19 March 2013

Pedals: Dry Bell's Vibe Machine - First contact

Introduction

Yes, I love Vibe pedals but, I hate every issue that such a kind of pedals bring with them.
First, the size. A correct univibe pedal, with optical leds and all the candy are big and, take lot of room in your pedal board.
Second, the tone sucking. Since vibe pedals were designed more for keyboards than guitars, they had input and output impedances not so appropriate for electric guitars.

This is my fifth vibe pedal and, I've owned very good ones. Previously, I had a Voodoo Lab Vibe, a Roger Mayer Voodoo Vi be+, a Fulltone MDV2 and a Lovepedal Picklevibe.

The Voodoo Lab has a very close vintage sound (just the chorus side of the Univibe) but, it tends to be lost in the mix.

The Roger Mayer is a sophisticated vibe, with a more studio-like sound and, lot of tweakability but, it's big as a hell and, it has more controls than a plane.

The Fulltone MDV2, includes both, the vintage and modern sounds but, to me, it has same impedance issues as most of Fulltone's pedals and, the speed (or depth) depends on the rocket position and, since you have to push the on/off button by moving the rocket, you lost your setting every time that you switch it on or off.

The Lovepedal Picklevibe, isn't based in the real Univibe effect. It goes closer and, it's very easy to use, since it has a single knob but, this is also a limitation, since you cannot easily modify the depth of the effect. It takes the less room in your pedal board of any vibes, any way, giving you an usable sound.

I wasn't expecting to buy a new pedal for a long, long time, once my pedalboard has been wamplerized but, when I saw the demo of Brett Kingman (as interesting as always), I felt in love with such a pedal.
It had everything I dreamed in a vibe pedal.

So, here we are. I had the vibe for a while but, the instability of my mains made me to wait until having power enough to perform my tests. Otherwise, neither the amp, neither pedals sound reasonably good.

This pedal is the only pedal made by Dry Bell, in Croatia and, to my understanding, this is the best available vibe pedal nowadays but, it has a price tag that will avoid lot of people to enjoy it. It's a pity.


Presentation

The pedal comes inside a white carton box, that includes inside the real pedal box.
The pedal comes wrapped in bubble plastic and, the user's manual is just a single sheet with all the information you need to run such a pedal.
Together with the pedal, they are giving you a pick-holder and, a hand-written note thanking you for buying its pedal.

I would say, this is one of the more professional pedals that I've ever seen. It has anything you can imagine a vibe should have and, everything is packet in the size of a Boss pedal (even smaller than my Wampler pedals).

When you open the pedal case, all the room is filled with the circuit board so, the drawback is that there is no room for a battery. You need to run this pedal with the help of an AC adaptor, being able to work between 9V to 16V.

This pedal drains a lot of current (85 mA maximum) so, be sure that you feed it up with a proper output of your power brick. I had to balance all pedals between two Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 units and, the Vibe is running in output 5 (output 5 and 6 can deliver a maximum of 250 mA, while outputs 1 to 4 and 7-8 deliver a maximum of 100 mA).


Testing it

The pedal has two internal jumpers.
The first one corresponds to an output buffer, that comes activated from factory.
The second one corresponds to control of an external expression pedal, that comes deactivated from factory.

I've first deactivated the output buffer, just to check how it worked. Results weren't so satisfactory, since the pedal became a real tone sucker. With the output buffer and input buffer off, this pedal mimes the impedance issues of any vintage vibe and, depending on the rest of your pedal board, it can be a real mess.
I didn't liked it when stacked with my overdrives, distortion or fuzz.

So, I've opened again the unit and, set the jumper as default (output buffer on).
This doesn't seem to alter the sound of the pedal itself and, helps a lot to the rest of the chain of pedals.

This pedal comes with a switch (on its front) with two modes: original and bright.
The original mode has an impedance level similar to the original Univibe, while the bright mode switches on an input buffer.
As I was using the Wampler Decibel+ buffer/booster, the effect of the bright mode is very subtle but, I guess, for people that doesn't loads a buffer in it's pedal board, this mode (together with the output buffer) will be of great help to place the vibe in his/her pedal chain without negatively impact the rest of pedals.

