The searing guitar distortion on the Beatles’ “Revolution” as well as other late-’60s/early-’70s hits is the result of an instrument plugged directly into a transistor-based mixer with the input gain cranked up. However, such a dramatic DI approach also provides a wide range of tonal colors when used less aggressively.
Hudson Electronics, UK designed the Broadcast to re-create the sounds and behavior of the preamps used in classic broadcast- style mixers. What they ended up with is a great-sounding pedal that can be used for simple gain boosting as well as various shades of overdrive that never gets thin or hissy.
Suitable for use on electric guitar and bass, the Broadcast utilizes a Class A design featuring a new-old-stock germanium transistor and a Triad steel-core transformer. As you turn up the Gain Trim, the transformer is increasingly overdriven resulting in a nice, chunky tone. Moreover, you have high- and low-gain settings to choose from, allowing you to dial in various subtleties of color. Because the high-gain setting rolls off high frequencies as the Trim control is increased, a pre-gain, Low Cut knob is provided to compensate.
The Broadcast requires a 9VDC external power supply (not included), although you can increase its headroom by feeding it 18V or 24V from a dedicated pedal-power supply. The manufacturer suggests this approach when you want maximum clean pre-amplifier boost or when using the pedal on electric bass.
Overall, the Broadcast is very responsive, with the expected compression increase as you turn things up. But even with everything cranked—and there’s a ton of boost available—the sound remains musical and not uselessly over-the-top. The ability to taper off the lows when the distortion is full-on was especially useful whether I was using single-coil or humbucker pickups.
If you’re looking for a pedal that offers vintage overdrive tones as well as a clean, surprisingly hi-fi level-boost, the Broadcast is definitely worth a test drive.