It's the beginning of the rainy season in Japan. It's raining. And yours truly is under typically "Asian" downpours (for those who know the region). Only one solution, take refuge at a local retailer! Pure coincidence, there is one less than 3 mins away! :) So here I am in front of a showcase well supplied with effects, with obscure "golden" pedals that I don't know. Not even a mark on it?! A height! It doesn't take much to arouse my curiosity! Small discussion with the staff... It's the story of a guy, who knows a guy, who makes pedals for a guy... Finally you see the picture!
Quick test on site... Packed and weighed in less than 5 mins, I buy the OD and the Distortion for me, without even knowing who makes what and where! Being relational, I get in touch with H.Yagi who manufactures these superb pedals and we decide to offer you the possibility of acquiring what is - for us - a real favorite as we will see later.
Aesthetically, nothing to fall from his chair but everything exudes quality. The Animato couldn't be more basic! So we have the classic Volume, Dist (Gain) and Tone controls. And also a toggle switch, which will slightly boost the top of the spectrum.
Test configuration, a Les Paul VOS59 and a Suhr Modern in HSH configuration. As much to tell you right away, the Animato is not in the lace. It's a distortion, a real one, but clearly vintage oriented. After a few minutes of testing, we quickly find the "sweet spot" of the pedal. Volume at 12:00, Gain at 2 or 3:00 and Tone between 10 and 2:00. From the first notes, we find the typical signature of the Japanese brand, namely: an ultra organic drive, very dense and vintage voiced. The Animato is somewhat reminiscent of the RAT (that everyone knows) but... without its recurring faults and with simply more of everything!
What is striking from the very first notes is the astonishing and unusual harmonic richness enjoyed by this specific drive. The mediums are extremely "FAT", very emphasized, with an enormous complexity on the attack. Each note benefits from a very broad harmonic content and exceptional dynamics. We are really on a thick distortion, with a sustain that would make many compressors pale!! The drive is very smooth, without bad highs, without the "transo" side of many pedals, this while retaining a lot of bite, with a rather impressive natural "honk". Again, what surprised us was the high end. The mediums are simply out of the ordinary. A pinched, relatively compressed low-mid. A very prominent medium / high medium, with ultra-musical natural fluidity and compression. It sings, it's very fluid and connected. It's not necessarily alone in front of the amp that you realize it, but the Human Gear Animato really sounds like a big amp channel if the base is good. And it is once in a group that the pedal really reveals all its qualities. It goes through the mix without any problem, with a rather unique "bulldozer" side. All while retaining that vintage vibe unique to Human Gear pedals.
In conclusion, we can say that the Animato from Human Gear is a rare pedal in every sense of the word! We were stunned by its extreme musicality, its harmonic richness and its totally unique sustain.
The Animato is a pedal for "players", those who play in a group and who will be able to appreciate its dynamics and nuances at high volume. If you use humbucking pickups (preferred configuration) and you're a fan of big vintage sounds, this pedal is for you! The Animato will prove anyone who thinks a stompbox can't replace an amp's drive false. A must of its kind!