Xotic Effects Wah XW-1 Review – Best Clyde McCoy Wah Pedal?

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The original Italian-made Clyde McCoy wah pedals from the 1967-1969 era are considered Holy Grails in terms of classic wah tone. Any guitarist lucky enough to have one of those iconic pedals in original working condition will surely agree. But for the rest of us, hoping to attain that original wah sound is often a matter of compromise. Sure, there are many great wah pedals inspired by the original Vox “Clyde McCoy” wah, including a few great sounding modern variations. But the Xotic Wah XW-1 seeks to claim the throne to become the best “Clyde McCoy” wah pedal available today. For this review, we’ll focus on simply how good this pedal is in general.

Xotic Effects are no strangers to reproducing classic tones in pedals aimed at the modern guitarist. They delivered the goods with the Marshall Super Lead/Super Bass inspired SL Drive, the Ross Compressor inspired SP Compressor, and the Echoplex EP-3 preamp emulating EP Booster. While those “3 Little Giants” offer premium sounds in budget friendly mini pedal format, the Xotic Wah seems to take the route of Xotic’s Custom Shop line of effects in that it’s clearly aimed at the boutique wah pedal market. But while it’s a bit more costly than Xotic’s recent mini pedal offerings, the XW-1 is not to be mistaken for your typical wah pedal… or any wah before it for that matter. You’ll soon find out why in our Xotic Wah XW-1 review.

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Features:

  • Self-lubricating nylon bushing pivot for quiet and smooth operation with fully-adjustable rocker pedal tension.
  • Gold contact relay true bypassing, which allows for transparent true bypass tone, while incorporating ultra reliable switching with minimum one million life cycle.
  • 20% smaller footprint than conventional wah pedals.
  • Fully adjustable Wah-Q and Bias controls and a two-band EQ with +/-15 dB center-detent potentiometers optimize the voicing for different playing styles and gear.
  • Fuzz friendly buffering circuit assures a great sounding wah tone with your favorite fuzz pedals.
  • Internal controls include switches for Toe Down Range, Input Gain (with Input Gain Trimmer), Presence Cut, & Wah Q Frequency.
  • Powered by 9-volt battery or 9VDC power adapter. (Power LED will flash when battery is below 50% power to indicate that it’s time to change the battery.)

Visit Xotic Effects for more info about the Xotic Wah XW-1.

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Sound & Performance:

When you first unbox the Xotic Wah XW-1, all of its knobs should be facing up to noon. (If not, it’s easy to dial in the stock tone as the knobs have little indentions at noon.) This setting is meant to capture the 1968 Clyde McCoy “Signature” Wah sound. While I couldn’t do a side-by-side comparison to an original unit, my impressions are based on 2 things: a couple decades of listening to classic wah tones and how the Xotic Wah sounds with my guitars and amp. At its default settings the XW-1 produces an incredibly smooth wah sound and excels at producing classic style wah effects.

Xotic recommends a few other settings in the manual that can also take you from a 1967 Vox Clyde McCoy “Picture” wah, through the previously mentioned ’68 “Signature” variation, and to the 1969 Vox Clyde McCoy “Metal [Film] Can” style wah sounds. These variations are handled with a few subtle tweaks of the Xotic Wah’s Bias and Wah-Q knobs. But what exactly do these controls do, you ask? Read on…

Xotic-Effects-Wah-XW-1-Review-Best-Clyde-McCoy-Wah-Pedal-03The Wah-Q is perhaps the most valuable control for defining your wah sound. It’s great at noon as a starting reference point, but turning it clockwise produces a wider-ranging, vocal-like sweep for a more dramatic wah effect. Cutting the Wah-Q down below noon will reduce the sweep for more subtle wah sounds. It’s important to pay close attention to the frequency range and how the resonant peaks change through the sweep as you alter the Wah-Q. This magic little knob will help you articulate your own signature wah sound. Then all you have to do is write your own White Room, Voodoo Child, Sweet Child ‘o Mine, or Shaft theme. (Hey, at least dialing in a great tone is pretty easy!)

