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Review – DSM Noisemaker Drive Maker Pedal

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It may be hard to imagine Chile as a nexus of effect pedal innovation, but Chile’s DSM Noisemaker has quickly made a name for themselves with the success of their cabinet simulator pedal, the Omni Cab Sim Deluxe (OCSD).

On the heels of BMM’s review of the OCSD, I thought I’d take a moment to review DSM’s other super cool and unique offering, the Drive Maker.   In the fashion of their Omni Cab Sim, the Drive Maker packs a ton of features into a very well designed and superbly constructed pedal.  The Drive Maker dishes out a wide set of features, not immediately apparent when looking at its small footprint and compact controls.  Full disclosure:  I’m not exactly a guru of drive.  I typically opt for the various colors of clean and transparent in my tone, but I know a drive/fuzz is good when I can’t stop playing with it, which is the case with the DSM.   I easily dialed up a wide array of awesome sounds, from searing lead fuzz to rumbly deep grit, and even some funky, non-linear breakup that was reminiscent of a dirty ring modulator.  Muy bueno.   It didn’t take long to realize that DSM is forging a path with this pedal, and not copying or replicating other popular designs.  According to the manual, “the core of the Drive Maker engine is the “NAFTA” engine (“Not Another Friggin TubeScreamer Again”)”, which gives one a pretty clear sense of where DSM stands in regards to bringing something unique to a crowded market.   Daniel Schwartz Muñoz (DSM) says: “The drive maker was born after years of research for the perfect distortion. There´s no perfect distortion! as every tone has its time and place on music. It had to be the most versatile analog drive available, and have its own thing going on at the same time. It was a painstaking design”.

One would be hard pressed to imagine getting more features into a pedal of this size.   The front panel is jam packed with switches and knobs, and although this can make it a little tough to read at times, you really have to hand it to the designers for managing to cram so many cool features into a pedal roughly the size of a bar of soap.  Not only does the Noise Maker deliver overdrive and distortion tones, EQ, a noise gate, and a selectable mid boost, it also contains a ¼” fx loop that allows you to plug other pedals into the Noise Maker, so that when you kick on the boost channel for extra gain, you can add with it some additional effects of your liking. This makes for a pretty nifty solo/lead channel where the sound of several pedals can be accessed with one stomp.    Inside the chassis, you can select via dip switches whether the fx loop is on all the time, or only when the boost channel is engaged, further adding to the Drive Makers high degree of flexibility and customized control.

Looking at the top row of knobs, the Drive Maker has just the kind of controls I would want on a drive pedal.  The sensible Voice knob functions as a global EQ, going from a bass boost at minimum, all the way to a treble boost at maximum.  At noon, it is fairly balanced, EQ-wise.  The Gain knob offers a somewhat clean boost all the way up to a full-on saturated drive as you approach the upper limits.  The addition of the Gate knob is really cool, in my opinion.  It works great for higher saturation tones, and really helps to tame the beast, so to speak.  I liked adding in just a little of the gate at lower settings as well for a slightly smoother sound.   The Bass and Treble knobs (+/- 10dB) are of course super helpful for dialing in a balanced bass tone to suit an individual’s preferences.  Finally, an overall Level control serves as a master volume, for optimal control over gain staging.  Moving to the switches, The DM has three main distortion modes; a lower gain creamier OD that offered a variety of soft clipping overdrive sounds.  I was able to cop some Motown-y vibes in this mode, and at higher gain settings, a full-on distortion.   The higher gain Dist mode serves up considerably hotter, more saturated sounds.  Be careful switching from one to the other, as there’s a sizable volume jump.  The Broken mode is the most mysterious and unique mode. I think the best description is DSM’s own, from the manual: “Very asymmetric, weird drive. At mid gain, it is very bluesy and full of harmonics. At high gain, with powerful pickups, it “chokes” and sounds fuzzy and weird. Very unique”.  It sounded similar to my ears to the Dist mode, but with more artifact and odd breakup characteristics that were a little unpredictable, but lots of fun to get weird with. In addition, the Drive maker offers three different Octave modes; Low, Normal, and High.  The High octave brings in a ton of upper harmonic content and in is the most interactive with the higher gain drive modes.   It definitely was the most fun as a soloing/lead tone and had a dynamic response that was very expressive.  In the Normal position there is no octave effect, and Low adding a little less of the upper octave sound with a slightly different midrange characteristic.   The Mid switch (phew!) offers a 700hz scoop, an 800hz-2Khz boost and a flat response, further allowing you tailor the drive engines overall voicing.

