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Echoline Germanium Distortion V2.0, Roadrunner V2.0 and Signal Driver Boost V2.0 review

Homegrown, hand-built effects in new, more compact enclosures

Echoline v2.0 pedals roundup
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

Affordable, exceptionally well-built and practical, these more pedalboard-friendly updates to the Echoline offer great value and serve a range of drive, boost and tone-sweetening purposes.

For

  • The Germanium is a dynamic and touch-sensitive distortion.
  • Roadrunner's transparent drive works great with your amp.
  • Signal Driver is a stylish and practical boost.
  • Good value.

Against

  • None.

Based in Surrey, UK pedal maker Echoline was established in 2008 and has a roster of pedals that are handmade, one at a time, using traditional techniques.

The pedals feature a mix of carefully chosen NOS (new old stock) and quality modern parts such as Neutrik jacks, Alpha pots and heavy duty footswitches. Echoline has recently redesigned its entire range – currently five pedals, including a booster, high-gain silicon fuzz, distortion and two overdrives – and moved from larger enclosures to version 2.0 pedals. 

These are built into a metal body with the same footprint as a Boss compact but with a four-screw base, similar to MXR pedals. The distinctive-looking pedals feature a thin black metal faceplate fixed on top, hosting the extremely neat laser-etched legending. 

None of the pedals offer battery power – all run from a nine-volt supply and have a Class A line driver built in. This shows your pickups the same impedance as plugging straight into an amp, the idea being to preserve signal strength, tone and dynamics.

Echoline Germanium Distortion V2.0

Echoline Germanium Distortion v2.0

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The Germanium in the pedal’s name comes from the fact that Echoline is using a pair of NOS 70s military-spec germanium diodes as a crucial element in its circuitry, which utilises four gain stages. 

A fairly standard distortion pedal triumvirate of Volume, Gain and Tone knobs controls the action, which starts with a gritty drive at the minimum setting of the Gain knob. It’s a nice bright sound at the fully clockwise setting of the Tone knob, all fully usable with no spiky nastiness, but there’s a thoughtful range of hi-cut as you roll it back to best suit your tonal needs. 

Turning up the gain increases the raunch factor into cranked Brit stack territory; it’s a detailed sound, loaded with harmonics, that responds really well under your fingertips and cleans up nicely as you roll the guitar volume knob down. This is a great pedal to kick in for solos, well capable of some Gilmour-esque liquid lead tones.  

Verdict: Boutique-quality but reasonably priced pedal for a range of dynamically responsive drive and distortion tones.

Spec

  • PRICE: £129
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Distortion pedal
  • FEATURES: Buffered bypass
  • CONTROLS: Volume, Tone, Gain,Bypass footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output
  • POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 30 mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 70 (w) x 121 (d) x 55mm (h)

Echoline Roadrunner V2.0

Echoline Roadrunner V2.0

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Designed mainly for low-gain drive and boost functions, this pedal features a toggle-switched choice of diode clipping modes: asymmetrical, symmetrical or bypassed diodes. 

Keeping Gain to zero, the Roadrunner functions as a boost from just before three o’clock on the Volume knob. This is certainly enough to coax your amp into natural overdrive, the Presence knob rolling off some bottom-end and adding some upper-mid stridency if needed. 

As you increase the gain, those diodes start to play a part in the sound – this is organically rich amp-style drive. Choose the diode mode to suit your playing: the asymmetrical clipping offers a looser, more open sound than symmetrical, which is more compressed. 

The sound with the diodes bypassed is a distinctive third option – more raucous, with a hint of fuzz when playing single notes at higher gain settings.  

Verdict: Keeping your guitar’s natural voice, this pedal offers classy drive with a choice of three distinct options.

Spec

  • PRICE: £129
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Drive pedal
  • FEATURES: Buffered bypass, diode clipping options
  • CONTROLS: Volume, Presence, Gain, Diodes switch, Bypass footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output 
  • POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 30 mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 70 (w) x 121 (d) x 55mm (h)

Echoline Signal Driver Boost V2.0

Echoline Signal Driver Boost

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The Signal Driver’s distinctive look, with that large knob surrounded by graduations from 0 to 100, was inspired by Back To The Future, specifically Doc Brown’s mega-amplifier that Marty McFly plugs into. The pedal even comes with a red Dymo label that says ‘Primary Driver’ if you want to add to the retro vibe. 

Capable of up to 30dB of gain, this has to be one of the most potent boost pedals on the market. In front of a clean valve amp, it will really heat things up for very natural driven tone, while in the effects loop it can get your power valves going for a different vibe, and it teams up well to add an extra level to dirt pedals. 

Whether it’s a subtle volume lift or a powerful boost, the graduations around the knob enable you to be precise when dialling in the amount you’re after. Mind you, if you suddenly need a bit more on stage, the knob is pretty easy to move with your foot. 

Verdict: An elegantly presented and powerful booster with the advantage of working as a buffer in your chain.

Spec

  • PRICE: £119
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Boost pedal
  • FEATURES: Buffered bypass, alternative Dymo label
  • CONTROLS: Boost, Bypass footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output
  • POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 30 mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 70 (w) x 121 (d) x 58mm (h)
  • CONTACT: Echoline Pedals