Comparison of Barber Dirty Bomb/Hermida Distortion/Crunchbox

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by blackba, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. blackba

    blackba Supporting Member

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    I got a Barber Dirty Bomb and Hermida Distortion in last night. So I thought I would do a quick review of those and my MI audio Crunchbox which I have owned for well over a year. Please don’t ask for clips. I did most of my testing with a ’60 Fender Brown Super through an opened back 112 with a 4ohm Weber 12F150. I also tried them through my ’69 Fender Bandmaster Reverb through a 212 with 2 Weber 12A125A’s. I wanted to try them through my Vox AC50, but it is on my bench getting a recap. I used my trusty old Fender strat with a hot rails in the bridge

    Barber Dirty Bomb:
    I started with this pedal to compare to the Crunchbox. I immediately noticed how much more aggressive the Dirty Bomb was. This pedal to me sounds very metal and aggressive. I found the mid switch needs to be for me in the middle (boost) or left (neutral). Scouped is too scouped for my tastes. What disappointed me about this pedal was the range of gain, I had trouble dialing out the aggressiveness and by itself the pedal sounds harsh in the treble (a common trait I hear in Distortion pedals). The gain must be about 9 oclock for the pedal to really work. I coil split my hot rails and I was able to get some less aggressive sounds. I played along to some Judas Priest, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Social Distortion, etc and this pedal worked very well for those and sounded good when mixed with the backing track. The bass response on this pedal is great, on some distortion pedals I have run an EQ pedal behind it and EQ on the dirty bomb was pretty impressive. I do wish there was a mid knob as sometimes I wanted more mids than even the switch could give me. I did not tweak the bass trim pot inside.

    MI Audio Crunchbox:
    I have changed the op amp in this to a TI (can’t remember part #) and have adjusted the internal trim pot recently, mine is about 11 oclock. The crunchbox excels at sounding like a mean marshall. I really like it for 80’s metal and punk type sounds. Compared to the Dirty Bomb the crunchbox sounds like its in an envelope, like the sound is a bit narrow. It does not have the bass response of the dirty bomb. As far as gain, the crunchbox has less gain than the dirty bomb and does work better in turning down the gain. The gain of the two is pretty close though. I have been hit or miss with the crunchbox, but I was pretty happy with it overall.

    Hermida Distortion:
    I have a zendrive and mosferatu as well. I have been impressed with those pedals, but this one does not sound like it has the Mosferatu voicing. I initially struggled to dial in the pedal for brutal distortion like I was getting from the Dirty Bomb. I had the gain all the way up and was tweaking the tone control and voice control a lot. This pedal can get aggressive, but just doesn’t have the hair to get to all out metal. Its too clear and present sounding. I then tried it with the gain at 12 oclock. I adjusted the tone and voice to how I like them on my Mosferatu (tone 1-2 oclock, voice 3 oclock) and tweaked from there. This pedal really started to shine, it sounds really amp like and cuts well. It sounds good with or without a backing track. No fizz to speak of. It worked very well for alternative rock. I would say it has the gain of an Ibanez SD-9, but sounds a lot less grainy than the SD-9 I had did. Overall I am really happy with this pedal as a standard distortion.

    I need to do more testing, but these are my 1st impressions. I will be selling at least 1 in the future as I don’t need 3 distortion boxes.
     
  2. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    I agree re crunchbox, but retuned it withing 24 hours. I love HD. It sounds like with the dirty bomb we have found our metal pedal.
     
  3. J.T. Guitar

    J.T. Guitar Platinum Member

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    How does the Dirty Bomb compare to the Z-Vex Box of Metal?
     
  4. gatordoc

    gatordoc Member

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    It'll be interesting to see how that new Wampler triple rec style pedal compares with the Dirty Bomb. The clips made it sound pretty aggressive as well.

    I did notice on the PGS clips that even with the gain knob turned way down, the Dirty Bomb still had a great deal of distortion. Almost seemed like increasing the gain just added more sustain. But hey, it is a distortion pedal. The harsh treble would be a major issue for me though.
     
  5. Garygtr

    Garygtr Almost as good! Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the review, my Hermida Distortion should arrive today. I don't need all out metal tones, so it doesn't disappoint me at all to hear that it doesn't quite get there. What I consider "high gain" in a pedal would likely be tagged "medium gain" by a lot of users, and what is often referred to as "high gain" is usually downright unuseable for me.
     
  6. J.T. Guitar

    J.T. Guitar Platinum Member

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    Should fit the bill nicely.
     
  7. Highway Jones

    Highway Jones Member

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    Does the Dirty Bomb differ enough from the Crunch Box so that there is not much overlap?

    The DB sounds more modern or Mesa-like in the clips. I've always wanted another dist. such as the Tube Zone or Dirty Bomb but, was afraid of being redundant with the Crunch Box.

    FWIW, I tried several CB opamps as well but the stock (LM833? I believe) seemed to have the best bass response.
     
  8. blackba

    blackba Supporting Member

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    No idea, but I was considering the Box of Rock at one point.

    Per David's point on vintage amps and speakers, it sure it challenging to get a high gain tone from that combo. My goal for a distortion pedal is more of a safety net. I only use 1 amp at a gig and there are times when I need to cover higher gain songs, that is when the pedal comes in. If too many songs creep in, I use a different amp that is designed for higher gains. Also my Webers are all light doped, certainly not doped as much as a Celestion V30 though.

