Engineering Origins – Adaptive Circuitry

Following the recent release of the Halcyon Gold Overdrive, we are pleased to say there has been a renewed interest in our pedals, particularly those that feature our Adaptive Circuitry. You’ve most likely already heard the sales pitch from us about how this proprietary tech can improve your tone, but what goes through a designer’s head when coming up with a new concept like this? We asked Origin Effects founder, Simon Keats, to answer some of things you may have been wondering about. 


Where did the idea for Adaptive Circuitry come from? 

SK: I was working on the M-EQ Driver and had successfully developed an adaptive approach to implementing a high cut control. The purpose was to allow a user to roll off highs and dial in a smooth drive tone, without degrading the sonic accuracy of their clean guitar tone. It later occurred to me that the technology might have wider applications. Much of the drive market was split between vintage-accurate reissues, on the one hand, and the latest and greatest transparent boosts on the other. Each approach had its pros and cons. Classic drives offer smooth harmonics but often don’t clean up well. Transparent boosts offer a faithful production of guitar tone but eventually run out of clean headroom and clip in a harsh manner. I wasn’t sure whether it could be done, but it seemed that an adaptive approach might combine the best of both products, without the usual pitfalls. The idea was to offer unrivalled transparency, combined with the smooth breakup characteristics of a classic drive pedal. 


The 4 current Adaptive pedals – Halcyon Green, Halcyon Gold, M-EQ DRIVER and DCX – are quite different. Why choose those circuits in particular? 

SK: The Halcyon Green and Halcyon Gold drive pedals deliver classic rock tones, with the ability to sympathetically deliver transparency in response to player dynamics. Whilst undeniably chosen in part for their overwhelming popularity within the guitar community, most importantly the TS and K-style pedals each feature a prominent, mid-forward voicing which greatly benefits from the “adaptive” treatment. These well-known tones seemed like a good way to showcase the new technology.  

The M-EQ Driver and DCX Boost were inspired by a love of tube technology. Classic 1950s studio equalisers exhibit highly flattering EQ curves and provide vintage colouration when pushed. The objective here was to provide simple, utilitarian functions, with an inherent musicality that stands apart from the majority of more typical stomp boxes. The whole idea was that they don’t sound like ordinary overdrives. Both pedals feature conventional EQ functionality with an extended treble response. The Adaptive Circuitry allows the user to selectively attenuate harmonics, without compromising the high frequency content of clean sounds. This ensures excellent compatibility with a range of guitar amps, where the drive sound might otherwise take on an overly bright and abrasive quality. 

The hope was that players would recognise the advantages of the Adaptive Circuitry, then pick the direction they wanted to take; tried-and-tested pedal tones or something studio-inspired that they may not have heard before. 


Will there be more Adaptive pedals? 

SK: The Adaptive Circuitry is now a useful addition to the Original Effect toolbox. No doubt, it’ll feature in future releases. It could be a user selectable parameter, or perhaps a sneaky “under the hood” implementation. I guess time will tell! Of course, it would be nice to expand on the Halcyon range, with more classic drive interpretations. As with the two current Halcyon pedals, it must not only be a classic sounding pedal, but also one where the Adaptive Circuitry really contributes something usable and musical. We won’t do it unless we’re confident we can do it right.