DOD footpedal fx
phaser, gate and compressor
Here come some new pedals from Dod Electronics, the American manufacturers of high quality effects. Normally high price, too, due to the wibbly wobbly sterling/dollar exchange rates. However, the latest 'B' pedals are an upgrade of items in Dod's original SFX series, and now seem to offer better value for money. Included in these updates are two distortion boxes, as well as the compressor, phaser, and noise gate reviewed here.
Phaser first. Or as Dod call it, the FX20B STEREO PHASOR. The electrics come wrapped in a hi-tech grey metal box surmounted by a red LED, three closely spaced knobs, and a fine action black footswitch. The input on the right side of the pedal is matched by stereo outputs on the left, with a mini-jack input socket between them for an external power supply. Access to the battery compartment is through a panel beneath the controls.
Controls: the three knobs are marked Speed, Depth, and Regeneration. What's phasing, did you say? Where you been? It's an echo-based effect which matches a slightly delayed and modulating signal against its source. As they interfere with each other (oooh!), they create (almost) the whooshy jet plane noise so beloved of sixties psychedelic records. Speed refers to the speed of modulation, Depth is the amount of variation, and Regeneration determines the height of the phasing peaks (it says here).
Outside the world of the recording studio, phasing has largely been superseded in popularity by chorus (also echo-related, but based on a longer initial delay). The sound of the phase pedal on guitar or keyboard is no longer regularly heard; nowadays it's almost a novelty.
The FX80B COMPRESSOR/SUSTAINER comes in an orange version of the standard three knob DOD SFX metal box, though with only one mono jack output.
The three controls are Level, Attack, and Compression. Level simply sets the volume of the pedal's effect, which allows its use as a simple volume booster when the direct signal is quieter than the effect. Attack adjusts how soon the compression activates after the note is struck. Compression determines how much the signal is compressed and thus sustained.
Now the complicated one. The FX30B GATE/LOOP also sits in a pale grey box. Input is on the right, output on the left. And there are two other jack sockets, marked Send & Return, which allow the pedal to be used as an effects loop.
But that's not all. The FX30B tries hard to be all things to all people, starting its working life as a noise gate. As such, it's intended to sit at the end of your pedalboard, cutting out any extraneous hum, buzzes, bloops and farts produced by your other boxes. The gate will remain closed to all background noise produced by your effects until a much louder signal comes along (just how much louder than the background is determined by the Sensitivity control) and opens the gate, letting your guitar/keyboard/fuzz sitar rush through. And when you stop playing, the gate closes again. Simple, huh? And useful.
To use the FX30B as an effects loop, take the output from the Send, and plug it into the input of your first effect. Then add in the other effects between it and the Return socket. The advantage in using this set-up is partly that bypassing the other effects when they're not in use gives better signal-to-noise ratio, but also that it allows you to turn off all the effects with just one foot-switch.
But wait - that's not all. This clever bugger will also still allow you to switch between two inputs, should you wish. Put one jack into the input, and the other into the Return jack; pressing the switch will make either one output or the other appear at the output jack. Magic.
Finally (pause for breath), you can also use the thing to gate one sound with another. Firstly, set the Gate knob fully anticlockwise to 'In'. With that done, sending an input (such as a drum machine snare) to the In jack will open the gate to allow a second signal (such as synth white noise) to escape briefly from its own input at the Return jack and hightail it from the Output. The above example can be v. useful in recording beefy drum sounds.
Well, I liked the Gate/Loop machine a lot - brilliant, if unspectacular, and with more uses than I would have thought possible for such a small box.
The phaser works, again unspectacularly - though that is more due to the dullness of the effect itself rather than the quality of the pedal. In stereo, the sound spreads, but it still lacks the richness of chorus. The compressor seems more immediately effective, stretching those "long meaning notes and letting them float" (copyright C Beefheart). It's also subtle enough to use as a limiter when recording instruments/sounds that have outputs with sudden unexpected peaks (rather like creativity).
One glaring error: the LEDs on all three pedals are mounted too low inside their little red covers, making them invisible unless viewed from almost directly above. Not good.
Dod's standards are high, and the pedals themselves are efficient enough. But with Japanese firms like Ibanez, Boss and Aria producing digital choruses, delays, and flangers, and Yamaha, Guyatone, and Frontline selling budget pedals at £20-130 less, the future for these effects seems as bright as their own LEDs.
Review by Jon Lewin
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