We previously featured the original DryBell Vibe Machine V-1 and sung its praises for being arguably the best sounding compact “Uni-Vibe” style pedal available in recent years. But DryBell weren’t satisfied with how close they already were to vibe perfection, and thus, the Vibe Machine V-2 was born from DryBell’s desire to re-create the ultimate Vibe Machine.
- Faithful “Uni-Vibe” circuit in a regular sized enclosure
- ‘Intensity’ control
- ‘Speed’ control
- ‘Vibrato/Chorus’ switch
- ‘Custom/Bright/Original’ (input buffer) switch
- Expression pedal & Foot-switch input
- Foot-switch accessed Tap Tempo, Cancel, & Leslie Fast/Slow modes
- 9-16 volts DC operation (regular center negative boss style adapter only, no battery)
- External trimmers for ‘Volume’, ‘Range’, ‘Grit’, ‘Chorus’, & ‘Symmetry’
- True Bypass
- Multi-Colored Status LED indicates speed & settings
Here’s Pete Thorn’s great DryBell Vibe Machine V-2 demo.
Here’s our original V-1 demo for comparison. The V-2 does all this and more.
Sound & Performance:
Vibe Machine V-1 vs V-2
As we’ve already published a long and comprehensive Vibe Machine V-1 review, you can check out that article for an in-depth perspective on the features and sounds of the original pedal. We’re going to focus primarily on the new features found in the DryBell Vibe Machine V-2.
The short version of the argument about which pedal sounds better is that DryBell made no changes to the inherent sound quality of the V-2 in comparison to the V-1. However, there are a few options that expand upon the sounds of the original. The V-2’s new Custom option lets the guitarist set an input impedance that falls between the Bright & Original settings carried over from the V-1. This 3rd option lets you set an impedance level that may more closely match your preferred guitar & pickup combination. Essentially, these options decide how dark or bright the pedal sounds. The Original mode is the darkest and typically a great place to start for classic “Uni-Vibe” sounds or if you’re playing brighter pickups. The Bright setting is much brighter and more modern sounding and is may be better suited to darker humbucker pickups. The Custom setting can be voiced anywhere in between the other two voices via a small trimmer accessible on the side of the pedal. (DryBell includes a small trimmer adjustment tool to make it easy for you.) I personally prefer this setting, and ears more sensitive and experienced than mine will probably go for this option as well. You can tune the Custom setting for your “A” guitar, and maybe select the other options if they’re more closely suited to your backup guitars.
Pedal+ Input & DryBell F-1L Foot-Switch
The V-1 had an expression pedal input. That’s here on the V-2 as well, and it works with the same expression pedals (including the Mission Engineering EP-100K) and even CV control. You can adjust the taper as well as set the max sweep range. You can also custom calibrate the pedal to achieve a full sweep when using expression pedals that don’t quite access the V-2’s full sweep range. You can even access the V-2’s Cancel & Tap Tempo functions while using an expression pedal, but I find a dedicated foot-switch like the DryBell F-1L to be better suited for these functions.
Leslie Fast & Slow Ramping
The Pedal+ input jack also allows the use of an external foot-switch such as the DryBell F-1L (which matches the V-2’s paint job nicely, I must say) for several live performance options. You can use the F-1L foot-switch to trigger Leslie style fast & flow vibe speeds. You can easily set 2 different speeds and also set the ramp rate as slow as 10 seconds or instant so that the V-2 jumps between the fast and slow speeds when you tap the foot-switch.
Cancel & Tap Tempo
Another option for the foot-switch is using it to “Cancel” the vibe effect while still letting your guitar signal be colored by the sound of the V-2, similar to the original “Uni-Vibe”. Use this with the Grit trimmer, Volume trimmer, and Custom, Bright, or Original settings to tweak the colored sound. The V-2 is true bypass, so your sound will be uncolored when you disengaged the pedal.
Perhaps more useful is the Cancel + Tap Tempo foot-switch mode. This condenses the full range of knob selectable Speed to the area between minimum and about 1 o’clock. If you click the F-1L while the knob is in this Speed range, it’ll activate the Cancel function. If you push the speed knob a bit higher, you can select from 3 different tap quantize settings (more multipliers available in the sub-menu) and use the foot-switch to tap in a tempo. There are markers around the Speed knob to show you where you have it set, and the LED will flash different colors as you turn the knob through the different tap settings. You could use the side of your foot to adjust the Speed knob during a live performance if you need to adjust tap settings on the fly or switch back to Cancel mode and access manual rate adjustment with the Speed knob.
There was an Output Buffer jumper on the V-1 that allowed you to create a slightly “hotter” sound coming out of the pedal. That’s been replaced on the V-2 with a dedicated Grit side trimmer. To really hear how this trimmer affects your tone, engage the Cancel function via foot-switch and listen to the “dry” colored sound of your guitar as you play. A/B various Grit settings against your bypassed tone, and you’ll notice a bit more presence in your sound as you increase the Grit. I like to keep it around the factory setting (1 o’clock-ish) and use some overdrive or fuzz if I want to bring out a more harmonically rich sound. But it’s important to note that the Grit trimmer interacts with the Volume trimmer and which impedance setting you’re using. Try adjusting this trimmer when setting your Custom impedance to hone in on your preferred sound.
This parameter affects the harmonic modulation of the vibe and dials in the swirly, watery, chewy character of the effect. The V-1 didn’t have this control and was preset to around the noon position of this trimmer. The V-2 comes preset around 2-3 o’clock, so you may notice a slight variation between the two pedals at first. DryBell recommends setting the Chorus to noon for a sound that cuts through the mix in a band setting better, but if you want it to be intense with plenty of ‘throb’, leave it around the factory setting. Don’t be afraid of all the options as the default settings are all a great place to start, and I typically came back around to where DryBell had already set the trimmers.
One thing I’m really happy about is that DryBell removed the internal controls and made everything available on the top or side of the pedal. Gotta love the handy little DryBell Trimmer Adjustment Tool they include as well. You probably won’t need it much after the initial setup. Frankly, most guitarists could get away with just plugging it in and finding a great sound on the surface. If you’re going to use Tap Tempo or one of the expression pedal modes, you’ll probably just want to consult the manual for those instructions. But this review doesn’t even cover everything the V-2 is capable of. There are plenty of other calibration settings available via digging into the sub-menus of this pedal. Your vibe adventure can be as simple or as deep as you want it to be. If you love vibe effects, most guitarists will agree that it probably doesn’t get any better than this.
The DryBell Vibe Machine V-2 took the world’s most versatile compact vibe and made it better thanks to the inclusion of Tap Tempo via the F-1L foot-switch and the Custom input setting for matching the V-2 to your favorite guitar. It was always commendable how DryBell managed to fit so much into the V-1, and the V-2 somehow surpasses its predecessor in usability. If you’re happy with your V-1 and don’t need tap tempo, the upgrade may not be essential. But if you love vibe sounds and have yet to try a Vibe Machine, the V-2 is a must play.
That concludes our DryBell Vibe Machine V-2 review. Thanks for reading.
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