When I reviewed the ZOIA, I said there was nothing else quite like it on the market. And that’s still largely true, but the Beebo from Poly Effects is at least a close relative. It’s, in theory, a “multi modulation pedal” for your guitar. But, in reality, it’s a digital modular synth that just happens to excel at guitar effects.
The front of the pedal has two knobs for changing parameters, three foot switches and a five-inch touchscreen where you build your patches. Just like the ZOIA, Beebo won’t make any sound until you connect the virtual modules inside. Though connecting things and navigating your creations should be a little bit easier on a touchscreen than a grid of multicolored buttons.
Under the hood is a 64bit ARM CPU, 2GB or RAM and 16GB of flash storage. So, in short, it’s a computer, but focused exclusively on processing audio. There’s at ton of pretty traditional effects here, like delay, reverb, chorus, a phaser and flanger. But there’s also more exotic modules like a granular processor, digital oscillators for building synths, LFOs and filters. And combining these and using one module to control another is where the power of Beebo lies.
It’s also worth noting, that many of the synth modules are based on devices from Mutable Instruments, like Grids, Plaits, Clouds and Warps. These are incredibly popular and deep eurorack modules. And each costs a couple of hundred bucks. So, getting them in a $399 guitar pedal is pretty exciting.
But, Beebo also has a secret. It’s the same exact hardware as Poly Effects’ last pedal, Digit. It’s just running different firmware. And, you can freely swap between the two firmwares. So, if you bought a Digit, you already own a Beebo. And, if you buy a Beebo, you’re also getting a Digit.
The Digit and the Beebo share a lot of the same DNA. And there’s a lot of feature overlap between the two. But, instead of synth engines, the Digit focuses on cab sims, delays and reverbs. It dedicates quite a lot of its horsepower to its convolution reverb engine. You can even use the USB port on it to load up your own IR (impulse response) files so that you can recreate the sound of your favorite vintage amp, rack mount reverb, or even the natural echo of your bathroom. (The latest firmware includes reverbs built around the sound of the Pool of the Black Star.)
In addition to the USB port, both pedals also have TRS MIDI in and out, plus two TRS stereo ins and outs, for a total of four audio channels in each direction.
The Beebo and Digit are both available to order now, but there’s a roughly three week wait for production according to the site. Which makes sense since all the pedals are built by hand and Poly is still a small company.