Things That Go Boing In The Night
A reverb pedal for guitarists? Paul White discovers the truth about the Dod FX45.
The Dod FX45 Stereo Reverb Pedal seems like a good idea but does it really work? The intrepid Paul White finds out.
One of the more common questions that we get from readers is to do with which pedals are suitable for recording, so when I heard that Dod had built a stereo solid state reverb into a pedal, you can imagine that I was keen to get hold of one for review. Well, one duly arrived, so here's the story.
The pedal itself is similar in construction to the others in the Dod range and is tough, functional and attractive. Made from a one piece casting, the pedal features a soft touch FET switch to bring the effect silently in and out and there is a mini-jack socket fitted to one side so that you can use an external power source if you so wish. When the effect is active, this information is communicated via a red LED on the top of the box and this also serves to indicate the state of the battery. The signal connections are made via standard jack connectors and there are two outputs to give you a choice of stereo or mono operation.
There are three controls, annotated Room Size, Reverb Time and Reverb Level. Reverb Level controls the ratio of reverb to dry sound whilst Reverb Time determines how long the reverb takes to decay. Room size is a little more enigmatic but I initially assumed that it would control the density of the reflections. What it really does we'll discover later.
As this unit retails for around £170 I was expecting something a little bit special. The advance information did not say whether this was a digital or analogue device though my initial guess was that it would contain one of those multi-tapped analogue delay lines that produce six non harmonically related delay times. These chips are used in equipment such as the Rockman guitar headphone amplifier and give an interesting effect that falls somewhere between multiple echo and true reverb. By splitting the taps up and routing them left and right, it's possible to achieve an impressive stereo depth.
I was therefore totally unprepared for the result that actually ensued because the effect was rather like that you get when you set up a short delay and apply lots of feedback, which results in rather a drainpipe-like sound. The effect was so resonant that it imparted a distinct note to whatever signal was being processed and this note could be tuned using the room size control. In stereo or mono, this resonant effect was very predominant though the sound did have more depth to it in stereo. In addition to this rather perplexing sound treatment, there was an appreciable amount of background noise, particularly noticeable when the largest room size was invoked. The Reverb Time control seemed to have a limited range and even at its longest, the reverb was quite short.
When it comes to simulating true reverb, this unit is about as effective as a pogo stick in a swamp but it can be used to good effect on break-dancing tracks or material that requires a surreal treatment. As an effect for the human voice, the FX45 can produce some interesting Cyberman sounds and can do a pretty good Rolf Harris impression, but by no stretch of even my vivid imagination does it produce anything that could be construed as being reverb in the traditionally accepted sense.
Someone somewhere has spent a lot of time and money designing this unit so it would be unfair to dismiss it out of hand just because it did not do what I expected it to do. This Dod reverb pedal could be said to be unusual to the point of being unique and could be used to good advantage in creating special effects and robot voices, and you can just about get away with plugging a high Z mic directly into it.
When you consider that the rest of the Dod range of products is well thought out, tastefully designed and aimed at the right market, this particular product becomes difficult to justify at around £170 as you can get a similar effect, albeit in mono, out of any budget analogue delay line set to a short delay time and using a lot of feedback.
For musique concrete enthusiasts or for theatre groups looking for a new off-the-wall effect, this pedal could be worth trying out, but if you want a conventional reverb sound, try a spring unit, even a very cheap one, and you'll get more convincing results.
Further information is available from Rhino Music Spares, (Contact Details).
Review by Paul White
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