The Bias is where things get a bit more interesting. You may be familiar with seeing “Bias” knobs and trimpots on fuzz pedals, as altering the voltage to transistors can greatly affect the overall tone and performance of such effects. Likewise, the Xotic Wah’s Bias control can impart a dramatically different sound and feel to the pedal. Pushing the Bias up from noon creates a more aggressive wah tone that’s hotter, louder, and decidedly more modern sounding with a maxed setting being quite extreme. Cutting the Bias down from noon adds even more clarity, great for guitar players that like their wahs exceptionally clean and smooth. (Oh, and speaking of fuzz pedals, the Xotic Wah’s “fuzz friendly” buffering ensures your old germanium transistor fuzz pedals sound impeccable at all times.)

The Treble and Bass controls function as expected, giving you the ability to shape the wah’s tone to suit your guitar and amp setup. I really like the EQ section from Xotic’s classic lineup of BB Preamp, AC Booster, & RC Booster guitar pedals, and these controls are equally solid here. I find that I like to cut the Treble a bit with single coils, but generally, leaving these knobs at noon works great. Also, with more extreme Wah-Q settings, a little Treble cut again comes in handy to help define the upward sweep and tame any perceived harshness. Pushing up the Bass can bring in a beefier, low-end wah sound if that’s your thing. I don’t typically recommend boosting both Treble and Bass together as this may take away from the characteristic mid-focused wah sweep, but these parameters add to the myriad ways to sculp the perfect Clyde McCoy wah variation.

There are a few more tricks up the Xotic Wah’s sleeve, or under the hood, I should say. There’s an internal dipswitch that activates an Input Gain trimpot. This can be useful if you want your wah-infused solos to cut through a bit more. My one minor gripe with the XW-1 is that this control isn’t external, but of course, I played through wah pedals for years without the luxury of a gain boost knob and never complained. It’s not much of an issue really as it’s more of a set-and-forget control. While some guitarists might have liked an option to easily match the XW-1 to guitars with different output levels, others will already be using a first-in-signal-chain compression pedal or boost pedal to match levels. While turning up the Bias can add to your volume level, it does affect your overall wah sound, so the Input Gain knob can be a critical knob to tweak to get your output level just the way you like it.

There’s also a Toe Down Range dipswitch that’s set to On by default to give you a maximized treble response. It may be worth turning Off if you’re experimenting with more aggressive wah sounds or using bright pickups and need to tame the high-end. A Presence Cut dipswitch smoothes the high end; it’s default setting is also On. At this point you’ll have surely noticed that the Xotic Wah has a lot of options for shaping the upper frequency end of the pedal’s response which is arguably the most critical make-or-break factor of a wah’s sound. While I do enjoy a brighter extended wah sweep, tweaking these settings within reason will keep your wah tone from being unnecessarily harsh. (Your audience and band members will appreciate your extra consideration of their ears!) One last dipswitch for Wah-Q Frequency will let you activate a deeper vowel frequency response. Flip this to On and push the external Wah-Q knob for some seriously throaty, talking guitar wah effects.

Xotic-Effects-Wah-XW-1-Review-Best-Clyde-McCoy-Wah-Pedal-04The Xotic Wah has a foot-print that’s 20% smaller than your average wah pedal. (It also sports an attractive chrome treadle with a classic looking white enclosure. Sexy!) I actually found the Xotic Wah quite comfortable to use despite wearing size 13 (45.5 European) boots. Yes, it’s smaller than your classic Clyde McCoy/Cry Baby but not so small that you have to spend a lot of time adapting to the variances in dimension. This reasonably familiar size should help maintain the pedal’s appeal with guitarists shopping for a classic wah. Xotic clearly spent some time making sure the Xotic Wah’s size was just right before settling on this custom wah enclosure. The true relay bypass foot-switch also works well. My general problem with relay foot-switches is a minor latency that sometimes occurs when switching. That’s not an issue with the Xotic Wah.

