DA-2 Adaptive Distortion Review

manufacturer: Boss date: 01/16/2014 category: Guitar Effects
Boss: DA-2 Adaptive Distortion
The Boss DA-2 Adaptive Distortion is a fine distortion pedal in a general sense, and intriguing for its progressive adaptive quality whereby the unit "considers" just the right distortion depending on the register of the notes you feed it.
 Sound: 6
 Overall Impression: 5.5
 Reliability & Durability: 8.5
 Ease of Use: 8.5
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reviews (2) pictures (2) 5 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.8
DA-2 Adaptive Distortion Featured review by: UG Team, on january 16, 2014
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Ease of Use: While the Adaptive Distortion may do a lot of "thinking," the user need not. Function is pretty much plug and play. The DA-2 is a standard Boss compact stompbox with four knobs along the top. The controls are Level, Low, High, and A-Dist (Adaptive Distortion). Low and High are tonal controls. A monkey could dial in this straightforward pedal. // 10

Sound: The Boss DA-2 utilizes Roland's Multi-Dimensional Processing, or MDP. Multiple distortion processors "adapt the sound in real time."

That translates to a malleable digital distortion sound that adjusts on the fly to whatever information you throw at it from your guitar. I tried it out using a 1989 Fender Strat with Lace Sensor pickups through a 1983 Fender Super Champ, and I lined up a few of my old gain pedals for quick comparison tones.

First, let's state the obvious and remember that digital distortion is by nature a different animal from analog distortion, and, of course, distortion is different from overdrive. As expected, the DA-2 displayed a tight, clear, and present sound compared to my old analog distortion pedals, and the Adaptive Distortion was more aggressive than any overdrive. I point that out only because many players mistakenly use the terms "distortion" and "overdrive" interchangeably when they are in fact different beasts.

Having said that, the DA-2 was surprisingly versatile, and very responsive. It sounded very different depending on how I set the controls. It also reacted to how hard or softly I played, and where I was on the fretboard. I started with the three sample settings listed in the manual, and I suggest others do the same. With all the knobs at 12 o'clock the DA-2 displayed is home colors - forceful, fiery, and flexible. It sounded somewhat akin to the classic Pro Co Rat - plenty of venom without being overbearing. When I boosted the Low knob, and cut the Adaptive Distortion back to 9 o'clock to match the suggested Adaptive Crunch setting, the DA-2 yielded a very Stevie Ray Vaughan style tone reminiscent of an Ibanez Tube Screamer. When I cranked the Adaptive Distortion knob and cut the High control back to about 10 o'clock to achieve the suggested High Gain setting, the DA-2 morphed into a fire-breathing dragon worthy of playing the villain in the next Hobbit movie. The cost of such a violent sound was noise between licks, but as long as I kept my fingers blazing on the fretboard, the racket remained at bay. The more Adaptive Distortion I applied, the more noticeable its adaptive quality became, but even at high levels it was a rather subtle enhancement. It added a more edgy, biting distortion to notes in the lower register, and a smoother, creamier distortion to notes in the upper register. The end result was a more balanced distortion tone from low to high. // 8

Reliability & Durability: The DA-2 Adaptive Distortion functioned flawlessly throughout my experimentations. Its durability appeared to be similar with a typical Boss compact pedal, which means it might outlast all of us! It runs on either a 9-volt battery or an AC adapter. The Check indicator light lets you know when the battery runs low. // 9

Overall Impression: The DA-2 Adaptive Distortion rocks in 21st century fashion. It's capable of conjuring classic or modern tones, and furthering them via its progressive processing power. Its adaptive quality is a nice nuance and never a distraction. It's not something you think about while playing, but rather just the opposite. It "thinks" and does an admirable job adapting to you. How much more 21st century can you get? // 8

- Jimmy Leslie (c) 2014

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overall: 5.5
DA-2 Adaptive Distortion Reviewed by: ApocalypseNigh, on august 29, 2013
1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 119

Purchased from: Long and McQuade

Ease of Use: It is as easy as any other Boss pedal to achieve the sound you want. Unfortunately, the is significant volume drop after the first couple chords are chugged which makes this pedal completely useless. It made me very mad. Although I achieved the sound I wanted, the volume would go up and down with what I played. I wanted it to be adaptive in a way that was good, not in a way that made my playing sound like I was hitting a boost pedal every time I stopped and started. It is easy to use. I regret giving this pedal a 7 because I want this rating to fail so bad it ain't even funny. // 7

Sound: The sound is nice and tight for quick arpeggios and staccatic rhythms. The level knob doesn't really work past 1 o clock because the "adaptive" part of the pedal brings the level back down. The distortion knob can't really be pushed past 1 o clock or else you get fizz crap. There isn't any mid control knob so you have to compensate by adjusting the high and low knobs. Because of the ridiculousness of the volume drops with this pedal, I have to give the sound a fail rating. Who in their right mind would want to play with something that pushes their volume up and down. I thought it would be adaptive in a different and better way. // 4

Reliability & Durability: Knowing Boss pedals, you could probably play this thing until the internal electronics burned out and needed replacement. I'm sure I could gig without a backup, but I would never choose this pedal to play any gig ever. I was so disappointed with the frickin' volume drops. Felt like my heart sank after hearing this and comparing it to the online videos that sounded so great. It is a steel brick. It should withstand a global apocalypse. This being said, the pedal is going to be returned immediately. // 8

Overall Impression: I play hard rock, prog rock, and prog metal. This thing would be perfect if it didn't have the volume drop. I've been playing for 15 years, and there isn't a day that goes by where I don't play if I can. I've tried many pedals, the MXR's standing out as the best cheap mass produced ones. Boss's new pedals seem to lack balls. I bought the Metalcore thinking it sounded great, but I couldn't hear anything during band rehearsal. The Metalzone sounds too synthish to me. The DS-1 sounds too brittle and fizzy. The only real good distortion boxes by Boss are the Blues Driver and the Super Overdrive. I would have asked the "honest" salesperson if the DA-2 was a good product. If it was stolen I'd be bummed about losing 120 bucks, but be relieved I have more room in my apartment for something better. I love how tight the distortion sounds but absolutely hate the volume drops. I also hate how unversatile the distortion is. There ain't any mid control. I have the MXR Super Badass Distortion that just came on the market. Best cheap distortion box I've used so far. I am returning the DA-2 immediately. // 3

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