Designed to be the last pedal in your signal chain, the Belle Epoch Pre provides boost plus it acts like a mastering plug-in on the master fader - your whole pedalboard sounds bigger, lusher, wider. In addition to the sonic enhancer / boost capabilities, guitarists love the ability to retain their cranked-up tone at lower volumes. The Belle Epoch Pre is a great tool for live, rehearsal and practice.
Catalinbread Belle Epoch Pre Preamp and Buffer Pedal Features
Let’s Get Started
- Exact EP-3 preamp replica.
- Accepts standard 9v pedal power supply but converts it to 22v internally.
- Epoch Pre has two outputs to drive different pedal chains or two amps.
- Discrete silicon transistor buffer, high headroom.
The preamp is an exacting replica of the EP-3 preamp, from the 22v power supply, to the JFET preamp, to the circuit loading contributed by the echo function (we made a filtering circuit that mimics the loading), to the mixer output circuit. The buffer also runs off of 22v and is a discrete silicon transistor-based buffer.
Honing down on this circuit was critical and a long journey. We dedicated hours and days into this design, revising our prototype until all agreed that what we had concocted was sonically perfect!
Power Your Epoch Pre
The Epoch Pre was designed to be used with a 9V DC power supply with center- negative polarity. Make sure that the power supply you are using has the following logo printed on it:
Using a center-positive power supply will damage your Pre, so please be sure that you are using a power supply with the correct polarity. For the cleanest sound we recommend using the highest quality power supply you can acquire, preferably with isolated power outputs if you are powering multiple pedals. The current draw for the Epoch Pre is ~10 mA. If using a daisy-chained power supply, make sure that its amperage is rated to be above the sum of all the current draws for each pedal in the chain.
This is essentially the volume control, but much more nuanced than that. It is the wet/ dry mixer circuit from the Echoplex/Belle Deluxe but of course, there is no wet signal! We used the fancier mixer circuit rather than a standard volume control because it contributes to the subtle tone-shaping that the Echoplex is known for. From min to around noon, it acts much like a volume control. But from noon to max, the volume doesn’t really increase. Instead, what you’ll hear is that the tone shifts in subtle ways.
The thickest tone will be from around 1:00 to 3:00. As the Balance knob is maxed, the low end gets tighter. If you are plugging a guitar straight into the Pre, these tone shifts may seem very subtle. But as you add more pedals in front of the Pre, the effect becomes more pronounced.
At its core BIAS controls the gain of the pedal. As you turn it, it will crackle. We assure you, this is okay! Set to minimum, the pedal will be around unity gain and will get the general response of the EP-3. (Remember, the Echoplex was not designed to boost signal. Echoplex designers were just trying to come up with a unity driver and not effect the sound. But the preamp did change the sound and everybody loved it for what it did). Turn up the Bias for more gain. The Epoch Pre is super high headroom and won’t distort, even at high Bias settings. What it will do is make everything sound bigger.
This switch allows for an instantaneous preset boost, as determined by where the Boost knob is set. The Boost function is part of the preamp; if you have the pedal bypassed, the Boost does nothing. This boost function was voiced to make the signal bigger, louder, and wider. The Naga Viper, for example, in contrast makes the sound more focused.
What the frack does Early/Later mean? The EP-3 Echoplex went through a few revisions during its production life. The first 400 units had a different preamp voicing and has now become one of those holy grail legend type things.
The Early voicing had a tighter bass and more upper midrange boost which made it perfect to enhance the big cranked up Marshalls everyone was playing through. As you know, if you crank up a tube amp it gets thicker and you can lose definition and cut- through power. Think of the Van Halen sound (although it is not known if he used early or later models).
The Later voicing has a bigger, looser bass and more of a flat frequency response. It’s overall vibe is thick and creamy.