Sound — 8
The CM-2 is very reminiscent of the class Ibanez Tubescreamer TS-808 with its natural and familiar Overdrive growl. The CM-2 adds more tone shaping abilities and beautifully achieves tube amp crunch with extra low-end beef and top-end sparkle. This pedal seems to do a great job driving just about any amp I put it in front of. It works especially well driving a barely-gained tube amp. In Classic mode the pedal really feels like a natural push into full on Overdrive territory. Being a Tubescreamer-esque OD it comes with a fair amount of compression (which is naturally occurring with driven pre-amp tubes). When you stomp on this box you can hear your guitar's tone evenly Drive your amp with responsive attack, smooth midrange, and natural sustain. The CM-2 in Modified mode is a great modernization of the classic Tubescreamer vibe. When switching over to Modified mode the pedal's gain shifts into hod-rod mode with a nice upper midrange/presence peak. The Hardwire rocks with the best of them in this setting and can achieve crystal clear harmonics and glorious sustain.
Overall Impression — 8
I give the Hardwire a solid B 8/10 for being a very good stomp box Overdrive capable of achieving a variety of tones. It could easily be a guitarists solo Overdrive sound and fits gloriously into a mix when recording or mixing live. The price is unbeatable (100 USD street) which makes this pedal very attractive to working musicians and hobbyist alike. It may not be quite as colorful and transparent as some high-end boutiques but it comes extremely close.
Reliability & Durability — 7
All Hardwire pedals are equipped with high voltage input stages which allows for more push to input without achieving the wrong kind of distortion or clipping. Hot pickups or gain boosters have no problems interfacing with this pedal. The instrument's tone is preserved beautifully in this box comparable to a high-end boutique Overdrive. The one small problem with my CM-2 was that the silver coverings on the knobs started to slip off over time. This is very fixable with a little glue or tape, but was very annoying during gig time. Mechanically the pedal is rocking and seems to be as solid as they come, but I wouldn't be surprised if the next version has a different knob design.
Ease of Use — 8
The CM-2 Tube Overdrive is an Overdrive pedal from DigiTech's professional pedal line HardWire. With it's ultra-rugged construction, upgraded components, true-bypass circuitry, and classic tone, the CM-2 is a contender with expensive boutique pedals with a consumer level price tag. Whether used as a solo boost or main Overdrive the CM-2 delivers a natural and highly versatile Overdrive suited for the working guitarist. The HardWire CM-2 is a simple Overdrive stomp box with the following: True Hardwire bypass, constant high-voltage rails, 2-position Classic/Modified voicing Switch, level, gain, low, and high tone controls, and standard 9 volt DC power. The HardWire boxes also come with a precut Velcro strip for pedal board mounting as well as a nice rubber fitting (The Stomplock) which locks your knobs and settings into place.