I can’t emphasize enough that the Xotic Wah sounds amazing. It’s incredibly versatile and may just be the last wah you’ll ever need. The only potential issue for some could be the size (not a problem for my big feet!) or for the lack of quick access to the Gain knob. It’s pricier than most wahs, but it also most likely sounds better than anything you could put it up against. Not to mention the XW-1 can probably be tweaked to produce the sounds of the handful of best wah pedals you could compare it to. Since there is a Treble and Bass knob, perhaps a Middle control would have been useful to add some more mid-range focus. But you can also cut the Bass & Treble and boost the Input Gain for a similar effect. I’ve developed a preference for switchless wahs over the years, but the Xotic Wah has made me reconsider my previously rigid stance on that subject. As far as sheer wah tone is concerned, the XW-1 is my new favorite wah pedal.

The Xotic Wah is the real McCoy. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) Let’s see the final result.

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Overall-Rating-5.0

The Xotic Effects Wah XW-1 is one of the most versatile wah pedals available today and produces a range of the best classic and modern wah sounds you’ll ever find in a single pedal. The Bias and Wah-Q adjustments provide a range of “Clyde McCoy” style wah sounds while also delving into pristine, clean wah sounds and screaming, aggressive wah tones. The slight reduction in size still feels familiar with a smooth, playable treadle sweep. This just might be Xotic’s finest offering as the XW-1 has become my new favorite non-switchless wah pedal. It doesn’t get much better than this!

That concludes our Xotic Effects Wah XW-1 review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Xotic SP Compressor Review – Best Guitar Compression Pedal?

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There are many guitar compression pedals available on the market, several of which seek to emulate and surpass the famed Ross Compressor. Xotic decided to have a go at creating a compressor in the vein of that classic pedal while adding more versatility and sound-shaping options than most pedal makers have ever packed into such a small enclosure. Is this the best guitar compression pedal out there? Our Xotic SP Compressor review will help you decide if this is the compression pedal you’re looking for.

Features:

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Uses the same OTA (operational transconductance amplifier) technology use in the famed Ross Compressor.

Tones ranging from vintage, to subtle, to modern, and more.

Volume knob for up to +15db of boost.

Blend knob for finding the perfect balance between the dry and compressed signal.

2 Attack/Release internal dip switches.

High Cut Filter internal dip switch for controlling high frequency roll off capacitor (220pf).

Input Pad internal dip switch for preventing distortion and low cut filter control.

True bypass for eliminating any signal interference when switched off.

Powered by 9-volt batter or 9VDC power adapter. May also be run at 18-volts with the Xotic Voltage Doubler.

Visit Xotic for more info about the Xotic SP Compressor.

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Sound & Performance:

I had a feeling this was going to be a really interesting pedal right when I pulled it out of the box. The Xotic SP Compressor has a real simple, yet sleek look, similar to the Xotic EP Booster and Xotic SL Drive pedals. It’s also surprisingly heavy for such a tiny little pedal. You instantly get the feeling that Xotic built a real solid and durable pedal. This isn’t some low-budget knock-off pedal.

Having a glance at the included manual reveals that this pedal contains 4 internal two-way dip switches in addition to the 2 surface knobs and three-way Lo/Mid/Hi toggle switch for a total of 7 parameter adjustment controls. That’s a lot of options for such a small unit. You can really tell that Xotic spared no consideration for offering the most versatility they could squeeze into the SP Compressor.

I went ahead and unscrewed the bottom of the enclosure to allow instant access to shaping my tone while testing this pedal for my review. I recommend doing the same when you un-box your SP Compressor to spend some time finding your preferred settings. Although, it does sound pretty great in it’s default settings. You may just want to leave it as is.

Xotic-SP-Compressor-Review-Best-Guitar-Compression-Pedal-03I started with a single-coil Strat sound with a clean amp and the SP Compressor in between. With the knobs on the pedal at noon and the Sustain/Compression toggle switch set to Lo, I activated the effect and was greeted to a nice boost in volume.

At this setting the compression is quite subtle, but there is a slight increase in sustain. Tweaking the Volume and Blend knobs in the range of 10 to 2 o’clock helps to find a good amount of blended compression level. The effect is smooth and pleasing to the ears, and this is a great starter setting for adding just a bit of clarity and boost to your clean phrasing.

