MC401 CAE Boost/Line Driver review by MXR

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  • Ease of Use: 10
  • Sound: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 8.7 (7 votes)
MXR: MC401 CAE Boost/Line Driver
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Price paid: £ 80

Purchased from: Online Retailer

Ease of Use — 10
It has one Dial. It has one button. Simple, easy, effective! Stick it after a distortion on a clean amp for a volume boost. Stick it in the FX loop to boost your driven amp channels volume. I know this is baby stuff here but I remember researching boosts for the first time and nobody was mentioning that it won't give you a huge volume boost for leads if you have a distorted heavy sounding amplifier and you stick it through the front end of the amp due to the compression of distortion. Try it clean first guys, as with any pedal get your amp clean so you can really hear what the effect is doing then adjust your eq and dial in your tone to work with it. There's no jargon on different things that it can do, it's a fantastic volume boost or signal buffer.

Sound — 10
It's a clean boost pedal, it takes your sound and adds up to 20db of boost to the circuit. You can run it a couple of different ways, some use it through the FX loop to create a volume boost, myself I run it through the front of the amp. It's stacked neatly into it's place on a pedalboard sandwiched between various effects and hands down is one of the superstars of the board. I like to have my amp set clean as I can get it and get my gain from various distortion and overdrives (Xotic SL Drive, Wampler Catapult at the moment). Engaging the pedal with a distortion running on the floor gives me a noticeable volume boost (you could also put it before the distortion to give it a big kick before distorting). This setup gives me a few interesting things with the MC401, for two small examples I'll either have it set to give me a volume boost for main leads, or I'll turn it down to 0 and I get a slightly bigger kick to my notes on background lead work thanks to the buffer (not massively noticeable but you'll feel it in your playing). It's also great if you're in a two guitar band and you're competing with the other guitar player for volume (Though you'd argue that efficient EQ on both of your amps will fit the purpose as well) you can set yourself to boost for lead or slight boost to fill the gap left when playing rhythm behind the other guitar players lead. All in all though guys and girls, it's a clean boost. If you like your tone and just want it louder, look no further. I have to give a perfect score because lets be honest it does exactly what it's meant to.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Designed by Bob Bradshaw these things are built to last. The switch button is a very satisfying clunk that will withstand heavy abuse, the dial so far has been kicked more times than a football in a playground but still no issues, no crackle, no problems. I've had it on my board for over a year now and performing guitar for a group that does not stop travelling and playing shows in all kinds of conditions this pedal has never let me down, I doubt that it ever will. It is built like a tank and survives my big feet jumping on it every day. I don't have a backup because I've not faced any issues with pedal what'soever, it's a fantastic little brute.

Overall Impression — 10
Overall this is a great little bit of kit to add to your onstage equipment. It's heavy duty, all black (must for guitar players) with a bright blue LED that you will see across the stage under thick fog and bright sunshine (we all have that pedal when you play an outdoor sunny day that you cannot tell if its engaged or not). I have been playing the electric guitar for 12 years now, working as a musician for the last 6 doing various band works and session work and it's one of the most useful pedals in my arsenal, though it only has one dial and doesn't change your tone, you can alter your place in the world of competing onstage divas. If it were stolen I would hands down buy another tomorrow. I tried a lot of different boosters before this one and even though there was some great competition (namely Keeley Katana, TC Spark, MXR Micro Amp) I preferred this to the lot due to the pure unadulterated boost, I mean I like my guitar tone already why should I need to change it if I want it louder? I don't want to give it a perfect score again but it doesn't beat around the bush, as Ronsil would say... it does exactly what it says on the tin.

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