Tag Archives: review

I’m a big fan of the Joyo American Sound effect pedal. (JF-14)

24 Sep

joyoamericansound“American Sound reproduces the sound of a Fender 57 Deluxe amp, which performs great from clean, driven, and everywhere in between.” So says Joyo.

I can’t argue with that. It’s a great amp emulator/cab simulator. Up until a few days ago I had three reasons for my American Sound love affair:

  • I can put it toward the end of a pedal board (before reverb!) and then patch the board straight to the JamHub (basically a mixer) and get good, amp-ish sound without an amp.
  • Costs about $28 including shipping (Try eBay.)
  • Lots of tone options from tube-ish clean to crunchy drive. 3-band EQ. Etc.

But I found a new reason to like the JF-14.

I had my Electro-Faustus Drone Thing plugged into one of my American Sound-equipped pedal boards last week and noticed that the Drone Thing’s usually very responsive (Read: danger of clipping) volume knob wasn’t doing much. Was it broken? Then, after some fiddling I realized that the American Sound was acting as a hard limiter of sorts.

It didn’t matter how I turned knobs on any pedal before it in the signal chain; the output level coming from the Drone Thing/pedal board remained fairly consistent. No more clipping.

I already had two American Sound pedals. I bought a third.

With a mic?

I’m contemplating running a microphone through one to see what happens. I don’t have enough compressor channels for every mic, and the JamHub’s recordings sometimes skip when a singer is pegging a mic into the red. These pedals are way cheaper (and easier to operate) than a compressor, but I’m concerned about going from the more desirable balanced XLR to the high impedance quarter-inch. Hmmm.

Potential Caveats

I haven’t tested to see exactly how stringent the American Sound’s limiting is. That might matter, sometimes. E.g if you want to use a pedal earlier in the chain to significantly boost for a loud section, or to subdue a quieter part of a song. …Too much compression will limit dynamics.

I’ll whip out the db meter and get some figures. Eventually.

My Only Complaint

This pedal’s paint job could easily get it a mention on /r/crappydesign. “AMERSOUNDICAN”? Who thought that looked good? Knob labels in a cutesy font, ALLCAPS, slanting this way and that isn’t helpful or legible either.

Joyo American Sound To-Do List

  1. Test with microphone (DONE: see comments)
  2. Test limits of, um, it’s limiter
  3. New paint job
  4. Keep making noise

Thanks for reading.


Dan Dreifort reviews effect pedals, blogs about UX, SEO, petty infosec, and other stuff. He’s a fan of San Diego noise collective Synth Band Dot Com.

Beware Donating to Collectibles with Causes

4 Nov

Keen readers will notice my last blog post discussed parting ways with my beloved comic book collection. I painstakingly entered each book first into a spreadsheet and then into an online database. If I’d carefully packaged and sold the lot, spread out into a hundred or so auctions, I probably could have received $5,000 or so.

Collectibles With Causes Legit? Unknown. Sketchy? Yes.

Collectibles with Causes, also known as With Causes, Works of Life International Ministries, and dozens of other names, is a charity that accepts collectibles, sells them, and then uses proceeds for good works, When I found them in August 2014, I did my research, like any good donator would. While I found nothing indicating proceeds would be used for hateful/exclusive causes, their EIN (26-0903224) appeared in neither the California nor the USA register of charities. I called the IRS and they confirmed that they had no record of their non-profit standing. Furthermore, none of the charity rating services have an entry for them. Not a deal-killer, but cause for concern.

The only third-party mention of With Causes/Works of Life I could find pertains to their Christmas 2011 gift of a house to a large family whose house had just burned down. Here’s an article/video. Works of Life is still milking it; one of their most recent (2014) Tumblr posts gives a shout-out to this same charitable effort.

