The Zvex Super Hard-On needs no introduction. Since going into production nearly 15 years ago, Zvex estimates that they’ve sold more than 10,000 “Crackle Okay” boosts worldwide. The Channel 2 is the newest iteration of the classic circuit and is essentially the master volume side of the Super Duper 2-in-1 — only in a pedalboard-friendly micro enclosure.
What we like: [Pretty much everything.]
There are lots of micro-sized boosts out there these days, but few of them sell for less than a hundred bucks and fewer still have more than a single control. The Channel 2 features two controls: one knob for master volume and another for gain, which sweeps from unity up to +24dB.
And just so we’re clear — that’s very loud.
The beauty of the SHO design comes from the input impedance — a whopping 5 million ohms. For the nontechnical, what that means is that turning on the Channel 2 will add what Zvex calls “sparkle” to the top end of your signal. And it’s that little bit of extra magic that makes this design a real winner. It’s not obnoxious or overstated, but it will bring your sound to life in a way that you might not have heard before.
With the master volume cranked, the Channel 2 is exactly the same as the classic Super Hard-On circuit. But if you turn that down and increase the gain, you’ll get a tasty amount of clear, natural sounding overdrive that’s great for cheating a little more gain out of your already-overdriven amp or stacking with other drives for a little extra oomph.
The Channel 2 sounds great, looks great and is built solidly. Moreover, it features a master volume control and still beats many of its competitors on price. We have no complaints here. None at all.
As with all SHO variants though, it’s important to remember that as you turn the gain knob, you’ll hear a bit of “crackle” — and that’s okay. That control adjusts the DC bias and the noise is normal.
Simply, the Channel 2 is a must-buy for players seeking a quality volume booster that maximizes pedalboard real estate. It’s got features you won’t find everywhere and a price tag that won’t break the bank.
The Channel 2 starts shipping at the end of March and you should keep an eye out for more mini Zvex designs to come in 2014.