Multidrive review by Empress

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Ease of Use: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (18 votes)
Empress: Multidrive

Price paid: $ 299

Purchased from:

Sound — 9
I'm using this pedal with my Warmoth Telecaster with a single humbucker in the bridge. That runs into the pedal, which then runs into my 1978 Fender Musicmaster Bass amp. Surprisingly, the pedal isn't noisy even at high volumes with multiple sections of the pedal running at once and the gain knobs cranked, kudos to Empress. But on to the individual sections. The fuzz is supposed to be 'muff styled'. I've never owned a muff, but this fuzz is edgy, punchy and has great note separation. The Overdrive section is supposed to sound like an old tweed amp, and I think it's pretty close. It's not quite as chewy as a cranked 5E3, but it has the attitude right. The distortion is, again, supposed to sound like a JCM 800. It has a lot more gain available than said amp, but the tonal qualities are there. Tons of crunch...punchy, punchy, punchy and is fun to play. Think 80's hair-metal and you'll be in the right ballpark. I hope this gives you a good idea of how the pedal sounds, but the problem is that the features are so tweakable that making tangible tonal comparisons is a bit of a challenge. Personally, I run one preset with only the distortion on and the other with the Overdrive and fuzz on at the same time. The fun thing about the circuits being in parallel is that, unlike stacking pedals, one sound doesn't just envelop the other. You can blend in as much or as little of one effect as you like. The high pass and low pass filters give you even more available sounds. If you can get your hands on one of these in real life please try it, it's great to be able to shape your sound so much. It's not a jack of all trades pedal, but it wasn't designed to be one. It was designed to be a unique amalgam of dirt.

Overall Impression — 10
I play rock, of many varieties. This pedal is tweakable enough to fit into MOST styles, not all. In my humble opinion it doesn't do the extremes well. It doesn't do edge of breakup that well (but I'm only running it at 9 volts right now, it can run on up to 18, which I plan on trying very soon) and it doesn't do uber-distorted swedish black metal all that well. But everything between that is fair game and the pedal performs very well. The only thing I think I'd like the pedal to have is a third preset and the EQ to be assignable, but that would probably make the pedal huge and the top even more crowded. I can't really compare this to one dirt box, because it has three inside of it. And most dual dirt boxes out there don't allow you to run the effects in parallel, they're run in series. That's not wrong, it just makes this pedal pretty unique. I look forward to putting this pedal in front of many more amps and using it in many different situations. A ten from me here because of this pedal being different.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Empress has a reputation of making great pedals, and this particular one comes with a 2 year warranty (if you register the pedal with Empress you can extend that to 4 years for free). I'm not worried about it. Hopefully it won't break, but if does, I get a new one. A ten because, even though it's built like a brick-$#!& house, Empress still gives it a great warranty.

Ease of Use — 8
This is Multidrive #29. In case you're unfamiliar with it, it's a fuzz, Overdrive and distortion in one pedal all running in parallel. Each section has a volume knob, a gain knob and a high pass, normal, low pass switch. The distortion section has an additional Switch for the level of available gain. The pedal also has a master EQ section with high, mid and low knobs (each with a center detente if you want that frequency untouched), the mid knob has its own Switch to change the frequency adjusted from 500k to 250k to 2k. The pedal has a master volume control and two stomp switches, one for on/bypass and one to select between the two available presets. I hope that was a clear enough explanation, but viewing a picture of the pedal will give you clarity on the layout. As far as ease of use, it's helpful if you read the manual (which is several pages long, greatly detailed and very, very helpful). As mentioned earlier there are two available presets for the pedal that you can set using the 6 internal DIP switches on the circuit board. They are labeled 1-6. 1-3 are for preset B and 4-6 are for preset A (at least, that's what the manual says). When you flip the switches up, it engages a specific section of the pedal for the corresponding preset. For example, if you flip up switches 1 and 3, you'll activate the fuzz and distortion sections for preset B. And if you flip up Switch 5, preset B will only have the Overdrive section activated. The EQ section is on constantly while the pedal is on and affects the overall output (it isn't assignable to either preset if some of you were wondering). I hope this has given you a basic understanding of how this pedal functions. If you have any more questions on the functionality of this pedal, look Empress Effects up online lol.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I've heard nothing but the best about Empress. I'd love to get my hands on one...
    I love how there's always some ass who insta-rates everything with a 1 just to troll.
    Frankly, I'm just glad my review was intelligent enough for someone to understand! This pedal has so many features and you can tweak the tone for days... I'm still dialing everything in.
    Don't own one (unfortunately) but I'm sure there's a reason they're (company) is called Empress - because they reign supreme.
    i wonder how this would sound in front of a distorted amp to get the that "uber distrorted swedish black metal" distortion. Sounds awsome though, love to try it.