Things get a bit more interesting by flipping the Sustain/Compression switch to the Mid position. With the internal dip switches at their default position this puts you in what the SP Compressor manual labels as a Classic Vintage style compression. I find this setting to be a great all-around compression sound for most applications.

Again, just a slight tweak of the Blend knob really lets you dial in the compression just the way you like it. The Blend knob really is the most ingenious function on this pedal and really sets the Xotic SP Compressor apart in a crowded market. This pedal really is something special and is surely to become a secret weapon of many guitarists. Did I mention the pure, near-transparent tone? For an OTA style comp it’s not as overly colored as some lesser compressor guitar pedals.

Flipping the internal Attack/Release dip switches to the On position for quicker attack and release times brings in the twang if country-style compression is what you’re after. Flip the High Cut filter dip switch from its default position if you want to make your sound even brighter. Watch out though. This pedal really cuts though. The SP Compressor never ceases to amaze me with how much control it offers for crafting your ideal compression sound.

The SP Compressor works exceptionally well for really making your lead sounds cut through with singing sustain. Try it with a humbucker equipped guitar for some really fat sounds. Flipping the Compression/Sustain switch to Hi may raise the noise level a bit too much for most clean applications, but it may just be perfect for your gain-saturated guitar solos. No matter what your compression needs may be, there is a setting to be found in this pedal that will get the job done.

If you’re a session player who travels light when it comes to effects, you may appreciate that this pedal is so tiny while still offering 9-volt battery power. Huge tonal options, minuscule size, and plug-and-play convenience. The SP Compressor is hard to beat in every category.

UPDATE: I had the opportunity to try the Xotic SP Compressor with the Xotic Voltage Doubler (as seen in the video above). This allows you to achieve even more headroom from the pedal. It’s definitely worth trying as it provides a subtle sonic upgrade to what is already a great sounding compressor. The difference isn’t night and day, but it’s certainly noticeable and may offer a sound that you like even more. You can also use the Xotic Voltage Doubler with the Xotic EP Booster and SL Drive (and other 18-volt compatible pedals), making it a useful accessory to have indeed.

Let’s have the final result.

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Overall-Rating-5.0

Xotic really went all out with the SP Compressor. This pedal offers more versatility than most compressors out there while remaining small enough to find a home on any crowded pedalboard. Whether playing sparkly cleans or distorted leads, the SP Compressor will bring your tones to life with unrivaled clarity. The SP Compressor has positioned itself in the top tier of the battle for best guitar compression pedal on the market. This may just be the only compressor you ever need. I’ll be spending a lot more time with this pedal myself. I suggest you get acquainted with it, also.

That concludes our Xotic SP Compressor review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Xotic EP Booster Review – Best Guitar Clean Boost Pedal?

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Once upon a time there was a legendary piece of guitar gear. It was called the Echoplex (EP-3). Many great guitarists from lands distant and near used this epic device to create tones of legend still sought after to this day. These noteworthy guitar giants include, to name but a few, Jimmy Page, Eric Johnson, and Eddie Van Halen. The EP-3 had a distinctive preamp section which such guitarists used for its subtle, yet mythical effect on their tone. Xotic sought to capture the magic of the EP-3 in a tiny little box. In our Xotic EP Booster review, I’ll tell you a tale about what might be one of the best guitar clean boost guitar pedals you’ll ever own.

Features:

Up to +20db discrete FET design clean boost.

Internal +3db dip switch for setting the minimum boost level to 0 or +3db gain.

Internal Bright Switch for adjusting the EQ from a normal FLAT EQ setting (ON position) to a darker, VINTAGE setting (OFF position).

True Bypass for eliminating any signal interference when switched off.

Power by 9-volt battery or 9VDC power adapter. May also be powered at 18-volts with the Xotic Voltage Doubler.

Visit Xotic for more info about the EP Booster.

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Sound & Performance:

Okay, time to get serious. I have to first start out by saying this is a difficult pedal to talk about. Why, you ask? Well, because it does something. And it does something pretty amazing. But it’s hard to describe exactly what that is.

First off, I plugged my Strat straight into the EP Booster and into a clear clean amp channel. I struck a simple G chord. Then I kicked in the EP Booster with its single knob set around 9 o’clock and strummed again.

