Tour-worthy pedals—meticulously designed
By Jim Gault
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
[Editor’s note: This review appeared in a somewhat different form in the Musician’s Friend catalog.]
You have to take only one look at DigiTech’s new HardWire Pedals to tell they are pedals of a higher caliber. They just look especially well built with all-metal construction and precision machining. And when you try them out, you quickly find your first impression is confirmed. DigiTech has always been known for creating effective effects, and the HardWire pedals will only add luster to their good reputation. These are pedals that are designed for high-level performance, sport innovative features and well-thought-out details, and are built to withstand the rough life on the rock tour.
For this review we test drove the HT-2 Chromatic Tuner, CM-2 Tube Overdrive, and the Supernatural Ambient Stereo Reverb. As a group, they share a number of special characteristics. First, they each benefit from all-metal construction with precision machining and high-grade components. They are built to last and have a number of basic features that deal with the realities of performance, such as antiskid bottom pads, glow-in-the-dark labels, and Stomplock, a cap that fits over the knobs so no accidental changes in settings occur during performance.
Thinking inside the box
Internally, these pedals are distinguished by a number of special features. One is true bypass. When the pedal is turned off, it has no coloring effect on your signal whatsoever. The pedals are also designed so that if you lose power to them during a performance, they automatically go into bypass mode. You may lose the pedal, but not your tone.
Another special HardWire feature is high-voltage operation. Each HardWire Pedal contains special circuitry that boosts the voltage supplied by its nine-volt battery to an operating voltage of 15 volts. This means more headroom so that guitars that have high-output pickups won’t overdrive the pedal and clip. This same circuitry also keeps voltage constant so that performance doesn’t degrade as the battery runs down. There’s none of the grittiness and distortion indicating a weakening battery found in other pedals.
HT-2 Chromatic Tuner
The HT-2 fulfills all the usual requirements demanded of a tuner and more. It’s accurate, visible, and durable. It is also especially stable, which many tuners simply are not. It has both a note display window and LEDs that show pitch level, multiple tuning references, and normal and strobe tuning modes. Its outstanding quality is stability. You don’t have to hit a moving target as you tune, as with many tuners. This makes tuning faster and more certain.
[Editor’s note: In addition to the HT-2, DigiTech now also produces the HT-6 Polyphonic Tuner which allows the guitarist to tune up with a single strum.]
Supernatural Ambient Reverb
The Supernatural verb contains six studio-quality Lexicon reverbs. Plate delivers that classic studio ‘verb sound while Plate Mod adds a touch of shimmering chorus. For more pronounced chorus, choose the Shine setting. Shimmer is is a dramatic effect generating cascades of octave shifts ideal for spacey rock and psychedelic blues. The Supernova setting serves up deep-space reverb with pitch-shifting and flange colorations. The Pherb reverb adds a touch of phasing to the rich sound of Lexicon’s acclaimed Hall reverb.
CM-2 Tube Overdrive
The CM-2 is ideal for those players who stay closer to the clean end of the spectrum. It has a Classic/Modified switch that lets you toggle between a warm, smooth, very creamy overdriven tube sound and a fatter, hot-rodded overdrive with more gain. High and low EQ controls let you substantially tweak these basic modes, and your real tone shines through it all. This is not a tone murderer.
The HardWire pedals have found many admirers. They sound great, are built like little tanks, and each one is versatile and easy to dial. Features such as true bypass and high-voltage operation only make them that much easier to appreciate. Above all else, it’s the quality of their sounds that will win the hearts of even the most jaded guitarists.
Features & Specs
- Rugged all-metal construction
- Precision machining
- True bypass
- High-voltage operation
- Automatically goes to bypass with power loss
- Constant voltage, even as battery declines
- Nonskid bottoms and switch surfaces
- Lexicon reverbs, delays, and choruses
- Mono or stereo operation in the DL-8, CR-7, and RV-7
- Includes Stomplock knob covers, gaffer tape for visibility labeling, Velcro for mounting
- 9V battery power
- Easy battery access
Dive deep into the world of stompboxes with the Guitar and Bass Effects Buying Guide.