U Sound is a Russian company. Prior of this test, I had never heard of them. They have a big range of pedals from ODs and boost to modulation pedals. They also have a range of bass pedals. The pedals are handbuild and they all come with really cool graphics. Sadly, their website does not have info in English for all pedals yet but there are clips for most of them to give you an idea what to expect.
The Baby Drive has 4 controls and a little switch. There are the standard volume, tone and drive controls but also a voice control. The voice control only works when the little switch is in the Up-position. The build quality is excellent: on the inside you will find a nice, crowdy, PCB and the battery connector.
The pedal in use
Starting with the little switch in the Down-position, you have the 3 standard controls to work with. The volume and drive control have sufficient range to go from a big boost (drive low, volume all the way up) to a big rock tone with the drive maxed out. The overall tone of the pedal is on the dark side however, the tone control is there to dial in more bite if you need it. I noticed that I had the tone control at about 3:00 or higher when using humbuckers and around 2:00 for single coils. When using OD-pedals as a boost, you often get a pretty bright sound because you are overloading the input of your amp/pedal. The darker character of the Baby Drive works well in these occasions. The pedal is based on a Tubescreamer, it has a JRC4558D chip inside, but is has been further developed for a tighter and bigger low end and a very sweet and musical tone.
Flicking the little switch to the Up-position totally changes the pedal. Not only does come the Voice-control into play, the EQ of the pedal is shifted. In the down-position, the pedal sounded very smooth, in the up-position it has way more grit and bite. The range of the tone control allows you to smooth things out a bit. I think this works better when running the pedal with the gain beyond 12:00 for a rock sound OR if you have a dark sounding amp, use this setting to boost it for more crunch and bite. Where the Down-position had a very smooth and liquid character, the Up-position sounds more direct. The Down-position made me want to play lead stuff, fusion-style lines, the Up-position had me riffing out some rocking stuff.
Boutique quality from Russia? Yes sir, thank you sir. This U Sound Baby Drive isn’t the most unique pedal on the market, although the little switch and voice control give it an extra edge. It does several things and it does them very well. Quality comes at a price and the pedal is not cheap but it’s also well below the $200 mark which makes it excellent value for money.
- More info: U-Sound Baby Drive