Multidrive Review

manufacturer: Empress date: 02/05/2014 category: Guitar Effects
Empress: Multidrive
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.
 Sound: 9.3
 Overall Impression: 9.7
 Reliability & Durability: 10
 Ease of Use: 8.7
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (3) pictures (3) 11 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.3
Multidrive Reviewed by: Strangeman86, on february 25, 2011
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 299

Purchased from:

Ease of Use: 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. // 8

Sound: 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. // 9

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 10

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 9
Multidrive Reviewed by: logicbdj, on june 10, 2011
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 200

Purchased from:

Ease of Use: Selecting a good tone is somewhat complicated, but worth the time experimenting with this all-analog pedal, only because there are so many options at your disposal. This is not a bad thing, since it offers customization, but messing with the unit certainly is a requirement to get the most of it. The manual is straight forward; to develop your own selectable combinations (of what effect you want on or off via the footswitch) requires a few minutes work setting up. // 8

Sound: The overall sound is the best I have heard coming from a pedal of this type, and having a four-year warranty tells you something about the durability and company standards. Most notable, it sounds natural and flattering to a tube amp, as though it is part of the amp. Each element (fuzz, distortion and overdrive) has a separate volume knob, so that you can mix a little, a lot or none of any of the three. And besides controlling the mix, you can adjust the gain for each; and so, imagine having the fuzz turned up to the max, but its volume/mix output being low. Or you can put a lot of distortion into the mix, but keep its bite to a minimum. And when you do turn up the volume and gain on all three, for a maximum tonal experience, the notes still ring clear! The fuzz truly is a classic fuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, giving plenty of sustain, gain and fatness to your tone. You can hear Toni Iommi as you crank it up. The Overdrive is very Vintage sounding and actually sounds like a tube amp breaking up; very smooth and not at all cheap or digital sounding. The degree of effect from this Overdrive is sensitive to guitar dynamics, thus making it sound very natural to the ear. Distortion often can add mess to a mix, but this one does not. Whether using a little or a lot, the notes and sound coming from the amp remain tight, even on the heavy end. Usually playing low notes can sound muddy with too much distortion, but not with this pedal. The quality of each aspect can be controlled with an optional high or low pass filter, to give a bit more definition or creaminess if desired. The distortion has an added feature of how the element is delivered by way of mild (flat), crunch or lead options. The crunch option thickens up the tone, but maintains a tight low end, whereas the lead setting compresses the signal and offers a nice bite in the high end. Which of the three aspects are on or off is controlled by a select footswitch, which means, for example, you can have fuzz and Overdrive without distortion, and without having to turn the volume down on the distortion. What aspects are on and which are off (visible by way of bright multi-colored LEDs) can be customized via a dip-switch panel inside the unit. This allows you to select two preset combinations: only fuzz only distortion only Overdrive fuzz + distortion fuzz + overdrive overdrive + distortion fuzz + distortion + overdrive Another way to think about it is: what do you want applied to rhythm and what do you want for lead? Or if you play only rhythm or only lead, what one or two elements do you want in the mix? Of course, you can have all three switched on simultaneously and mixed according to your specs for a super fat tone. All the above is further controlled through a master section on the pedal. One area allows you to control the mid-range frequency (since the guitar is a mid-range instrument that produces its best sound between 100Hz and 8kHz, give or take), with a 500Hz, 250Hz, and 2kHz option. This means getting a bit more punch by way of adding "body/thickness", or by adding "clarity/brightness". This ties nicely into a second area, the main EQ, which allows further control over the hi, mid and low ends for added tonal shaping. Many companies claim "true bypass", but a lot of the times you can hear how your tone is affected in the bypass mode it's not quite the same as if you were to remove the pedal from the chain completely. This pedal truly does have a true bypass, as though nothing is there. And when in use, the pedal is super quiet with all elements turned up full (both volume and gain), the degree of hiss or hum is the lowest I have heard... Almost negligible. For the price you are getting a heck of a pedal, and it's like having three pedals, but with a few differences: 1) with fuzz/distortion/drive combined it takes up little room on the pedal board and no more space than most pedals with far fewer options and control; 2) most importantly, all three aspects are complimentary no worries if a fuzz you buy will mix well with the overdrive, or the Overdrive with the distortion. One other point of interest: if you have access to an amp simulator pedal/device (I have the Line6 Pod X3 Live), your tonal possibilities have just increased. Amp simulators come close to emulating amps from Fender, Mesa, Marshall, and many others, but one of the problems is that they sound digital (which they are) and thin, not warm and full like the real deal. What I do is select an amp/speaker combo I like, but turn down the gain/drive completely. I then use my Empress Multidrive for a superior sound, but in combination with my preferred amp characteristics. No need to invest in numerous amps for diverse sounds (or as you get bored with your gear); select the amp head and cabinet you want from the amp simulator, turn down any Drive or gain so that it's clean, then hear the far more natural nuances being delivered through the Multidrive. I can testify there is a big difference in doing this as opposed to using the Drive and distortion/fuzz options that come with a digital amp simulator. // 9

