The Air Traffic Controller mixes a Rainger FX optimum distortion circuit with a white noise ‘hiss’ generator, and sends the sound through a low pass filter. The cut-off frequency of the filter is controlled in three possible ways; by the envelope of the note (the volume), the pitch of the note, or in a random mode.
SOUNDS This gives variations ranging from a biting edgy funk tone, to airy whisps of sound (hence the name), from fusiony solo-ing with ‘synth tracking’ to dense shoe-gazy walls of distortion, guitar/electronic-percussion morphing… It’s a hugely flexible palette of sounds that’s never been possible before.
The white noise hiss mimics the dynamics of the guitar sound – loud at the start of the note, then dying away to total silence when the guitar does too. For a pedal with such a lot going on it’s incredibly quiet when it should be.
CONTROLS ‘Distort’ adjusts the amount of distortion, ‘Air – Signal’ controls the blend of guitar to white noise (ranging from only guitar, to only white noise, and everything in between). ‘Resonance’ adjusts how noticeable the cut-off frequency is, while ‘Level’ decides the output volume.
The top end panel has a three-way rotary knob for filter-controlling options, a ‘DC in’ socket, and a ‘Hi/Lo’ button to allow for whether your guitar is passive or active (or keyboard use).
The ‘runway landing lights’ display pattern runs when a signal is present.
Can I switch off the distortion? No – but the ‘Distort’ control does go down towards clean.
Sometimes in the audioclip I can hear a slow change of the cut-off frequency! Yes, that’s intentionally put on the ‘random’ mode so at very low (or very high) cut-off frequencies there’ll be a slight ‘drift’ up (or down), which sounds much more exciting than just staying put.
What’s the display do? Aside from making me very happy, it indicates when there’s a signal present.
Why the hell would I want to ADD noise to my sound when I’ve spent so much time, money and effort trying to get rid of it??! Sometimes you have to do the ‘wrong thing’ to get to somewhere new. The white noise knob was one of the most fun aspects of old analogue synths. People overlook it when making ‘synth’ pedals for guitar. It adds texture.
If I use a guitar with active pickups without pressing in the ‘Hi/Lo’ button, can I damage the pedal? No, It won’t damage it, just give you sustain for days…
Is it digital? Yes – it’s a mixture of digital and analogue; digital white noise and LED microprocessor, analogue distortion, filter and controls.
Is it actually white noise? Strictly speaking it’s not actually white noise – totally random frequencies, very very fast. It’s a totally random change of an ‘on/off’ voltage, which is then converted to be much more like random frequencies as well.
What’s it like if I use a passive pickup guitar with the ‘Hi/Lo’ button pressed in? You get less distortion, and the guitar signal is generally quieter, but you get a quicker envelope change when you’re on the ‘peak’ setting.
Can it be used with a synthesiser? Yes, but you probably need to push in the ‘Hi/Lo’ switch pad to allow for the high output from synthesisers.
Can I play chords with it set on the ‘pitch’ mode? You can, but it responds quite unpredictably… doesn’t know which note to focus on….
Can I play chords with it set to ‘random’? Yes that’s fine. What it needs – to flick to a new random cut-off frequency – is an instant of silence, so muted chugs are totally spectacular, as are blocks of chords. Long legato lead lines tend to not jump to new cut-off frequencies (only when there’s at tiny gap of some sort).
Can the ‘random’ mode be adjusted at all? Yes – there’s a trimpot inside to adjust the general range of cut-off frequencies, or – to get less changing (if your guitar is high output) – push the ‘hi/lo’ button in and it’ll calm it down.
Does the ATC work well with bass? It’s OK, but having such a huge resonant filter (a big ‘bump’ at the cut-off frequency) means that the low-end seems small in comparison. Turning down the resonance seems to give more low-end.
Do you ship internationally? Yes we do. Standard or trackable.
What are the PSU requirements? 9v DC, 200mA (centre earth, sleeve +9v)
What warranty do you give? 3 years. There shouldn’t be, but if there is a problem do get in touch.
How can I pay? Paypal or electronic transfer are the usual methods.
Do you do any stickers or T-shirts etc? Got stickers – just ask. T-shirts – coming soon.
Are Rainger FX pedals true bypass? Yes they all are.
How are your audioclips recorded? Usually with my Gibson SG, and – unless otherwise stated – always plugged straight into the one effect only and then into a mixing desk and onto a computer using Logic, no EQ or other tweaking.
Where are your pedals made? All are made in the UK.
Are you going to be re-making the old pedals like the Compactotron or the Minor Concussion any time soon? In one form of another…