The DigiTech DF-7 gives you accurate -models of seven classic distortion pedals, and it does cabinet simulations, too.
The DigiTech DF-7 Distortion Factory ($149.95) is a stompbox that models seven popular guitar distortion pedals: the Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer, the DOD Overdrive/Preamp 250, the Boss DS-1, the ProCo Rat, the Boss MT-2 Metal Zone, the DigiTech Metal Master, and the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff . Not only does the DF-7 emulate the range of each pedal remarkably well (see Web Clip 1), but it also provides controls that in some cases allow tonal shaping beyond the capabilities of the originals.
The DF-7 has three dual-concentric pots and a single model-selector knob. The controls are tightly situated next to each other, but I had no problem tweaking them. The unit is powered by a 9V battery or by the optional PS200R adapter ($24.95). I highly recommend purchasing the adapter, because the battery will run out after about four hours of use.
The controls take some getting used to because the names of the knobs vary from the original pedals. For example, the High control on the DF-7 acts as a basic treble EQ for the DOD 250 (which has no EQ control), MT-2, and Metal Master; as the original Tone control for the TS-9, DS-1, and Big Muff; and as the Filter control for the Rat.
All of the controls on the originals are available on the DF-7. Running the unit's Low, Mid, and High knobs straight up properly matches the flat settings of the modeled stompboxes. For the most part, the Gain and Level knobs are the same as on the originals and respond similarly. If you're the “twist-until-it-sounds-good” type, you won't be disappointed. There is plenty of room for tonal shaping.
I own several of the pedals modeled by the DF-7, so I was able to make direct comparisons. The DF-7 accurately emulated the edgy buzz of my ProCo Rat and the bottomy fizz of the Big Muff . I actually preferred the modeled Big Muff because it was cleaner sounding than the original. The DF-7 was a tad brighter than my DS-1 and had more pronounced upper midrange response than my original DOD 250, but a little EQ shaping on the DF-7 corrected the differences.
Comparing the DF-7's TS-9 emulation was a little more involved because I have a customized boutique Ibanez TS-9DX, which has more bottom end and produces slightly less distortion than the original. I was able to shape the DF-7's tone to get it very close to my TS-9DX by backing down the gain and adding more low and high EQ.
I'm not a big fan of metal pedals, but I must admit that the DF-7 did a good job of impersonating the MT-2 and the Metal Master. Both emulations provided plenty of demonic tone.
The DF-7 gives you two outputs: Amp and Mixer. The Amp out is the regular instrument-level stompbox signal; the Mixer out is designed to go into a full-range system and uses a cabinet simulator. Each distortion model has a fixed, specific cabinet model designed to match with the basic tone of the original pedal. The cabinet simulator is quite useful for DI recording of guitar tones. While the DF-7's tone is not as sophisticated as a Line 6 Pod's, for instance, I can imagine many instances in which it would work just fine in a recording.
The DF-7's flexible output modes give you three options: mode 1, the default, gives you a mono signal for an amp and a cabinet-simulated mono signal for a mixer. Mode 2 gives you a cabinet-simulated left and right output to feed a stereo pair of mixer channels. Mode 3 provides left and right outputs, with no simulator, for connection to a pair of amps. In modes 2 and 3, you can choose between six different stereo spectrums, from narrow to ultrawide. That's a pretty impressive feature for a stompbox.
Guitar pedals have long been favorites of music producers for processing other instruments. With its built-in cabinet simulation and its tweakable stereo spectrum, the DF-7 is primed for that role as well. Try it on keyboards, loops, or vocals, and chances are you'll love the results.
I'm not typically a fan of digital stompboxes, because I tend to go for a lo-fi, analog-funk sound. In the case of the DF-7, however, I'm willing to make an exception. It provides plenty of power in a single effects pedal, is reasonably priced, and sounds great on just about anything.
Overall Rating (1 through 5): 4