine is an extremely versatile pedal with a wide variety of voicings and multiple control options of those voicings. Add to that access to a distortion circuit and sensitivity control and the tonal possibilities really grow. If you’re not familiar with talk-box effects sitting down and having a chat with the Stereo Talking Machine may result in a new found friendship.

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