The pedal comes with the two modes of the Univibe pedal: Chorus and Vibrato.
I've just checked the Chorus mode, that corresponds to the mythical Univibe sound. I would probably check the vibrato mode some other day. I wasn't so interested on such a mode.

The Voodoo Lab vibe was implementing just that mode, as well as the Picklevibe.
The Roger Mayer Voodoo Vibe+ has both (even more than two!!!) , as well as the Fulltone's unit.

Anyway, with the Decibel+ buffer running at the beginning of the chain and, the output buffer of the Vibe Machine on, the sound was absolutely awesome.

This unit has some trim pots on its sides, that can be tweaked to exactly dial the right volume and symmetry of the wave, among other settings for an external expression pedal.
I didn't feel myself as needing to tweak such a trim pots, since the sound I was achieving with the factory settings was good enough.
This symmetry knob is one of the characteristics that I've already seen in Roger's Mayer Voodoo Vibe+.

For better results, the booster section of the Decibel+ should be set up at low settings. Not because of the vibe itself but, because when it stacks into gain pedals, the sound can go a bit confused and undefined.
If you run a booster at the beginning, be sure to tweak it while the vibe is stacked in a hard-clipping pedal (as a fuzz).

Anyway, any potential impedance issue can be solved with the help of the output and input buffers, while maintaining a good vibe sound and, that's simply awesome. Good job!.


The Video

I've recorded a video with my first contact with this pedal.
I know the pedal isn't sounding alone in any case. At least, the buffer/booster (Decibel+) and the delay (Tape Echo) are always on.

But, a pedal that doesn't integrates in my pedal board interest me nothing.
I like to test pedals in their real environment, and not just alone, where they can sound awesome but, produce some impedance issues when stacked with the rest of the pedal board.
Just take this into account.



My impressions

This is one of the best Vibe clones, in the same ballpark of the Roger Mayer Voodoo Vibe+ or the Fulltone MDV2, but the only one sized as a Boss-pedal. Only the Lovepedal Pickle Vibe is smaller than this one but, with it's very limited.

It has anything you can find summing up all vibe pedals, including: switchable input and output buffers, input for an expression pedal, input for an external commandment pedal and trim pots for effect volume and symmetry. And, the two original Univibe modes: chorus and vibrato.

The switchable output and input buffers allow this pedal to be stacked in your pedal board with ease. The output buffer (on by default) affects really not to the original Vibe sound and, avoids sucking the tone to the rest of pedals. The input buffer (bright mode) affects more to the original sound and, has practically no effect if you are already running a buffer or buffered pedal before the Vibe.

Without any doubt, this is the more interesting pedal I've seen in many time, it's really pedal board friendly.

On the negative side, you cannot run this pedal by batteries, since there is no physical room inside the box for a battery and, it drains lot of current (maximum, 85 mA) so, be sure to check the maximum current that your power brick can give and try to balance pedals along the different outputs or, just run a dedicated AC adaptor for this unit.
But, honestly, I prefer to sacriffy the battery and have more room in my pedal board so, to me, this is not a real issue.

The real issue with this pedal is its price tag, that's really high. Since it's being produced in Croatia (out of the European Community), you have to pay the extra Customs fees, along with the shipping costs, what puts the final price of this pedal on the Stratosphere.

Dear boys of Bry Bell, you've done an impressive pedal, just what the doctor recommended to any vibe lover but, with that price, you are avoiding your pedal to be spread to practically every pedal board.
Can you please reconsider your price tag?.
If you do, I bet your pedal will rule vibe's world!.



3 comments:

  1. Croatia should join the EU in July this year, so the solution to this problem is in sight ... ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BTW, excellent review
      Cheers

      Delete
  2. I placed my order 3 weeks ago and was told it just went out for delivery. Seems like they build them per order and have a back log. I can't wait to get my hands on this bad boy.
    Also check Bret Kingmans video review, the dude gets every pedal sent to him, nice gig he has.

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