Xotic-EP-Booster-Review-Best-Guitar-Clean-Boost-Pedal-03It’s almost as if my guitar was dead before and it suddenly came alive. It’s hard not to speak about this pedal in abstract terms. It’s as if the EP Booster reveals a previously hidden dimension to the sound of your guitar.

I originally thought I was hearing a boost of some kind to the low and high frequencies, but after repeated A/B listening to the sound with and without the EP Booster it’s as if simply adds more harmonic depth to the sound.

I’ve realized that it’s hard to accurately explain this pedal in any way. You just have to hear it for yourself. Every tone-obsessed guitarist owes it to their ears to try the EP Booster. It’s like this pedal sprinkles magic all over your tone.

With the +3db switch off and the knob rolled all the way down, the signal matches your bypassed tone with unity gain. With the pedal engaged, the pedal somehow evens out your tone ever so slightly. It’s subtle, yet distinct at the same time. This pedal is full of strange contradictions in the best possible way.

Flipping the Bright Switch to the off position gives your tone a noticeably darker, vintage sound. The EP Booster shaves off just the right amount of high end to wrap your guitar signal in a gentle warmth. My only complaint with this pedal is that the dip switch functions aren’t located on top as tiny flip switches. I can’t decide which mode I like more, bright or vintage, and I’m sure I’d find a frequent application for both if I didn’t have to open the pedal. Although once you find the setting that works for you, you may never have to touch the pedal again.

On clean channels the knob serves to add a considerable amount of boost, great for defining a boosted lead tone. But considering how the mysterious magic of this pedal increases as you turn the knob, you may want to turn it up to a level that suits you and tailor your amp tone and volume level around the EP Booster. It may just become that indispensable to your sound.

The noise floor does rise as you crank the knob, so only a little bit of this pedal’s characteristic boost may be necessary. But no matter how you use it, it’s hard to get a bad sound from the EP Booster.

On high gain amp settings, the volume boost from the EP Booster becomes diminished, but the mojo from the pedal remains ever present. Seriously, you can just leave on and forget about it. Its subtle character enhancement sounds good for any sound.

For the duration of this test I used the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 to supply current to the EP Booster. Like the Xotic SP Compressor and Xotic SL Drive pedals, the EP Booster and also be powered at 9V and 18V. The sound is just as clear and full at the higher voltage, and while the difference is again subtle, there is a slight jolt of additional power and impact from running the EP Booster at 18V. It’s an option worth considering if you have an 18V power supply available.

UPDATE: I tested the Xotic EP Booster with the new Xotic Voltage Doubler (as shown in the video above). Now you can hear for yourself the difference of running this pedal at 18-volts. The difference is more of a feel thing for me. The more I play I also sometimes notice an added presence to the sound. It’s definitely worth trying. The Xotic Voltage Doubler can also be used with other 9-volt pedals that are capable of being used with 18-volts (Check your pedals’ manuals before plugging it in!). But it’s definitely worth checking out to give your EP Booster a little power boost.

Okay, let’s wrap this up.

Xotic-EP-Booster-Review-Best-Guitar-Clean-Boost-Pedal-04Overall-Rating-5.0

The Xotic EP Booster really is a magical little box. Once you play through this pedal you may never want to play without it again. The EP Booster will add a new dimension to your tone, revealing a harmonic character that seems to upgrade your sound in the best possible way. Warning: only try this pedal if you’re able and willing to make a purchase. This is one you’ll want to take with you. It may not only be the best guitar clean boost pedal you’ll ever use, but the missing link to crafting your perfect tone.

That concludes our Xotic EP Booster Review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Xotic BB Preamp Review – Best Guitar Distortion Pedal?

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There are few pedals as hard to classify as the Xotic BB Preamp. At first glance I assumed it was just another distortion pedal. But the BB Preamp aims to be a lot more than that. With uses ranging from a transparent clean boost, to a blistering overdrive, or a singing distortion, this pedal has garnered a reputation among players in the know for satisfying any of those diverse needs and more. In my Xotic BB Preamp review, I’ll help you decide if this is the best guitar distortion pedal for you.

