Does the world need another overdrive? It does if it’s the new Maxon Apex808, which Guitar World Tech Editor Paul Riario calls, well, the “apex of overdrive.”
And Paul should know – in the accompanying video, he puts the new Apex through its paces alongside its older brother, the Maxon OD808 overdrive.
The Apex808 was designed by Susumu Tamura, the creator of the original OD808 overdrive, which was later rebranded for Ibanez as the TS808 Tube Screamer.
The new Apex was developed by Tamura after meticulous analysis of over 100 vintage and current production Tube Screamer 808 variants over a period of three years.
And what did Tamura find through his studies? That the best 808s all featured the same brand of IC chip from the same production period.
That IC chip is now at the center of the Apex 808. And the use of that “hen’s tooth” IC has a major effect on the sound characteristics of the Apex808, generating supreme levels of transparency, clarity and note-to-note separation.
What’s more, there’s the added benefit of users being able to change the overtone components of the signal based on input level.
But how does it sound?
Watch and listen as Paul takes the Apex808 and the OD808 for a spin.
He begins by playing a Fender Strat clean through a Milkman Sound Dairy Air head running through a Marshall cab, bouncing between the OD808 and the Apex808 “so you can hear all the nuance and the differences in sound.”
Paul then turns to a Les Paul, again playing through both pedals with a clean tone before cranking some gain on a Marshall DSL and using the 808s as a boost, “so you can hear how it really stacks with the gain sound of the Marshall into the pedal.”
Warning – the sustain generated by the Apex in this configuration might still be going, even as you read this. “It won’t stop!” Paul exclaims.
As for his verdict? While the Maxon OD808 is a sweeter, softer-sounding drive, the Apex has “total clarity and transparency with a touch of warmth,” and cuts through more vividly and with low end presence."
“It’s a complex drive for players who want that overdriven punch delivered with clarity,” Paul says of the Apex.
And that is sweet indeed.
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