June 23, 2021

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Expression Ramper meets Montreal Assembly’s Count-to-5

7 cool effects with the ER in the expression jack of the Ct5

The OBNE Expression Ramper is a small, clever pedal that automates expression. You plug it into a pedal’s expression jack and set the voltage of Point A and Point B on the Expression Ramper. With the tap of the footswitch, the pedal glides or cycles between the two points.

On the Montreal Assembly Count-to-5 (a sampler that poses as a delay/glitch/looper) the Expression Ramper is really useful since you can control so many parameters: pitch, speed, direction, delay length, delay feedback, sample playback length or sample randomness. This article will show you how to connect and use the Expression Ramper with the Count-to-5 and give you easy-to-follow recipes and audio examples for some cool effects. All audio examples use use no added ambience other than what’s coming from the Count-to-5.

Connecting the Expression Ramper with the Count-to-5

The expression jacks on both pedals look like quarter-inch, mono jacks, but, they’re not. They use a TRS cable, which is a quarter-inch stereo cable. It’s best to get a short one with at least one 90º plug since the Count-to-5 has its expression jack on the side. There are a few different standards for expression pedal voltage and the Expression Ramper can be set internally to handle the three most popular. But the ER comes configured to work with the Count-to-5, no modification needed.

The position of the E switch on the Count-to-5 determines what knob the Expression Ramper controls. In all three modes, it can affect the function of theDir 1 knob which controls speed/pitch/direction of the sample. In Mode 1 (delay) ER can alternately control the delay length (middle) or feedback (down) knobs. In Mode 2 (glitch) it can alternately control sample length (middle) or random playback position (down). In Mode 3 (loop) it can control only the function of the Dir 1 knob and the E switch no longer works for expression assignment.

Some recipes for the ER>Ct5

As complex as the Count-to-5 is, this list just scratches the surface, but hits on some really useful functions.

*Path for all samples below: BeatRoot Tongue Drum > Fairfield Accountant Compressor > Count-to-5

TC Wiretap*

Tape Reverser

This is a very cool tape effect that starts with normal playback of the Count-to-5 looper, slows down and speeds back up reversed.

On the Count-to-5:

  1. Flick the M switch down.
  2. Flick the Q switch down twice from the default position.
  3. Flick the E switch up.
  4. Set the Mix knob to noon.
  5. Record a loop by holding down the left footswitch. (Note: If you record a loop longer than 8 seconds, it will layer into a beautiful mess.)

On the Expression Ramper:

  1. Flick the left switch down to A⇔B.
  2. Flick the right switch up to A and set the knob to the same pitch as the dry (about 2p).
  3. Flick the right switch to B and set the knob to same pitch as the dry reversed (about 10a).
  4. Tap the footswitch to reverse the loop and tap again to return to forward play.

You can do an non-quantized version of this effect that has a smooth pitch glide and random vibrato to the loop. Just flick the Q switch up twice to get it back to its default position. Note that it’s a bit harder to set A and B in the non-quantized mode.

Last Bus to Crazytown

This is a real rollercoaster of an effect with the delay sweeping through the entire audible range forward then backward again and again.

On the Count-to-5:

  1. Flick the M switch up.
  2. Leave the Q switch in the default position.
  3. Flick the E switch up.
  4. Set the Mix knob to 11a.
  5. Set the Len B knob to 1p.
  6. Set the Fbk knob to 3p.

On the Expression Ramper:

  1. Flick the left switch up to triangle.
  2. Flick the right switch up to A and turn the knob to 7a.
  3. Flick the right switch to B and turn the knob to 5p.
  4. Flick the right switch down to Rate and turn the knob to 8a.
  5. Tap the footswitch to cycle the LFO. (Note that the LED will change very slowly.)

Reverse Glitch delay

Since the Count-to-5 has fixed delay lengths, the Len B knob does a glitchy jump between settings. By automating this movement, the delay appears to randomly jump between sample lengths, like the King of Gear Mini Glitch random glitch pedal. As an added twist these random glitches are reversed.

On the Count-to-5:

  1. Flick the M switch up.
  2. Flick the Q switch up twice from the default position.
  3. Flick the E switch to the middle.
  4. Set the Mix knob to 10a
  5. Set the Dir 1 knob to dry pitch in reverse (about 10a).
  6. Set the Fbk knob to 5p.