    I will have to open up my Dirty Bomb and try the cap mod. I may run the Super through my 212 with G12H30 anni speakers and see how the results change. The Super being as its from the brown era does not have the mid scoup that my Bandmaster reverb does and what is typically associated with BF/SF fender amps.
     
  9. J.T. Guitar

    J.T. Guitar Platinum Member

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    Thanks David! This post should be a sticky...
     
  10. blackba

    blackba Supporting Member

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    I tried the caps, the 3300pF (0.0033uF) tamed the highs but kind of neutered the pedal. I then tried a 1500pF and noticed some difference in the highs, but the pedal still had it ballz. I then tried the 470pF and noticed very little difference at all. I will probably settle on the 1500pF( 0.0015uF). I also tried my amp through my mesa metal grill 212 with 2 MC90's. Of course it was better for higher gain, but I still heard the highs as harsh, so I think the cap is the way I will go.

    I am continuing to notice how full the Dirty Bomb is compared to the Crunchbox. But I still find myself switching to the Crunchbox for 80's hair metal type songs.
     
  11. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    Dave Barber is the man. Am I right?
     
  12. J.T. Guitar

    J.T. Guitar Platinum Member

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    :band
     
  13. blackba

    blackba Supporting Member

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    The SD hot rails in my strat is on the bright side for sure. Its a pretty hot pickup. The strat has CTS 250k pots. Last night though I mostly used my Gibson Les Paul Standard LE with Suhr Aldrich pickups.

    I am pretty sure my Dirty Bomb has the JRC chip, I don't have it in front of me to confirm though. I was tweaking the settings lot last night, I noticed with the 0.0033uF bypass cap I had to turn the treble up to 3 oclock (It was about 10 oclock) and the gain range seemed more usable. I think the 0.0015uF will be what I go with as I noticed a difference, but it wasn't was drastic. I did find with the caps across the volumes that the gain range became more usable. My last settings were sub bass at 12, volume at 12, Treble at 11, Bass at 2, and Gain at 11.

    Thanks for the help Dave.

    Back to the original comparison between the 3, if I had to put them in catergories, I like the Crunchbox for Punk and 80's hair metal, I like the Dirty bomb for Metal (Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Megadeth, etc) and modern rock, and I like the Hermida Distortion for 70's hard rock and 90's alternative. Its going to be a hard choice to decide which 2 to keep and I won't be making it for a few weeks at least.
     
  14. J.T. Guitar

    J.T. Guitar Platinum Member

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    FWIW- Hot rails are among the most mid heavy P/Us you can put in a Strat... Hot does not equal bright. The hotter the pick-up, the more mids, and less top and bottom. If you want extended highs and lows, you need a P/U that is less hot. Like Lollar Blondes, or Fralin Vintage Hots.

    I love these players that say, "I want that SRV/Hendrix Strat sound, and then go out and put the most overwound P/U they can find in their guitars. And then they wonder why they can't get that killer full range Strat tone.

    :jo
     
  15. blackba

    blackba Supporting Member

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    Understand about the hot rails. I hope you are not part of the strat police that think its a sin to put a humbucker in a strat. The hot rails to me sounds brighter than a fullsize humbucker, like a JB or Anderson H2+. And its a strat with a maple board so its on the bright side by nature.

    I have a SSS strat, BTW. The hot rails does split pretty well too.

    I am detecting a little bit of lets attack my gear in this thread. My original intention was just to give a quick review and comparison of the 3 pedals, as 2 of them have not been out on the market long. One of my common issues with most pedal reviews is that they don't list the amp, guitar, or speakers they tested with the pedal.
     
  16. J.T. Guitar

    J.T. Guitar Platinum Member

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    No attack at all... It just struck me as funny that you state SD HRs are bright. One man's bright is another's icepick... We all have ears tuned to what we like. No problems with that. My response was also a general statement, not a personal one.

    Cheers!
     
  17. fuzz_factor

    fuzz_factor Supporting Member

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    Care to discuss the tonal differences between the two op-amps?
     
  18. stubbyJ

    stubbyJ Supporting Member

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    David

    I don't have a DB - hope to soon, but I do have 2 small Fry and and Barbeq. I just wanted to say that I appreciate your time and involvement with those that use your pedals - very cooleo.

    Thanks,

    Stubbyj
     
  19. blackba

    blackba Supporting Member

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    Go ahead Dave, I am curious what the differences of the Op-amp are too. Mine has a JRC

    Also, I just read in another thread that the Line 6 Verbzilla buffer can add highs. I have one in my signal chain right before the dirty bomb, but had it off. I usually would not do this, but I took out my Maxon AD-80 delay so I could get the 3 pedals in the chain. After some testing the Verbzilla does add some highs to the signal, its pretty subtle though. Still I liked the Dirty bomb better without the verbilla before it, which is great since in a normal situation I would always put my verb and delay at the end of the pedal chain. I am still going to swap a cap in, but the dirty bomb is going Before the Verbzilla for any further testing.

    The other 2 pedals were before the verbzilla. But I don't think the verbzilla had that big of impact....
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2009
  20. gatordoc

    gatordoc Member

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    I must admit that you lost me on this one!:D

    If you are trying two different op-amps "luck of the draw style," I assume it's to get direct feedback as to which chip people prefer, but how can you get any feedback at all when the people buying the pedal apparently aren't even aware that there are 2 different op-amps being used?
     

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