LievenDV's blog

[review] Positive Grid BIAS Distortion - Tone Match Distortion Pedal (by LievenDV)

First impression

I bought the BIAS distortion a couple of months ago because this unit seemed to cover most of my overdrive and most of all: distortion needs.

Intrigued by the hardware+software combo that allows users to store more than enough presets in many different flavors of distortion, I decided to invest. The unit isn't cheap but this baby could replace my complete drive section. It isn't small either but way more handy than having a bunch of cables and pedals all wired together. The ability to edit the presets in an interface that didn't make me throw up was a refreshing experience for a change.

I found out that trying to copy/paste a whole bunch of pedals to a programmable distortion pedal is a cool concept but the platform is just as useful for people like me, who don't care about sounding like guitarist X or band Y. I want to build my own sounds and I'm glad I can.

Positive Grid BIAS DistortionThis is not your typical multi-effect pedal where you build a chain with a distortion, delay, reverb, chorus etc. from a list and you turn the knobs.

You only get to do the drive/distortion part but you can you in so much detail! Start from a preset and get to work in the different stages. You can add up to two EQ's between the stages you like to shape even more in-between. It's interesting to hear how rolling off or boosting frequencies makes the next stage respond completely different. The interface of the software is fun to work with and might seem a bit "fluffy" to hardcore techies but don't be fooled by looks; editing the chain will keep you tweaking that certain preset to what you like.

Nice touch, you can provide the face plate of your virtual pedal with custom artwork you can import.

The unit offers 2 banks with 10 presets each. Most of them have names on the physical unit but that doesn't matter, you can put anything you like in there.

You assign virtual pedals to the hardware pedal simply by a drag-and-drop in the software. On the hardware pedal you can easily decide which pedals you want under the 3 preset slots that can be accessed with the footswitches.

[review] Joyo Ironman JF-312 Pipebomb - Compressor (by LievenDV)

This tiny sized pedal won't leave a big footprint on your pedalboard and it won't set you back much. But is it worth even the small investment? For many, a compressor is an effect that is too subtle to invest in but it can certainly help you in sounding consistent. Especially for rhythm players or acoustic aficionado's a compressor is a useful tool in the box.

Joyo Pipe Bomb CompressorThis pedal has a few nice quirks like a lid to shield of the tiny knobs for the impact of your big feet. Whether it is to prevent breaking off knobs or for keeping you from altering your settings while stomping it, it sure channels you into a "set and forget" scenario.

The knobs are a bit small but they are usable enough because of their shape and color. With this small size, they allow you to have 4 controls: Volume, sensitivity, mix dry/wet and attack response time. (what should be more than enough options for such a small pedal)

You'll know when it's on; 2 obvious clear leds will tell you. That might be another reason to close the lid. When closed, the logo on the lid shines and that's a nice touch. I think the power input on the right side might be problematic for some plugs so I wonder if there went as much thinking in that as in the lid.

[review] DigiTech Drop (by LievenDV)

DigiTech has proven themselves a worthy pedal brand that already has some notorious classics on its product list. You all know the various Whammy iterations and as a sort of spin-off, they bring you The Drop. This pedal is a straightforward, drop tune pedal with a remarkable polyphonic quality.

I don't read a manual before I test a pedal. I want to experience how intuitive the pedal really is by plugging it and and start playing with it. First thing I notice is the big size knob that controls the number of intervals I can drop. Please mind that the pedal only tunes down, as the name suggests. You can drop all intervals between 1 and 7 semi-tones or go to a lower octave right away. In the case of the latter, you can add dry signal when setting it on the "OCT+DRY" setting. A little control to determine the blend of dry and octave down would have been useful here but that is no show stopper.

One of the functions that points out that the people at DigiTech really had a good think about this product, is the latch/momentary function. This is something I would like to see on almost all the pedals I currently own.

DigiTech DropIf momentary is off, the on/off switch of the effect works in a classic fashion: stomp it to turn it on, stomp it again to turn it off. With the momentary mode on, you to hold your foot down to turn it on and as soon as you lift your foot again, the effect turns off. I use a similar switch on a booster, which is useful if you play guitar and sing in a band an you need to focus on playing, singing and pedal switching at the same time. By tapping the switch, you can experiment with stutter effects to add detuned accents to your solo's. 

A fun quirk I only found out while reading the manual afterwards, is that you can decide whether the momentary function makes the switch an "on" or "off" function. If the effect switch is off (led=dark) while you turn on the momentary mode, the pedal will operate as described above; press down to turn on the effect and release to turn it off. If the effect is on (led=red) when you switch on momentary mode, the operation is reversed and pressing down the switch acts as a "kill switch".

[review] DOD 440 Envelope Filter (by LievenDV)

The 2014 version of the DOD 440 is the reissue of a classic envelope filter. This time it comes with true bypass (while its ancestor didn't). The control scheme of this pedal is simple: 2 knobs adjust Level and Range, a switch changes the voicing from "Up" to "Down".

