DSM Humboldt promises “the ultimate distortion” with new Black Clouds Lead Tone Machine pedal

DSM Humboldt Black Clouds
(Image credit: DSM Humboldt)

Utility specialist and Simplifier builder DSM Humboldt has branched out into the effects pedal market by introducing the Black Clouds Lead Tone Machine, which promises to be “the ultimate distortion”.

Bold vows of “ultimate” effects are nothing new to the stompbox sphere, but DSM Humboldt has sought to stake its own claim by tapping into its electronic expertise and delivering an especially well-spec’d distortion pedal.

Said to be everything “a Lead Tone Machine should be”, the Black Clouds promises a unique amp-esque tone, capable of both aggressive chugs and strong articulation. To aid this, it features a nifty X-Gate function – a passive noise gate that “chops the silent passages instantly”, ensuring supreme clarity.

DSM Humboldt Black Clouds

(Image credit: DSM Humboldt)

The pedal itself features eight control knobs, two footswitches and two toggle switches. On the control knob front, there are parameters for Master Boost, Level, Gain, Pre Boost, Treble, Mid Bass and Pre Tone. 

Along with the self-explanatory knobs, Pre Boost controls input boost from 0 to 30db, while Master Boost is a clean boost concerned with 0 to 20dB. When using the boost function – triggered via its own footswitch – Pre Boost adds a mid bump and increased compression, while Master Boost merely raises the volume.

Pre Tone, meanwhile, supposedly compensates for different pickup characteristics, adjusting the high- or bottom-end entering the Black Clouds’ drive circuit depending on its position. 

In practice, the first toggle switch flicks between three different modes of operation – Normal, Preamp and Mid Boost – while the second toggle dictates the function of the noise gate via Off, Both and Boost options.

As for footswitches, the right-hand switch engages the Black Clouds’ distortion tone, while its partner is responsible for engaging all the additional boost sounds and controls mentioned above.

Owing to the Black Clouds impressive feature set, DSM Humboldt claims it “can adapt to virtually any setup”, and can tap into nuanced layers of crossover tones thanks to both its boost circuit and X-Gate function.

The Black Clouds is available now for $279.

Head over to DSM Humboldt (opens in new tab) to find out more.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.