Nonetheless, I was attracted to Collectibles With Causes. I really liked the idea of a win-win-win. I get a tax write-off for my comics and don’t need to spend dozens of hours selling them. The charity sells them and my beloved comic books find new, loving homes. Finally, people benefit from the good works/proceeds of the sale. Three wins–at least! But is it too good to be true?

Communication Problems

Collectibles with Causes might not want to reimburse your shipping expenses even when you follow their instructions.

Collectibles with Causes might not want to reimburse your shipping expenses–even if you follow their instructions.

I sent them the details of my donation on September 3, 2014 and received a canned response thanking me, providing shipping instructions, shipping reimbursement instructions, and other information. I asked for clarification on 9/7/14. On 9/9/14 I still hadn’t received a response so I pinged them again. Later in the day, no response forthcoming, I called them. Ginger finally checked the info@withcauses.org inbox and responded.

Five days later, on 9/16/14, I shipped eight boxes/about 280 pounds of comic books to:

Works of Life
ATTN: Collectibles with Causes
1175 Shaw Avenue #104-135
Clovis, California  93612

Their canned reply mentioned that, “The best method for shipping a volume of comics is USPS PARCEL POST or MEDIA MAIL …costing only approx $25.00 per long box and less than half of that for a short box.” Alas, you’re unable to ship anything with advertising via media mail. (Newsflash: comics have ads.) The plot sickens: USPS Standard Post (known as Parcel Post, until May 2007,) is much more expensive than $25/box. My shipping bill totaled $484.49. I sent them the original receipt as requested.

I notified them of the shipping cost and problems with media mail, and asked them how long it would take to get reimbursed the large shipping outlay. Amazingly, I got a reply the same day, 9/18/14, “Shipping is reimbursed once we receive your books and the shipping receipt. I will let you know once the books arrive.”

Tracking information let me know that the books arrived on 9/26/14. Ginger did NOT let me know. I sent an email on 9/29/14 asking if the books arrived. No response. I sent another email on 10/8/14 asking for an update on shipping reimbursement. No response. On 10/27/14, I emailed again. No response. (I should note that I called a couple of times in that month-long period too.) I then called on 10/28/14 and was told Ginger no longer worked there and that I’d receive a call back in a couple of days. That didn’t happen.

I called on 11/3/14, and they’re now apparently reluctant to reimburse shipping, because actual expenses don’t gel with the dream-world figures in their horribly out-of-date canned response. They asked me to scan and send another copy of the receipt. I did. Again, they said they’d get back to me. …24+ hours later, I’m not holding my breath.

Is Collectibles With Causes as Scam?

I’m not sure if Collectibles with Causes is a scam. …They might just suffer from personnel and communication problems.

If I don’t receive shipping reimbursement within a week I will contact the California Attorneys General, the BBB, the IRS, their local news media, and anybody else I can think of. I’ll pass along every bit of information I have about Works of Life and how they’ve (so far) reneged on the implied contract presented on their website, in their emails, and via phone. …I’m pretty sure that’s a crime. They are messing with the wrong dude.

I strongly urge you to find another charity for your donation. I will revise this review if they eventually make things right.

Update:

It’s 11/17/2014. After nearly two months staying on them, I have a shipping reimbursement check in hand. (They paid up!) Did this blog post have anything to do with it? I don’t know.

If you’re going to incur considerable postage expenses when you ship something to any With Causes charity, note that you might have to wait and/or fight for reimbursement. If I had to do it all over again, I’d donate to a local charity instead. Lesson learned.

Update:

2/16/2015:  Very unofficial response from alleged former Collectibles with Causes volunteer is in comments. While it’s entertaining, I smile more when I read my response to it. Enjoy.

Update:

1/30/2017:  Somebody claiming to be Cameron Arballo from Works of Life called both my wife’s and sister’s places of employment and left threatening messages saying that he knows where she lives. Conveniently, these conversations were recorded. I’m giving them to the police.

Dan Dreifort is a professional part-time complainer. (In lieu of donations, send his wife earplugs.) He consults on web optimization and usability for fun.
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