Let’s do quick comparison of the BB Preamp with the AC Booster and RC Booster pedals. The RC Booster is primarily a clean boost pedal offering 20db+ of boost, while the BB Preamp offers 30db+ of clean boost. However, the BB Preamp break ups fairly quickly, taking it into overdrive territory once you start turning the Gain knob. The AC Booster functions primarily as an overdrive, while the BB Preamp can surpass it in gain to enter lighter distortion territory with a subtle compression at higher levels.

All 3 are versatile pedals, but while the RC Booster and AC Booster may handle your clean boost and overdrive needs, the BB Preamp serves as more of a hot-rod mod to the front end of your effects chain and amp, so to speak, to potentially cover all bases.

More about that later. Let’s run down what all this pedal has to offer.

Features:

Gain, Volume, Treble, and Bass control knobs for full tonal control

30db+ of clean boost

+/-15db EQ allows extreme tailoring of sound

Pre-gain stage ranges from pristine cleans to very smooth, compressed, overdriven sounds

True Bypass footswitch for eliminating any signal interference when switched off

Visit Xotic Effects for more info about the BB Preamp.

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Sound & Performance:

I plugged in my Gibson SG and went straight into the BB Preamp into a flat clean amp setting. With the knobs on the BB set to noon, I learned something as soon as I kicked this pedal.

The BB Preamp is loud. If you have ever had a problem being heard, this pedal will change that immediately.

I pulled the Gain nearly all the way down, lowered the Volume slightly, and pushed the Bass and Treble a bit to match my tone with the pedal disengaged. The BB Preamp certainly delivers if uncolored tone with a little boost is what you’re after.

Xotic-BB-Preamp-Review-Best-Guitar-Distortion-Pedal-03But pulling down the Volume and Taking the Gain up really brings your sound to life. The BB Preamp works very effectively as a smooth overdrive. You can really use it to find that sweet spot where your amp breaks up nicely or add in some of the BB’s smooth saturation to compliment your amp’s already overdriven tone. And all this while the pure sound of your guitar comes through brilliantly.

At high Gain levels I hear a slight amount of compression that evens out your sound just a bit while providing a smooth sustain to anything you let ring out. And again, there’s always a clarity that allows the character of your guitar to come through.

Even on high gain amp settings, the BB Preamp manages to provide a very useable “boost” to your tone that seems to make everything just a little fatter. And that’s without even tailoring the EQ. A slight adjustment to the Bass and Treble controls has a very noticeable effect on your overall sound. This pedal offers surprising deep, yet simple ways to hone your overall sound.

This pedal plays well with others, too. I was having so much fun with the BB Preamp that I couldn’t resist running it into the AC Booster and RC Booster (Guitar → BB → AC → RC → Amp).

I fired up all three pedals and was able to take the overdrive of the AC Booster over the top with the BB Preamp in front. This produced a searing lead tone that I was able to manage with the EQ settings of the RC Booster. And the BB Preamp sounds satisfyingly crunchy behind the AC Booster as well. I highly recommend trying the BB Preamp with your favorite overdrive guitar pedals and seeing what great sounds you’ll find.

The BB Preamp is one of those rare tone-defining pedals that you use to carve out your signature sound or simply leave on all the time. It’s clear that this pedal goes for a Marshall “Bluesbreaker” vibe (hence the “BB”), but if you’re also curious about a Marshall Superlead/Superbass style pedal, check out the Xotic SL Drive for comparison.

Let’s see the result.

Xotic-BB-Preamp-Review-Best-Guitar-Distortion-Pedal-02

Overall-Rating-4.5

The Xotic BB Preamp overs a level of versatility rarely achieved in a distortion pedal. To even label this pedal as simply a distortion effect doesn’t do it justice as the BB Preamp functions as a superb clean boost and overdrive. It’s one of those true workhorse pedals that can do the job of several with ease. The BB Preamp may change what you expect from a boost, overdrive, or distortion as it blurs the lines of classification. If a diverse range of uses and pristine tonal clarity are important to you, the Xotic BB Preamp may just be the best guitar distortion pedal to suit your needs.