On the Expression Ramper:

  1. Flick the left switch up to Triangle.
  2. Flick the right switch up to A and turn the knob to 9a.
  3. Flick the right switch to B and turn the knob to 1p.
  4. Flick the right switch down to Rate and turn the knob to 9a.
  5. Tap the footswitch to turn on the LFO. (Note that the LED will change very slowly.)

For a more conventional glitch (is that a thing?), set the Dir 1 knob to a forward pitch the same as the dry (about 2p).

Delay Freeze

The delay of the Count-to-5 already has a freeze function with the left footswitch. This recipe has a smoother motion as it ramps up the feedback. Tap the Expression Ramper footswitch and this turns up the repeats to max.

On the Count-to-5:

  1. Flick the M switch up.
  2. Flick the Q switch up twice from the default position.
  3. Flick the E switch down.
  4. Set the Dir 1 knob to dry pitch (about 2p).
  5. Set the Mix knob to 10a.
  6. Set the Len B knob to 12 noon.

On the Expression Ramper:

  1. Flick the left switch down to A⇔B.
  2. Flick the right switch up to A and turn the knob to 12 noon.
  3. Flick the right switch to B and turn the knob to 5p.
  4. Flick the right switch down to Rate and turn the knob to 10a.
  5. Tap the footswitch to ramp up the feedback and tap again to return to normal.

Note that the Count-to-5 doesn’t do runaway oscillation.

Speed Ramp

A twist on the shimmer effect: This speeds the delay up an octave on demand. The changing pitch is reflected in the repeats.

On the Count-to-5:

  1. Flick the M switch up.
  2. Flick the Q switch up twice from the default position.
  3. Flick the E switch up.
  4. Set the Mix knob to 10a.
  5. Set the Len B knob to 1p.
  6. Set the Fbk knob to 2p.

On the Expression Ramper:

  1. Flick the left switch down to A⇔B.
  2. Flick the right switch up to A and turn the knob so the dry and delay pitch are the same (about 2p).
  3. Flick the right switch to B and turn the knob to 5p.
  4. Flick the right switch down to Rate and turn the knob to 12n.
  5. Tap the footswitch to shift the delay up an octave. Tap again to restore.

Octave Bounce

A fun rhythm alternating a normal delay and one an octave lower.

On the Count-to-5:

  1. Flick the M switch up.
  2. Flick the Q switch up twice from the default position.
  3. Flick the E switch up.
  4. Set the Mix knob to 10a.
  5. Set the Len B knob to 10a.
  6. Set the Fbk knob to 12 noon.

On the Expression Ramper:

  1. Flick the left switch to Square.
  2. Flick the right switch up to A and turn the knob to the same pitch as the dry (about 2p).
  3. Flick the right switch to B and turn the knob just right of noon.
  4. Flick the right switch down to Rate and turn the knob to 12 noon.
  5. Tap the footswitch to turn on the rhythm.

As a variation you can set A to 5p. This will shift between an octave up and an octave down.

Glitchier Glitch

Mode 2, (glitch) on the Count-to-5 is not super glitchy. This will add some more randomness to the mix by varying the glitch length controlled by Length B knob. It’s a much more subtle effect than most here.

On the Count-to-5:

  1. Flick the M switch to center.
  2. Flick the Q switch up twice from the default position (non-quantized).
  3. Flick the E switch to middle.
  4. Set the Mix knob to 10a.
  5. Set the Dir 1 knob to the same pitch as dry (about 2p).
  6. Set the Fbk knob to 5p.

On the Expression Ramper:

  1. Flick the left switch to Triangle.
  2. Flick the right switch up to A and turn the knob to 8a.
  3. Flick the right switch to B and turn the knob to 2p.
  4. Flick the right switch down to Rate and turn the knob to 12 noon.
  5. Tap the footswitch to randmonize the glitch length.

Note: Mode 2 requires you to tap the left footswitch on the Count-to-5 to sample or resample. You can sample up to 4 seconds.

My take

I prefer a small pedalboard and never could justify the real estate for a full-size manual expression pedal. I was intrigued by Totally Wicked Audio’s Side Step but the tiny form factor and affordable price ($60) of the Old Blood Noise Endeavors Expression Ramper made it a no-brainer. The Expression Ramper really extends the function of the Count-to-5, especially when controlling the wide and wacky parameters of the Dir 1 knob.

For pedals that really embrace the expression jack with the ability to assign function as well as control parameters dramatically, the Expression Ramper is pretty much a gotta-have. Pedals like the Red Panda Tensor (that’s similar in function to the Count-to-5) really require an expression pedal plugged in or you only get a minimal amount of function, and this greatly extends its abilities.


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