AUDIO LAVA FLOW
BY JAMES EGOLF
At first glance, the Psionic Audio Lava Flow
looks like just another full-featured A/B/Y box.
Digging in a little bit reveals designer Lyle
Caldwell’s mission when designing the Lava
Flow – combining the most requested features
from various custom projects into one box to
offer an single, affordable solution.
Featuring a high quality buffer that can be
switched in and out of the circuit by an internal dipswitch, the Lava Flow displays Swiss
army knife-like utility at every turn. Inputs and
outputs include a Global Insert placed after
the buffer in the signal chain for effects used
by both signal paths, in addition to independent insert loops for each channel. Channel
B’s output features an isolation transformer to
sidestep ground loops when using two amps,
while another internal dipswitch allows this to
be lifted. High quality relays are used throughout and RFI protection offers quiet operation
even in high-gain situations.
The Lava Flow also features dual mode operation, which allows guitarists to set up one
pedalboard to handle both dual amp and
dual-channel, single amp rigs. For example,
let’s say you use a Twin for clean textures
and a Marshall for darker, distorted tones.
Using the Lava Flow in MODE1, channel A
could be assigned to the Twin, and the corresponding effects – delay, chorus, compression – could be routed to channel A’s insert
loop. The Marshall could then use channel B,
with overdrives and fuzzes running through
its insert loop. Any pedals needed for both
sides would be assigned to the Global Insert.
In this mode, the CTRL 1 switch toggles
between amps and their respective loops,
while CTRL 2 switches in both amps and
loops. This routing/switching scheme allows
guitarists to pre-select effects from the inactive loop, switching both amps and effects
with a single click, perfect for going from
a tastefully clean, slightly chorused finger-picked verse to a Fuzz Face and Univibe-fueled Marshall freakout.
Switching the Lava Flow to MODE2 allows
the same pedalboard to be used with a
single, dual-channel amp. In this mode, the
CTRL switch controls the amp’s channel
switching – as well as pedalboard loops –
through the tip-sleeve of the CONTROL jack.
CTRL 2 can then control any latching device
on your amp such as a solo boost or reverb
through the ring-sleeve connection. Also,
because the Lava Flow doesn’t mind seeing
line level signals, it is equally at home in front
of an amp as in the effects loop.
Another use of the Lava Flow is to control
non-switching, dual channel amps. This is
where a side-mounted switch comes in handy,
reversing the isolation transformer’s polarity,
resolving the issue of running both channels
of an amp that has its channels out of phase
– such as an AC30 – at the same time.
All of this flexibility would be wasted if the
unit messed with your tone. Thankfully it
doesn’t – a quick, thoroughly unscientific,
pull-the-plug-out-quick-and-plug-it-back-in-again test showed no discernable signal
degradation from plugging straight in, and
isolated, discreet signal paths ensure that
even the noisiest of vintage effects stay out
of the way until it’s their turn.
The Final Mojo
The Lava Flow will bring the ability to run
quiet, efficient, two-amp rigs to the masses,
as well as the flexibility to use the same
pedalboard setup for dual-channel amps
for smaller gigs. The inclusion of thoughtful touches like a phase switch and discreet
signal paths that are clean enough to manufacture microchips allows enough flexibility to
justify a healthy price tag on what might otherwise be considered an overpriced A/B box.
you’ve wanted to set up an effective two-amp rig
you have dreams of an SRV-inspired
wall of amps
Our expert has stated his case,
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