Group Test: Stomp Box Distortion
Elektron enter the stomp box game with their multimode Analog Drive distortion. We put it up against three different flavours of more ‘traditional’ stomp boxes to see how it compares
1 Elektron’s new Analog Drive stomp box follows in the wake of their recent Analog Heat signal processor. As with the Heat, Drive offers eight individual distortion circuits, capable of everything from relatively clean signal boosting to full-on sonic destruction. This pedal version does away with many of the more studio-focused touches of the Heat, such as the modulation tools, filter and CV control. It extends the EQ capabilities, however, offering a three-band EQ with sweepable mid band, as opposed to the two-band version on the Heat. It still features a powerful preset system too, allowing a healthy number of user presets – including EQ, gain and level settings – to be stored within the device and then switched either via the footswitches or a MIDI input.
The distortion circuits themselves are slightly different to those of the Heat. Here they’re tailored slightly more towards classic guitar tones and famous distortions, with more emphasis on high-gain sounds and mid-range drive, at the expense of some of the studio friendly saturation modes of the Heat. That said, with a little playing around with the EQ and gain level, the Drive is capable of covering much of the same – impressively broad – territory as its bigger sibling. As a result, although it’s obviously aimed at guitarists, the Drive still sounds great on synths and drum machines.
As far as distortion stomp boxes go, the Analog Drive is expensive, sitting firmly at the top end of the market, but it’s exceptionally flexible and packs a genuinely warm and beefy sound. For guitarists looking for something flexible for live performances, or as a multi-purpose studio tool, this is a real winner. www.elektron.se VERDICT 9.1
2 LA-based outfit Bogner Amplification are highly regarded for their quality pedals and boutique amps. One of the main selling points of their pedal range is the inclusion of custom transformers designed by none other than Rupert Neve, and this likely plays a key role in why the Burnley distortion pedal sounds absolutely gorgeous. It has a really warm, fuzzy character that has a lovely mid-range punch to it. With just level, gain and tone controls it has the least shaping options of any pedal in our round-up, but it’s surprising how broad a range of distortion tones can be created just by tweaking these three knobs. Its sister stomp boxes, the Harlow boost and Wessex gain pedals, are worth checking out too! www.bogneramplification.com VERDICT 8.9
3 Based on the much-loved sound of Friedman BE amps, the BE-OD is great for a classy take on high-gain distortion with plenty of mid-range body. The ‘Tight’ control is a nice addition, helping to control the low-end of sounds and preserve definition across all frequencies. friedmanamplification.com VERDICT 8.2
4 Based on Diezel’s VH4 amp, which is beloved by certain quarters of the Rock guitarist community, this pedal is preamp and gritty overdrive in one. It’s great for shaping nasty, signal mangling high-gain that will cut through a mix. Naturally it’s primarily one for guitarists, but those who like a bit of gritty experimentation will enjoy it too. We fed some drum machines through the VH4 and had a great time doing so! www.diezel.co.uk VERDICT 7.8