Updated by Danielle
Updated on October 6th, 2022
Added pictures of the Astral Destiny and an embed of Bonedo's Astral Destiny demo. We've recorded our own demo of this pedal and will try to upload it in the future, but Bonedo does a really good job with their content so we'll stick with them for now. Note that the red and gold versions of the AD are interchangeable.
Earthquaker Devices Astral Destiny Review
Verdict and Review Summary
Within its price range the Astral Destiny personifies everything we could want out of a modernized, ethereal reverb pedal. Outside of some fairly minor complaints, it's hard to do much better if you're into ambient reverb trails.
The modern recipe for ambience goes something like this: Build several reverb algorithms, extend the trails, add a mix knob, mix in mostly the wet sound, add octaves to the trails, and top things off with some regenerating intervals.
This process is far more advanced than the older reverb pedals we've seen, especially when compared to most amp-based reverbs. Even with ones we like, such as reverb in the Fender amps, it's primitive compare to some of these newer reverb/ambience pedals.
In most cases you should try to follow these best practices:
- Get distortion from a tube amp
- Get reverb from a digital pedal
The Astral Destiny by EarthQuaker Devices has surprised me a lot in terms of how well it sets up this preferred process. It's just an absolutely fantastic set of digital reverb algorithms.
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It surprised me, given the wide range of reverb pedals I've tested.
To be honest, my expectation was that this would be your garden-variety reverb pedal, but I was totally wrong on that assumption.
At this point in my pedal testing career, it's one of my absolute favorites.
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Compare to Other Reverb Pedals
There are plenty of possible comparisons here. You can different pedals with the plus sign on the compare bar (comes up in the right hand corner. You can also click on the pedal title in the compare box to see individual product pages for each reverb pedal
Walrus Audio Mako R1
TC Electronic Hall of Fame (first or second version)
Sometimes we do our own demos, but Bonedo is just far better at it, so we like to link to his stuff whenever possible. Note that the red and gold version (the Sweetwater exclusive that we used) are essentially the same pedal.
You can see pricing on the comparison chart above, but below we have a far more comprehensive pricing section with multiple vendors and price drop signups, all for the Astral Destiny.
Multiple Vendor Pricing for the Astral Destiny
Amazon Only Pricing
Price Alert Tool
Price History for EarthQuaker Devices Astral Destiny Reverb Pedal
|Current Price||$152.23||January 24, 2023|
|Highest Price||$199.00||June 24, 2022|
|Lowest Price||$152.23||November 26, 2022|
Last price changes
|$199.00||December 3, 2022|
|$152.23||November 26, 2022|
|$199.00||November 5, 2022|
|$179.10||October 4, 2022|
|$199.00||October 4, 2022|
IDEAL FOR: Church/worship teams, ambient layering, lead guitarists with a modern focus, ethereal soundscapes
Overall Sound and Tone Quality
The Astral Destiny is all about trails.
If that's what turns you on, you'll get your money's worth. It's almost as though these types of reverb pedals deserve their own category or sub category. Maybe call them ethereal reverb or ambient reverb - something like that.
But the tone quality is just exceptionally good, especially for modernized electric guitar duties.
It's less about blues - less of a Fender reverb sound - and more about crystalized and sparkling ambiguity. The tone is more like what you'd hear out of a keyboard then an electric guitar.
I tested and liked all eight algorithms, finding nothing to complain about.
Most of the variety between the algorithms is baked in since there's not as much control over the effect, and instead gives you variety by algorithm selection (more on control later).
And there's definitely some nice variety with the options you have. Here's a quick list directly from Sweetwater and EarthQuaker devices:
- Abyss: Cavern-style reverb with a lot of depth but no pitch shift
- Shimmer: Adds an upper octave to your reverb trail
- Sub: Adds a lower octave to trail
- Sub Shimmer: Adds both upper and lower octave
- Astral: Adds upper and lower octave plus regenerating reverb trail
- Ascend: Adds an upward pitch bending effect (good for sustained notes and chords
- Descend: Adds a downward pitch bending effect
- Cosmos: Adds a regenerating fifth interval for trails (recommended for sustained notes and chords)
Trails and Ambience
Most of the trails have a shine and sort of crescendo quality and seem to take on a life of their own as they progress, getting further away from the initial dry signal. I liked keeping the mix emphasizing the wet signal, especially for sustained notes, which seemed to be where the trails were most effective.
Changing the length of the trails works as expected, though I liked having the trails set long, since I basically used the algorithms for ambient layering of single notes.
I also really liked the trail extension I got out of the Stretch button.
Most of the time I just left that button on.
Pitch and Octaves
The pitch change you hear in the different algorithms are smooth, without any kind of fuzz or edginess. It's also lower in the mix between the wet signal and the pitching layer. One thing that would be nice (but a really subtle control) would be if you could control balance between the volume of the octave and the reverb trail.
That said, the balance of trail to octave definitely favors the trail, and it doesn't overwhelm your clean or wet signal.
Depth and rate controls let you dial in a chorus effect, adding another aspect to this pedal, giving you the following layers:
- Pitch shifting
The tone you get on the modulation side isn't particularly memorable, but as far as I'm concerned, the Astral Destiny is playing with house money at this point. You do get a slight de-tuned effect when the depth is really high, but I still found it usable at a lot of different settings.
Control and Versatility
This is the only area where I'd like to complain a little bit about the Astral Destiny.
You have three ways to control the trails and reverb effect:
To be fair to EarthQuaker Devices, this still gives you a lot of flexibility. It also helps keep the price down, which is a huge part of the Astral Destiny's appeal. To me, the modulation is a net neutral.
The tone knob is a single band EQ with a nice range, allowing you to brighten or muddle the wet signal to your liking. I found myself leaving that in the middle most of the time.
It's a bit confusing because the mix and tone controls are both right next to the modulation controls and look the same, so initially I wasn't totally sure whether all those knobs controlled modulation.
The two on the left are modulation and the two on the right are reverb.
Expression control, the eight presets I mentioned, and buffered bypass are some additional features worth noting. I really wish you could cycle through the presets without turning a knob, but there's just not enough room on the pedal for additional footswitches.
Overall Value (price)
With plenty of similar ambient pedals going for $300 or more, the Astral Destiny is a fantastic value at only $180. Keep in mind, it was $180 at the time of publishing the review, but that could easily change.
Check the pricing tools above for an updated price.
By leaving out physical preset switches and perhaps one or two more control mechanisms over the reverb trails, EarthQuaker Devices passed that savings onto the consumer, which they deserve credit for.
Given the similarity in sound to pedals far more expensive, the Astral Destiny is easily one of our favorite high-value options.
The Astral Destiny User
Any guitar player that plays a lot of modern music, with an emphasis on their clean signal would benefit a lot from the Astral Destiny. Modern rock guitarists that bounce back and forth between clean sparkle and heavy rhythms will find plenty of use for it, as well as church and worship-focused guitar players.
EarthQuaker got a lot right with this pedal. It was fun to play and experiment with, and truly expanded the types of sounds that my guitar was capable of making. It's an easy one for us to recommend.
If you have questions about the our Astral Destiny review, hit me up in the comments section down below and I'll help as much as possible.
See you there.