There are a great many mythical pieces of guitar gear, but perhaps none more idolized among dirt box lovers than the Klon Centaur. It's limited supply has driven the prices as high as $2,000 USD. Even boutique clones can get several hundred dollars. When I heard Electro Harmonix was releasing a Klon inspired pedal called the Soul Food for ~$62 USD including a power supply...well I had to pick one up and give it a spin.
The Soul Food is constructed in Electro-Harmonix's "nano" enclosure with pedal board friendly dimensions of 5.8 x 2.8 x 3.4 inches. It operates via the included Boss style power adapter or by nine volt battery, however there is no battery door. To use a battery, you must remove the back plate. A bit of an inconvenience for those who choose to use batteries though EHX more than makes up for it by including a power supply. There is also a hidden switch only accessible by removing the back plate to switch bypass behavior from buffered to true bypass. Controls are minimal including the standard volume, drive, and treble (tone) knobs.
Upon arrival, the first thing I did was plug the unit up to my Tech 21 Trademark 60's clean channel dialed up to offer some blackface Fender type tones. Fans of the Klon often use it as a clean boost pedal exclusively and always on, so I wanted to try that out first. With the gain all the way down and the tone at noon, the Soul Food is a very transparent clean boost. When set to unity level around nine o'clock, I had to look down to see if it was engaged. Given the relatively low setting for unity volume, I imagine it's got enough level avilable to overdrive the inputs of all but the cleanest highest head room amps. Clean boosts can dramatically increase the dynamic response of an amp and the Soul Food is no exception. I then pushed the Drive up to noon where the Soul Food starts to exhibit a mid range emphasis and adds a nice subtle grit. As the drive is increased, the pedal takes on a personality reminiscent of an Ibanez Tube Screamer but not quite as compressed. Though there is some tonal overlap, where a dimed Tube Screamer might be described as smooth the Soul Food might be better described as a bit more open and organic. Curious about the pedal's versatility, I ran it into my Digitech GSP1101 simulating a few choice vintage amps such as a Tweed Fender Deluxe, Vox AC30, and Marshall Plexi. In each case, the pedal was extremely complementary operating either as a boost or drive. I even stacked it with several other overdrives and it worked well with each, but partnered especially well with a Bogner Ecstasy Blue as a boost turning that mid gain pedal into a fire breathing beast. I think liked the Soul Food best set to a slight boost with the gain around one o'clock hitting a lightly driven source which yielded some pretty magical results reacting very well to subtle picking articulations. But really, there's so many good sounds in the pedal that I can't simply say that's the pedal's only sweet spot.
So, is the Soul Food a Klon killer? No idea. I've never played a Klon and probably never will. What it is is a fantastic utility boost/overdrive at a fantastic price.
Pros: Great utility drive/boost at a great price.
Price: ~$62 USD