Although Xotic Effects is better known for their popular AC and RC Boosters – as well as the Robotalk and BB Plus – the EP Booster is a little pedal looking to win a place on boards everywhere with its promise of delivering warm, old-school tones in a package that’s mind-bogglingly small. The EP Booster is so named because of its effort to recreate the sound of the preamp in the old echoplex units (which pretty much set the standard for the tape delay effect) which should particularly interest guitarists looking for that classic sound. This FET-designed booster also provides up to 20db of gain/volume boost for good measure.
Beyond the noticeable boost knob and on/off toggle on its face, the pedal features a pair of internal switches that allow you to choose between either unity gain or a bright switch function, adding a lot more tonal depth than most would expect from such a tiny, unassuming pedal. In fact, I pleasantly surprised at the robust amount of possible tones I was able to muster out of this sleek little pedal. The construction itself feels as rugged as any other Xotic pedal which so far have lasted me years.
As mentioned, the circuit on the EP Booster is based off the preamp circuitry of the very famous EP-3 Echoplex tape delay unit which has been used by everyone from Jimmy Page, Randy Rhoads and even Neil Young. The EP Booster is powered by your standard 9 volt as you would expect.
The first thing you’ll notice as soon as you take a look at the EP Booster will undoubtedly be its extremely diminutive size – seriously, this thing is small! If you have about an inch and a half or real-estate to spare on your pedalboard, the EP Booster will fit in quite comfortably. The more and more I used the EP Booster the more I began to appreciate it’s no frills approach to settings – only one footswitch and a volume knob – which makes it a breeze to dial up just the right amount of gain boost.
The two internal switches, which you can easily access by removing its backplate, are more of the set and forget variety but they do offer a surprising amount of shaping tools to make this pedal worthwhile, allowing you to control both top and bottom end response. One of the switches allows you to go between either a high-end frequency boost or a flattened EQ while the second switch, if needed, can give a kick to the low end spectrum.
I decided to try out the EP Booster with as little adulteration as possible by using a stock American Telecaster and a Fender Blues Breaker combo to see exactly what this pedal could bring to the table. Long story short, I was impressed. Off the bat, the pedal added a noticeable sparkle and warmth to any sound you already had dialed in. If you have a particularly dark sounding guitar such as a Les Paul, the inner bright switch can add just the right amount of balance, but seeing as how my Telecaster is naturally bright, there was no need for it.
I was also impressed with the great breakup on the clean side of the Blues Breaker along with the excellent lead tone the tight gain control added. When coupled as part of a pedalboard loop, the EP Booster really brought out the attack and gave some aggressive sounds that I simply couldn’t get without it. It was thicker and more defined and – best of all – with no domineering frequencies.
If you’re looking to add great warmth and smooth clarity to your tone, you can’t go wrong with the EP Booster. With its compact size and straight forward settings, it’s easy to fall in love with its no-nonsense approach. All in all, this little pedal from Xotic Effects is more than just a simple volume booster; it’s a tonal shaping pedal that allows you to push out all the right sounds without losing any balance or clarity in the process. A set and forget type of pedal that is definitely worth every penny!