Reliability & Durability: The construction is all metal, including the grey-sparkle box, as well as all knobs and switches. It comes with a four-year warranty, which speaks clearly of the durability of the product and the company's standards. It is a fairly new addition and so nothing has happened with it yet to determine its robustness. // 10

Overall Impression: Any of the elements can be applied to such low levels that you can use it for blues, jazz, country or other styles that require only a hint of edge with the clean. So far, so good, but there are few negatives with this pedal (hardly worth mentioning, but review readers always are looking for an Achilles Heel). One, you have to buy an adapter if you prefer powering it up that way, rather than using battery juice (and getting access to the battery requires the unscrewing of the bottom plate). Two, it would be nice if you could save pre-sets, but really that is non sequitur with this pedal. The Empress Multidrive is an analog pedal, and to re-engineer it to save presets means changing its nature to digital. And when you do that you no longer get the great tones that are possible as they currently exists. And so, many consumers may unknowingly be giving up superior sound for a pre-set saving option, or to have a pedal that has numerous pre-sets to "emulate" different types of fuzzes, overdrives and distortions. I'll make the effort to turn a few knobs to retain the quality of the Multidrive. // 9

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 10
Multidrive Reviewed by: Douse Music, on february 05, 2014
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 200

Purchased from: online

Ease of Use: Its slightly more complicated than the run of the mill pedal but set up great to be able to grasp the functions and understanding it within minutes was my experience. Great boutique drive pedal! There are 4 screws to take off the bottom panel exposing the internal switches to manipulate your choice of combinations for the drives in parallel. Flick a switch or two of how you want it configured and its back together within seconds. Everything on the pedal itself is well labeled and the functions will be familiar to anyone who has used a simpler effects pedal for sure. // 10

Sound: This is a great pedal for adding fuzz/overdrive/distortion to your guitar tone. It also employs hp/lp filters on separate drives for a versatility unlike any pedal I've seen. True bypass and the ability to toggle switches inside to customise any of the possible combinations is amazing. The pedal is very quiet and doesn't snap, crack or pop when activated or deactivated. I like to run the overdrive as a constant background effect and the secondary effect i use the crunch distortion to make nice heavier rhythm parts possible. This pedal is so versatile it can work for blues to metal. Theres an EQ as well so you can tame or enhance frequencies at the turn of a nob. The mid frequency knob is governed by a frequency switch for tuning in the option of 3 specific mid areas 500/250/2k. // 10

Reliability & Durability: The pedal has a super durable metal casing, great switches, led's are bright to be able to tell when it's enabled. It's well built all around like all empress stuff! I have brought it to 100 rehearsals and at least 50 shows! This is a strong build and empress effects prides themselves on reliability and professional gear! Even the knobs are metal and the switches for high pass/low pass filters are as well. These are handmade units so rest assured the internal components are crafted by people who care about quality. This unit has never failed me! // 10

Overall Impression: This is great for subtle overdrive to intense fuzz to mild distortion or crunch and even "lead" distortion types. Crunchy rhythm distortions work really well for thick rhythm guitar parts the type you'd hear from a jcm or something of that nature. The Overdrive is fantastic to compliment a clean guitar through a clean amp providing just a bit of that grit to give your tone that meat your looking for! The fuzz is gorgeous... Hit it hard and you'll find that racket fuzz of the '70s or subtly blend it in with the over drive or distortion... These drives work in parallel! Thats right multiple tones output from this pedal in a fantastically design parallel chain! Marvelous piece of ingenuity. // 10

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
Only "https" links are allowed for pictures,
otherwise they won't appear