[review] D*A*M Ezekiel 25:17 - Low Frequency Distortion Generator (by LievenDV)

D*A*M

David A Main and Linzi Haynes make up »

[review] OGRE Kronomaster Delay (by LievenDV)

The Ogre Kronomaster Delay looks like a time traveler. Hence the name of the pedal of course. But literally; It has the shape of a futuristic helmet and its eye go shine haunting blue when you switch on the effect.

It looks sturdy and it feels heavy. That's because of its solid build quality.

The people at OGRE sure see it as a priority as the brand equips their pedals with a sliding door that covers the controls from any external influences. It all comes firmly fixed in a nice, stylish box as well.

[review] DigiTech Luxe - Polyphonic Detune Pedal (by LievenDV)

As a rhythm guitarists, I'm always very interested in thickening my sound with some texture and yet I've never been a big fan of chorus and flanger, probably because it reminded me too much of the excessive use of the eighties and nineties. I tried adding lower and higher octaves or some harmonies in any possible conceivable combination but I always felt like a hair metal lead player when I turned them on.

I was wondering if this pedal would be for me then...

DigiTech LuxeDescription

The Digitech Luxe is a straightforward detune pedal. Its detune function is similar to that of the Whammy. It comes in a very basic layout and frankly, that's all you need for this.

You'll find two controls, "Level" and "Detune".

Level is the amount of the detuned signal in the blend with the dry signal. 12 o' clock gives you 50/50, just as you would expect.

The Detune can go from 50 cents below to above the original pitch. The design and build quality of Digitech products is great these days. Haters gonna hate when they read this but quality digital effects like this are no cheapo, retarded little brother to "original", analog effects. I even believe Digitech is one of the handful of brands that, through their own learnings over the years, helped to affirm the street cred of digital on the pedalboard.

[review] DigiTech HardWire Supernatural - Ambient Verb (by LievenDV)

Digitech continues the concept of loading 7 sounds in one pedal. Select a model and tweak the mix, liveliness and decay and you're off.

Basically, the 7 models form a mix of old classics and some new ideas.

DigiTech HardWire SupernaturalIf you like to introduce a psychedelic touch or some fresh soundscaping layers in your song, you might want to check these. Shimmer effects have been very popular among reverb lovers and this pedal features one that you can compare with the more expensive brands.

The plate reverb will pretty much work every time you'd like to add some reverb and the spring reverb is everything you would expect from a solid, decent but not exceptional reverb. The newer ideas add hints of modulation like phaser, chorus, flanging and some pitch shifting. These "ideas" sound quite specific so I wouldn't call them subtle. Of course, your mix setting will determine how subtle -you- want it and I noticed that this pedal gets very interesting when it follows up on a basic delay. Especially the newer sounds were valuable in this setup. While the classic sounds did a good job without a delay in front of it, the combo with the newer ideas will please the more experimental of nature.

[review] DOD 280 Compressor (by LievenDV)

This DOD Compressor 280 is the 2014 version of a classic pedal. As we're used of DOD, the pedal is designed a lot like all the other DOD pedals. This compressor is a nice sparkly orange with the typical big dials. A real no-frills quality build.

The 280 has a 9v input, 2 knobs, a led and a button. Everything a compressor should be and nothing more. These two dials are big offer a very precise control. The guide offered on the website won't give any specifics or hard combinations as the pedal is as straightforward as it looks.  The level knob determines your output level and adds quite enough to make it work as a clean boost is you like.

DOD 280 CompressorThe magic is of course in the compression control. From low to high settings, the compressor doesn't seem to change the character of your sound. I've experienced some "tonal changes" with other compressors but this one strikes me as very "neutral".

The typical tonal change could sometimes add a nice flavor but that is not the essence of a good compressor.

A good compressor "makes the quiet loud and loud quiet", it squashes the initial hard attack and it makes the dying note sustain longer.

At this essence, the DOD is a noble worker; you don't hear it's there but it does a good job. I found it quite pleasing how my playing was evened out without coloring my sound.

[review] Hotone Audio Skyline series Octa (by LievenDV)

The Hotone Octa is a true micro pedal that gives you the control over 2 extra octaves.

It has a tiny button that lets you toggle between "normal" and "dirty" mode.

The small buttons have a striped indicator that takes a minute to get used to but proves to be useful. You can read off the control quite easy from a distance. To help that, The 2 octave knobs are noctilucent (Hotone's professional way of saying: glow-in-the-dark :)).

The package comes in a box that is as protective as the pedal casing and the nice people of Hotone even included a strip of velcro and a bumper already cut to spec. The pedal itself has a little metal rail to protect the controls when you click the button with your foot.

This is the standard layout of Hotone pedals.

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