Hands-On Review:Boom Box
Hughes & Kettner Warp Factorby Eric Kirkland
There must be a million distortion boxes out there. So why are manufacturers still designing new ones? Because technology and music have a symbiotic relationship that requires equipment to evolve with artists' needs. Hughes & Kettner is right at the forefront of this gear odyssey, routinely staying one step ahead of the competition and setting the European standard for high gain. The new weapon in the H&K arsenal is the detuned-friendly Warp Factor
pedal, a blistering distortion box with a nu-metal attitude.
While the pedal's circular shape pays homage to custom fuzz boxes of yesteryear, this is no vintage pedal. Look a little closer at the raised metal surface and you'll see the face of a bearded demon hinting at the evil that resides within. The Warp Factor's three dials are labeled gain, Warp and level. The gain knob gives you access to the Warp Factor's unbelievable distortion, while the level control adjusts the volume without affecting the pedal's EQ.
The Warp control is the skeleton key to this pedal's midrange curve and focus. Turning it counterclockwise creates chunky powerhouse rhythms with specifically boosted midrange frequencies. Dialing it to the right cuts mids at 500Hz and boosts presence to produce string-slicing attack and wailing harmonic blasts. Depress the Sub button and enjoy a massive low-end boost at 90Hz, the exact frequency at which huge 4x12 cabs rumble like a Mack truck. As for power, you can forget about batteries; only the supplied 14-volt wall wart will power this beast.
Driven with an EMG-loaded Charvel, the Warp Factor practically lit my amps on fire. With drive at maximum and level at noon, the warp control approximated many of my favorite amps' tones, and created new ones that were scary. The high-current circuitry seemed to enhance my amps' natural dynamics and provided incredible headroom at crunch settings. Its dense distortion style was especially suited to clean tube-based channels, but it also worked well with high-wattage solid-state amps. Engaging the Sub button injected an infrasonic push that could only be described as "thunderous." This is no wimpy bass enhancer but a monstrous low-end thriller that needs a big cabinet to be fully appreciated.
The Bottom Line
Built specifically for detuned guitars, the Warp Factor puts the power of hell's fire in front of any amp. Joyously deviant, its diabolical distortion, massive sound pressure and earthquake-style bass forge some of metal's best pedal-derived tones.