This review is very overdue. In fact I am ashamed that it has taken me so long to buy and write up a review of this pedal. To be honest I am not a compression guy. I have never been an EQ guy and I already had their Prism Boost pedal. So this pedal didnt really fill a known gap on my pedalboard.
I basically purchased this pedal from Jackson Audio to review it and expected to get rid of it. I should have known better based on my experience with the Prism. I can honestly say that in the 3 years I have owned the pedal, it has NEVER left my board and it has NEVER been turned off. It has become one of those pieces of gear that is such a foundational part of your tone that you just have to always have it on.
Unfortunately I held out probably 6 months before purchasing the Bloom and in doing so cost my tone even further enhancement. Here is my take on the Bloom.
Upon taking it out of the box I was met with the same amount of awe and breathlessness that I had with the Prism. Jackson Audio offers the pedal in both anodized black and the standard brushed steel look. I ordered the standard brushed steel so that it matched my beloved Prism.
I almost needed a forklift to remove it from the box. Just joking, but the pedal is super heavy which highlights its durability and road-worthiness. It has the same high-end click-less switches and knobs that the prism has. The pedal itself is around a half inch taller than the Prism and is the same width and height. I have the V1 so it does not have the Midi which is fine by my because I am not running any midi at the moment.
This pedal is a much more complex than you would think just looking at the controls. As far as the knob layout goes you have left to right, top to bottom, Volume, Blend, Comp, Bass, Middle, Treble & Bloom.
Then there are three LEDs that indicate whether compression, eq and bloom are on or off. The Comp LED changes colors based on the compression setting which can be changed by holding down the left footswitch until the LED starts flashing. The compressor settings are as follows:
- Preset 1 – WHITE: Limit Mode. Ultra fast attack (2.5ms) that clamps any signal and acts as a limiter.
- Preset 2 – GREEN: Country Mode. Fast attack (7.5ms) that is perfectly tailored for chicken picking or modern country.
- Preset 3 – MAGENTA: R&B Mode. Medium attack (50ms) that works well for staccato rhythmic parts.
- Preset 4 – BLUE: Ballad Mode. Slow attack (120ms) that is perfect for adding a gentle lift to the end of a phrase.
- Preset 5 – AQUA: Slide Mode aka ‘Joey’ Mode. Adds an additional internal compression stage in series before the primary compressor and allows for nearly endless sustain on clean guitar parts ala Lowell George from Little Feat.
- Preset 6 – ORANGE: Aux Compressor. The aux compressor is the internal compressor circuit that is used in Preset 5. There are two trimmers located on the side of the pedal that allow the user to adjust the COMP and VOLUME for this additional compression stage.
The EQ section of the pedal is turned on by clicking both switches at the same time. The interesting thing about this eq is that it doesn’t just let you boost frequencies, it allows you to remove them. Most of us are used to pedals that we run in the 9:00 to 3:00 positions. The Bloom is a bit different in that the middle 12:00 position on the knobs is actually what you would see at a 7:00 or 0 position on another pedal. This comes in really handy because if you have a really bright, brittle sounding amp you can actually cut high end out of the signal, and likewise do the same with a really boomy low end focused amp. I have literally been able to turn my buddies Blues Junior into a Vox AC30, well close enough anyways for it to work with the rest of my rig. So if you are touring or playing at multiple churches where you have to plugin to a number if different amps this section of the pedal is invaluable.
The Bloom is a 0 to 20db boost that you can control the ramp up/down time with either a quick press of the footswitch or a long press of the footswitch. The eq on this is completely flat across the entire frequency range so it doesn’t color your tone at all.
How I Run It
Upon scrolling through all of the compression presets, I found that I like the White and Green settings the most. Since I am a compression always on guy I prefer a very fast attack. I use the white setting when I am playing rhythm and the green when I play lead.
These two settings both add something to my tone that I have never heard before. It just brings everything to life. I have been blessed with a lot of high end gear and I run a Bad Cat amplifier and a Gretsch Broadkaster guitar, neither of which technically need anything to make them sound good. They just sound great on their own. Believe it or not though the Bloom takes what was once great and makes it literally out of this world.
Along with the Compression always on I run the EQ always on as well. I run the Bass at around 1:30, the Middle at around 2:30 and the High around 4:30/5:00 depending on the guitar I am playing. This section of the pedal is the unicorn dust for me. EQ pedals always seemed ridiculous to me. Why would anyone want to run an EQ pedal in front of their high end amp and totally change the EQ of the amp. I am sold. Our sound tech literally came out of the booth, walked up to the stage, held out his arms as wide as a teenager accepting Christ at summer camp (sorry dad joke) and said, ” Your guitar sounds this big.” The EQ and Comp always stay on. ALWAYS!
Now onto the Bloom feature. To be honest, it is just not my thing. I have messed around with it wondering if it could replace my first drive stage but I just can’t bond with it. With the EQ of the boost being completely flat it boosts too much of the low end and mid-range for my particular setup/rig. Of course guys like Joey Landreth and Justin Weaver have made it sound great, but in my particular setup, it just doesn’t work for me.
That being said, I haven’t spent a lot of time in the long ramp up/down time setting which could be really cool in certain situations for swells. Right off the top of my head I am thinking it would be awesome in the volume swell sections of Glorious Day by Passion.
Do I Still Run My Prism?
Yes. I turned it off to see how the Bloom sounded on it’s own and while it does sound great, running them both at the same time is like delicious tone overload. I run the Prism at the exact same settings as I always have and adjust overall volume between guitars with the large gain knob.
To me these pedals serve a purpose similar to a high-end mic pre in a studio. They are absolutely essential to the foundation of my tone. I have wondered at times why amplifiers and rack gear haven’t evolved into making these sounds built in, but I guess in the end that is why Jackson Audio is around.
HDMI & 4K TV
I would compare using these pedals to switching from standard definition to HD on a TV. You have watched standard definition TV for years and think that there isn’t anything better. Then you switch to HD and it is like a whole new world opening up. That is the Jackson Audio Bloom. It is HDMI for guitar. When you add the Bloom and Prism together it is 4K tv.