Before I bought my Blackstar HT-5 head I was using my Kustom KGA 65 combo amp with a Zoom G7.1ut. The G7 was plugged in to the effects loop and was acting as the pre-amp. The Zoom unit has some great amp models, and effects banks, but unfortunately did not work so nicely with my new HT-5.
I traded in my G7 and paid some extra cash for the Digitech Hardwire DL-8 Delay/Looper and a Boss CS-3 Compression/Sustainer. I chose the DL-8 based on the recommendation from my friend Pete from I Heart Guitar, who had previously reviewed the Hardwire series pedals.
At first glance the Hardwire series pedals are definitely built tough! Solid metal casing is always welcome with stomp boxes, and the pots and knobs are nice and solid, with a great feel to them. The Hardwire series pedals also come with stage ready add-ons like velcro cut to the pedal base size, glow in the dark sticker to help illuminate the pedal so you know which one it is, and a unique “Stomplock™” rubber guard to sit over the controls.
The Hardwire series are also True Bypass, so there is no tone sucking from the pedal when it is off. The DL-8 has a switch under the foot pedal to switch over to tails mode (allowing the delay effect to decay even once footswitch has been turned off) which removes True Bypass, but there still is no noticeable tone suck with this option on. Fantastic!
Another great feature of the Hardwire series pedals is that they run at a higher voltage than the 9 volt power supply or battery would suggest, providing much higher clean headroom for hot pickups, and better results in the effects loop. The Hardwire series also provide a constant voltage, so there is no degradation of your tone and effect as the battery dies. Essentially when the battery dies the effects will not appear, but you will still be able to play through without losing your signal.
All of this means that the Hardwire series are ready for the rigors of gigs and touring, and should last a very long time.
Time to get to the most important part of a new pedal, the sound! The DL-8 has many different options for the user to select, and the great thing is all of them sound great. This is seriously an extremely versatile pedal with great effects for all styles of music.
The effects are as follows:
- 0.5 Seconds – 150 ms to 500 ms (milliseconds)
- 1 Second – 500 ms to 1 sec
- 2 Seconds – 1 sec to 2 sec
- 8 Seconds – 2 sec to 8 sec
- Modulated – chorused delay
- Analog – vintage bucket brigade analog delay
- Slapback – 80 ms to 150 ms
- LoFi – low-fidelity delay
- Tape – classic tube tape echo
- Loop – infinite stereo loops up to 20 sec
The other controls on the DL-8 are level, repeats and time. Pretty self explanatory really.
The DL-8 is a very “clean” pedal no matter what setting you have it on. There is no real noticeable hiss when the pedal is engaged, so all you are getting from the pedal is the great effects.
I’ll comment mostly on the settings I use most. My favourite settings for the styles of music I like to play are the digital delay, and the analogue delay. The loop function is also great fun for jamming over a riff, and practicing.
To start off with the digital delay is fantastic. As you would expect it is very clean, with no signs of muddiness as the repeats decay. Having the 3 different options make it extremely easy to dial in the delay time you wish to use. I love using it for riffs where you want the delay bouncing around building up layers of sound. It’s also great for slow melodic leads where you want to build up an ambience with your few chosen notes.
The analogue delay is just as an analogue delay fan would want it to be. Nice and organic, with the decaying muddiness that work really well for leads, and a general building up of your guitar tone. I love using it on my leads, regardless of style.
One of the great things about playing an instrument is jamming with other people, but what do you do if there is no one else around to jam with you? The DL-8’s loop feature is great for laying down a riff or pattern, and then jamming over the top of. It is also very useful for working on multiple guitar parts. You can lay down one guitar riff, and work on the second guitar part, hearing exactly what the two parts will sound together. It is also great for working on solos, etc.
20 seconds is usually long enough, but a little longer would have made the loop function perfect. The other great thing is you can lay down multiple parts as well, so that 20 seconds available to use is only as limited as you imagination and creativity.
The other settings I like playing with from time to time are the reverse delay, lo-fi delay and tape echo. The slapback and modulated delays don’t interest me so much, so I wont really comment on them.
I find it hard to find a real use for the reverse delay, but sometimes I just want to muck around, and make up some Jimi Hendrix type reverse leads. The DL-8 does a great job of retaining your tone and notes when reversing phrases, so for people who can really find a useful application for the reverse mode they will be very satisfied with the results.
The lo-fi and tape echo also provide great sounding delays for different applications. The lo-fi has a great am radio type sound, it’s a little muddier than the analogue delay, but still usable. The tape echo gives you a faithful reproduction of those great 60’s type echos, very usable if you are after a real retro effect.
All in all, the Digitech Hardwire DL-8 is a great value, well built, fantastic sounding pedal. It would be at home on any musicians pedal board, and provides great boutique pedal type tones for a lot less cash than most boutique pedals go for.
I have also reviewed this on Jemsite’s comparison shopping. Go check it out for more reviews on this product, and prices at different online stores.