That concludes our Xotic BB Preamp review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Xotic AC Booster Review – Best Guitar Overdrive Pedal?

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In the land of overdrive pedals, guitar players are swamped with choices. Far too many some would say. While select few overdrives have made it to legendary status, many have faded into obscurity. But Xotic may just have something that you should take notice of in the AC Booster. In our Xotic AC Booster Review, we’ll help you discover if the best guitar overdrive pedal you haven’t played yet is right here in this little yellow box.

At first glance there is one seemingly minor little difference between this pedal and many other overdrives. The general trend in overdrives is typically a three-knob layout with Gain, Volume, and Tone controls.

And like other Xotic guitar pedals such as the RC Booster or BB Preamp, the AC Booster features Xotic’s Treble and Bass knobs. Those of you already in the know will understand that this is good news. The Bass and Treble controls are finely tuned to provide massive sweeps of EQ for really honing in your sound. This should make for one hell of an overdrive.

More on that later. Let’s run down the features and get to the review.

Features:

Gain, Volume, Treble, and Bass knobs for deep tone-shaping control

Crafted with the finest quality parts available

True bypass footswitch for eliminating any signal interference when switched off

Visit Xotic Effects for more info about the AC Booster.

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Sound & Performance:

I plugged in my Fender American Standard Stratocaster to start off and went right into the AC Booster and into a clean amp setting.

I fired it up with the knobs at 12 o’clock and was greeted with some nice crunch. I pulled the gain nearly all the way down and adjusted the volume until I achieved an even volume with the pedal on and off.

Xotic-AC-Booster-Review-Best-Guitar-Overdrive-Pedal-03From here I noticed that engaging the pedal seems to provide a bit of a cut to the highs and lows, seeming to be more mid-range focused when the Bass and Treble knobs are set at noon. I raised both EQ knobs to around 1 to 2 o’clock and found the setting where I could really hear the transparent character of my guitar coming through.

Xotic seem to have a knack for creating very transparent-sounding pedals as I previously discovered with the RC Booster. Now let’s see what the AC Booster can really do.

Pushing the Gain up to just 9 o’clock adds some nice bite. This is where the EQ controls really come into play. I was able to roll back the Treble to get just the right amount of attack without the tone sounding harsh.

Taking the Gain to noon really lets the grit come in while responding beautifully to your picking dynamics. This thing purrs when you want it to and lets out a roar on command. Pick softly and you’ll really notice the clarity of your tone. Dig in, and this thing rips.

I find that the increase of gain is much more subtle when you push the knob past 12 o’clock. But that suits this pedal well if smooth overdrive is what you’re after.

And this pedal works well in front of a dirty amp. I brought out the humbucker equipped SG and dialed in a nice full distortion from the amp. The AC Booster takes a distorted amp over the top for thick leads and smooth saturation.

If you really want a mid-range boost, cut back the Bass and Treble controls, push up the volume, and you’re there. There’s a lot of versatility to be found in this pedal. The AC Booster is indeed one of those masterfully crafted overdrive pedals that may enhance your guitar playing experience.

Let’s see the final result. 

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Overall-Rating-4.0

While there are many overdrives on the market, few pedals offer as much tone-shaping control as the the Xotic AC Booster. If you want to wake up the tubes of your amp, this pedal may be just what you need to make them sing. The AC Booster is a tasteful overdrive that preserves the dynamics of your playing and your guitar’s inherent character. The simple, yet highly effective EQ controls ensure you’ll find the perfect sound to fit in the mix or cut through when you need to. Your search for the best guitar overdrive pedal may be over once you try an Xotic AC Booster.

That concludes our Xotic AC Booster review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Xotic RC Booster Review – Best Guitar Clean Boost Pedal?

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In the hunt for that ever elusive truly transparent clean boost pedal, we guitarists often audition countless so-called clean boosts with scrutinizing ears. And every now and then we plug into an unassuming little stompbox that really surprises us. The Xotic RC Booster is one of those pedals. In our Xotic RC Booster review, I’ll help you decide if this is the best guitar clean boost pedal for you.

