Review: Jad Freer Audio Klone (Klon Centaur replica)

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Review: Jad Freer Audio Klone (Klon Centaur replica)

klone jad freer audio
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Gsus4 | RRP AU$799.00

There’s literally not one other pedal in the market that is shrouded with the rumours, mystery and prestige that the Klon Centaur is. For a seemingly simple design, the Klon has slowly risen to cult status with many companies, including Italy’s Jad Freer Audio, dipping their toes into the famous circuity of this unassuming overdrive pedal. Designed to replicate the original design, a die-cast metal box with three knobs, the Jad Freer Audio Klone is a bulky and well built overdrive pedal that features controls for gain, treble, and output, as well as a solid-feeling on/off switch. In use, the Klone does an uncanny job of replicating the original Klon. It can push an amplifier to its full potential, with either roaring gain and harmonic distortion or just a little push to fill in the absent elements in your tone that you didn’t know you were missing until Freer Audio came along. To fully understand what a faithful and special recreation this is, it’s important to understand why the original Klon is so revered.

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The original Klon Centaur was released in 1994 and featured multiple revisions before production was halted in 2008. Engineer Bill Finnegan wanted to give the market an overdrive pedal that produced a particularly ‘tube-like’ sound, but with the big, wide-open harmonic content that an overdriven amplifier would produce. Assembled entirely out of his home, Finnegan was met with overwhelming demand for the pedal, but continued to build, test, and ship them himself through the 90s and 2000s. The high-demand and exclusivity of the pedals helped push the pedal to cult status, as well as the fact that the components were coated in a dark epoxy resin on completion. It was initially assumed that the resin was to protect the components from dust or being bumped out of place, before the epoxy resin itself became a part of the myth. Fans and collectors assumed that the insulation that the resin provided played a part in the Klon’s specific sound, or that Finnegan was actively trying to protect his schematics and design from replication. Today, Klon Centaurs can sell from upwards of $2000 AUD, so you’d be forgiven for settling for a clone, albeit an intricately designed one such as the Jad Freer Audio Klone.

Jad Freer Audio is a little known company based out of Italy who produces handy products for the working musician or engineer. By their own words, they’re “artisans who love their job” and their intention is to create sounds, circuits, and products that interest them or serve a specific purpose within a signal chain. The Klone, an aptly named clone of the Klon Centaur, is one such product. Freer’s Klone replicates Klon Centaur Professional Overdrive S.N. 3157 to be specific, and produces sounds of that exact pedal to a scientific degree. A quick Google search will show you a long list of videos using exacting methods such as EQ graphs and sound wave analysis to show what a concise and accurate reproduction the Klone is. Finished in a subtle but classy grey chassis and with the classically styled knobs, the Klone does a phenomenal job of replicating the distortion and harmonic effect of the most famous pedal in history. The box itself is weighty and very well constructed, the knobs and pots being very high quality so you can set super precise tones; and what a tone this pedal produces! Where the Klone really shines in when pushing a tube amplifier into overdrive. The Klone produces a super open and dynamic sound even when dimed, and retains the feeling of headroom without bringing up the noise floor.

Subtle additions in your tone such as a fuller mid range and articulate high end are brought to the table, while a sculpted bottom end that reminds me of the unique curves of a Pultec EQ; controlled, tucked, and fat, but never overwhelming. The mid frequencies are also brought forward into almost snarky territory, offering bite, snarl, and attack without ever becoming honky, nasally, or boxy in a mix. As a standalone pedal, the Klone can bring solid state amplifiers to life, and give them the dimension and richness of a tube amplifier, regardless of how flat-sounding transistors can be.

It’s hard to play guitar, nor have even a vague interest in gear without having heard of the Klon Centaur. Most of us will never own one, but a company with the love, commitment, and focus of Jad Freer Audio makes owning something very, very close to a reality. Jad Freer’s Klone is a precise reproduction of an original Klon S.N. 3157, and produces the same wide-open overdrive of the inconspicuous, resin covered original. At a much more affordable price, the Jad Freer Audio Klone offers mid forward snarl, bright and present attack when required, and controlled bottom end. Pushing the gain offers harmonically rich overdrive, while a little push from the pedal can herd your amplifier into line for a tone that will have heads turning and the attention of your listeners piqued. The Klone is equal parts secret weapon, famous pedal, and an entirely necessary tool in your toolbox. For guitarists and engineers alike, it’s a pedal handy to have around because of its versatility and prestige mystique. For the price compared to a real one, you’d be hard-pressed to walk past a Jad Freer Audio Klone.

For more information or to purchase, head to Gsus4’s website.