The Boost switch offers even more (getting tired yet?) configurable awesomeness to the already long list of the Drive Maker’s features.  Not only do you get up to 30dB of continually variable boost via the tiny black thumbwheel, but as mentioned earlier, with internal switches settings, you choose whether the unit’s FX loop is on full-time when the pedal is engaged, or only when in boost mode.   I think that makes for a pretty awesome solo channel, giving your sound a boost and simultaneously controlling a number of effect pedals all at once, for simplicity on stage.

Whew!  That’s a whole lot of pedal.  The takeaway for me with the Drive Maker, as well as DSM’s Omni Cab Sim Deluxe is that both pedals seem to be designed for maximum control over a large number of parameters.  As opposed to being designed around specific overdrive or distortion standards, the Drive Maker delivers a powerful drive “engine” and a whole lot of ways in which It can be manipulated to create unique and inspiring overdriven sounds.    Whereas this approach can sometimes result in overly complicated designs that are hard to get dialed in properly, the Drive Maker is intuitive and easy to set up.   The addition of the bass and treble control, as well as the global voice control means that almost any mode or octave setting can be made usable, which makes for a heck of a lot of variety.   The gate control is another standout feature of this pedal.  As someone who doesn’t often go for highly saturated overdriven sounds, it allowed me to tame the distortion characteristic, without changing the degree of gain or output volume.

All in all, I have to hand it to Daniel at DSM for crafting a well-made, highly tweakable, intelligently designed pedal, capable of producing a wide array of inspiring and usable drive flavors.  Bass players should definitely consider the Drive Maker when looking for an overdrive pedal for their rig, especially those who like to tweak and adjust to their hearts content. Considering its unique feature set and the signature tones its capable of serving up, I would definitely recommend this pedal to all my distortion loving buddies.      Play guitar too?  Flip the other dip switch inside to change the tone profile and you’ve got all the Drive Maker’s deluxe features, tonally optimized for a guitar’s frequency range.   That’s quite the two-fer.  The Drive Maker sells direct from DSM for $239 plus shipping.  For more info and video samples, visit DSM Noisemakers website.

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Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

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Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB…

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB – Hearing protection has always been front and center on my mind because I love music so much, I cannot imagine my life if I were unable to hear.

You might remember back in 2021, we had a good look at the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs featuring adjustable protection. This system has a lot of very good features but there was always the question of how much sound attenuation to choose.

Now, the great folks at Minuendo have come up with a new version of their earplugs that has a set 17dB noise reduction. You still get a lot of the great features of the adjustables but you just don’t have to think about the specific sound level. In addition, this new version of earplugs comes at a very attractive price point.

For more information, visit online at Minuendo.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

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Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

Joyo Scylla Compressor: When Quality meets Budget-Friendly

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the diverse landscape of effects pedals for bass guitar, finding a compressor that strikes the balance between performance, versatility, and affordability can often feel like a daunting task. 

However, amidst the sea of options, one pedal stood out as a true diamond in the rough – the Joyo Scylla compressor. Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, the Scylla boasts a great array of features and controls typically reserved for pedals with much higher costs. Let’s take a closer look at why the Joyo Scylla is turning heads and earning praise among bassists on a budget.

