Hands-On Review:DigiTech EX-7 Expression Factory
Seven classic effects in one powerhouse pedal
By Frank Anderson
I recently began to rethink my effects setup. While I love the wide array of tones I can access with it, I realized that I spend a lot of my time onstage twiddling knobs and clicking pedals on and off, and not enough time enjoying the excitement of playing live and interacting with the crowd. With its seven effects models, seven distortion models, and amp/cabinet models, I was curious to see how DigiTech's EX-7 Expression Factory performed as a viable option for guitarists seeking multiple high-quality effects in a single, easy-to-operate pedal.
The heart of the EX-7's power is its set of seven effects, modeled after some of the most famous and recognizable effects of the past: Dunlop's Cry Baby, the Unicord Uni-Vibe, the A/DA Flanger, the Vox Clyde McCoy Wah, a Leslie 147 rotary speaker, and DigiTech's own Whammy and XP300 Synth Swell. The Expression Factory also provides seven distortion models from DigiTech's DF-7 pedal (also based on well-loved stomp boxes) that operate in tandem with each effect.
Anyone who wants to incorporate a multitalented pedal into their rig undoubtedly wants the effects to be high quality. And not just one or two of them—all of them. I found all of the models in the Expression Factory to be remarkably accurate compared to the pedals that inspired them.
The two wah models offer you variations of the most popular guitar effect ever. Combined with the additional Frequency Range and Shape controls, you're sure to find your own personalized wah tone with the response you're looking for. I prefer the Vox model for rich, '70s-style funk rhythms and the Cry Baby model for those screaming leads where more bite is called for.
The XP300 model faithfully reproduces the lush orchestral textures and eerie soundscapes of the original. Whether you're looking for spacey organ tones a la the intro to Coldplay's "White Shadows" or dark, distorted swells to open your metal opus, the XP300 model covers the spectrum.
The wild pitch bends of DigiTech's Whammy are instantly recognizable in the sounds of players like Tom Morello, Robert Fripp, and Jonny Greenwood. Anyone looking to reach into outer worlds to color their songs can make use of its presence in the Expression Factory. The response of the EX-7's expression pedal mirrors the original quite well, allowing you to really dig out some unique effects.
The Unicord Uni-Vibe became a centerpiece of late '60s tone when it arrived on the rock-and-roll scene. Perhaps its swirling chorus is best known from Jimi Hendrix's performance of "Machine Gun" on the Band of Gypsys album. When Jimi hits the monstrous, sustained opening note of his solo about four minutes into the song, you can hear the Uni-Vibe oscillating like mad. And that's what you get with the EX-7. In my opinion this effect alone is worth the price of the Expression Factory.
For a drier swirling effect, the Leslie cabinet patch in the EX-7 is perfect. The effect here was modeled specifically after a Leslie 147, so what you get isn't just a generic rotating speaker effect, but as close to the real thing as you can get without lugging around a hefty Leslie cab.
Finally, the A/DA Flanger model delivers the original flanger sound of classic songs like Van Halen's "Unchained." What's nice about the EX-7's effect is that it's completely free of background noise. I've seen original A/DA Flangers selling for up to $250, so to have it included as part of the Expression Factory's array of effects really hammers home the value of this pedal.
The layout of the EX-7 is straightforward, with an expression pedal and four knobs—one for selecting a model and three stacked knobs for tweaking parameters. The tips of the stacked knobs each control a different aspect of the currently selected effect. A handy chart in the owner's manual details what each one does for quick reference, and I found that after familiarizing myself with each effect, the controls made sense and were easy to operate and remember.
Changing the distortion model takes only a few simple steps, so I took the time to experiment until I found combinations that I liked. In a live setting, the EX-7 performed flawlessly. I knew exactly what sound I was going to get every time, and the pedal responded amazingly well across all the effects.
The Flexible Output Mode of the EX-7 allows you to operate it as a stereo or mono effect to an amp or mixer, or as a mono effect to both. Seven cabinet models are also provided if you're playing directly into a mixer. There's also the optional FS3X footswitch for toggling effects.
With the EX-7 Expression Factory, DigiTech has created a pedal that captures the essence of seven classic effects and makes them easily accessible for the performing guitarist. Whether you just want to consolidate your pedalboard into a more streamlined system or introduce a whole new universe of sound into your music, the EX-7 Expression Factory is your solution.
Features & Specs:
7 expression pedal models based on:
- Dunlop Cry Baby
- Vox Clyde McCoy Wah
- DigiTech XP300 Space Station Synth Swell
- DigiTech Whammy
- Unicord Uni-Vibe
- Leslie 147 rotary speaker
- A/DA Flanger
- 7 distortion pedal models
- 7 cab models
- Flexible Output Mode
- Rugged metal construction
- Unique carbon fiber look
- Non-skid rubber base
- Power supply included