HardWire CM-2 Tube Overdrive review by DigiTech

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Ease of Use: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (40 votes)
DigiTech: HardWire CM-2 Tube Overdrive

Sound — 9
I'm running this in front of either a Peavey 5150 II or a Marshall AVT50. Both these amps sound good on their own (The Peavey sound VERY good), but this pedal adds that extra crunch I've always been looking for. Putting this in front of your dirty channel will boost the signal, adding a bit of gain even at 0, and compressing the signal a bit, which in this case is desirable. Even when you set the tone knobs and level at noon, with the gain on 0, the difference when you step on this pedal is instant. It adds headroom, definition, and tightens up the low end. Boosting the treble knobs adds more edginess and crunch, and boosting the low end adds a pleasing thump, round but not muddy. Cutting the treble rounds and darkens the high end a bit, but it never gets that 'quieter' feel to it. Cutting the bass tightens things up, but even all the way down it is still present and a part of the tone still. The level knob is great for clean boosting, and the gain knob has a VERY wide range of distortion for an overdrive. I usually set it at 0 or 1 to put in front of a dirty amp, but at the store, I experiment with various amps, modern metal, traditional, and even tweed style, and there is enough gain in this pedal to get almost any amp up to Judas Priest/iron Maiden levels. Switching between classic and modern voicing noticeably but not drastically changes the tone, with classic sounding 'pre-1990' al la british punk, glam rock, and 80s metal, with modern would be better for 'post-1990' music, such as grunge, deathcore, or sludgyer sounding stuff. I personally prefer the classic moe, as it's designed after the legendary tube screamer. Overall, I'd say that all the effects on this pedal are excellent. The only reason I don't give this part a ten is because this pedal won't give you the sound your looking for unless you set your amp correctly, this pedal isn't meant to start you off, it's meant to get you the rest of the way to great tone. If you have no idea what your doing, you probably wouldn't notice much of a difference with this pedal.

Overall Impression — 10
I play a lot of metal, and this pedal, while not exactly good for it on it's own, gives my base tone that extra kick into the stratosphere I've always been looking for. I've been playing guitar for three years, and other instruments for ten, so I've been around the block a time or two. I've owned a lot of distortion pedals before, but this is my first overdrive, and I have to say that these are far better. If this pedal were lost or stolen, I would definitely buy another, without question. I really can't think of anything I dislike about this pedal, my favorite feature would just have to be the way it changes you tone even with all the knobs set to neutral, it does what it aims to do perfectly. I compared this to some other Overdrive and distortion pedals, and I can say that this is definitely my favorite pedal now, not only because it makes everything sound good, but because it's so versatile as well.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This people is very durable. I step on it multiple times a day, and it does show it. These pedals are built to last, and come with stomp-locks and velcro for a pedalboard, and even a glow in the dark sticker for dark stages. They were designed with touring in mind, and while a good bit bigger and heavier than a boss, they are still compact and reliable. I'd gig this without a backup, but I'd bring my power supply with me. The nice thing about hardwire pedals is that even if they run out of batteries, they don't shut down your signal path, they just witch to true bypass mode and you can keep playing without rearranging your entire pedalboard.

Ease of Use — 9
I picked this pedal up used from my local music shop. I think I really got a good deal, as most Tube Screamer style pedals cost more than $100 and you usually can't get them used, so this was a great find for me. Controls are simple, with level, low, high, gain knobs, and a switch between 'modern' and classic. The modern has a bit more gain and bass, but the classic is all Ibanez tunde screamer. It's very easy to set this pedal to add a pleasing tone to your amp. The stock setting, with everything at 12 sounds nice, adding a bit of treble and bleeding a bit of bass, but the surprise is the amount of gain that can come out of this. For an overdrive, it's quite versatile, and can get you about 80% of the way to full on metal with a Fender clean sound behind it. The way this pedal is meant to be used is to 'sweeten' your sound, it won't drastically change how it sounds. It's not going to make a bad amp sound awesome, but it will bring that medium-priced or expensive amp to the next level. The controls are very simple, and are designed to help you find your 'sweet spot', which is when you find the best setting on your amp, but are still looking for a bit more. This pedal adds a couple extra controls that, in my opinion, are well worth the price. This pedal is also very versatile, it can be used to create a rhythm tone with the amp, step on it for a lead tone, then step on it again and roll back the volume on the neck for a clean sound. I think the only trick with this pedal is to know how to actually eq an amp, as wanting 'tight' bass, turning the bass up on this will not make that happen, you have to have at least a good knowledge of the sound your going for to use this pedal.

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