Laser Cannon HD Bass Overdrive & Fuzz Design Story


Before setting out to design new bass effects, Daring Audio went back to our user base and talked to many serious musicians and recording engineers to get a feel for the needs of current bass players.  Our goal was to design a follow-on product that met the needs of players and provided a multitude of classic and new bass distortion sounds in a single pedal. The Laser Cannon HD is the result of these efforts.  Many thanks go out to our user base for helping to craft one of the most flexible bass distortions on the market! In general, getting a great distorted bass sound can be hard. Most bass pedals have resorted to using classic guitar pedal circuit designs, but this is not optimal for the frequency range generated by a bass guitar.   We felt it was important to start with new a design built from the ground up with the bass player in mind utilizing original circuits were created for the unique characteristics of bass guitar signals and bass playing techniques that produce them.


Whether you are trying to emulate the classic break-up or mild distortion of older amps, or going for massive overdrive sounds popular in modern music, the challenge is to keep the low end clear and solid. Daring Audio’s “constant volume continuous blend” circuit developed for the original pedal lines is one of our breakthrough innovations for achieving this. The technique of blending clean and distorted signals has been used for years as a secret weapon in the recording studio, and all of our pedals use this technique to provide a thick, solid bass sound with maximum tonal versatility. While some pedals incorporate blend, such as the famous “Fender Blender”, and others have separate controls for clean volume and dirty volume, and those controls are very non-linear – there is not a smooth transition from clean to distorted signal, and the overall volume is also affected. Daring Audio designed a new blend circuit from the ground up, and while costlier to produce, it provides a smooth continuously variable blend control.  This is much more intuitive and faster to use in live situations.


When designing the new Laser Cannon HD, we also wanted to provide the capability for more modern sounds, which required new distortion circuits and a complex internal switching matrix  to combine diodes and filters in different directions.  Then, we integrated a classic state variable filter into the unit. While traditionally used in synthesizers, the state variable filter adds a new dimension to distorted bass tones due to its ability to provide low-pass, high-pass, and band-pass toggle switch modes to sculpt the signal before it goes into the distortion part of the circuit. Using these filters, one can achieve tones from classic overdrive, “clanky” distortion, to synth-like hip-hop “blown” bass sounds. This unique filter, which was specifically voiced for bass, gives this next generation pedal unlimited tone sculpting possibilities. This puts the Laser Cannon HD way beyond the realm of hand soldered DIY circuits, and eclipses older pedals with designs based on outdated circuits, playing techniques and even genres of years gone by.


In addition to using hand selected Silicon and Germanium diodes, we also added another distortion mode – FET based.  This provides three different distortion elements, each with their own harmonic enhancing structure.   Many payers have told us that they often switch basses, each one having distinctive output levels and tones. The flexibility provided by the Laser Cannon HD means each bass will find its own combination of settings to produce the best tones.  Replacing the traditional “tone control” with a state variable, 3-mode active EQ coupled to an optional distortion circuit selectable between three different distortion types that in turn feeds a specially voiced separate filter to cut the highs allows players much broader range of control and yields sounds not possible before in a single stomp box.


Daring achieved this using a high level of integration on our circuit boards – using surface mount technology and the smallest packages; we were able to pack a rack full of electronics into a small enclosure.  We wanted to provide a portable “rack in a box” since bass players prefer more sound control with less weight.


In talking to our user base, one recurring request we got was to add a foot switch for a volume boost that could be used for solo work or to change levels during a song. Daring Audio took that request a two steps further. We added the capability to add the boost either to the output level (clean or overall volume boost) or to the input gain stage, adding the ability to go from mild gain boost to insane overdrive at the stomp of a foot switch. In addition, the level of the boost (volume or distortion) can be adjusted using a small trim pot accessible from the top of the unit. The clean boost provides “transparent” gain boost that preserves the original signal. Using low THD audio grade op-amps and higher voltage “rails” the preamp has excellent transient response and a flat frequency response from 10 Hz to 20K Hz.

Daring Audio is all about listening to our customers before we innovate. We feel the strongest design team is a combination of engineers and artists – and as such we listen and integrate ideas from our users. After a year of great feedback from our customers, the Laser Cannon HD represents the culmination of a design that incorporates all these features into a product that maximizes your bass sound potential.

Video Demo Composition using layers of Bass with the Laser Cannon HD.  No guitars were used.

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