EHX bitcrushes you back to the '80s with its Mainframe pedal

Electro-Harmonix is putting the retro fun back into effects pedals with its new Mainframe; a sample rate reducer and bit crusher that promises to emulate the classic arcade sounds of the '80s.

The Mainframe is a video game and lo-fi fan's dream machine with sample rate reduction ranging from 48kHz to 110Hz. 

This reduction in sample rate reduces the quality of the audio and causes aliasing –  the creation of distortion from audible artefacts being created when higher frequencies are sampled at an inadequate rate. 

(Image credit: Electro-Harmonix)

The Mainframe’s sample rate range allows you to take sounds and make them unrecognisable if you desire. Even more so as it provides bit crushing ranging from 24-bit to 1-bit. 

Bit crushing is bit depth reduction – eg CDs use a 16-bit bit depth meaning that each of its samples is represented by 16-bits of information. As EHX explains, "Bit crushing increases the number of sampling errors and creatively degrades the sound to bring us back to those nasty 'old school' sounds we love."

(Image credit: Electro-Harmonix)

The Mainframe also offers a selectable High/Low/Band-Pass filter to allow players to shape the artefacts of the bit crushing and sample rate.

The Mainframe's Sample Rate Tuning Mode also allows you to set the sample rate to match the key of a song, or continually adjust the sample rate based on what you play. It does this by analysing your input signal in real-time and setting the sample rate to match the pitch of your signal, or a set interval above your signal. 

The Mainframe comes with a standard EHX 9.6DC200mA power supply and has a USA street price of $179

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.