I love it when gear makes me think in new ways. The 500 Series Radial Tossover and EXTC do just that by offering HPF and LPF splitting of a track and the ability to port +4dBu audio to and from unbalanced, instrument-level effects, also known as guitar pedals. While these two can be used separately, in the spirit of NAMM and alignment with our guitar pedal roundup in this issue, I’m pairing them together and aiming them toward new sonic horizons. For this review, I had a Tossover, two EXTCs, a Radial Vienna Chorus, Tonebone Trimode tube distortion and other effects pedals from the Blackbird Studio collection.
Radial’s Tossover is a variable frequency divider—it splits a signal into highpass and lowpass filtered stems that can be sent to two separate outs, provided you have a Radial 500 Series rack unit with the Omniport feature. Front panel controls include gain, filter sweep (140 to 7k Hz and 80 to 4k Hz), filter slope (12, 18, and 24 dB/octave), on/off button, bandpass button, and a rear-mounted slider switch for choosing which filter leaves the output of a standard (non-Radial) 500 Series rack. However, if you use a Radial Workhorse with an Omniport, then you get both HPF and LPF outputs separately—one from the XLR out, and the other out of the balanced, TRS Omniport out at the back of the unit.
The EXTC provides a transformer-balanced send/receive to ¼-inch, TS (unbalanced) pedals like a wah-wah, distortion, phaser—you name it. Front panel controls include send and receive gain, polarity flip, wet/dry balance, send/receive I/O, and an Omni Insert button allowing access to pro level gear from the rear of a Radial Workhorse 500 Series host unit.
Mix and Mash It Up
As this review is a mash-up of both units, I’ll explain my signal flow. In my Radial Six Pack host unit, I mounted the Tossover in the first slot, and then the two EXTCs followed. This way I could use the Feed button on the back of the first slot’s output to send my HPF split of the Tossover to the first EXTC without using a cable. I fed the LPF split from the Tossover’s Omniport out to the second EXTC’s XLR input by using a TRS (M) to XLR (M) cable at the back of the unit. This arrangement kept cable clutter manageable, especially considering that I was going to be patching various guitar pedals into the front of the EXTCs. Of course, you can use these units in the traditional way, going to and from a patch bay from your DAW, but for this review I had them strung together so I could quickly jump between setups.
My first step was to take a mult of my recorded bass track, patch it to the Tossover, then use the highpass and lowpass filter optionally to carve up the track and send it to a couple of pedals. While the sky may not be the limit here, it certainly gets you thinking in exciting ways about how to take the bass in new directions. I first sent just the low end of the bass at 24 dB/octave rolled off above 140 Hz to the Tonebone while leaving the high end completely open. This arrangement offered a dark distortion that drove the track nicely when mixed with the untouched midrange and high-midrange. I mixed that in parallel with the existing bass that I warmed with an EQ bump at 100 Hz using the Bettermaker 502P EQ. The Bettermaker’s Pultec-style EQ at the bottom paired with the grungy grind of the Tonebone made for a unique recipe of bass sounds, all from a single track recorded from a Rupert Neve DI box.
Once I got my head around the possibilities, I started experimenting with some odd splits from other tracks. One thing I’ll do when recording vocals is put up two mics side by side, a traditional vocal mic like a U 47 or even an SM7, and right next to it, a Shure 520DX Green Bullet. I’ll send the “clean” mic directly to a preamp, compressor, then Pro Tools, but the Bullet goes to a guitar amp that is recorded through another mic to another chain that ends up alongside the clean signal in the mix. But if you didn’t happen to do that, you can make a nice representation of that with the Tossover/EXTC combo. What I like about adding the filtering is that you can experiment with the range of distortion after the fact.
The setup is similar to the arrangement I used with the bass. I sent the vocal to the Tossover, arranged the filter in the bandpass mode, so the high and low was scooped. I then sent this to a single EXTC and then an Earthquaker Devices Hoof fuzz pedal. I played with various settings until the vocal was mangled, then mixed it back with the original track in Pro Tools, which I had compressed with a UAD 1176 plug-in. While it wasn’t exactly a Fender Vibrolux, the fuzz broke up the vocal in a way that worked very well when tucked in with the clean, original track.
Next, I experimented with chorded and picked guitar tracks, splitting them up, splitting them to a chorus and compressor, fuzz and chorus, compressor and phaser; it’s never-ending. As I said at the start, having these units in your rack gets you thinking in new ways, such as splitting up a track high and low, then treating them as separates to be mixed back 100 percent, or blended in parallel with unaffected tracks. The Radial EXTC and Tossover are two great tools that won’t break the bank, and they give you a wide range of options for adding interesting and affordable guitar effects into your mixing and tracking workflow.
Kevin Becka is Mix’s technical editor.
COMPANY: Radial Engineering
PROS: Amplitude and frequency split controls
CONS: Frequency split choice for non-Radial host on rear of unit
Take a vocal track from your DAW, send it to the Tossover and split it high and low. Take the LPF half of the signal and feed it to a delay such as the Eventide DDL-500. Run the delay back to your mix with the other split (HPF) from the Tossover going to another delay. Vary the delay times slightly and listen to the complexity of the result. You can widen the vocal slightly with 60ms and 90ms delay times or widen it more by altering the delays farther apart. Add some distortion, feedback and LPF with the DDL-500 and you’ve got something you’ve never heard before.
COMPANY: Radial Engineering
PROS: Polarity switch controls and transformer-balanced outs
CONS: You’ll want at least two
When using the EXTC, you can gang effects just like a guitar player. Send your signal from the out of the EXTC to the first pedal, and then a second. Then feed the pedals to the EXTC’s return. Once you’re back to the EXTC, send your effected track to a Tossover, split it high and low and heavily compress one of the feeds; experiment with what sounds better when crushed, HPF or LPF. This way you can turn a potentially one-dimensional effected track into something unique.