DigiTech HardWire Series Effect Pedals
HT-2, CM-2, SC-2 and TL-2, $139.95; CR-7, $189.95; RV-7, $199.95; DL-8, $219.95
Originally published in Guitar World, August 2010
DigiTech's HardWire series pedals may not introduce any revolutionary new sounds, but they’re an incredible value and a worthy investment.
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the longest-lived, best-selling effect pedals are generally straightforward, no-nonsense products. While most guitarists love stomp boxes with silly names that make obscene and ungodly noises, these products generally are of limited usefulness on a day-to-day basis, although they’re often just what the doctor ordered for certain brief sound effects or more experimental musings. However, if you look at most pros’ pedal boards, you’re more likely to see a bunch of timeless mainstays than trendy obscurities or crusty eccentricities (unless you’re looking at the Edge’s setup, which is another story altogether).
While the DigiTech HardWire Series effect pedals may seem like a rather sober bunch at first glance, closer examination reveals that DigiTech is offering a solid assortment of useful tools that are sure to survive in players’ rigs long after a dozen or so musical trends have come and gone. All HardWire pedals provide professional features and performance, like true bypass and constant 15-volt operation to retain the integrity of your guitar’s signal, yet they’re priced affordably. The seven pedals currently offered cover just about every essential base, including a tuner, various colors of overdrive and distortion, chorus, reverb and delay.
The HardWire line consists of seven compact pedals: the HT-2 Chromatic Tuner, CM-2 Tube Overdrive, SC-2 Valve Distortion, TL-2 Metal Distortion, CR-7 Stereo Chorus, DL-8 Delay/Looper and RV-7 Stereo Reverb. All except the HT-2 tuner have a similar layout consisting of four parameter control knobs located near the top edge (the HT-2 has an LED tuning display and Tuning and Mode buttons). The distortion/overdrive pedals also feature a mini toggle switch below the knobs for selecting different distortion modes. Each pedal except the HT-2 also comes with a plastic Stomplock knob guard that protects the knobs from damage and keeps your settings from being inadvertently altered.
Both the CM-2 Tube Overdrive and SC-2 Valve Distortion feature level, low, high and gain controls, while the TL-2 Metal Distortion has level and gain controls and a pair of concentric knobs that control high/low EQ and midrange/frequency settings. All three of these pedals feature mono inputs and outputs. The CR-7 Stereo Chorus, DL-8 Delay/Looper and RV-7 Stereo Reverb each have a rotary switch that lets you select various modes and presets—seven chorus types on the CR-7, seven reverbs on the RV-7, and four maximum delay times and seven delay types on the DL-8. All three pedals have a pair of inputs and a pair of outputs to provide true stereo operation.
All HardWire pedals are very easy to use. The DL-8 is the most “complicated” of the bunch, allowing users to engage tap tempo or looper functions by holding down the effect on/bypass pedal. Tap tempo requires a bit of forethought as you need to hold down the pedal for two seconds before the function engages, so you may have to wait an extra bar or two before locking delay tempos with a drummer or sequencer. The DL-8 has a maximum delay time of eight seconds and can record stereo loops up to 20 seconds long, making it exceptionally versatile. The pedal provides a variety of excellent delay effects, from crystal-clear digital repeats to fat, warm analog-style echoes.
The CM-2 Tube Overdrive, SC-2 Valve Distortion and TL-2 Metal Distortion cover just about every popular flavor of overdrive and distortion. The CM-2 features switchable Modified and Classic modes to deliver everything from clean boost with a slight amount of “hair” (Classic) to high-gain overdrive that falls just short of distortion (Modified). The SC-2 produces crunchy overdrive (Crunch mode) and fat distortion textures (Saturated mode) that maintain the guitar’s natural tone and character. Tones on the TL-2 are more extreme, ranging from tight, solid-state-style mayhem (Tight mode, mid EQ cut) to fat, singing lead tones with near-infinite sustain (Loose mode, mid EQ boosted). The TL-2’s Mid Frequency control covers a rather wide range, including a wah-like sweet spot that’s perfect for soloing.
Whether you prefer thick, warbling classic chorus pedal effects or smooth, jazzy studio chorus tones, the CR-7 covers just about every variety of chorus a guitarist could desire. The RV-7 is a very impressive reverb pedal, featuring a variety of stellar reverb presets developed by DigiTech’s sister company, Lexicon. Its reverb effects have the smooth tails and detailed definition you’d expect from an expensive studio processor, rather than the grainy, washed-out tones produced by most inexpensive reverb pedals. The HT-2 chromatic tuner is a no-nonsense, easy-to-use tuner with Strobe and Normal modes that provide accurate tuning. Its LEDs are very bright and visible under stage lights and dim lighting, although the display can look a little washed-out in bright sunlight.
THE BOTTOM LINE
DigiTech's HardWire pedals may not introduce any revolutionary new sounds, but if you’re looking for an affordable set of pedals that are built to last, provide useful, timeless tones and deliver professional-quality sound and performance, they’re an incredible value and a worthy investment.
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