Pass The Q-Tron Please

It’s amazing how we go through life oblivious to our surroundings while taking for granted the very things we enjoy and need. The fact is we never really know what they are until someone puts it right in our faces. Ever sit back and really listen to the sounds that seem to embellish your life? Musicians are guilty of exploiting these elements and incorporating them into their compositions. Musicians aside, have you ever stopped to listen?

Well Mike Mathews did. He took $1000 of working capital and a head full of radical ideas to form Electro-Harmonix. EH is now one of the most famous, innovative and prolific sound effects company in the history of music. Ubiqitous to the industry, EH is the backbone and embellishment of almost all of tube amps and pre-amps powered by tube technology manufactured today. You could say they are synonymous to effects in the music industry as is Intel to the microchip in the computer industry.

Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron Reviewed By Cezanne Huq

Meanwhile, 1972 was a cornerstone for the music industry, Mike Biegel fresh out of MIT introduced the first self-contained envelope controlled filter, Mutron III. Due to its “automatic wah” sound Mutron III quickly became an important element in funk and rock genres. Countless musicians embodied their recordings with Mutron III giving it an eternal home in music.

However, the fun didn’t start until the two, that is, Mike and Mike got together to create the first new Electro-Harmonix product in 15 years. The Q-Tron envelope controlled filter is the first successful installment of a new EH campaign to further dominate the market.

Q-Tron’s opto-electronic design delivers the same liquid smooth, organic vowel-like wah wah sound as the Mutron III. Q-tron however, sports an increased frequency response, improved signal-to-noise ratio and sensitivity. The squeaky clean sound of this stomp box is, needless to say, “out of this world.”

Virtual Urth Ratings (Scale 1-5):
Virtual Urth Excellence AwardBuck Value: 4.5
Sonic Quality: 4
Features: 5
Purpose: 4
Availability: Now!
Final Verdict: VU Gear Of The Year (95%-100%)

Q-Tron’s strengths are in it’s simplicity, design and user-friendliness. Allowing the musician to immediately jump right in and start experimenting the Q-Tron is an indispensible tool for musicians. The Q-Tron isn’t restricted to guitarists, keyboardists have been using them since the first analogue synth was introduced. Presently musicians who are part of the Electronica genre (recycled combinations of acid, techno, disco, industrial etc.) are incorporating real-time envelope filters to give their sounds an organic feel. Q-Tron is a stand alone stomp box that can treat your sound and give you a unique and evolving quaity to your sound. Before we finish up this review let’s clear up some terms and explain some of the key features the Q-Tron has to offer.

There are seven onboard controls :

  1. Drive Switch (up/down)
    This selects direction of filter sweep : up (wah) or down (ow).
  2. Range Switch (Hi/Low)
    Emphasizes vowel like sounds in low position, overtones in high position.
  3. Gain Control (0-11)
    Functions as both a volume control and a filter sensitivity control in boost mode. In normal mode it acts only as a filter sensitivity control, unlike the Mutron-III which also changes the unit’s output volume. VU uses the gain control switch in real-time in our studio to give signals a dynamic feeling.
  4. Boost Switch (Normal/Boost modes)
    Normal mode allows setting the Gain control without changing the output volume.
  5. Peak Control (0-11)
    Determines frequency peak of filter. Makes more “effected sound” when turned up more.
  6. Mode switch (LP, BP, HP, MIX)
    This will select the frequency range for the filter to sweep. Low Pass is lows, Band Pass is midrange, High Pass is treble. MIX mode (new feature not on the Mutron-III) combines BP with dry unprocessed sound.
  7. Bypass switch (in/out)
    Turns effect on and off without shutting off the output of the source signal.


  • Gives clean vowel-like wah to signals
  • Boost signals to give a vintage tube driven sound
  • Comes in a cool multi-ply wooden box


  • The Q-Tron does not run on batteries.

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