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Brand Profile: Meris

Meris have quickly become a very sought after name in the world of high-end pedals and effects units. If you haven't heard the name yet, hopefully we can bring you up to speed not only on the amazing products they're creating, but also a little bit about the people behind the brand and their experience in the industry.

It's worth noting that all Meris products are designed and made in Los Angeles. They prioritise the use of premium components and build, design and manufacture everything with local people. Anyone who's ever tried to manufacture products on a large scale may know this can be a difficult path to walk. Overseas manufacturing is often more profitable for brands, so it's very cool to see Meris choosing to support their community in this way.

Currently their range consists of a small but very tasty selection of 500 series studio processors and guitar style foot pedals. Aside from manufacturing quality, what makes Meris special? Two things come to mind straight away - imagination and character. Meris effects are fun to use! Rather than just making a standard reverb pedal, why not make one inspired by the iconic Blade Runner soundtrack? Go beyond a regular style bitcrusher and build something that features handcrafted algorithms designed to evoke vintage arcade machines and gaming consoles. There's a real sense of personality and joy imbued in these FX units and that makes them very gratifying to use, whether that's paired with a guitar, sampler or synthesizer.

The three-person team responsible for Meris have an impressive background in design and engineering. Terry Burton worked for Line 6 as a design engineer, eventually leaving to start the much-revered effects manufacturer Strymon with his wife Jinna (a multimedia designer who'd worked for the likes of Sony, Disney and General Motors). In 2013 they were looking for a new project and reached out to Angelo Mazzocco, who also worked at Line 6 as a DSP engineer and Meris was born. Three people, each with in-depth experience in their chosen field (Terry designs hardware, Angelo algorithms and Jinna is creative director) designing effects that reflect their personalities and interests.

Let's check out the current Meris range available at Store DJ.

Mercury 7

Meris' love letter to the 1982 Blade Runner soundtrack, the Mercury 7 invokes the eerie and celestial essence of that iconic Vangelis score. Featuring great front face control, stereo outs, 24-bit conversion, 32-bit floating point DSP and switchable input/output headroom level for Guitar, Synthesizer or Line levels. There are two reverb algorithms to choose - Cathedral and Ultraplate, coupled with extensive modulation capabilities - things like shimmer (adding interval based harmonic content) and an Auto Swell envelope (which rolls off the attack of a note for ambient waves of volume swell action!).

Ottobit Jr.

More than a bitcrusher (a lot more) Ottobit Jr. is inspired by retro gaming consoles and offers two basic sections, lo-fi and filter settings, as well as sequencer and stutter functions (which is where things can get quite complex). This is a powerful little unit, capable of everything from standard bitcrush destruction all the way to retro analog synth sounds and glitchy sample and hold style sequences. The front face controls all have "Alt" (secondary) functions, so you can really dive deep. Meris say "To call it a bitcrusher would be an insult" and we can't disagree, as it's capable of a sonic output that's far more complex than that!

Polymoon

Based on vintage cascased rack delays the Polymoon, like other Meris offerings, is a bit more than a standard delay unit. Guitar.com have referred to Meris' pedals as 'soundscape generators', rather than trying to fit them into traditional effects categories. It's difficult to simply explain the 'super-modulated delay' this unit creates but it's a bit like a multi-tap delay + a dynamic flanger + phaser (but the resulting sounds created with it feel like much more than that). You can smear delay repeats together to result in more of a reverb type vibe and the flanger follows an envelope, which can be synced to the delay time and the general delay modulation options are pretty bonkers once you start using the "Alt" button to access the knobs secondary functions. It's somehow smooth, quirky, warm and otherworldly all at once. A playground of creative happy accidents to say the least.

Enzo

Enzo is a dual oscillator multi-voice synthesizer, with selectable waveforms, two-tap modulated delay, three synth modes: poly, mono and arpeggiated, two envelopes (triggered and follower) and a six-mode filter! Simply, it will "re-synthesize" the output of whatever you plug into it (guitar, synth etc.), then offers you loads of modulation to shape that sound to your heart's content. The tracking is impressive, even in poly mode, and you can create all sorts of classic style synth tones, whether that's Moog basses, Juno-esque chords or whatever crazy mess you can tweak into existence. Like with other Meris pedals, the “Alt” mode will unlock the full gamut of Enzo's sonic capability and without wanting to write paragraphs explaining all those potential sounds, it's much easier to understand exactly what Enzo can do by watching the video below.

As we mentioned earlier one of Meris' greatest strengths is that their effects are fun. They encourage creative exploration and are complex without being difficult to use. You can unlock the secondary functions from the front panel using the "Alt" button, but you don't necessarily need to know what those functions are to create new and exciting sounds! Ultimately, outboard effects units are about adding something extra to your existing sounds, personalising them in a way that's unique to you, and Meris effects are full or personality...multiple personalities!

Check out the range of Meris effects units available at Store DJ here.

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