Specs: The Joyo Scylla compressor measures in at 109 * 72 * 48 mm and weighs a mere 234g, making it both compact and lightweight – perfect for gigs or studio sessions where space is at a premium. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Scylla is efficient and versatile, compatible with a wide range of pedalboard setups.

Controls: What sets the Scylla apart from its direct competitors is its comprehensive control set, offering bassists a good amount of flexibility in shaping their sound. With six knobs, the Scylla allows for a very precise adjustment of key parameters:

  • Input Gain: Adjusts the amount of signal being fed into the compressor.
  • Output Volume: Controls the makeup gain after compression, ensuring consistent output levels.
  • Compression Ratio: Unlike traditional compressor pedals with preset ratio options, the Scylla features a continuous knob, allowing for seamless adjustment from subtle compression to limiter-like effects.
  • Attack and Release: Determine how quickly the compression engages and releases, offering a range of tonal possibilities from punchy and aggressive to smooth and subtle.
  • Output Tone Control: A unique feature not commonly found in compressor pedals, the tone knob adjusts the coloration of the compressed signal, adding warmth or brightness to your bass tone.
  • LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal, adding a touch of visual flair to their setup.
  • Performance: In practice, the Joyo Scylla delivers where it matters most – in sound quality and performance. Whether you’re aiming for a tight, punchy bass sound or smooth, sustained notes, the Scylla excels in providing transparent compression that enhances your playing without sacrificing dynamics. The granular control offered by its knobs allows for precise tailoring of compression settings to suit a wide range of playing styles and musical genres.
  • Pros: The Scylla’s strengths lie in its granular control, versatility, and compact design. Its sturdy build quality and diminutive size make it a welcome addition to any pedalboard, occupying minimal real estate without compromising on functionality. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Scylla is its price point. Despite offering professional-grade features, the Scylla remains accessible to bassists of all budgets.
  • Cons: While the Joyo Scylla excels in many areas, it’s not without its drawbacks. One notable omission is the lack of metering, which may pose a challenge for users seeking visual feedback on compression levels. Additionally, the plastic knobs, while functional, may feel somewhat less premium compared to other pedals. 
  • Conclusion: In conclusion, the Joyo Scylla compressor emerges as a great option in the world of budget-friendly effects pedals for bass guitar. Its comprehensive control set, transparent compression, and compact design make it a compelling choice for bassists seeking professional-grade performance without breaking the bank. From its intuitive interface to its thoughtful touches like the tone knob and customizable LED lighting, the Scylla delivers a level of versatility and functionality that belies its modest price tag. For bassists looking to elevate their tone without compromising on quality or affordability, the Joyo Scylla compressor is a clear standout.

For more information, visit online at joyoaudio.com/product/265.html

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Bass Videos

String Instrument Humidifiers

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String Instrument Humidifiers

String Instrument Humidifiers

After living in some very humid parts of the country for decades, we moved to a dryer, much sunnier location. As a result, I started noticing some fret sprout on my string instruments and recently did a video on fret sprout correction.

It occurred to me that I should take a more preventative approach to string instrument humidification. Of course, I turned to my instrument maintenance experts, Music Nomad Equipment Care, for a solution and they suggested their Humitar series. (Note: They sent two press samples and I purchased the remainder online.)

Join me as I look at these useful tools for keeping my string instruments in tip-top condition.

The Humitar series is available online at Music Nomad Equipment Care, as well as Amazon.com

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Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

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Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

CrystalBright Rombo Picks

PR Sample

Playing bass with a pick is still a touchy subject in our community. I believe you should be able to use whatever you need to get your sound. Even though I mostly play with my fingers, I like to check out innovative new picks that might have something new to offer, sonically speaking.

Judith and Carlos from Rombo recently contacted me about a new material called CrystalBright that they have been researching for the last 12 months and offered to send some prototype picks. After trying them out, I put together this video with my findings.

For more info check out @rombopicks

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