elek­tron ana­log Drive

A Swedish synth com­pany has the vi­sion to take eight ana­logue drive cir­cuits and put them in one box with com­plete dig­i­tal con­trol

Guitarist - - Contents - Words Trevor Cur­wen Pho­tography Joby Ses­sions

Elek­tron, a hi-tech mu­sic com­pany from Swe­den best known for its synths and drum ma­chines, re­cently made its first ef­fects pro­ces­sor – the Ana­log Heat, a desk­top stereo dis­tor­tion box with fil­ter­ing and EQ, de­signed to take a line in­put. Its lat­est prod­uct – and its first foray into the gui­tar pedal mar­ket – is the Elek­tron Ana­log Drive we have here and takes some of what the Ana­log Heat does and puts it into rugged mono stomp­box form with high-im­ped­ance in­put to suit gui­tars.

What you’re get­ting here is an ar­ray of eight dif­fer­ent dis­tor­tion tones plus three-band EQ, all gen­er­ated with ana­logue cir­cuitry but with dig­i­tal con­trol, so you can store and re­call all the knob-set pa­ram­e­ters into the 100 on­board pre­sets. There’s also ex­ter­nal MIDI con­trol of all pa­ram­e­ters if you need it, and sock­ets to add a cou­ple of ex­pres­sion ped­als.

In width, the unit is about right for a pedal that sports three footswitches, but it is al­most 18cm deep so will take up a fair bit of ped­al­board space. You may also find that you’re tied to us­ing its sup­plied adap­tor be­cause its power re­quire­ments may be more than your reg­u­lar power distri­bu­tion unit can han­dle (the sup­plied adapter is 12 volts, 1000mA and cen­tre pos­i­tive). The cen­tre footswitch is the stan­dard by­pass switch, but it’s also used to ac­ti­vate a new pre­set that you se­lect via the outer pre­set up and pre­set down footswitches. Okay, so it’s two footswitch steps, but if you set up your patch or­der care­fully and prime one ready to load, you can seam­lessly change your dis­tor­tion choice at the cor­rect point dur­ing a song. You can also scroll through pre­sets and se­lect them with the Pre­set knob, and if you just want to work from knob po­si­tion alone, you just flick a switch to take you into man­ual mode.

Eight dif­fer­ent dis­tor­tion types are called up by a large ro­tary knob with sep­a­rate knobs to bal­ance the gain and out­put level. The EQ sec­tion of­fers low- and high-end tweaks on sep­a­rate knobs, and a two-knob midrange con­trol where one knob sets the rel­e­vant fre­quency and the other ei­ther cuts or boosts it.

Sounds

In terms of sonic range, the Ana­log Drive may just have all the flavours of drive/ dis­tor­tion you need, and they all sound su­perb – there’s not a dud among them. The first of the eight is Clean Boost with up to 20dB ex­tra, plenty of op­tions with which to hit your amp’s front end with or with­out EQ. The Mid Drive is Elek­tron’s spot-on in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a Tube Screamer, while Dirty Drive has more gain and puts us in the mind of small cranked Amer­i­can amps with a hint of fuzz around the edges on higher set­tings.

On that amp-flavoured vibe, if you’re look­ing for the sound of a flat-out Mar­shall stack, the Big Dist set­ting is for you. It’s a Mar­shall-in-a-box that com­pletely nails it. Fo­cused Dist takes its cue from Klon-style ped­als, do­ing an ac­cu­rate take while ex­tend­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity with more gain and EQ. The Har­monic Fuzz set­ting – ap­par­ently based on an un­named out of pro­duc­tion oc­tave fuzz – is a prac­ti­cal worka­day fuzz with a lovely tickle of up­per oc­tave in there and plenty of variation via the EQ. In­ci­den­tally, that EQ sec­tion is nicely bal­anced, en­hanc­ing all of the eight with­out get­ting too out there. The fi­nal two set­tings, High Gain and Thick Gain, of­fer the most dis­tor­tion with plenty of stuff for rock and metal, so if you’re look­ing for heavy palm­muted rhythms or fat har­mon­i­cally rich sus­tain for sin­gle-note leads, you’ll find it here.

Per­for­mance op­tions are ex­tended with the ex­pres­sion pedal in­puts. One con­trols gain so you can set it up in con­junc­tion with the Gain knob to give you a lit­tle bit ex­tra when you need it – which is bril­liant for push­ing a note into con­trolled feed­back on some set­tings. The sec­ond ex­pres­sion socket al­lows you to con­trol the mid EQ, let­ting you sweep through the fre­quen­cies for wah ef­fects.

Ver­dict

Eight very dis­tinct gen­res of ana­logue dirt pedal in one box can never be a bad thing, espe­cially when they sound as good as these. Not ev­ery­one will need so many vari­a­tions, but it could be a no-brainer for a gui­tarist who has to ac­cu­rately re­pro­duce a wide range of cov­ers in a set or needs a com­pre­hen­sive dis­tor­tion tool for stu­dio work. Okay, for the price, you could ar­guably get a de­cent set of sep­a­rate ped­als with the added ad­van­tage that you could stack them, but the Ana­log Drive’s multi-flavoured na­ture, pow­er­ful EQ and pre­set stor­age/re­call of­fer a ca­pa­bil­ity that’s hard to re­sist. PROS Vast range of ana­logue dirt tones with com­ple­men­tary EQ; am­ple pre­set stor­age; MIDI con­trol CONS Power re­quire­ments; large ped­al­board size; no stack­ing of two sounds

ABOVE Elek­tron’s first out­ing into the gui­tar pedal mar­ket boasts su­perb-sound­ing drives/dis­tor­tions in a va­ri­ety of flavours

ABOVE If you’re af­ter more still from this mul­tidrive unit, there are two ex­pres­sion pedal in­puts at the rear for even greater per­for­mance op­tions

RIGhT The eight drive op­tions of­fer up every­thing from a Tube Scream­er­a­like set­ting, through Amer­i­can amp sounds and Mar­shall-in-a-box vibes

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