Let’s run down the features of this pedal and dive right in to our review.

Features:

Active Treble, Bass, Gain, and Volume controls for limitless tone shaping

Offers super transparent 20db+ clean boost

2-Band active EQ with 15db boost or cut

True Bypass for eliminating any signal interference when switched off.

Strengthens signal to provide a solution for sound degradation caused by long instrument cables and/or long effect chains

Visit Xotic Effects for more info about the RC Booster.

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Sound & Performance:

I pulled this pedal right out of the box with zero expectations and plugged it between my American Stratocaster and a crystal clear clean channel. I wasn’t expecting what was to happen next.

I set all the knobs to high noon, struck a chord, and kicked it in.

I surely had the strangest look on my face. I reached down and cut the gain back closer to 9 o’clock and cut the volume to around 11 o’clock to achieve unity gain. Then I hit the true bypass footswitch repeatedly, just strumming and listening.

I listened in disbelief, still wearing a dumb look on my face. This is indisputably one of the most transparent pedals I have ever heard.

Wow. I could already tell that this pedal is something special. I suddenly felt a little silly for underestimating the RC Booster.

With the Gain and Volume settings resting at their amazingly transparent positions, I proceeded to push up the Treble a bit followed by the Bass.

Xotic-RC-Booster-Review-Best-Guitar-Clean-Boost-Pedal-03The EQ controls are extremely sensitive. Make no mistake about how vital these controls can be to shaping your sound. The 15db EQ boost is very noticeable and can make a huge difference in the frequency levels of your tone without a hint of coloration. Be careful with the EQ. You’re wielding a lot more power here than you may realize.

Need to fatten up your low-end? Push up the Bass. Even a hint will make plenty of difference. Do your pickups have too much bite? Cut back the Treble a notch and roll-off the harshness from your sound.

The EQ controls also have little notches at the 12 o’clock postion. This lets you find the exact position where they have no effect on the frequency. Perfect if your guitar tone already sounds balanced and you just need a boost.

I couldn’t resist pulling out my humbucker-equipped Gibson SG and doing some A/B sound matching with my single-coiled Strat. I played the SG straight and then used the RC Booster to “beef up” the Strat to be able to hang with the SG. Not a hint of the Strat’s inherent character was lost. This is vital if you want to even out the levels of your different guitars during a live set.

There is a very nice level of sustain that can be achieved by pushing the gain a bit. It’s beautiful on clean sounds or for a smooth solo boost on your dirty channel. This pedal can also really help push your amp into overdrive, another testament to the RC Booster’s versatility.

While this pedal performs exceptionally well as a clean volume boost with both humbucker and single-coil pickups, I find it very useful for additional tone-shaping with an already great-sounding amp. The EQ is so responsive that it’s not to be underestimated what this alone can bring to your overall sound. It’s that same transparent EQ that fans of Xotic’s BB Preamp and AC Booster will appreciate. Considering this pedal’s subtle tone-enhancing qualities, you may just want to leave the RC Booster on all the time.

It’s great at the beginning or the end of your effects chain. If you’re a tone-chaser like me, you may appreciate the fact that the RC Booster is true bypass. But when using several true bypass guitar pedals in your effects chain that don’t provide a signal buffer, the RC Booster becomes essential at the end of your chain for reclaiming any lost highs and lows from your tone. I tried it with a half-dozen pedals in line with excellent results.

I like this pedal. I like it a lot. I have a feeling you will, too. Let’s see the final result.

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Overall-Rating-5.0

The Xotic RC Booster surprised me like few other pedals ever have before. The RC Booster is one of the most transparent pedals I have ever plugged into. The wide-range EQ controls are superbly voiced to allow perfect tailoring of your sound without coloring your tone whatsoever. This is one of those pedals for connoisseurs of clarity and purity of tone. It will satisfy the most discerning ears. The Xotic RC Booster is definitely a contender for the best guitar clean boost pedal out there. You’d be wise to give one of these a try if you’re looking for a pure clean boost.

That concludes our Xotic RC Booster review. Thanks for reading.

 

Want to buy the Xotic RC Booster?

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