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Dod Chain Reaction

Article from One Two Testing, May 1986

Four effects in box, 1,000 words on a page

It sounds like a great idea.

The concept of a whole lot of guitar effects put into a neat, convenient box controlled by a neat, convenient set of pedals is, well, neat and convenient.

But does it make you want to throw away that decaying bag full of tatty little boxes, leaky PP3 batteries and leads which work intermittently, if at all?

The answer must lie in the quality of the effects included. It's all very well having a smart black rack-mounted box but if it contains the equivalent of a truly shagged Electro-Harmonix fuzz with a dead battery then you may well be on to a bad bet.

And in this case, you're on to an expensive bet, too; £699 is not a small amount of money to pay for four effects. I make that £174.75 each.

The bit you pay for is, of course, the switching and the capability to change between combinations of effects at the mere twiddle of a toe.

This isn't to say, however, that the Chain Reaction is completely programmable in the true sense of the word; if you want to swap between two different sets of effects you still have to hit a gaggle of switches.

The thing does, however, offer a 'bypass' footswitch which gives you the option to set up a certain combination of effects and bring them in by hitting just one.

Bear in mind, though, that you can't have any of the effects in while the 'bypass' is switched on; so swapping between, say, chorussed rhythm guitar and distorted, delayed, top-boosted lead is still a matter of hitting four footswitches.

The 'infinite repeat' switch is fun to play with, but I would imagine of limited practical use in a live situation.

The DOD people do say that it can be used for stage or studio, but as there's no way of selecting individual effects without the footswitch it would seem to be mainly an onstage device. Mind you, it does have individual ins and outs for each effect on the back panel, so I suppose it could well be used as four separate units and accessed via the sends and returns on a mixer. Not that you'd need distortion all that much on the drum tracks, but the delay, chorus and EQ could come in fairly handy, if expensively.

Talking of expensive, it ought to be mentioned that £699 is not a tiny price for four effects.

That adds up to £174.75 an effect, which is certainly more than I'm used to paying for a parametric EQ or a distortion pedal. Even with a mains adaptor.

From left to right, the effects start with the 'Heavy Metal Distortion' which I found somewhat limited in basic sound but improved vastly by the two fairly unsophisticated tone controls that are attached to it. Even at minimum setting, however, it veers more towards the fizzy type rather than the raunchy, valve-ish kind and, quite honestly, sounds like a cheap fuzz rather than the silky-smooth AOR overdrive that we've come to expect from expensive distortion units of late.

The flanger/chorus unit is OK; the range is adequate for both jobs and though it won't go quite as far into the manic gurglings and warblings as some, I've yet to hear anyone who uses that extreme a noise. The main grouse with this is that the two effects, which are frequently used for totally different purposes (chorus as a general, slight enhancer; flange as a special effect) are lumped together in the one unit and switched in and out by the same pedal. This means fiddling with the knobs on the main unit if you want to change from flange to chorus or vice versa. Surely the very thing a remote footswitch-operated unit is designed to avoid?

The digital delay is fine, too - like all the Chain Reaction's effects it's quiet and clean and this one has a good range from fast slapback to long (one second plus) echoes. The highs tended to disappear on longer settings, as is usually the case with less-than-posh-studio-quality delays, but overall it was quite adequate for anything a guitarist/keyboard player/bassist might need in the vast mess we call onstage sound.

The parametric equalisation was, in my humble opinion, the best of the lot. It was ideal to boost and enhance guitar for solos, completely change the tone of a bass or a synth to push it up in the mix or drop it back behind a lead, and it gave you a good range of equalisation with a sensible amount of boost and cut.

In short, a good effect. But on the other hand, equalisation is not a difficult effect to do. And at £174.75, you'd expect pretty hot equalisation.

The end of the device is equipped with an input and an output and relevant level controls and LED displays thereof. Also snuggled into the output section is a knob described as 'enhance' which is a high-frequency boost to put back the sparkle that the effects take out. It works as well as can be expected, adding a touch more hiss but for stage use you might as well leave it full on all the time.

The footswitch unit, like the box it connects to, is sturdily built out of steel and the pedals are fairly solidly constructed too; nothing that would cause any problems even if a Dr. Marten-booted yob jumped on it several times a night.

The lead between the two, however, was best described as pathetic; weedy wire with moulded plugs on each end and only about eight feet long.

Not a professional job at all, and as it's a stereo jack-to-jack lead, it will be difficult to replace with something better. Why not proper lead and sensible plugs?

In fact, the whole thing boils down to this simple question - why so little for so much? £699 is not cheap for four effects of not outstanding quality and a separate footswitch. DOD ought to check out their price again. Maybe at £300 it would have something to offer, but for the meantime I'll stick with what I've got at the moment. All together now - "Little boxes, little boxes, all made out of ticky-tacky..."

Chain Reaction: £699

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A Walk On The Wide Side

Publisher: One Two Testing - IPC Magazines Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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One Two Testing - May 1986

Donated by: Colin Potter

Gear in this article:

Guitar FX > Dod > Chain Reaction

Review by Chris Maillard

Previous article in this issue:

> Shredder

Next article in this issue:

> A Walk On The Wide Side

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