Hands-On Review:Digitech DF-7 Distortion Factory

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Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Guitar World - Digitech DF-7 Distortion Factory

By Chris Gill


Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap Distortion pedals are a lot like fine wines, exotic chocolates or beautiful women: you need to experience more than one of each to fully appreciate the subtle differences that exist between seemingly similar objects of desire. And once you've experienced a few, one just isn't enough.


The same is true about stomp boxes. But what if you're a pedalphile with an insatiable lust for all things that go bzzzzt in the night, and you don't have the deep pockets required to obtain a decent-sized collection of distortion boxes? If so, the DigiTech DF-7 Distortion Factory should satisfy your base desires. This pedal features digital models that emulate the tone, vibe and character of seven popular distortion pedals. The DF-7 doesn't provide the same thrills you'd get from owning each of the pedals it models; for one thing, you can use only one model at a time. But if you want a variety of classic distortion tones at your fingertips, it's a nearly perfect way to get them.


There is certainly no faulting DigiTech's choice of pedal tones. The DF-7 has digital models of no less than an Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer, DOD Overdrive/Preamp 250, Boss DS-1 Distortion, ProCo Rat, Boss MT-2 Metal Zone, DigiTech Metal Master and Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi. The models are selected with a seven-position rotary knob. The control section is very similar to the Boss Metal Zone's, comprising three dual-concentric knobs that provide control of level, gain, mid frequency, and low, mid and high EQ, the latter performing different functions based on which model is selected. The pedal's dual outputs operate in different ways depending on which output mode is selected. In mode one, the amp output is mono and the mixer output is processed with DigiTech's own CIT cabinet modeling technology.


Each distortion model has a preset cabinet model; thus, you can use the 1x12 cabinet with the TS-9 model but not the 2x12 (Bassman) or any of the various 4x12s (Marshall, Johnson, VHT). Mode two places CIT modeling on both outputs, and mode three splits the signal into stereo with no CIT modeling on either output. The CIT cabinet modeling makes the DF-7 a great device for direct recording, and you could even perform a gig without an amp simply by plugging the DF-7 into a mixer.


I compared the DF-7 with several of the pedals that it models — a TS-9, an MT-2, an original Rat and a green Russian Big Muff. DigiTech recommends setting the DF-7's controls to 12 o'clock to obtain the most accurate model of each pedal, and I found this was indeed a great starting point. Of course, the TS-9, Rat and Big Muff don't have the low and mid EQ controls found on the DF-7, which makes the DF-7 even more versatile for crafting your own signature tones. The TS-9 model sounds almost virtually like the original, while the MT-2 model is slightly darker and has more balls and a more pronounced midrange. The Big Muff model also sounds darker than the original, but the overall distortion character and response is identical. I found the biggest difference was between the DF-7's Rat model and the original, the model sounding relatively restrained compared to the real pedal's gnarly, over-the-top character.


Of the remaining models, the DOD 250 model possesses a glasslike treble and satisfying midrange crunch; the DS-1 model has a fat bottom end and scooped mids; and the DigiTech Metal Master model sounds very dark and compressed, with emphasized midrange. Each model delivers significantly different character, and it's pretty easy to find a setting with the vibe you're looking for, whether it's bluesy overdrive or manic metal crunch. Best of all, the DF-7 is noise free, unlike the original pedals I compared it to, each of which possessed some degree of hiss or hum at high gain and output levels.


The Bottom Line
Considering that the DF-7 lists for the same price as the Boss MT-2, the Distortion Factory offers an exceptional value for players who want the sound of several different pedals but can afford only one. While some of its models aren't 100 percent accurate, they come pretty damn close. What's more, the DF-7's EQ controls add a level of tone flexibility not available on several of the original pedals. With the addition of cabinet emulation and noise-free performance, the DF-7 is a potent studio weapon as well as a versatile and powerful live-performance tool.


PRO: Accurate emulation of seven popular pedals; cabinet emulation; versatile

CON: Some models are less accurate than others.



8760 South Sandy Parkway, Sandy, UT 84070
(801) 566-8800; www.digitech.com