“These are things that most of us have simply never tried to do before”: Great Eastern’s XO Variable Crossover is a frequency splitter and dual FX loop for radical stompbox experiments

Great Eastern FX XO Crossover
(Image credit: Great Eastern FX)

Great Eastern FX has launched a pedal that’s designed to get more out of your existing guitar effects pedal collection, and when when we say “get more” out of those stompboxes we really mean revolutionise how you apply them to your electric guitar’s signal – because the XO Variable Crossover, released today, presents players with some truly out there routing options.

It is described as a frequency splitter and dual effects loop in a pedal format but is perhaps more easily demonstrated than it is described. After all, we have the vocabulary to talk about overdrive pedals, or reverb pedals. The former can be transparent, hard-clipping, fuzz-like, whatever. The latter can be ethereal, lush, spatial, and so on. 

Just what does a frequency splitter and dual effects loop do? And more importantly what does it sound like? Well, Great Eastern explains, and promises that it is a cinch to use. 

“As the name suggests, the XO is built around an active crossover that splits the input signal into separate high and low frequency bands,” says Great Eastern. “The high and low halves of the signal are then fed to two independent send-and-return effects loops before being mixed back together.”

Great Eastern FX XO Crossover

(Image credit: Great Eastern FX)

What you have then is the capability of applying an effect exclusively to either your guitar’s low or high frequencies. You could apply a fuzz pedal to the low end, and an octave pedal to the high frequencies, and swap those returns over at the touch of a button.

Or, as the Cambridge, England pedal company suggests, “a tremolo rumbling away on just the low end, for example, or a shimmery reverb on just the highs,” or using a combination of effects on the two split signals simultaneously, allowing you to explore new ways of stacking drives and applying them to your guitar, or for applying reverb. 

We can foresee this being a powerful tool for the shoegaze player and drive connoisseur alike. The one obvious point to make is that the more pedals you own, the more possibilities you have. But then we live in the golden age of the pedalboard so perhaps the time is right for us to take the next step with something like this. And while it can clearly facilitate some radical approaches to effects pedal routing it can be similarly useful for everyday fine-tuning. 

David Greeves, the founder of Great Eastern FX, says the XO Variable Crossover is the sort of pedal that will get players experimenting with sounds they have never heard before.

“When we describe some of the sounds and combinations of effects that are possible with the XO, they can be hard to imagine,” he says. “These are things that most of us have simply never tried to do before. We’re used to thinking about effects in terms of pedal order and wet/dry mix, perhaps even left and right in a stereo setup, but thinking in terms of low and high frequencies is really a new frontier.”

Quite. And it is not just for guitar. The XO Variable Crossover is designed to bring all pedals within range of bass guitar. There are six 1/4” connections all in. There is the main input/output, plus a pair of send/returns for the two loops. 

Great Eastern FX XO Crossover

(Image credit: Great Eastern FX)

The large control knob is for adjusting the crossover frequency – up or down – with mini-dials for Return Balance and Dry Blend, the latter a global wet/dry mix, the former to adjust the level of the two returns. 

A Phase button allows you to toggle the high and low bands in and out of phase. The Range button toggles between frequency ranges for use with guitar or bass, while the Send swap button allows you to swap the send/returns over so that you can swap the pedals between frequency bands without having to swap the cables. Very clever.

The XO Variable Crossover is available now, priced £229/$279. For more information, see Great Eastern FX.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.